Please Remind Us -- Why Keep the UN in New York?
When Moammar Gaddafi came to speak as one of the stars of the United Nations General Assembly's annual opening debate in 2009, he complained about the rigors of traveling all the way to New York, and offered to move the UN to Libya. That offer may now be off the table. But it was one of those very rare moments in which the deranged dictator had a good point. It gets ever harder to justify keeping the UN in New York.
This year, as the UN General Assembly wends through its annual opening at UN headquarters in Manhattan, the tone, theme and starring characters are distinctly Middle Eastern. The new president of the General Assembly is from Qatar: His Excellency Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. The country presiding at the Security Council this month is Lebanon. One of the most powerful voting blocs in the General Assembly is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference), headquartered in Saudi Arabia. One of the major meetings organized by the General Assembly will be the Durban III "commemoration" of the 2001 Durban Conference, which centered on that Middle Eastern specialty of bigotry and discrimination toward Jews and Israel. The focal issue of the entire Assembly this year has become the bid by the Palestinian rulership to abrogate years of "peace" agreements by seeking from the General Assembly a statehood the GA cannot confer -- but which it is prepared to promote regardless. And, of course, there will be the annual main stage appearance by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
What part does the U.S. play in all this? Well, New Yorkers get to navigate the security barricades and the traffic gridlock. American taxpayers get to foot roughly one-quarter of the tab, both for the UN budget and for the current $2 billion renovation of UN headquarters. And the American president and his diplomatic corps get to plead with the Palestinians to wave off, while readers of the New York Times get to peruse such stuff as the not-so-veiled threats from Saudi Arabia that America had better kow-tow to the Palestinian godfathers and their pals, or else...
Seriously, why does the setting for this have to be midtown Manhattan? At far less cost to Americans and their allies, this entire performance could more easily be staged in Doha. Or Beirut. Or Riyadh. Or Tehran. Or, for that matter, Ramallah. If the UN is going to function largely as a vehicle to serve the demands and agenda of the Middle Eastern gang now dominating the doings of the General Assembly in New York, then why should America grant the UN right-of-way in Manhattan, and pay to put fuel in the tank? Ship the whole caboodle to the Middle East. Save American taxpayers roughly $8 billion per year by letting the UN enthusiasts in that part of the world pay for it. And let the new UN patrons know that if they're willing to play nice and pay for the tickets, American diplomats might perhaps be persuaded it's occasionally worth the bother to drop by.