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Corruption and Incompetence
Former Assistant SecGen: The UN Is Failing

We wrote about the corruption and inefficiency of the United Nations when former General Assembly President John Ashe was arrested in Manhattan’s Southern District as part of an investigation into bribery last fall. Now, Anthony Banbury, who was the assistant secretary general until just last month, has penned a scathing take-down of his former employer in the New York Times:

The world faces a range of terrifying crises, from the threat of climate change to terrorist breeding grounds in places like Syria, Iraq and Somalia. The United Nations is uniquely placed to meet these challenges, and it is doing invaluable work, like protecting civilians and delivering humanitarian aid in South Sudan and elsewhere. But in terms of its overall mission, thanks to colossal mismanagement, the United Nations is failing.

Six years ago, I became an assistant secretary general, posted to the headquarters in New York. I was no stranger to red tape, but I was unprepared for the blur of Orwellian admonitions and Carrollian logic that govern the place. If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result. The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again.

The first major problem is a sclerotic personnel system. The United Nations needs to be able to attract and quickly deploy the world’s best talent. And yet, it takes on average 213 days to recruit someone. In January, to the horror of many, the Department of Management imposed a new recruitment system that is likely to increase the delay to over a year.

Blue model-style bloat, good intentions gone awry, wasted human and financial capital—this story has it all. When the left-leaning and internationalist New York Times is publishing op-eds bemoaning the condition of the United Nations, you know things have gotten really bad.

Even for skeptics like ourselves, Banbury’s tell-all contains some shocking details and anecdotes. Read the whole thing.

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  • Blackbeard

    So we have a system that accomplishes nothing useful, wastes billions of dollars but provides lucrative employment for countless otherwise unemployable bureaucrats. Working as intended I would say.

    • Albert8184

      It makes me want to puke nails thinking about this stuff.

  • Pete

    No, the Unite Nations is not failing. The United Nations has failed.

    • Fat_Man

      No, it never succeeded. It has always been a platform for anti-Americanism, antisemitism, and tyranny.

      Shut it down, and redevelop the land as a condominum complex, it would be worth a minimum of $500 million. Add that to the money saved by not keeping the thing afloat, and it is a huge win for the American taxpayer.

      • Jim__L

        Again, the UN is working as intended — “Jaw-jaw beats War-war”, to quote Winston Churchill.

        • Fat_Man

          What? Diplomats don’t know how to get on airliners and fly? They don’t know how to use a telephone?

          • Jim__L

            Sometimes it takes flattering them in a playpen in NYC (which is a great place for highbrow bread and circuses) to get them to talk.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Whatever Churchill said about the value of diplomacy, his own history has very little to recommend it. Churchill was a successful war leader, a very unsuccessful diplomat. Other than a nice platitude, what did we gain from the UN?

          • Jim__L

            His primary accomplishment as a diplomat was to get FDR to declare war on Germany after we had been bombed by Japan. It’s a better record than Hillary has, certainly.

          • f1b0nacc1

            With all due respect, you are mistaken. While FDR certainly WANTED to declare war on Germany (he needed little encouragement from Churchill), Hitler declared war on the US (on 12/11/41), before FDR was able to gather sufficient support to do so. This is widely regarded as Hitler’s greatest mistake of WWII.

          • Jim__L

            Pardon me, you’re right. Churchill’s success was his persuading us to pursue a “Europe First” strategy.

          • f1b0nacc1

            While we did pursue a “Europe first” strategy, it isn’t terribly likely that Churchill had much to do with it. Germany was clearly the greater threat, the Army (which was far better connected politically) strongly backed a Euro-centric strategy (the Navy would have the lion’s share of the resources and decision-making authority in the Pacific), and finally….FDR (as well as his entire foreign policy establishment) strongly favored going after Hitler first. Churchill was smart enough to back the winning team in the American decision-making arena, but that is about it.

      • Tom

        Not always. It was okay until the 1960s.

        • Fat_Man

          It was a platform for Soviet spies back then, if that is your definition of OK.

          • Tom

            We also managed to get the Korean War resolution out of it, if you’ll recall.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Yes, only because the Soviets screwed up big-time. But even so….was that really worth the rest of it? Korea was hardly a war that the US could not have fought on its own, and in exchange for the somewhat ambiguous support we got (welcome thought it was, to be sure), we gave up a tremendous precedent limiting our own freedom of action in terms of foreign affairs.

