I'm less than impressed with ICANN (gTLDs, in particular, are just plain insanity and Not Going To Go Well and whoever thought that that was a good idea needs a brutal flogging); but I must admit to being somewhat baffled by this one.
The thesis about the dominant centrality of ICANN, IP allocation, DNS, etc. appears to ignore the multiple layers (wholly outside ICANN's control) of entities involved in, say, resolving a domain name. Much of the time, the various intermediate nameservers do just pass on the news from the root as efficiently as possible, since people like names to resolve unambiguously; but nothing requires them to (and they often don't, either for the purposes of setting up various internal services that don't need standardization because they only exist inside one organization's network, or for the purposes of DNS-based blocking of a given domain).
The intermediate infrastructure is also where most of the juicy surveillance, incumbency, and inequality live.
The spooks who watch the internet tap it where the traffic is, physically latching on to various backbone links and subverting ISPs. The advertisers and analytics creeps hit you at the server, and have also sometimes tried to work with ISPs.
Incumbency and inequality are substantially in the same boat (there's definitely a case to be made that the IPv4 allocation either misjudged or just didn't care about the developing world in particular, even more than it misjudged growth in the developed world; but with ~4 billion addresses available, period, and expected demand well north of 1/person, even a perfectly informed and maximally just allocation would only have postponed the inevitable for a slightly longer time). IDNs are still a little hairy, largely because Unicode is a little hairy(which is largely because natural language is a lot hairy); but present, and the other aspects of how your access to the internet is horrible are mostly between you and your abusive, overpriced, 'traffic shaping' ISP. ICANN is about as involved with that as the ITU is with your long distance bill(actually, probably less, since the ITU does wade into 'tariff' matters, in the ITU-T series D and likely elsewhere).
Is it the mere fact of being a US entity, rather than a good, honest, representative, UN entity like WIPO, that is disturbing, or are they up to something more egregious than floating some really lousy TLDs?
(Just in the interests of clarity, I wish to emphasize that the US government does not appear to be a good friend of the virtues of the internet; but that (largely because ICANN isn't a terribly good vehicle for the purpose) they don't seem to bother ICANN much about it. When the MPAA's personal branch of ICE does a seizure of 'pirate' domains, do they call ICANN? No, the lean on the individual registrar, something that registrars in all jurisdictions are vulnerable to, in relation to law enforcement in that jurisidction. When the NSA spies on all the things, do they call ICANN? Well, I would be unsurprised if they have a look at the logs of the root nameservers now and again, just because they can; but given that almost everyone actually gets their results through one or more layers of intermediate nameservers, I'd be surprised if they find much. The actual action is in tapping fiber, co-opting telcos, and getting access to data stored by assorted companies. To the degree that the US dominates the internet, they largely do so by means that depend on DNS working properly; but don't much depend on whose DNS it is. The spooks tap and hack all over, the ad-weasels build services under American jurisdiction that foreign nationals use, etc.
When I compare ICANN's present state, where their greatest sin appears to be an...alignment of interests...with domain registrars that is clouding their judgement about spewing worthless TLDs, with the alternatives, my major concern is that two interests are being conflated: 'avoid American hegemony on the internet' is a totally valid one. Heck, I'm an American and I don't much like what we do there. However, fighting over ICANN is mostly symbolic in relation to that goal. If somebody else ran the root, the stuff that the NSA, Google, and Facebook do would be unaffected. The longer-term concern is that, because of its symbolic value, and because the plausible 'international' administration would be some sort of UN appendage, is that 'internet governance' would become something were we don't even pretend to have noble ideals while skulking around in the shadows; but actively take input from assorted bastions of freedom of expression. If, say, the membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council doesn't make you wonder what great ideas an international, representative, body for 'internet governance' could come up with, I'm not sure what would.
As it stands, the US talks rather more talk than they uphold; but because ICANN isn't terribly useful as a technical apparatus, they've shown minimal interest in poking at it. Benign neglect by a country with a strong interest in talking about free speech beats a lot of alternatives.)