Republicans Advance Bill Targeting US Funding for UN: ‘What Are We Paying For?’

Republicans Advance Bill Targeting US Funding for UN: ‘What Are We Paying For?’

By

Patrick Goodenough

October 14, 2011

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, meets with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Washington in March 2009. (UN Photo by Eskinder Debebe)

(CNSNews.com)

– A U.S. House committee Thursday approved a bill linking U.S. contributions to the United Nations to significant financial and other reforms, one day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned she would recommend that President Obama veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

Deeply divided along party lines, the House Foreign Relations Committee voted 23-15 for the U.N. Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act (H.R. 2829), whose most radical provision aims to force the U.N. to change its funding mechanism from the current system of “assessed” contributions to voluntary ones.

Proponents say this would allow the U.S. – and other member states – to fund only those activities and agencies it regards as being efficiently managed, and in the national interest.

In order to compel the U.N. to make the shift, the legislation would withhold 50 percent of the U.S. assessed contributions to the regular budget (which does not include peacekeeping) if the U.N. has not moved at least 80 percent of the budget to voluntary funding within two years.

American taxpayers account for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular operating budget and 27 percent of the separate peacekeeping budget in “assessed” dues. In addition the U.S. provides billions of dollars in voluntary contributions for various U.N. agencies. In FY 2010 the total U.S. contribution was $7.69 billion.

Conservatives critical of the U.N. have long advocated the U.S. using its leverage, as the biggest funder by far, to push the world body to reform – and to weaken efforts by hostile member-states to use the U.N. to harm American interests.

The bill’s author, committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), told Thursday’s markup hearing that the U.N. budget continues to climb.

“What are we paying for?” she asked, then cited repressive regimes’ membership on the Human Rights Council, a continuing anti-Israel bias, the elevation of member states like North Korea and Iran to leadership positions in various bodies, and corruption scandals.

“Why do we bear the financial burden for this?” Ros-Lehtinen continued. “Every year, scores of member countries that contribute almost nothing to the U.N. vote together to pass the budget. Then they pass the costs on to big donors like the U.S., which is assessed a whopping 22 percent.

“In contrast, China pays just three percent. We need a game-changer.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman, said the “real agenda” behind the bill was to end U.S. participation in the U.N. and to “deal a fatal financial blow to the world body.”

He argued that there was no evidence to support the notion that withholding dues can leverage meaningful change.

“Previous attempts at withholding did not lead to any significant and lasting reforms – they only succeeded in weakening our diplomatic standing and influence, and undermining efforts to promote transparency, fiscal responsibility and good management practices in the U.N. system,” Berman told the committee.

‘A dangerous retreat’

If the bill does pass in the House – where it has 125 co-sponsors, all Republican – its passage through the Democrat-controlled Senate would be an uphill battle. Even if it did make it through the Senate, its chances of making it into law are slim.

In a letter to Ros-Lehtinen on Wednesday, Clinton expressed strong opposition to the measure, saying if it reached the president, she would recommend a veto.

Citing U.N. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples, she argued that international engagement through the U.N. comes at a fraction of the cost of acting alone.

“This bill also represents a dangerous retreat from the longstanding, bipartisan focus of the United States on constructive engagement within the United Nations to galvanize collective action to tackle urgent security problems,” she wrote

Golfing While the Constitution Burns

Golfing While the Constitution Burns

Ben Johnson, The White House Watch

 

When Barack Obama and John Boehner played golf this weekend, they played
on the same team
. How appropriate.

Barack Obama has violated the Constitution’s war-making power – reserved by
Article I, Section 8,
to Congress – from the moment he sent American troops into harm’s way without
Congressional approval. He has been violating the War Powers Resolution since at
least the 60th day of that campaign. And he has violated the most
liberal reading of that act – the one Boehner has adopted as his own – since
this weekend. Yet despite the letter
Boehner authored last week, which the media presented as an “ultimatum,”
Obama has neither obtained Congressional authorization nor removed our troops.
Boehner’s
letter weakly supplicated
“I sincerely hope the Administration will
faithfully comply with the War Powers Resolution,” but at least it seemed to set
this weekend as a definitive cut-off point.

The “deadline” has come and gone, and Obama has not answered the most burning
questions of the mission’s legality to anyone’s satisfaction. Instead, the
president has thumbed his nose at Congress in general, Boehner in particular,
and the American people at large, and the Speaker-cum-caddy has made no
meaningful response whatsoever.

