You can bet that the Clinton Administration will use the
substitution of another African, Kofi Annan, for Boutros Boutros-Ghali
as UN Secretary General as an excuse to try to bamboozle Congress to
pony up a extra billion dollars in handouts to the United Nations.
Congress should assert its appropriations authority and say no.
The notion that we "owe" the UN $1.2 billion (some say $1.7
billion) in back assessments is ridiculous. For years, we've been
paying 25 percent of the budget while being treated like a Third World
Sob stories about the UN's "financial crisis" deserve a belly
laugh. The UN's cash shortage is caused by its corrupt and extravagant
spending, not by a backsliding or penurious United States.
The general annual UN budget has expanded from $20 million and
1,500 employees in 1945, to $10 billion and 50,000 employees today. Of
this, U.S. taxpayers are contributing an estimated $4 billion a year.
Although we have the power of the Security Council veto, for the
most part the United States has played the role of just one vote among
185 in the General Assembly. The other countries even ganged up and
voted the U.S. off of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and
Budgetary Questions which makes up the UN budgets.
The United States is assessed 25 percent of the UN's general
budget, double that of any other nation. Japan is assessed 12.45
percent, the United Kingdom 8.93 percent, and more than 90 countries
only 0.01 percent each.
When he was Secretary General, Boutros-Ghali endorsed the notion
that the UN should impose global taxes in order to relieve the UN of
any accountability for contributions from its member nations. The
first thing Madeleine Albright should do is demand that UN Secretary
General Annan repudiate that impudent suggestion.
In addition, the UN "peacekeeping" budget has expanded from $700
million in 1990 to $3.5 billion today. The UN assesses the United
States 31.7 percent of the "peacekeeping" budget (U.S. law now limits
us to 25 percent), compared with 8.5 percent for Russia, 6.3 percent
for the United Kingdom, and 7.6 percent for France, all of whom have
more direct interest in the various UN expeditions than we have.
The Clinton Administration, having succeeded in dumping Boutros-Ghali, will now claim that we should pay our "peacekeeping arrears" so
that we can demand fiscal reform. That puts the cart before the horse;
if we fork over the cash first, we'll never get reform.
The United States is the only country that really wants UN reform.
Most of the others are not spending their own money, they are spending
ours, and their overpaid UN representatives feel threatened by American
ideas of fiscal integrity.
The arrogant UN bureaucrats didn't even pay lip service to reform
until Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) introduced his bill called the United
Nations Withdrawal Act. It would require the United States to withdraw
from the UN by the year 2000, while retaining membership in a few
In 1984, Congress passed the Kassebaum-Solomon amendment to try to
force the UN to impose fiscal discipline on itself. The effort failed.
The Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by the 104th Congress
included a provision that withholds payments of so-called U.S. arrears
unless the UN meets two of three specific reforms:
- the UN budget
must be less than the $2.6 billion 1996-97 budget,
- the UN
Secretariat staff must be reduced by 10 percent, and
- the UN must
make net budget cuts of $100 million.
That's a wee small step in the right direction, but it's not
enough. The UN must cut its colossal bureaucracy, which is now spread
around 70 agencies doing mostly useless paper-pushing.
For starters, Congress should reduce our contribution to 20
percent of the UN budget, and we should withhold all payments until the
staff is reduced by at least 10 percent. That's the only language the
Even more important is dealing with UN mischief. Congress should
expose the fakery of UN participation in "peacekeeping" expeditions to
places where there is no peace to keep.
Under Boutros-Ghali, UN "peacekeepers" were sent to intervene in
civil wars and to carry out a nebulous new activity called nation-building. Of course, such projects are expensive and always involve
more missions, more time, more risk, and more troops than anticipated.
But the worst part is that they involve U.S. troops and U.S. risk
In faraway places where we have no national security interest.
Congress should make it clear that U.S. armed services are not UN
policemen or a UN foreign legion, and will be sent only on missions
required by the U.S. national interest and voted by Congress.
Congress should reassert its constitutional authority over the
U.S. armed services, making it clear that we will not engage in any UN
military action disguised as "peacekeeping," that U.S. troops will never
serve in UN uniform, or under UN command or UN rules of engagement, and
that no U.S. ground troops will be committed for any UN enterprise.