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Does the UN Still Matter?

With 192 members and a mandate that covers everything from security to refugees to public health, the United Nations is the world’s only global organization. But polls in the United States show that two-thirds of Americans think the UN is doing a poor job, and many believe it was tarnished by corruption during the Iraq oil-for-food program under Saddam Hussein. Many also blame the UN for failing to solve the Middle East’s myriad problems.

But such views reflect a misunderstanding of the UN’s nature. The UN is more an instrument of its member states than an independent actor in world politics.