        • Jim__L

          Well, here’s the thing. The UN, as a forum for anti-Americanism, could simply be an escape valve for people who don’t like us to blow off steam. What we have the strategy and diplomatic skill do with this, matters.

          If we figure out a way to diffuse that sentiment — and to discover and be responsive to others’ legitimate complaints — it can be very useful.

          If we’re not skilled enough to respond in this way, or skilled enough to prevent others from using it to coalesce opposition against us, it can be a source of problems. Even in this case, though, we can glean home-turf advantages. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” after all.

          Can it be a “force for good” in the world as Banbury envisions? Maybe not. I think he’d be happier in a smaller and more nimble NGO than he would at the bloated UN. I think his article demonstrates that pretty clearly.

      • White Knight Leo

        It was okay back when it was a lounge for diplomats. It stopped being okay when they got delusions of grandeur.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    All human organizations can be placed on a line between Monopoly and Free Market. On the far left you have the Communist Totalitarian Dictatorship which owns everything including the People, and on the far right you have Laissez-faire Anarchy, both of which are “Bad” systems. The Best system is the one that provides the most growth, and the “Rahn” curve shows that a nation where the Government Monopoly is limited to a burden of about 15% provides the greatest growth. Leftists are always promoting Government solutions to every problem, but all Governments are “Monopolies” and Monopolies all suffer from the same disease, the lack of the “Feedback of Competition”. It is the “Feedback of Competition” that provides both the Information and Motivation which forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in free markets. And this is why the UN will always be a den of waste, incompetence, and corruption, it’s a monopoly and can’t ever be anything else.

    • Jim__L

      Could you link the Rahn curve?

  • annieoakley

    Glad the UN is failing and wish it would fail faster.

  • FriendlyGoat

    This is like “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. When you have something better—–not a bunch of nuthin”——but something thoughtful, fully disclosed, fully debated and agreed upon by most major constituencies as BETTER, then you repeal and replace. The UN may be bad, but in the 21st century, you don’t just burn it down with no alternate plan for some other world cooperative body.

    • Anthony
      • FriendlyGoat

        Interesting. Thanks. The Hillary voter IMHO will be those people who are smart enough to know that the bluster of conservatism in America has fallen off a cliff of ridiculousness—–those who are sick of it and who don’t plan to be pulled over the edge with it.

        • Anthony

          Well, you’re welcome. I thought the hard data would be of use to you.

        • Tom

          Or the people clueless enough to believe that the Democrats didn’t jump off that cliff a long time ago. Take your pick.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’ll be happy to have both. We know from the GOP primary season that there are many varieties of loons who will vote Republican for all kinds of reasons. We Democrats are not averse to having lots and lots and lots of our own loons. It bothers me when clueless people vote the wrong way. It does not bother me when clueless people vote the right way. Don’t bother calling me partisan. OF COURSE I am—–just like nearly everyone on your side.

          • Tom

            “It bothers me when clueless people vote the wrong way. It does not bother me when clueless people vote the right way.”

            I’m not sure if that’s true. Given that your side is currently trying to choose between a fellow traveler and a corrupt influence peddler, after dropping the only sane one of the bunch back in February, you need to be considerably more bothered.
            Or, to put another way: High tax rates don’t matter if you can drive a semi-truck through the loopholes.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You know, Hillary or Bernie don’t look so “nuts” at all when you put them up against Donald or Ted. I’m believing this “optic” is going to go right through the general election, but who knows?

          • Tom

            Compared to The Toupee, Sanders looks reasonable; Clinton looks like a fellow apparatchik.
            Compared to Cruz, Sanders is a fellow traveler, and Clinton is still an apparatchik.

          • FriendlyGoat

            My order of preference, top to bottom, would be Sanders, Clinton, Trump, Cruz.

            Sanders most probably will not be nominated. Cruz might be.

          • Tom

            And that statement is why I think most Trump fans are delusional–and why your politics reeketh.
            Any man who thinks Kelo v. New London was good law should never be in the highest office in the land.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, it’s always good to review our relative positions on politics. No, I am not yet a conservative, so Cruz is not for me. Trump is a wild man. That leaves me with the Dems who are running.

          • Anthony

            FG, here’s something to ponder: theweek.com/articles/613428/american-liberals-have-corrosive-illiberalism-problem-donald-trump-exploiting

  • Jim__L

    I would be very curious to see what Mr. Banbury could do with an organization supported by private funds and high accountability / transparency, staffed by people like the ones he would want to be at the UN. Where’s he headed to next?

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