Diplomats are scrambling right now as the sometimes-leaders of Palestine seek official membership within the United Nations this week. The Palestinians are saying that they are doing this so that they can be an official state, and opponents, led by the United States and Israel, are saying that the United Nations should not give Palestine statehood until a peace deal is reached. Both the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel sides are being completely absurd, as the United Nations in absolutely no way wields any type of authority to determine what is a state and what is not. This unelected, international, and voluntary organization has no sovereignty nor right to bequeath sovereignty to others. This organization says that stateless Somalia is a state. This organization says that gangsters like Muammar Gaddafi, Than Shwe, Robert Mugabe, and Omar Al-Bashir are sovereign leaders of states on equal footing with others. This organization defines sovereignty purely as an independent government effectively exercising control over a defined territory. There is no mention of the interests or will of the people in these nations; no belief in the idea of sovereignty being inherently held by individuals and partially surrendered to the governments they form. So while the thugs may wield force and thus de facto
sovereignty over the states of this world, their rule is neither legal nor legitimate. Recognition by the United Nations does not lend them legitimacy; it just recognizes the unfortunate reality that tyrants must be dealt with in the international sphere if we are to maintain any sort of international stability.
The Israeli-Palestinian crisis is a tough one, with two peoples claiming sovereignty over much of the same small stretch of land. It cannot be decided on until those two entities come to some sort of agreement. Whatever recognition that the United Nations gives to any side is inconsequential as far as legitimacy is concerned, and in this particular case as far as reality is concerned as well-- Palestine really exercises neither de facto nor de jure control of their territory; say what they will, Palestine is still relatively subject to Israel (which is part of the complaint). This Palestinian bid for UN Membership will certainly give the United States headaches and further complicate our relations with Arab states in the increasingly-chaotic Middle East, and this is very much part of Palestine's plan to ramp up pressure on us, but recognition by the United Nations does not automatically grant you statehood. It would do well if President Obama or Ambassador Rice reminded people of this all, but, given their inclinations, I doubt they will. I would also propose that any nation who votes against us in the General Assembly have the foreign aid they receive from us terminated immediately. But, again, I don't expect a presidency that is guided by "humanitarianism" (whatever that is) to actually use the tool of "aid" in a proper and pragmatic way-- that is, actually serving American interests. It would be a good start, though.