A bill, introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in August would move American contributions to the United Nations from the standard compulsory fee to a “voluntary basis.” And then, if the the United Nations doesn’t receive 80 percent of its money from voluntary contributions, the bill would require the United State to cut its contribution by 50 percent.
Besides cutting out the general contributions, the proposed legislation would stop any new U.S. contributions to U.N. peacekeeping missions and set up a gauntlet of reporting requirements and auditing powers to look more closely at U.S. contributions to the United Nations.
The bill would also punish any U.N. organization that goes along with the Palestinian statehood drive. That includes money for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and (I would guess) UNICEF.
The situation is dangerous enough to U.S. diplomacy that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would recommend Pres. Obama veto the bill if it passes Congress. (Clinton threatens veto of Ros-Lehtinen’s U.N. bill)
Of course, I have to wonder who will be doing all the monitoring and assessment of the United Nations if the bill passes. Ros-Lehtinen et. al. have been on a campaign to reduce the size of the State Department dramatically.
There is really little to love about the United Nations other than the fact that it does provide a forum for different sides of complicated international issues to meet and talk their way out of problems. Is it overstaffed? Yes. Is it inefficient? Mostly yes. But it beats the alternative of open war.
Few in Congress or in foreign policy circles see the bill progressing to an actual vote on the House floor, despite Ros-Lehtinen request for one. But even if it passes the House, it will still have to face the Senate where there still seems to be a majority who believe it is better to use diplomatic means to calm down international issues. And that means keeping the diplomatic team staffed.
Oh, and if you are looking for some sort of connection in this story with domestic issues, think about how the United States might have to react if there were no U.N. peace keeping forces. We would either curl up into a national equivalent of the fetal position or have to send our own troops to settle the problem. Either way, it is bad for the American people. Isolation doesn’t work and neither does sending the Marines to every hot spot.