Obama insists the American role in Libya is too diminutive to constitute
“hostilities,” so his action is perfectly legal. White House spokesman Jay
Carney repeated
his boss’s party line at Monday’s press conference, stating, “the War Powers
Resolution does not need to be involved because the ‘hostilities’ clause of that
resolution is not met.” However, soldiers in Libya are receiving an additional
$25
a month in “imminent danger pay.”
American drones still rain missiles down
upon military targets. NATO is alternately
bombing
Muammar Qaddafi’s home
and killing the innocent Libyan civilians they are
purportedly protecting. (We had to kill the civilians in order to save them?)
NATO admitted (at
least
) one of its bombs went off target on Sunday, killing
nine civilians in Tripoli
, while allied bombs allegedly killed
15 civilians in Sorman on Monday
.

Not to worry, though; Defense Secretary Robert Gates said over the weekend,
in a confidence-builder worthy of Churchill, “I think this is
going to end OK.”
Gates, who once
opposed
the Libyan adventure, has pulled
a 180
on the matter.

Even Obama’s short-term fellow Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, agrees
Libya more than rises to the level of hostilities.

So, too, we have learned, do the best legal minds of Obama’s administration
(not a coveted nor much-contested title, I assure you). In overruling
his own lawyers, Obama rejected the
considered conclusions
of Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel,
and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal
Counsel (OLC). The New York Times reported
it is “extraordinarily rare” for any president to overrule the OLC. “Under
normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding
on the executive branch.”

But then, nothing in the Obama administration transpires under “normal
circumstances.”

Two former OLC lawyers outlined precisely how unusual the dismissal was….

Read
more
.

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PLANS CAMPAIGN TO ‘STRENGTHEN’ UN…

Susan
Rice kicks off U.N. series

By: Mike Allen and Jake
Sherman

February 11, 2011 09:27 AM EST

Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, will
argue in a major address Friday evening that the U.S. should “strengthen” — not
“starve” — the world body.

The address is the first in a series of
speeches — to continue this spring – making the case to the American people
about why the U.N. matters to national security, and how it is being
improved.
House Republicans failed this week in trying to get $180
million in overpaid dues back from the United Nations. The effort was widely
panned by New Yorkers in Congress as damaging to security.
The ambassador will be speaking to the World Affairs Council of Oregon, in
Portland.
“The U.N. provides a real return on our tax dollars by
bringing 192 countries together to share the cost of providing stability, vital
aid, and hope in the world’s most broken places,” Rice says in prepared
remarks.
“Because of the U.N., the world doesn’t look to America to
solve every problem alone. … We’re far better off working to strengthen the U.N.
than trying to starve it—and then having to choose between filling the void
ourselves, or leaving real threats untended

Defund the United Nations

Defund the United Nations

December 22nd, 2010

Neil Stevens, RedState.com

The United States of America keeps the United Nations afloat. In 2009 we were assessed 22% of the budget of the UN, and paid out slightly under 24% of what was collected, thanks to the Tax Equalization Fund system. So in practice we paid about a quarter of the UN budget. Without us, the UN has to do some serious belt tightening.

So if we’re going to keep alive the UN as we know it, spending $598,292,101 in a direct assessment and surely more in other expenses, we’d best make sure we’re getting our money’s worth. The Obama deficit has gone through the roof and we simply cannot afford frivolous luxuries anymore. If the UN is not achieving its mission, it’s time we stopped paying for it.

This month I believe the UN has finally crossed the threshold of uselessness, and it’s time we defund it….

Read more.

Obama’s Envoy: We’ll Slash Carbon Footprint “Even Without Domestic Legislation”

Obama’s Envoy: We’ll Slash Carbon Footprint “Even Without Domestic Legislation”

November 30th, 2010

Dana Gatusso, National Policy Center Blog

As  UN negotiators attempt to lower the expectations bar on the  climate  change talks that kicked off yesterday in Cancun, keep your eye on  Todd  Stern, the Obama administration’s special climate change envoy and  the  U.S. government’s representative at the talks. Already he is  promising  U.N. officials that the U.S. will cut carbon emissions even  though  Congress never approved legislation and the American people are  against  any such measures.

Desperate to avoid any repeats of the failure that was the Copenhagen summit last December, UN officials assert….

Read more.

The Agenda Revealed: How Obama Will Rule by Executive Order in 2011

The Agenda Revealed: How Obama Will Rule by Executive Order in 2011

November 22nd, 2010

Ben Johnson, FloydReports.com

Late last month, a reporter asked the head of the Office of Public Engagement Valerie Jarrett what she would tell her close friend Barack Obama about the American uprising against his aggressive liberalism. She replied,   “To stay the course and to know that it will get better.” Those were   not idle words of comfort; they were marching orders. The president told the New York Times he runs every decision by Jarrett, and she has admitted to Vogue magazine, “I kind of know what makes [both Obamas] who they are.” When she speaks, Obama listens.

