Thursday 23 May 2019

Ian O'Doherty: Bono and the UN - it's a match made in heaven

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

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-the-throat 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.

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