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November 20, 2002 Last updated: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 at 11:45 a.m. PST.

U.S. can help create a more peaceful world through U.N.


The world must view us with utter amazement as they've watched the spectacle of a revered and seemingly mature democracy regressing into the past, to a more childlike, nationalistic mode, where right is measured by might. Our disregard for global well-being was amply illustrated by our unsigning the International Criminal Court charter while fighting the very terrorists who might be deterred by such a court; by failing to sign the Kyoto global warming accord; by preparing for a war to prevent the development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons by a tiny oil-rich country, yet canceling the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and failing to sign the treaty to ban the others. The world must feel betrayed by this great democracy they've held in such high esteem; a country that did away with slavery, helped its defeated enemies rise from the devastation of the Second World War, and was the chief architect of the United Nations Charter, as well as its charter for human rights.

I, for one, am optimistic, however; for historically we've progressed irreversibly from tribes, to city-states, to nations; and now, having viewed ourselves from outer space, as a lovely little borderless planet sailing through the darkness of space, recognize that we're one race on this one little country Earth.

This recognition, that we're first of all citizens of this unique little world and secondly of this great United States and of this unique Skagit country, will make it more likely our civilization will endure through this century of peace, as proclaimed by the U.N., and even beyond.

The United Nations, created largely by us and in our image, has become not only the heart and soul of this era but the only world-embracing entity looking out for the good of all the people of this homeland; whether black, white, red, yellow or brown; whether Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu or Baha'i.

As our government tries to fight terrorism it increasingly realizes that "homeland security" is, and can only be, world security; anything less is a mirage in my view.

My optimism is fueled by many signs of our country's growing awareness of the U.N.'s role. We've finally paid our arrears, have rejoined UNESCO, and have submitted, albeit reluctantly, the Iraq impasse to the Security Council.

We, as the only remaining superpower, have, I feel, both an obligation and a wonderful opportunity to move the world to its next and final level of evolution: a peaceful caring global society. This can most effectively be accomplished by, I believe, helping the United Nations reach its full potential.

One of its shortcomings is not having a rapid-reacting force to back up its mediation teams, which results in such tragedies as the Rwanda genocide. The force recently proposed for NATO by President Bush could solve that problem, if dedicated to the U.N.

Without a standing dedicated income source the U.N. can be held in bondage by any of the great nations; such as by both the Soviet Union in the past and more recently by the United States. A small tax on international commerce, as recommended by former Minnesota Gov. Stassen, one of the architects of the original charter, would solve that problem. Remarkably, currently the U.N. scrapes by on its main budget, of about the same size as the Tokyo fire department. Your share and mine is a mere $7 a year, the price of a movie ticket.

Attenuation of the veto power in the Security Council and weighting the votes in the General Assembly by population and gross national product would prepare the United Nations for its pivotal role in this age of global maturity; an age where we'll fulfill Gen. Bradley's hope: that the world will know more about loving and living than we know about war and killing; a world where every child will go to bed in safety, with a full tummy and a hope in his or her heart.

It's all possible with the realization that after all, as was stated by the prophet Baha'u'llah in middle 1800s, the Earth is but one country and humankind its citizens.

Jack Papritz is president of the United Nations Association of Anacortes and Northwest Washington.

©Copyright 2002, Skagit Valley Herald, Washington

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