The   day after the election, as pundits forecast how he would compromise   with the Republican House, Barack Obama revealed that he planned to   continue moving this country to the Left. As though he were invincibly   ignorant to the will of the people, Obama told Democratic volunteers on a conference call, “We’ve just got to work harder to deliver the change the American people want.”

Last   week, the Center for American Progress (CAP), which received   significant seed money from George Soros, released a 47-page paper   illustrating how he could do that: by ruling through executive order, as   this author reported he would. Some of their proposals include  blocking  legislation passed by Congress, advancing the Cloward-Piven  Strategy,  and levying a new fee on foreign oil. Now, Soros is  threatening to dry  up the cash flow if Obama does not comply. Obama  appears poised to  continue shoving the big government liberalism  Americans repudiated this  month down their collective throat through  executive action.

Read more.

Obama Considering Rule by Executive Order in 2011

Obama Considering Rule by Executive Order in 2011

October 8th, 2010

Ben Johnson, Floyd Reports

This morning, political commentators are paying a great deal of attention to one of the Los Angeles Times’ stories about Barack Obama’s plans for a Republican takeover of Congress. Unfortunately, they are focusing on the wrong one. Most commentators spent the morning quoting the president’s remarks on a black radio program that a GOP-dominated Congress will result in “hand-to-hand combat.” The reality is most of the action will take place behind their backs and over their heads. All indications are, if Obama cannot get his legislative agenda enacted by Congress, he will impose it by decree.

The evidence comes buried elsewhere in today’s L.A. Times in a piece by Peter Nicholas and Christi Parsons under the hum-drum headline, “Obama Reshapes Administration for a Fresh Strategy.” The story makes clear the “fresh strategy” borders on government by executive fiat. It begins, “As President Obama remakes his senior staff, he is also shaping a new approach for the second half of his term: to advance his agenda through executive actions he can take on his own, rather than pushing plans through an increasingly hostile Congress.” This rule by divine right of kings is confirmed by no less an Obama insider than David Axelrod, who said, “It’s fair to say that the next phase is going to be less about legislative action than it is about managing the change that we’ve brought.” The Times states candidly:

So the best arena for Obama to execute his plans may be his own branch of government. That means more executive orders, more use of the bully pulpit, and more deployment of his ample regulatory powers and the wide-ranging rulemaking authority of his Cabinet members.  (Emphases added.)

Read more.

New UN Report Targets Arizona “Xenophobes and Racists”?

New UN Report Targets Arizona “Xenophobes and Racists”?

September 30th, 2010

Ben Johnson, Floyd Reports

A report issued today by a United Nations agency appears to be a thinly veiled critique of Arizona’s immigration law, one that equates its supporters with “xenophobes and racists.” The Global Migration Group adopted its statement on the “Human Rights of Migrants in Irregular Situation” — that is, illegal aliens — earlier today in Geneva. It criticized unnamed nations for viewing illegal immigrants “through the lens of sovereignty, border security or law enforcement, sometimes driven by hostile domestic constituencies,” and demanded nations endow illegals  with “economic, social, and cultural rights,” including “reproductive healthcare.”

The report seems to be the fruition of Barack Obama’s decision to haul the state of Arizona before the UN Human Rights Council over its differences on domestic policy.

Read more.

Welfare World Will UN socialists fulfill their quest for global wealth redistribution?…

Welfare World

Posted By Joseph Klein On July 1, 2010 @ 12:01 am In FrontPage | 2 Comments

The United Nations is pressuring the world’s most developed countries to pony up more money to fund the world’s all-time biggest give-away wealth redistribution aid program to the developing countries — the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals, scheduled to be achieved by 2015, are eight internationally-agreed targets which aim to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality and environmental degradation.

At the just recently concluded summit of the leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) industrialized and developing economies in Canada, for example, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of stepping up efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through increased development aid and investments. “Under any circumstances we must not balance budgets on the backs of the world’s poorest people,” the Secretary General told leaders of the G20.

In advance of a high-level summit at the UN Headquarters that Ban Ki-moon will convene in New York in September, 2010 to press countries to accelerate their efforts to achieve the MDGs, he has established a high-profile “MDG Advocacy Group” co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Its purpose, according to the announcement of its launching, is to “support the Secretary-General in building political will and mobilizing global action to make the MDG Summit a turning point in our collective effort to achieve the Goals by the 2015 target date.”

