** This is the first in a recurring series, in which I offer some modest proposals – in the venerable tradition of Jonathan Swift – for American and international politics. **
The United Nations – that paragon of international diplomacy, antisemitism, dictator-worship, and uselessness – has been a waste of time since its inception. In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi stated, with respect to the spaceport of Mos Eisley, that “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy”; clearly, he has never seen the UN complex in Turtle Bay. Every year, thousands of foreign diplomats, including some of the planet’s most vile leaders and their toadies, descend on this unfortunate neighborhood in midtown Manhattan for a circus of the absurd. Year-round, the UN is populated by bureaucrats galore, who, when not spending their time attacking America and its allies (notably the world’s only Jewish state), squander money on idiot boondoggles, promote evil autocracies to the Human Rights Council, and publish antisemitic school textbooks for Gazan kindergartners.
The UN has failed to maintain peace, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity since its foundation, in which it was intended to do all of those things. In many cases, it has dramatically worsened the conditions it was meant to ameliorate; “peacekeepers” in Haiti caused a cholera outbreak during their daily breaks from raping locals, other UN-funded troops failed to stop genocidal massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia, and, most recently, UNRWA workers in Gaza joined with Hamas in taking Israelis hostage. For all of its failings, at least the League of Nations had the good sense to close shop after it fell on its face for two decades. The United Nations is going on 80 and it still hasn’t figured out that it causes more problems than it has ever solved. Oh, and the United States is this organization’s largest benefactor, most powerful member, and its physical host.
It’s beyond time we all said enough. Enough of the anti-Americanism. Enough of the corruption. Enough of the failure. Enough of the blithering idiocy couched in diplomat-speak. Enough of the vaunted “international community.” Enough of the United Nations. In that vein, here is my modest proposal as to how we should move forward.
Far too many observers of the Israeli retaliation against Hamas see war as a theoretical construct, not a battlefield reality.
The famed Union Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman is widely credited with popularizing the phrase “war is hell.” And he would certainly know, seeing action at some of the war’s bloodiest battles and captaining the controversial March to the Sea, where Union soldiers would run roughshod over Confederate lands from Atlanta to Savannah. That march, replete with the utter devastation of civilian infrastructure, farmland, and property, helped break the back of the Confederacy and has remained a textbook example of total war. The term ‘total war’ itself was a product of World War I, which saw entire societies mobilized for what they all saw – and some experienced – as existential combat. The sequel, which killed even more people and included the most heinous act of genocide in the modern era, was the last of these sorts of conflicts – or so many thought.
After the end of the Cold War – which was itself something of a totalizing rivalry – the mood in the West was triumphant, not just over Soviet Communism, but over History itself. Gone were the days of existential conflict, replaced by a world of progress where genuine alternatives to the liberal democratic capitalist world order were nowhere to be found. These naïve optimists were, however, flat out wrong. Alternatives to the American order have reared their ugly heads: from the CCP’s brand of techno-totalitarianism, to Vladimir Putin’s throwback imperialism, to the militant antisemitic Islamism of Tehran and Hamas, oppositional ideologies abound. And those ideologies are more than happy to engage in totalizing, existential conflict. We have seen that in Ukraine for the past 600-plus days, and we are seeing it in Israel now.
Make no mistake, the Hamas terror of October 7, combined with its genocidal ideology and the support of regional powers like Iran, poses an existential risk to the Jewish state. If Hamas is not utterly annihilated, Israel will face a future of constant attack from all fronts meant to eradicate the nation itself – and massacre its population in the process. Hamas and Iran have made this into a total war; Israel has recognized that reality and is responding in kind. And that’s where we run into problems.
For those who decry Western support for Ukraine, everything is a precursor to World War III. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you’ve been around the internet at all over the past year and a half of war in Ukraine, you’ve likely seen breathless claims that Western aid is pushing us to the brink of a third world war. These terrified statements are the bread and butter of those who wish to see military aid to Ukraine reduced or stopped entirely. Some are pure isolationists, others are useful idiots for Russia, more are skeptics of American military power, and yet others are more vituperative Asia-firsters. Regardless of their personal ideological predilections, these commentators are aligned in their fearmongering over drastic, rapid escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War into a broad-based, global, nuclear-tinged Armageddon. Despite differences in motive, the Ukraine doves all sing from the same hymnal. The refrain is simple. Every Ukrainian advance: World War III. Every new weapons system delivered to Kyiv: World War III. Every response to Russian aggression: World War III. Every revelation of Western support – intelligence, economic, or otherwise: World War III.
They’re certainly consistent, but are they correct? That answer is a resounding nyet. This argument is merely a brickbat with which to attack Ukraine hawks; it has no relation to either the current day or the historical reality. This bedwetter caucus not only misrepresents the escalation dynamics of the Ukraine war, but also of both World Wars. On top of that, they fail to understand the significant differences between the present conflict and those of the past. In short, their argument is fatally flawed. Let us count the ways.
Despite its recent expansion, the BRICS ‘alliance’ is nothing more than vaporware. Claims of the death of the American-led world order have been greatly exaggerated.
In geopolitical commentary circles, much has been made of the recent expansion of the Global South-centered multilateral association known as BRICS. This grouping of developing world nations is named after its early members – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – and has long been touted as the future pivot of geopolitics, economics, and world organization, displacing the regnant Western-led order. Now that the loose partnership has grown beyond its acronymic members to include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Argentina, the usual skeptics and opponents of the postwar system – isolationists, the horseshoe of far-right and far-left, self-proclaimed ‘anti-imperialists’ (merely anti-American), useful idiots – have gone into overdrive.
Magical thinking will not end the war in Ukraine, no matter how many times you click your heels.
The war in Ukraine has been raging for a considerable duration now – 500 days if you date it back to the full-scale Russian invasion of February 2022, or nearly a decade if you start with attacks on Crimea and the Donbas in 2014. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands, have been killed on the battlefields; civilian and solider, Russian and Ukrainian alike. Ukraine has been devastated economically, both by military attrition and deliberate, targeted Russian assaults on key civilian infrastructure. Genocidal massacres have been carried out by Russian forces, cementing names like Bucha in the historical record. Nations around the world have aided the Ukrainians in their brave resistance to Muscovite domination. Others have supported Russia’s revanchist claims. Suffice it to say, this war is as real as it gets.
Still, far too many distant observers of the conflict – politicians and commentators both – tend to engage with it on a purely fictionalized level. They do not conceive of the Russo-Ukrainian War as a real event impacting millions of lives every day, but as an abstract concept to be argued over on the internet. This abstraction from the ground level paints a flawed picture of reality and leads to magical thinking, an approach that is highly imaginative, yet entirely untethered from the realm of the possible or probable. This magical thinking is the antithesis of level-headed analysis and prompts the errors of bad strategy, foolish rhetoric, and visions of the war’s end that fail to take into account the realities of the conflict.