Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bush Signs Bill To Limit Contributions To The UN

The United Nations has decided to vote itself a hefty spending increase of 10% next year--bringing its budget to $4.2 billion. The vote was 178-1, with only the US opposing. Despite voting against the budget, the US will still be obligated to pay about $922 million, almost 25% of the proposed budget.

The Investor's Business Daily, however, notes that
...we in fact pay much more than that each year.

In 2005, the most recent year for which data are available, we spent more than $5 billion on the U.N. and related activities, ranging from food programs to peacekeeping. That's a rise of 67% during George Bush's first term alone. So much for stingy Americans.
Well, actually the US has taken a step to cut down on contributions to the UN, based on Bush signing off this Wednesday on H.R. 2764: Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008:
(Sec. 699G) Prohibits funds under this Act from being made available for a contribution to the United Nations or a U.N. subsidiary body until the Secretary certifies that the U.N. has taken certain spending and procurement transparency steps.
(Sec. 699H) Prohibits funds under this Act from being made available for the United Nations Human Rights Council unless the President certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that: (1) the provision of such funds is in the U.S. national interest; or (2) the United States is a Council member.
The bill has been passed by both chambers of Congress and has been signed by the President. It will become law once administrative actions are complete.

This comes out to about $3 million, but it is a start in showing our disapproval of the UN oil-for-food scandal, various reports of abuse by UN peacekeepers--including prostitution, the failure of the UN to act against genocide in Darfur and Rwanda and allowing Iran to continue its nuclear program unimpeded.

The IBD addresses the underlying cause of the problem:
Why such a bad record? Part of the problem is the U.N., which was started after World War II with the best of humanitarian intentions, has been hijacked by a variety of left-wing and anti-Semitic agendas, pushed by an aggressive pack of anti-U.S. and anti-democratic nations that tend to vote as a bloc in the U.N.

According to Heritage Foundation fellow Brett Schaefer, these U.N. voting blocs include the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, and the Group of 77 developing nations (which has 130 members — not 77.) All these groups are, in fact, anti-American, anti-West and anti-free market.
One reaction to this is to take measures to cut back on the funding of the UN. True, you can point to alot of good that the UN has done, but given the opportunity--and $4.2 billion--I think I could do alot of good too.

Of course, there is another course of action: start from scratch. That's what the IBD suggests:
Let the tyrants and bureaucrats go home. Maybe we can form a new organization based on the 89 countries classified as "fully free" by the nonpartisan human rights group, Freedom House. That would give us almost half of the U.N.'s 192 current members — a good start for a new beginning.
This is actually not a new idea. At a Novermber conference about the UN demonization of Israel, Congressman Thaddeus McCotter suggested the formation of a 'Liberty Alliance' of like-minded democratic countries, working together in the context of the UN. Senator Bill Frist went a step further last year when President Bush decided not to seek US membership on the new UN Human Rights Council:
My hope is that President Bush will consider establishing a council of democracies outside of the U.N. system that could meet regularly to truly monitor, examine and expose human rights abuses around the globe.
In The UN and Beyond: United Democratic Nations, put out by the Hudson Institute, Anne Bayefsky writes that reform of the United Nations at this point is probably impossible, and comes the closest to a concrete suggestion:
I think, however, it would make a lot more sense to talk about a UDN, a United Democratic Nations. It could begin with a small coalition of states comprised of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. (p. 2)
Sounds like a good idea--one worth talking up and action on.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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