Anyone witnessing the barrel-bomb attacks in Syria, the Russian-inspired violence in eastern Ukraine or the Islamic attacks in Mali and Nigeria might reasonably wonder why the United Nations hasn‘t stepped in to stop the bloodshed. After all, what’s the point of having a global diplomatic organization like the United Nations ensconced in a gleaming tower at Turtle Bay in Manhattan, if it’s unable to act when member nations brazenly flout international law?

Sadly, that complaint has echoed down through the decades ever since 1920, when the League of Nations was created at the end of the First World War.

In many ways, the League of Nations was the brainchild of President Woodrow Wilson, who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in establishing a global body that his own country would ultimately spurn. At its height, 58 nations were members of the League of Nations. It folded after roughly 25 years because it wasn’t able to stop the very conflicts its founders created it to prevent.

From its ashes emerged the United Nations. In the spring of 1945, and after years of work by Franklin D. Roosevelt and then Harry Truman, the United Nations was created in San Francisco to replace the recently collapsed League of Nations. The founders of both organizations had similar visions: to prevent wars.

Today, the United Nations struggles to prevent conflicts. Despite the fact that the system has grown into a behemoth bureaucracy spending more than $14 billion dollars a year. But its potential significance in global affairs should not be underestimated. One need only consider the role of the UN’s Security Council and its International Atomic Energy Agency in the nuclear deal with Iran, for example, to appreciate the intergovernmental organization’s role in international diplomacy.

That said, the fact remains that harsh words and threats of sanctions issued in the form of UN resolutions are regularly ignored by the 193 members of the United Nations. The latest member to join the UN, South Sudan, was formed from a brutal civil war that split the country in half. Despite multiple resolutions calling for an end to violence in Sudan, and billions of dollars spent to care for the people affected by the ravages of war, the conflict between the two Sudans still rages on.

There have also been multiple UN resolutions since 2006 calling on countries to stop doing business with Iran. But over the last nine years, countries like China, India, Japan, and South Korea have openly purchased Iranian oil and publicly ignored UN demands. European countries like Germany and France, too, have routinely and secretively allowed companies to have economic relations with Iran, despite UN resolutions explicitly barring it.

While some will argue that ignoring the UN in favor of national sovereignty is the right thing to do, all the undermining of the world body begs the question: Why are we spending so much money on an organization we routinely ignore?

The American left is especially conflicted by this dilemma. And there is no better example than the Obama administration of liberals’ underhanded efforts to undermine the UN on the one hand, while also undercutting efforts to reform it on the other.

President Obama has called the UN’s process “the usual hocus pocus,” but has left its budget to flourish. It is a shame considering one-quarter of it is paid by U.S. taxpayers. Obama’s UN ambassadors have consistently worked to stop the real reform efforts put in place by the Bush administration and pushed by countries like Japan and Canada.

In fact, President Obama failed to appoint the American in charge of UN reform for more than two years after he took office. By the time he got around to appointing someone in April 2011, the UN reform effort to control the expanding budget and end useless mandates had all but imploded.

The two people Obama appointed as U.S. ambassadors to the UN, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, have used their UN post to give eloquent speeches and talk philosophically about global problems, but have been unable to negotiate solutions with other countries to end conflicts or reform the organization in a way that would give critics some comfort. Most people would agree to spend the billions of dollars it takes to run the UN and its agencies, if it actually meant that wars and crises could be avoided. But as the UN expanded and its budget increased, Democrats stopped engaging with it, and comfortably kept it confined to an altruistic concept. Without U.S. leadership and reform, it is lurking dangerously close to the feckless example of its progenitor, the League of Nations.

Current U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power wrote a book before she worked for the Obama Administration titled: A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. In it she argues that “American policymakers have been consistently reluctant to condemn mass atrocities as genocide or take responsibility for leading an international military intervention.”

As a former journalist, Power won a Pulitzer Prize for the book; but as the current ambassador and member of President Obama’s Cabinet, she has failed to do what she told others they should do.

It is troubling to sit by and watch as the war in Syria kills more than 300,000 people since it began more than four years ago, while the author of a book on how to prevent genocides sits in U.S. government cabinet meetings and tweets that more should be done in Syria.

The hypocrisy of the Obama administration at the UN highlights the question: Who cares more about empowering the UN to stop wars? The political party that utilizes the world body, argues with members, and works to reform it, or the one that largely ignores it?

Democrats and their reporter allies love to complain about GOP efforts to pressure the UN to reform. But the evidence shows that ignoring the global body is actually making matters worse.

(This piece originally appeared in Newsmax.)

About The Author

Richard Grenell

Richard A. Grenell is the longest serving U.S. spokesman in U.N. history and is currently a partner with Los Angeles-based Capitol Media Partners. He was appointed by President Bush in 2001 to be the U.S. spokesman at the U.N. where he served until 2008. In 2012, Grenell was appointed as Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Spokesman making him the first openly gay spokesman for a Republican Presidential candidate. Grenell is a Fox News Contributor, an Advisory Board Member of Newsmax Media and sits on the Langley Intelligence Group Advisory Board.

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