Since the first days of the new presidency, the Obama administration has continued to seek a definition of the US relationship to the United Nations. From the time of president’s first appearances at the General Assembly and the Security Council, his watchwords have been “engagement” and “multilateralism.” But Americans and non-Americans, allies and enemies, have wondered from the beginning just what those terms mean as actual policy of the United States of America.
In Living with the UN, Kenneth Anderson attempts to set out the meanings of multilateralism and engagement with the United Nations in a fashion that can actually guide policy. Anderson explains that there are many United Nations, for it is a collection of different institutions, organs, actors, functions, motives, and motivations. Once the multiplicity of the United Nations is on the table, he shows, it becomes possible to see that there are multiple ways of engaging (or not) with it—or with them. He then provides approximate rules of thumb that can guide US policy as the presumptive starting point for how, or how not, to engage with the United Nations in its particular parts and functions.
Anderson argues convincingly that the goal of the United States cannot be simply to make the United Nations more efficient and effective, however much one might wish it. He shows that a more responsive, better-run, and generally more effective United Nations would not always operate in America’s interest. Rather, a genuinely effective United Nations would almost certainly be, in important matters, more effectively anti-American to both its policies and its ideals. Thus the author’s ultimate answer to the question of when the United States should engage with the United Nations is a resounding sometimes. Despite the extensive and severe criticism of the United Nations that Anderson offers throughout this book, he acknowledges that the useful functions of the institution are many and varied and that the United States should support and promote them.
With unrelenting candor throughout, Living with the UN outlines a pragmatic, overarching policy framework for the United States in its long-term relations with the United Nations during the Obama administration and beyond.
Kenneth Anderson truly writes an interest book that is easy and enjoyable to read.
All in all, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn about the failure that is the UN and to anyone who is looking for a great read worth their time.
I intended to give the book a try and read a few pages, but after the first chapter I became hooked!
Before picking up Anderson's book, I must say I was not very knowledgable when it comes to the UN. This book really opens up a new way of thinking concerning the UN, in a very... Read morePublished on May 17, 2012 by L Murph
This book is a very interesting and a easy read. Normally books like this either get bogged down in too much detail and barely reveal anything or they don't explain the essential... Read morePublished on May 17, 2012 by Tom K.
Before reading this book, I knew nothing about the UN, now that I have read it, I've gotta say it's a great and easy read while being very informative.Published on May 17, 2012 by Ash
Finally a political author who doesn't dance around the subject! Kenneth Anderson's clear, concise look into the UN gives readers an intelligent viewpoint on the relationship... Read morePublished on May 17, 2012 by ADays
As a High School Junior interested in both International Affairs and Law, I found this book both well written and fascinating read. Read morePublished on May 16, 2012 by TheTrueBlueYungu
The first thing you notice when you pick up this book is how easy it is to read. Anderson provides an interesting and insightful analysis of the shortcomings of the UN while... Read morePublished on May 16, 2012 by L. Irion
As a casual follower of politics and current events, I always thought the UN was the organization that kept us all safe. Read morePublished on May 16, 2012 by Beverly Wong
Kenneth Anderson's Living with the UN is an insightful read which gives readers an easy to understand but highly intellectual look at the American responsibilities in regard to... Read morePublished on May 16, 2012 by Sam G
after reading the first few pages of this well-written, concise, and interesting book, i was intrigued by how fast i was flipping the pages! Read morePublished on May 16, 2012 by W. Gabriel