John Baird vs. The UN - Macleans.ca

John Baird vs. The UN

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Paul Knox pans John Baird’s speech at the United Nations.

John Baird demonstrated Monday that he doesn’t understand what the United Nations is, how it operates, his own allies’ efforts to improve it or its potential for helping his government achieve its goals … Maybe we should be touched by Mr. Baird’s honesty. But maybe we should ask ourselves why he would conflate key UN bodies and roles, miss the mark in assigning blame and dismiss the idea of fixing an institution to which, as he proudly stated, Canada is the seventh-largest financial contributor … 

Too many people speak of the UN (for Mr. Baird it was “this organization”) as if it were a single, independent entity, capable of acting autonomously and decisively to change the course of history. In practice, it is highly decentralized and often hobbled by the interests of the most dominant members. Pointing fingers at an abstraction called “the UN” lets those who have the power to act and do not, or who act unwisely or maliciously, off the hook. None of this is hard to understand, really. Mr. Baird should give it a try.