The United Nations? Tom Mazanec There has been a lot of talk following the recent war in Iraq that the United Nations is an impotent anachronism. I have long heard complaints about the defects of the UN, and also long heard it said that the UN is the last best hope for humanity. I rather suspect that both sides are right. Some ten or twelve generations ago, there were 13 British colonies along the east coast of the North American continent. They were basically the same culture, and were comparable in size to each other. They united in a government to gain their independence from Britain, called the Articles of Confederation. This union was about as successful as the League of Nations in the early 20th Century. When the Founding Fathers were at work trying to create a more perfect union than this, they were on the point of producing a compromise and going home, when George Washington rose and said the following: "If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair." As a result of this famous speech, the delegates produced one of the greatest documents in human history, our Constitution. This masterpiece, however, enshrined the "peculiar institution" with a compromise which basically said that Negro slaves had three fifths of a human soul. This little time bomb was to explode nearly a century later in one of history's bloodiest civil wars, and very nearly rip the country asunder, leaving problems which fester to this very day in our society. The United Nations tries to bring together countries with a few thousand people and countries with hundreds of millions. They have governments ranging from democratic republics to military dictatorships to theocracies, and everything else a government can be. Languages, religions, economies...everything is different between the member states. Almost every one has been at war or on the verge of war with some other member at some time in living memory, if not at present. The imperfections in this organization are astounding only because they are not worse. As someone once said about a pig dancing, the wonder is not that it is done so poorly, but that it is done at all. But Kennedy once said that mankind must put an end to war, or war would put an end to mankind, and I am afraid he was right. So I wish the United Nations a lot of luck. They (and we) are going to need it.