INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON WORLD AFFAIRS
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number of subscribers remained low because of widespread piracy. So, in 1999 I gave up on the newsletter and began publishing UNDIPLOMATIC TIMES. With a controlled circulation to all diplomatic missions, Secretariat offices, journalists and representatives of non-governmental organizations at the UN, it was beyond piracy.
The United Nations is trapped in international power politics. Governments have demonstrated a staggering lack of vision in the way they have used the Organization, and that failure has been kept from public view by mass media that cover multilateral affairs as if it were a football game: who wins, who loses, how many goals are scored. In reality, everyone has been on the losing side, for there's only one team: all of us, regardless of where we live, whether we are rich or poor, or what faith we profess. (Indeed, we have to include all life as part of that team. As my forbears in ancient India put it, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: all creation is one family.)
The publication was liberated from its hard copy existence when the renovation of the UN Headquarters building sent me off to India in 2008: undiplomatictimes.com became a purely web-based publication. In mid 2015 I returned to the United States and decided to broaden its focus from the United Nations to world affairs generally. The change marked the realization that the UN is now in the same situation as the League of Nations in the 1930s, when the world was sliding from the Great Depression into the Second World War. As there will be little time and perhaps no need to create a successor organization if the world slides into another unrestricted war, I recommend that planning for a radical reform of the United Nations now. My report on what needs to be done can be downloaded here.
As the pun in its name implies, Undiplomatic Times does not beat around the bush. The mix of straightforward reporting, commentary and analysis provides a unique perspective, often dramatically different from that found in mainstream media. That is a proud boast, but it has rendered the Web version of UNDIPLOMATIC TIMES incapable of making money. In the hard copy, paid editorial inserts and advertising usually covered costs, but it was essentially a labor of love. In the online version it is entirely that, for there are no income streams. It has proved impossible to monetize because both in India and in the United States I seem to be in some sort of political quarantine. The people who now act behind the scenes to safeguard democracies from intellectual contamination let me know in many ways that my work is not welcome. The traffic reported by my web host seems to be entirely whimsical fiction, occasionally registering no hits at all for days on end. That cannot be true, for at least my friends and acquaintances read what I publish. The site is squared away to receive ads from Google's Adsense but none have appeared. I have received no comments on this site since it went online, no letters, no phone calls. Two books, the result of researches over the last five decades, remain unpublished because agents and publishers simply do not respond. (You can read bits and pieces of the books here.) You could say that for all intents and purposes, I exist in the digital version of a medieval dungeon.
Why do I bother? The four decades I have spent thinking and writing about international affairs have led to the firm conviction that if we want a peaceful world, it cannot be left to governments. Every individual has a responsibility to understand the basic unity of the world and to act in its defense. This web site is my bit to encourage such action. It seeks to demystify international issues and the United Nations System, to give readers information largely unavailable in corporate mass media.
In 1990, as part of a wave of "reform," the United Nations offered to buy out the contracts of staff who wanted to leave. I volunteered, and my bosses accepted with alacrity. In the emerging post-Cold War dispensation at the UN, my propensity to present the viewpoint of developing countries at staff meetings had become increasingly irksome.
For nearly a decade after quitting as a staff member, I put out a weekly newsletter on UN affairs, the International Documents Review. An eight pager turned out at a copy shop near the UN, and sold for $200 a year, it soon won a following. But the