TCS Daily

Look Up to the UN

By Stephen W. Stanton - April 28, 2003 12:00 AM

You've seen it. The emails have died down a bit, but by now most online readers have seen a photo of the Twin Towers digitally retouched to illustrate what should be built on the site of the World Trade Center. The picture depicts five towers of varying height built to resemble a clenched fist defiantly raising a middle finger at those who would have us live in fear.

Most people dismiss the photo as harmless humor. Others find it disrespectful to those who died. Some object to the image because it celebrates mankind's worst temptations: vengeance, hatred, or even - *gasp* - unilateralism.

The original artist probably had another thought in mind. Maybe he did not want to make people laugh, disrespect the dead, or incite rage. Maybe, just maybe, his integrity compelled him to make this statement. Perhaps the image is the modern equivalent of the Crispin's day speech penned by Shakespeare four centuries ago. The message is the same: Let nobody question our unwavering resolve. We will not cower, we will not break. It does not matter who stands with us. Our enemies need only know what we stand for, and how firmly we stand.

To be honest, I share the sentiment. We should not let fear permanently depress the Manhattan skyline by erecting inconsequential buildings in the place of the marvels taken from us. Whatever goes up on the WTC site should send a clear message to the enemies of liberty, capitalism, globalization, and the United States.

Since it is a bit impractical to use ten million square feet of prime real estate just to flip the bird, it doesn't mean we still can't use the new WTC to send a message. We can do so by focusing on its function: Make it the epicenter of global capitalism.

The new design should be the biggest, most grandiose monument to capitalism ever constructed. Every floor would be jam-packed with traders, bankers, lawyers, corporate executives, slick marketing reps and other assorted "infidels". No other location in the world would provide such ready access to teams of CPA's, MBA's, CFA's, and the other professionals that grease the wheels of commerce. Bureaucratic pre-9-11 tenants like the NYS Department of Taxation would be replaced by vibrant private businesses. Every occupant would have access to the world's fastest and most secure computer networks. With state-of-the-art videoconference and on-site meeting facilities, plus rapid transportation to two international airports, the new Trade Center would become the deal-making capital of the world, a Mecca for those who worship enterprise.

The new structure would not simply rent floor space to corporate tenants. It could change the very paradigm of free enterprise, causing quantum leaps in globalization, wealth creation, and technological innovation. Businesspeople of all nations would convene at this one site to make a buck.

For example, in a single building, Arab entrepreneurs could meet several construction firms capable of building massive pipelines and refineries. A few floors down, several financiers could easily raise the capital for such large-scale projects. On-site professionals could handle the due diligence and cross-border tax and legal mumbo jumbo. Other consultants and entrepreneurs in the Trade Center would develop business plans to harness the expected oil revenues in wealth-generating enterprises, rather than simply handing over the cash to the local dictator. The vision is one-stop-shopping for capitalism, one central location to house thousands of competing professionals with a unifying mission: to transform ideas into wealth, wherever and whenever possible.

This way, 9-11 would mark the turning point in Al Qaeda's pyrrhic jihad
against the West, only strengthening that which they sought to destroy. (Put that in you pipe and smoke it, Osama.)

World's Most Elaborate Insurance Policy

Of course, a bolder Trade Center would be a much bigger target for radical Islamists. To prevent another attack, we can take out the world's most elaborate insurance policy: Move the United Nations from its current headquarters on the East River and stick in the top floors of the new Trade Center.

In its current East Midtown location, the UN is roughly five miles away from the WTC site. This places diplomats well out of range of any conventional bombs or suicide attacks on Manhattan's Financial District. In fact, most UN diplomats would probably even survive a Hiroshima-sized blast in the Downtown area, and almost certainly escape any harm from a smaller explosion in the 1 kiloton range. Moreover, the UN building does not have any south-facing windows that would allow electromagnetic radiation to zap ambassadors. After such a blast, most diplomats would be whisked away north before fallout could reach Midtown, perhaps escaping to LaGuardia Airport. (A more detailed assessment of a nuclear attack on Manhattan appears halfway down this page.)

Sitting safely on their Midtown perch, ambassadors from dictatorial regimes can foment anger at the United States, rouse hatred of globalization, and encourage reprisals against Western institutions. They make Wall Street the scapegoat for the Third World's problems. The not-so-subtle message to radicals: blow up Wall Street, and your problems will go away.

In addition, the UN props up despots, lending them legitimacy, and waging PR campaigns on their behalf. In their zero-sum worldview, wealth is a sign of guilt, not progress. For example, the UN's Commission on Human Rights recently voted to condemn any nation that uses trade policy to influence the domestic policy of another nation. Murderous despots and oppressive dictators have an inalienable right to engage in free trade with every other nation. In other words, no nation has the right to impose sanctions or boycotts on even the most oppressive dictator, regardless of his human rights abuses, ties to terrorism, or active efforts to proliferate WMD's. The measure passed by a vote of 36 to 14. France, Germany, the UK, and the U.S. were all on the same (losing) side. Who voted for it? No surprises: Syria, Algeria, Cuba, Libya, China, Saudi Arabia. Look at the Commission's other recent votes. In each case, the U.S. is on the same side as France and Germany.

There is a clear and growing dichotomy between the Western values and non-Western leadership. Without the protection and moral authority granted by the UN, many of the world's worst dictatorships could crumble.

So why not move the UN to the top floors of the new World Trade Center? If terrorists manage to topple the structure, the UN would go down with it. France would lose its veto. Libya would lose its seat on the Human Rights Commission. Iraq would lose its position on the Disarmament Commission. Dictators of the world would lose their one claim to legitimacy. The loss of the UN would be devastating to the backwards leaders of the Third World. More importantly, diplomatic henchmen of these despots would be risking their own lives each time they incited anger at the Western capitalism while speaking from 100 floors above its center.

While the leaders of Japan, the UK, and the US might be glad to see the UN go, they will not abide the loss of another World Trade Center. It would mean the loss of thousands of our most productive citizens, and the hobbling of the global economy.

The illegitimate rulers of the world need the UN intact to stay in power. Money-worshiping Westerners will want to keep the new Trade Center open for business. Ambassadors have cushy jobs and enviable lifestyles. They will not lightly risk unemployment (and death) by encouraging more attacks on the WTC. For the first time ever, diplomats of every nation will be unified behind a single mission: "Let's resolve our problems in a civilized manner so that nobody will want to ram a plane downstairs."

We just have to put their mouths where our money is.

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