Get in line, UN
We are not in that fanatical group of UN-haters who blame most of the world’s ills on the international conclave. In a world of perennial crisis, increasingly rapid communications and shortened distances, there certainly needs to be an international forum for open-ended discussion, and perhaps, when adequately safeguarded, a base for combined multinational action.
But we do have our list, a quite long one, of criticisms. And we have waited long years for another stalwart American UN representative such as the late Jeane Kirkpatrick who tried, not all that successfully as it turn out, to bring Washington pressure for some reform to the body.
We also remember that it is the US [and its ally Japan] who pick up by far the largest part of the tab for the organizations’ long list of growing activities around the world. {For example, in 2014-15 its estimated $7 billion for military costs for “peacekeeping” around the world, Washington and Tokyo picked up more than 40%, and that will increase now that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has received permission from the Japanese parliament to join multilateral overseas military operations.]
At a time of straitened resources for the U.S. government, we ought to go checking out the accounting. It’s hard to know just how much the American taxpayer actually gives the UN and its affiliated organizations. The nominal American contributions come from the State Department and AID [U.S. Agency for International Development]. But literally hundreds of millions of dollars are paid into UN activities by various American government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture to the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Fund, the Department of Energy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services to the World Health Organization.
Congress has asked for an accounting of these funds but only once, for 2010, did it get a full scoresheet. That was for FY 2010 when payments exceeded $7.691 billion, and to give you an idea of what is happening, that figure was some $1.3 billion higher than FY 2009.
But what has raised our hackles and ignited the whole question again is Pres. Obama’s outrageous announcement that he will short-circuit the U.S. Congress and go to the UN Security Council for an endorsement of his “deal” with Iran. Given the fact that Russia and China both hold seats with vetoes on the Council, and that both are all too eager to begin dipping into the billions which will accrue to Iran if Obama’s “deal” is accepted and sanctions are lifted, that is adding insult to injury.
The Congress, which by the most specific terms of the U.S. Constitution has the authority to approve all treaties negotiated by the President, has voted to take a 60-day look at the “deal”. .It’s a quibble for the White House to insist the Iran deal is an “executive agreement” and not a treaty, and to call up precedents to bolster their case. The fact is that it is “a formally concluded and ratified agreement between countries” for which the Constitution specifically requires Senate confirmation. And no one has argued that it is less than critical to the conduct of American policy in one of the most volatile areas of the world.
It is no secret that many in the Congress see Obama’s agreement to permit Iran to become “a threshold nuclear state”, that is one capable of producing weapons of mass destruction but agreeing to forebearance, at least for a limited time. Nor has it escaped them that at the last moment, the U.S. side threw in a lifting of sanctions on missile technology and weaponry, something both Russia and China are all too anxious to sell to Iran’s growing capacity to launch interncontinental ballistics missiles, even at the U.S.
Obama says his critics have no alternative, except military intervention and he became president pledging to take the U.S. out of wars in the Middle East, not to initiate a new one. That line of argument may again be as debatable as his prognostications about what future presidents would face years from now in a region where alliances are changing by the month..
But all of this should be argued and presented to the American people’s representatives. Its discussion should certainly not be short-circuited by the President’s going to the UN first.
Nothing would so inflame the politically aware in the U.S. body politic than such action. It is probably the best way to undermine further any credibility of the UN in the minds of the American people. We hope the President will back off this disastrous maneuver.
sws-07-19-15

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