If you Google “U.N. Security Council,” “Security Council” or “What the heck is the point of this stupid Security Council if it’s completely impotent and can’t stop the sickening onslaught and war crimes in Ukraine,” the top result is probably going to be the website — www.un.org/securitycouncil.
It’s possible that I’m the one who used that third Google search term and wound up on that page, where I noticed something very interesting. It was the very first sentence on the website, which I thought might indicate something rather important:
“The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
Well, that does sound important. I wonder how that’s working out for them. If only we had some kind of crystal clear example that could illustrate how they are handling their “primary responsibility.”
When Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Security Council last week, he did so through a translator. Unfortunately, the translator did a poor job of putting Ukrainian into English, one of my specialties. Or perhaps they were trying to tone down his criticism of the Security Council. Here’s what he really said, and it sounded a lot like the consultants — the Bobs — from one of my all-time favorite movies, “Office Space” (see video clip below):
“Um, what exactly would you say you do here? Prevent wars? Well that’s a big fat no! Respond when Vladimir Hitler Jr. is massacring babies, blowing up hospitals, torturing innocent civilians, raping women? Apparently not! Take a look at these pictures …”
“Whoa, now! I think we understand. Mr. Zelensky, is it? We’ll take this matter under urgent consideration, discuss it thoroughly, assign it to some committees, and then we’ll get back to you with an official letter that says, ‘Sorry about your luck.’ Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Your satisfaction is very important to us.”
The Security Council reminds me a lot of the referees in the pro wrestling matches I used to watch when I was a kid before I realized — spoiler alert! — it was all fake. There would be these tag-team matches between a couple of big, doughy bad guys and a couple of skinny-ish good guys. Inevitably, the good guys would mount some 15-second comeback before a bad guy would do something like smash a good guy with a chair or cut off his arm with a chainsaw. The referee would then vehemently shake his finger at the bad guy and say, “Don’t do that. Stop doing that. I said stop doing that.”
I’m not sure the Security Council could make a decision on ordering lunch for the group.
“All those in favor of pizza, raise your hand.”
“Russia no want pizza.”
“Ah, great. Mr. Nebenzia doesn’t want pizza. How about Subway?”
“Russia no like Subway.”
Yep, Russia can veto anything the Security Council wants to do — whether it’s ordering pizza or stopping the slaughter of civilians. They are one of five permanent members — along with the USA, UK, France and China — that have veto power on the council. And China ain’t a whole lot better than Russia. They like to stay out of the tough discussions and occasionally veto or abstain on trivial issues like genocide.
Having Russia as a permanent member on the Security Council with veto power makes as much sense as having Osama bin Laden on an anti-terror committee or Kanye West doing a TED Talk about healthy relationships.
The U.N. and Security Council were formed in 1945 to prevent future wars in the wake of World War II. Now, I’m thankful we didn’t have a Security Council before World War II.
If we did, Hitler might have won.
“The Bobs” meet with Tom in a clip from “Office Space,” one of my Top 10 favorite movies of all-time.
Bonus clip from my all-time favorite movie, “Monty Python’s Life of Brian,” when Judith rushes into the People’s Front of Judea meeting to tell them Brian is about to be crucified. I imagine Zelensky felt a lot like Judith when he spoke to the U.N. Security Council.