Foreign policy was a side issue in Tuesday’s election. But with crises in the making, from Venezuela to Iran, and points between and beyond, the wider world will be muscling its way into the spotlight soon enough. Let’s hope the new Congress, whatever its configuration, will take a serious interest in at least trying to resume some oversight of how American tax dollars get spent at that international colosseum known as the United Nations. The issue is not solely the billions of dollars Washington pours annually into the UN — providing roughly one-quarter of a system-wide UN budget that now comes to well over $20 billion. The problem is also that along with the usual waste and fraud, the UN spends some of those American billions on activities hostile to U.S. values and interests.
Just this past week, as I noted in a post last weekend on the UN’s Tiananmen Travesty, the Chinese head of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, presented an award to a Chinese former defense minister, Chi Haotian, who was operational commander of the troops who crushed the 1989 Tiananmen democratic uprising. Sha — UN credentials and all — delivered this award on behalf of the World Harmony Foundation, an outfit intriguingly listed by the UN itself in its accredited NGO database as having no available address or home country. Presumably that’s just UN sloppiness, given that the World Harmony Foundation on its own web site lists addresses in both Manhattan and Zhejiang, China.
Now comes word that the UN is now planning a Durban III conference for next September in New York City. Anne Bayefsky has the details at the Weekly Standard. This Durban III would follow the UN’s Durban Review Conference held in 2009 in Geneva (with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of the main speakers), which followed the UN’s anti-Semitic Durban Conference of 2001 (which got so bad that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell ordered the U.S. delegation to walk out).
Those are just two of the latest items in a list that includes: Iran on a slew of UN agency governing bodies, including UNICEF and the UN’s flagship development agency, the UNDP; Libya, China and Russia on the UN Human Rights Council; Iran among the countries overseeing the rights of women; UN efforts to gag free speech in the name of “anti-blasphemy”; sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers of populations they are supposed to protect; brazen violation of UN sanctions by members of the UN’s own Security Council; and the apparently endless list of UN proposals to impose its management style on the entire economy of the world, in the name of controlling the climate, commanding the seas, rolling out central plans for the planet, or whatever.
Basically, there is no incentive for the UN to put a brake on such stuff — barring threats that without better behavior, the funding will dry up. The main gusher of funding for the UN is the U.S. fisc. Don’t count on any serious oversight of the UN from the U.S. executive branch, which — with the State Department in the lead — usually prefers to treat the UN as a handy (though sometimes inconveniently toxic) slush fund. Note that almost two years into his administration, President Barack Obama has yet to get around to filling the slot at the U.S. Mission to the UN for an envoy for UN Management and Reform (since 2008, there has been only an acting ambassador in the post).
Repeatedly, it has fallen to Congress, whence the appropriations originate, to ask what U.S. tax dollars are really paying for at Turtle Bay — and try to do something when it turns out that American money is underwriting the activities of America’s enemies. The current Congress hasn’t really bothered with any of that. The UN is ripe right now for a good old American tea party at Turtle Bay.