If We Want Your Opinion, We’ll Beat It Out Of You

The UN is one of the last institutions you will find me defending, and I won’t start now. There is much to be angry about with regard to Mr. Malloch Brown’s speech yesterday, but let us focus on a few points for now:

The deal was struck to link budget approval with achievement of significant management reforms, and Mr. Bolton made frequent mention of Congressional impatience with the United Nations and legislation that would authorize Washington to start withholding its dues. The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of its budget.

“In recent years the enormously divisive issue of Iraq and the big stick of financial withholding have come to define an unhappy marriage,” Mr. Malloch Brown said.

He noted that the United Nations was fielding 18 peacekeeping operations abroad at lower cost and higher effectiveness than “comparable U.S. operations.” Yet, he said, that fact has been ignored or underplayed by policy makers and opinion shapers in Washington.

“To acknowledge an America reliant on international institutions is not perceived to be good politics at home,” he said.

Given that we pay 22% of the budget, it’s not surprising that we would try to exercise influence by withholding money. That’s not how I would do it, though: I would simply withdraw from every piece we find objectionable, like the new “Human Rights Council”. It reminds me of one of Glenn’s favorite phrases: “You lie down with dogs, you come up with fleas”. In a way, the Bush Administration is being more supportive of the UN than I would simply by engaging them in discussions on reform. The Bushies believe the UN is reformable with our active involvement. I disagree and my inclination is to abandon the parts that aren’t working with a parting word that we’ll be back when they get their act together.

The bit of bragging that he engages in about the UN’s peacekeeping operations seems laughable as well. The UN is only able to handle very low intensity conflict as it is, and even then they are just as likely to cut and run when it gets tough, as they did in East Timor only last week.

As far as America’s reliance on the UN is concerned, I suspect it has more to do with the insistence of the countries we have to deal with rather than some notion that the UN is indispensable. They set terms that require us to deal with them through the UN, or not at all.

P.S. Yes, the Michael Jordan of blogging is back.

Update: Gateway Pundit has more on Bolton’s reaction.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Congress, United Nations, , , , , , ,
Robert Prather
About Robert Prather
Robert Prather contributed over 80 posts to OTB between October 2005 and July 2013. He previously blogged at the now defunct Insults Unpunished. Follow him on Twitter @RobPrather.


  1. just me says:

    I don’t think the folks at the UN would give a care if the US withdrew from the parts that aren’t working, as long as we keep cutting those checks.

    While I like the idea of withdrawing from the parts that don’t work (although I don’t know that any parts are working), I think we also have to withdraw the funding those parts receive, if anyone is going to listen.

    I personally am no fan at all of the UN, and think it is one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer dollars.

  2. gunner says:

    I have long thought that the best use of the U.N. would be to chop it loose, float it out to sea and sink it with naval gunfire, give the big boats with the 16 inch guns one last chance to shine.