America already gives more than any other country to bankroll the multi-billion dollar UN activities politely known as “peacekeeping.” But at least Congress in an effort to curb UN abuse had managed to cap U.S. contributions at 25% of the ever-expanding UN peacekeeping budget.
Looks like that cap is on its way out the window. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has just given a thumbs up to Senator Joe Biden’s bid to increase U.S. contributions to 27.1%, retroactive to 2005 and extending through 2008 — a move that would add another billion or so to the already outsized U.S. payola for UN peacekeeping. And that’s on top of the more than $5 billion the U.S. gives annually to the UN for other operations (such as Cash for Kim, inadequate auditing, self-laudatory histories, staff retreats at resort hotels and anti-American envoys to the Middle East).
The UN “peacekeeping” record by now includes failure to prevent genocide (Rwanda, Srebenica, Sudan), camouflage for terrorist bunker-building and arsenal-amassing (UNIFIL in Lebanon), sexual exploitation of the people the peacekeepers are sent to protect (Congo, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Liberia, Kosovo, Haiti, Cambodia, etc.), and a netherworld of money-laundering, kickbacks and fraud involving UN peacekeeping supply contracts. And despite the UN promises of reform, which the UN emits like squid ink every time a new abuse comes to light, there is still no real system of UN accountability in sight.
The issue isn’t just whether the average American taxpayer ought to be paying more than anyone else on the planet for UN peacekeeping, or graft-keeping, or sex-keeping, or whatever we really ought to call these operations. It is also whether Americans really want to be responsible for this kind of behavior — which we are if instead of demanding the UN shape up, we reward UN abuse by shoveling in even more U.S. money.
There is, of course, a way that America could with integrity wield money at the UN in the cause of peace. We could yank all U.S. funding from the UN Human Rights Council, which has become a haven and twisted source of legitimacy for a whole roster of despots who rule by force and fear — source of so many of the conflicts and so much of the misery that the UN is in theory meant to prevent.
Oops — hold the presses! It seems that on Wednesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did pass Senator Norm Coleman’s proposal to pull U.S. funding from the Human Rights Council, for now. But by the time the horse trading was done, this penalty included a Biden amendment that would allow a resumption of U.S. funding, should that be deemed in the national interest. Given that our own President has now embraced the fruitcake philosophy that it is in the national interest for Condi Rice to gladhand Iran and ensure the transfer of $25 million in crime-tainted money to North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, the dictators cruising in their Beemers to the Human Rights Council meetings in Geneva shouldn’t be too worried.