GLENNON, Michael J. "Why the Security Council Failed," Foreign Affairs May/June issue, reprinted in the New York Times, April 24, 2003, and posted on their website.

by Robert Brow  (

This important article documents the sidelining of the United Nations Security Council as an effective force in our world. Glennon states the obvious fact that Americans no longer feel bound by the rules of the United Nations Charter regarding the use of force (made clear in the September 2002 United States Security Document, and reiterated in speeches by Colin Powell on October 20, 2002 and November 10, 2002). This is also evidenced by the American rejection of the Kyoto Agreement and the idea of Americans being subject to the decisions of a world court.

Glennon suggests that the failure of the United Nations was the result of the pernicious idea that states are sovereign equals. This was compounded by assumptions based on some kind of natural law. In diplomacy "rules must flow from the way states actually behave, not how they ought to behave." The plain fact is that "states pursue security by pursuing power" and nations never feel "bound by rules to which they do not agree."

Glennon's article should remind us that Christians need not waste time lamenting the demise of the United Nations as a peace-keeping and international judicial authority. The Jewish and Christian Old Testament makes clear that empires have always pursued the use of force for their own purposes. There are hierarchies of power among the nations. Empire is not wrong in itself. It can be used to promote peace and justice among people, but when an empire oppresses other nations the Lord will intervene in his own time to topple it in a Day of the Lord. The last hundred years of our history is evidence enough for this divine activity all over our world.

There is no such thing as natural law (laws of nature apart from God). But the prophets did set out to discover what kinds of behavior please and displease the Sovereign King who rules among the nations. Micah got it right. "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). Ordered justice, care for widows, orphans, prisoners, aliens, and the poor and oppressed, are important. National arrogance is an abomination. As are priestcraft and idolatry. Thanksgiving sweetens a whole culture, and God responds when a nation turns to him in repentance and prayer.

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