The typical globalist passionately declares that the age of the modern nation-state is over and the age of a global political organization has already begun; the holdouts are nostalgic boomers clinging to the bygone era of national glory.
Look at the state of the world today, they say. The most pressing issues — a transnational economy, ethnic cleansing, the environment, international crime, etc. — exist on a global scale and require global solutions. The world has even gone so far as to create organizations, some now a half-century old, to deal with these crises: The United Nations, World Trade Organization, International Criminal Court; the list continues. The nationalist (those who still support and believe in the nation-state model) responds by pointing to the inefficacy of these bodies, to which the globalist counters that dodgy nation states, refusing to accept the current world order, stand in the way of global institutions.
Look back to last month and see the most current and primary example of the fact that the nation-state has not yet lived out its usefulness. The U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a change from official U.S. policy but not completely out of line with Trump’s predecessors; every president since Clinton campaigned on a criticism of their predecessor’s failure to recognize Jerusalem and a commitment to doing so. The U.N. passed a non-binding resolution condemning Trump’s unilateral decision, yet no matter how the U.N. chooses to respond it is meaningless; Israel’s government will continue to organize and base itself out of the city and it does not change U.S. recognition of the capital. Sure, other nations can keep their embassies wherever they want, but that doesn’t help or hinder them.
Jerusalem falls within the boundaries of Israel, a nation that the U.N. birthed. Israel has every right to make Jerusalem its capital. Beginning in 1948 the Israeli government operated out of West Jerusalem, and for the past 50 years it has been based out of a united Jerusalem, since Israel recaptured the eastern portion. Since the reunification, the U.N. has viewed the issue as “undecided.”
The shallow reading of the events is that the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution was an insignificant act of virtue-signaling to maintain a popular diplomatic position relating to “the peace process” and prospects of a two-state solution. The vote, on a deeper level, illustrates why globalism is premature.
This event perfectly highlights the impotence of the U.N. and the current flaws of a U.N.-based globalist model. Insofar as the U.N. is ineffective without the real cooperation and/or submission of the existing nation-states, the U.N. as a world state is a weak one at best and lacks all elements of sovereignty at worst. For globalism to succeed, the U.N. needs to independently enforce its resolutions without the cooperation of the most powerful nation-states: the U.S., Russia, and China. This will not happen anytime soon. It cannot even exercise authority over the U.S., and it certainly isn’t willing to try.
Prior to the vote, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley made direct threats to the U.N. that the U.S. would cease monetary contributions to the U.N. if it went against the U.S.’s recognition of Israel. Such a response from the U.S. would mark an interesting development in the conflict between globalism and nationalism.
If the U.S. reduced, or stopped, contributions to the U.N., it would symbolize a major victory for the nationalists and seriously hinder U.N. operations. As of 2015, the U.S. provides 22 percent of the overall budget for the U.N. and 28 percent of its peacekeeping budget, according to the U.N. website.
This wouldn’t be the first time the U.S. withheld dues to the U.N. resulting in a reversal of resolutions. In 1975 the U.N. passed a resolution that equated Zionism with racism and after 16 years reversed its decision due to diplomatic pressure from the U.S., coupled with decreased funding.
How much have U.N. power dynamics changed? The U.S. still strongly supports it, and it would have a difficult time operating without its cooperation. In the U.N. General Assembly, much of what happens is virtue signaling so that globalist allies can hail the bloated significance of the U.N. and cheer, “it exists!”
Because of the pettiness of globalist organizations and individuals it cannot succeed in the current political environment. The U.N. focuses on non-issues, such as the U.S. embassy in Israel, and fails to address real problems, like the environment or human trafficking, where it could win both real and ideological victories.
Ian McRae is a senior studying history and politics.