“Indispensable, if imperfect,” is how President Obama’s envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, has described the UN. If you accept the “indispensable” part of that phrase (and after years of watching the UN in action, I don’t), that still leaves the question of just how “imperfect” the UN has become. Since the advent of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. has been ever more willing to tolerate the imperfections. Oversight by the U.S. Mission appears to have pretty much dried up, U.S. security interests get no real traction at the UN Security Council, U.S. tax dollars keep gushing in, and America keeps trying to place at the center of its foreign policy an institution where the majority would rather spend time and U.S. tax dollars on projects such as outlawing free speech and enlisting quack science to control the world economy in the name of fine-tuning the weather to the second decimal point.
Could it be that one of the imperfections aggravating this process is the performance of Ambassador Rice herself?
So argues Richard Grenell, a former spokesman of the U.S. Mission to the UN, who served under four ambassadors during the Bush administration. Grenell makes a compelling case — which caught my eye thanks to a post on NRO’s Corner by Brett Schaefer of the Heritage Foundation. Schaefer highlights some of Grenell’s arguments, and concludes that “it appears that not even Ambassador Rice takes the U.N. seriously enough to try to make it work.” In Grenell’s article itself, worth reading in full — “Where Has Susan Rice, Our UN Ambassador, Been This Past Year?” — we get quite a tour of the lapses, failings and sheer irresponsibility of current U.S. administration dealings with the UN. He notes there is no more effort to control the UN’s sky-rocketing budget (which dips into U.S. wallets for roughly one-quarter of its funding), and no evident follow-up to matters symbolized by such items as $200,000 spent by a UN agency on renovating a guest house. He also points out that the old red-white-and-blue colors of the web site for the U.S. Mission to the UN have been transformed under Rice to UN blue, with a big UN logo (and a little American flag).
But the main thrust of Grenell’s piece is that Rice herself, despite all her talk about the importance of the UN, has been largely awol from Turtle Bay. She commutes between her penthouse in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Washington, D.C. — where Grenell says she has the largest office and staff of any U.S. ambassador in UN history. She has been missing at many Security Council meetings on important issues, including some on Iran, as well as the recent vote to add more UN peacekeepers in Haiti. But she finds time to go “regularly” to White House social functions, including holiday parties and the White House Halloween Party, for which she dressed up in a Walt Disney “Goofy” costume.
I’m sure the Goofy costume was all in good fun, and Grenell says Rice is the life of the party. But his article might just leave you wondering if Americans would be better off with Goofy himself representing America at the UN.