January 26, 2007 | Commentary on Foreign Aid and Development
The United Nations recently announced that it is teaming up with
Marvel Comics. The unlikely
partnership will publish a comic featuring the usual Marvel
superheros working mask-in-glove with U.N. peacekeeping forces and
agencies such as UNICEF. Their mission: to bring peace to war torn
nations and rid the world of disease.
No doubt the Marvel heroes - if they really existed - would pursue these objectives with single-minded dedication. But it's doubtful they would achieve them with the U.N. as a sidekick.
Over the years, the U.N. has often been a den of thieves and thugs - a legion of villains rather than of heroes. In the past few years alone, Turtle Bay has seen an avalanche of scandals and crimes. Some of the more notorious include:
Considering this decidedly unheroic record, the U.N. could certainly use some super friends to clean up the messes it has made. Here are some suggestions for the first comic episodes:
Of course, if superheroes were real and decided to pursue these worthy missions, the U.N. would hotly condemn them for acting "unilaterally." The entire pantheon of Marvel heroes would have to twiddle their thumbs until the U.N. issued a comprehensive, "consensus" set of regulations to keep them from going "too far" in fighting injustice.
The very notion that today's U.N. is eager to embark on heroic struggles against evildoers defies reality. But reality is no check on propaganda, which explains why the organization is so keen to team up with Marvel. The U.N.-themed comic will be distributed free to one million U.S. school children in hundreds of schools. The U.N. also plans to translate it into other languages and distribute them around the world.
Why? A U.N. communications officer explains that the comic will make the U.N. "more accessible" to young people who will "get excited if they know their heroes like Spider-Man will work with the United Nations to address these issues, peace and security."
Marvel Comics became a publishing powerhouse because their superheroes had flaws and were therefore more "realistic" than their competitors' offerings. How ironic that Marvel's "realistic" heroes will be used to burnish the image of an often ineffective organization, subject to corruption, lacking in accountability, and serving as a soapbox for the world's most despotic nations.
Ironic, but - sadly - not surprising. After all, these are the
same guys who previously thought it would be a good idea to kill
Brett Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in National Review Online