The United Nations meeting yesterday stunned me. I grew up thinking the UN was one of the pinnacles of global achievement. And I thought disrespectful debate was the province of the USA until I heard Gadhafi and Ahmadinejad. Now I wonder if the UN is worth stopping NYC traffic for.
I'm pretty much a disciple of Ghandi, so I understand why Obama would address the United Nations, trying to "be the change" he wants to see. But I also wonder if when the US media calls out these guys as "crackpots," we are seeing things through our own eyes and those of our allies, or through the eyes of their constituents. How do I know how much credence to give these unfamiliar-behaving world leaders?
I'm troubled by the fact that, even in the Internet era, I can't get a good fix on whether these guys represent mainstream opinion in their countries, or are indeed the lunatic fringe. Ghadafi, who wanted to pitch a tent on Donald Trump's lawn because he doesn't like elevators, is a little easier to dismiss than Iran's president, but he, too, seems not to be an accepted leader in his own country. And Karzai? Another crooked election?
So is the UN outdated, bloated, and over? I suspect so. By having these meetings, we are showcasing people who would be marginalized if we didn't bring them an audience of global media. Or are we showing different points of view about the world that need to be aired? How crooked are our own elections?
At times like these, I think I don't get out of my comfort zone enough, and that perhaps I should go to places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya and Iran before I accept the judgment of the cable news networks that I so readily dismiss on issues like health insurance reform, where I possess enough information to form my own judgment. Knowledge is power.
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