Bono and the UN — it’s a match made in heaven

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - COLUMNIST - Ian O’Doherty @ian_odoherty

Ev­ery now and then, just oc­ca­sion­ally, the stars align to form some­thing truly won­der­ful. It’s a case of tak­ing two sep­a­rate things and com­bin­ing them into some­thing ap­proach­ing per­fec­tion, where they both be­come much more than the sum of their parts.

Peanut but­ter and choco­late, per­haps. Sim­i­larly, you couldn’t imag­ine a re­fresh­ing gin in this weather with­out the back-of-thethroat qui­nine kick of the tonic.

Fish and chips. Calvin and Hobbes. Statler and Wal­dorf — all th­ese are di­min­ished when iso­lated, and im­proved when com­bined.

To that list of things which seemed made for each other, we can now add Bono and the UN — we could even call the new al­liance Rat­tle and Hum­bug.

Maybe if the weather wasn’t as glo­ri­ous as it has been — and long may it last, I could live in this all year — or if the World Cup hadn’t been such a com­pelling at­trac­tion, we might have got our knick­ers in a twist about Bono’s lu­di­crous pos­tur­ing in New York this week.

Maybe we would have grit­ted our teeth and en­gaged in a col­lec­tive groan of na­tional em­bar­rass­ment and scorn as the singer spouted more plat­i­tudes and naïve gib­ber­ish to the crowd of UN head hon­chos and am­bas­sadors who gath­ered to watch a band tell them why Ire­land needs to be on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

Maybe. But not in this weather. So, no fum­ing, but plenty of laugh­ter.

Bono and the UN make a per­fect part­ner­ship be­cause they both rep­re­sent the tri­umph of cliché.

The UN doesn’t ex­ist to make the world safer. It ex­ists to make a cer­tain class of peo­ple feel bet­ter about them­selves, and who bet­ter to give a crowd of luvvies a case of the warm and fuzzies than Cap­tain Cliché him­self ?

As Bono did his Bono-thing, and plámásed the Les Clubs Des Grands Fro­mages who had turned up on the guest list, he turned the bull­shit­o­me­ter up to 11.

One breath­less re­port had it that: “The singer and ac­tivist gave a sober­ing speech to sev­eral hun­dred UN diplo­mats and staff at an event launch­ing Ire­land’s can­di­dacy for a seat on the pow­er­ful Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in 2021-22, say­ing ‘you can count on Ire­land to do its part’.”

He then pledged his fealty to the UN by say­ing: “I love that it ex­ists, and I’ll tell you, I don’t take for granted that it ex­ists, or that it will con­tinue to ex­ist be­cause, let’s be hon­est, we live in a time when in­sti­tu­tions as vi­tal to hu­man progress as the United Nations are un­der at­tack.”

He cer­tainly de­serves credit for hav­ing the balls to use the word ‘hon­est’ when sur­rounded by a bunch of UN ap­pa­ratchiks, be­cause they work for an or­gan­i­sa­tion which is no longer just a joke, it is a genuine, morally bankrupt men­ace.

Why on earth would Bono be so ef­fu­sive in his praise for an or­gan­i­sa­tion which has Saudi Ara­bia on its women’s rights coun­cil and wel­comes Iran to the ta­ble for hu­man rights?

In fact, prov­ing that they are ei­ther stupid (which I doubt), in­sane (al­ways pos­si­ble) or sim­ply wicked (now that’s more likely), the UN’s 45-mem­ber Com­mis­sion on the Sta­tus of Women marked their wel­come for new mem­bers Saudi by... sin­gling out and con­demn­ing Is­rael’s treat­ment of women, a state­ment that wasn’t so much mis­guided as non­sen­si­cal.

Even more im­por­tantly, why would Bono want to big-up an or­gan­i­sa­tion which stood idly by while the cit­i­zens of Sre­brenica were slaugh­tered in front of their very eyes in 1995?

Why would he want to be closely al­lied to an or­gan­i­sa­tion which stood by and did pre­cisely noth­ing when nearly a mil­lion peo­ple were hacked to death in Rwanda?

And how do we know what hap­pened in Rwanda? Be­cause, like Sre­brenica, the me­dia brought th­ese im­ages into our liv­ing rooms on the news ev­ery night.

Ev­ery evening, we could see those atroc­i­ties. In fact, some­times the footage was de­layed as pro­duc­ers tried to re­move the most graphic bru­tal­ity from the lat­est mas­sacres. The UN could see those atroc­i­ties. But they made a de­lib­er­ate choice to stand back and do noth­ing.


Be­cause the roil­ing, boil­ing, in­ter­nal bick­er­ing of this malev­o­lently va­pid or­gan­i­sa­tion sees 193 mem­ber nations cross­ing pur­poses at ev­ery turn.

When Bono speaks of the UN, is he re­fer­ring to oc­ca­sion­ally suc­cess­ful peace­keep­ing du­ties? Or is he talk­ing of the time both Pak­istan and Saudi (again) con­grat­u­lated Ire­land at the UN for our blas­phemy laws, mak­ing us the laugh­ing stock of the civilised world?

It has be­come in­creas­ingly ob­vi­ous in re­cent years that the UN is not fit for pur­pose. It stays out when it should go in, and goes in when it should stay out. And when it does go in, cor­rup­tion and sex traf­fick­ing in­vari­ably fol­low — see Haiti, Su­dan, Chad, Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Kosovo and many, many more.

The EU is crum­bling and the UN will be next. While I might not share some of John McCain’s wack­ier ideas, his sug­ges­tion of a League of Democ­ra­cies, where mem­ber­ship is con­tin­gent upon cer­tain fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples, and you can be ex­iled from the brother­hood of nations for not fol­low­ing those prin­ci­ples, makes per­fect sense.

Which, of course, is pre­cisely why Bono would be against such a thing.

In the mean­time, I can only wish Saudi Ara­bia all the best dur­ing their ten­ure on the women’s rights coun­cil — maybe Bono will play a gig in Riyadh for you.

They work for an or­gan­i­sa­tion which is no longer just a joke, it is a genuine, morally bankrupt men­ace

Rat­tle and Hum­bug: Bono has joined the Ir­ish bid for a place on the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil

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