No. 24: unternationalism

ISMISM New concepts for the Nineties
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The Independent Online
Unternationalism. An international political creed advocating that everything that can be done, should be done - but not yet. This tactical philosophy of disguised international co-operation fully emerged in the early 1990s. United Nations forces were dispatched to the Balkans and demonstrated the strategy much praised by Unternationalists, namely unaction.

The term probably derives from the so-called Unlearned Parliament of 1407, when Henry IV excluded all lawyers, believing they would merely waste the sovereign's time. But with the birth of theUnited Nations in 1945, the positive aspects of wasting time on a global scale were soon recognised. The growing hesitancy of the United Nations organisation and its leading members' indecision over the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina has led followers of unternationalism to believe their movement has finally come of age.

The motto of all unternationalist politicians is simply "Easier said than done". This has provided the movement with opportunities to host lavish conferences and "talks" all over the world. These gatherings, often attended by closet unternationalists, emphasise the "said", leaving the worry of the "done" to almost anyone else.

Untellectuals are the brilliant diplomats of the movement, who refuse to have their minds made up; they attend unquests, lengthy conferences designed to blame no one; they employ countless unterpreters, who translate such phrases as "attempted genocide" into "ethnic cleansing", and "what the hell next" into "ultimatum".

The establishment of the United Nations "safe havens" at Srebrenica and Zepa in Bosnia was initially a small victory against the do-nothing-quickly militants of unternationalism. However, with the havens now unsafe rather than safe, and the wringing of hands again commonplace, hardline unternationalists feel reassured.

A 1932 speech by the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin (when he said "the only defence is in offence"), is often deliberately cited in reverse by unternationalists. What is meant is often subsequently analysed in leader columns of national newspapers for months on end, thus achieving the aims of the movement.

Franklin D Roosevelt's comment (made in the same year as the birth of the UN) that "more than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars" is quoted in the unternationalism hall of fame. So, once war has begun, as demonstrated in the continued carnage in Bosnia, does the international community want an end to the beginning, or the end itself to come quickly? Unternationalism advocates such a decision can be made - but not yet.