A House committee is considering a bill to reform the United Nations as a condition for further funding of that body by US taxpayers. The sponsors of this bill have good intentions. But HR 2829 does not address the worst waste—nor the threats that the United Nations poses to American sovereignty.
What does the bill say?
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-18) introduced HR 2829, the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011, two days ago. The Clerk of the House assigned it to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The bill runs to 153 pages. Its target: a United Nations that, the sponsors say, is out of control and thinks that “it can be as anti-American as its dollars allow.”
The bill’s “findings” section bluntly accuses the United Nations of freeloading. According to it, Americans pay more to the UN than does any other country—billions of dollars. Furthermore, one can assemble a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly out of members that pay less than one percent of the UN’s budget. And they could then control the budget. Obviously, the takers can outvote the payers. Alexis de Tocqueville warned against that same kind of moral hazard.
The sponsors find two problems with the United Nations. One is the classic problem of “waste, fraud and abuse.” The other is an atrocious double standard in United Nations policy in the Middle East.
Ros-Lehtinen and her colleagues want the American contribution to be voluntary, not “assessed” (i.e., mandatory). They also want the same thing that any ratepayer or credit-card account holder gets with his bill: an itemized statement showing where the money goes.
The most controversial part of the bill concerns the treatment of the Palestinian Authority. Today that body is an “observer” at the UN and its agencies. HR 2829 would cut off US funds from any UN agency that made the PA a full member. This is an obvious warning to the UN in advance of a planned vote this month on a Palestinian state.
Ros-Lehtinen said this to defend her bill:
This legislation ends the era of no-strings-attached contributions, and gives us leverage to pressure the UN to finally make concrete reforms. Making UN funding voluntary will give the US control over how our contributions are spent at the UN. Otherwise, U.S. taxpayer dollars will keep being spent on the bad, the ugly, and the indefensible, and there will continue to be no incentive for the UN to reform.
The United Nations apologists start squawking
Those who apologize for the United Nations are already complaining. Stephen Lendman at IndyBay focuses on one thing only: how the bill would affect the “Palestinians.” His real quarrel is with the Republic of Israel, as his rant makes clear. He says nothing about whether the United Nations wastes money in other ways.
The official United Nations apologist association has a slightly more coherent complaint. They say that HR 2829 would “forfeit American leadership at the United Nations.” Of course, they fail to show how America leads by paying vast sums and asking for no accounting. They say,
H.R2829 would not only undermine real progress toward reform at the United Nations, but would also return us to an era of debt and ineffective leadership.
But tellingly, they do not say how. Nor do they address the bill’s findings that America contributes more than 22 percent of the budget, but has no control over it. This while a group of countries contributing less than one percent of the budget could muster the two-thirds of the General Assembly needed to write the budget.
Does the bill go far enough?
HR 2829 does make some valid points in its findings. The “disconnect” between the givers and the takers is real. And America is the biggest giver of all.
But the findings say nothing about UN Agenda 21. That is a far more immediate and greater threat to American lives, property and interests than recognizing a Palestinian state would be. UN Agenda 21 has a clear intent: to herd people into dense “islands of human habitation” (i.e., big cities) and return vast tracts of land to the wild.
Nor does it address a few other United Nations gems:
- Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Convention on Small Arms.
Each of these is a direct threat to American sovereignty, liberty, and/or livelihood.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is correct, as far as she goes. The United States cannot afford to give to the United Nations with “no strings attached.” And paying most of the bills for an organization that never asks your opinion is not leadership.
But no one has ever asked whether the United Nations, as a supra-national organization, violates the Constitution. Nor does this bill address direct threats to American sovereignty that go far beyond the United Nations budget.
The bill that Congress should take up would run to far fewer pages, and have a much simpler goal: Withdraw from the UN.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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