A look at the two co-chairmen raises serious concerns. Zapatero, Spain’s Prime Minister, is a committed socialist. Indeed, he has served as the Secretary General of the Socialist Party.  Kagame, Rwanda’s President, has blamed the West for Africa’s troubles, has praised China and, according to the Economist, “allows less political space and press freedom at home than Robert Mugabe does in Zimbabwe.” That’s quite a distinction.

Other prominent non-U.S. members of the 18-member MDG Advocacy Group include the former socialist president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, and Jan Eliasson, former Swedish social democratic Minister of Foreign Affairs who participated in a demonstration during which Hezbollah flags waved in the air and an Israeli flag was set to flames. U.S. members include the progressive economist Jeffrey Sachs, Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals, and Ted Turner, a self-described “socialist at heart.”

Not all members of the MDG Advocacy Group are leftists. Hopefully, Bill Gates, at least, will provide some balance, for example. But the mission and progressive-leaning tilt of this group ensures that the emphasis of the UN-led Millennium Development Goals agenda will continue to be reflective of the UN’s redistributionist philosophy. This is confirmed by a report issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on June 17, 2010 entitled What Will It Take To Achieve The Millennium Development Goals? An International Assessment. Buried amongst all of the rhetoric was a suggestion for an international finance tax and “imposing levies on international maritime transport and on air travel, and developing a uniform global tax on carbon dioxide emissions (with a per capita exemption for low-income countries).”

The European Union is right in sync with such proposals for global taxes. With labor unions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a bevy of liberal and left-wing economists reportedly pushing for a global financial tax, it won’t take much persuasion for our progressive president to go along.

Although foreign aid programs in the past have turned out to be a colossal waste due to such problems as corruption, the United Nations wants us to pour much more money down the same sinkhole. It is pushing each developed country to give away 0.7 percent of its gross national income (GNI) to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Looking ahead to 2015, the year when the Millennium Development Goals are supposed to be achieved, the United States alone would have to pay more than $100 billion for development assistance under the 0.7 percent assessment regime (as applied against the gross domestic product of the United States projected by the Congressional Budget Office for 2015). Consider that by the end of that same year – 2015 – the Congressional Budget Office projects that the total debt held by the public as a percentage of the GDP will be a whopping 65.4 percent.

Barack Obama demonstrated back in 2008, when he sponsored legislation in the Senate, that he was prepared to have the United States contribute hundreds of billions of dollars in additional aid from American taxpayers to this cause over a span of thirteen years or so. As a presidential candidate, Obama said that “I’ll double our foreign assistance to $50 billion by 2012, and use it to support a stable future in failing states, and sustainable growth in Africa; to halve global poverty and to roll back disease.” There is no indication that, despite record deficits and the skyrocketing federal debt attributable to Obama’s runaway spending programs, Obama has backed off of this commitment.

Focusing on money alone as the prime solution to the problems besetting poor countries  – particularly Africa  – overlooks the tribal, racial, religious and ethnic divisions that have spawned killing fields there.  Real progress in meeting the basic needs of the peoples of these lands cannot happen until the slaughter stops.  In addition to the direct casualties of war, the violence breaks up the social networks necessary to feed, clothe, shelter and provide health care to the people – right down to the family unit itself.  Building more hospitals, for example, will do no good if their staffs and patients are forced to flee from the violence surrounding them and the vital hospital supplies are looted.  Development aid and technology to protect the environment will be wasted when the ravages of war continue to destroy croplands, forests, ecosystems and other natural resources.  True human development needs the nutrients of sustainable freedoms to grow and prosper, no matter how much financial help from the developed countries is forthcoming to help eradicate poverty and disease in the poorer regions of the world.

Ironically, in the UN’s own Millennium Development Goals Report, which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released with great fanfare at a press conference at UN headquarters on June 23, 2010, the authors recognized the limitations of foreign aid in solving all development problems. For example, they stated in the section dealing with the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education that “In many countries, educating girls is widely perceived as being of less value than educating boys.”

I asked the Secretary General what the United Nations and he personally were trying to do to change such perceptions that interfere with the achievement of this Millennium Development Goal, and with a separate goal to “promote gender equality and empower women.”  He ducked the question, as did the report’s lead author, by citing statistics about improved educational opportunities for girls. Tell that to the girls denied an equal education in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and other majority Muslim countries. Cultural norms – not lack of money – are the main problem in many cases.

Simply throwing good money after bad does not solve complex social and political problems that are deeply rooted in a country’s history and demographics. So-called “Robin Hood” taxes and other redistributionist schemes will end up having the same detrimental result as we are witnessing now in left-leaning countries like Greece and Spain. Incredibly, Spain’s prime minister is now co-chairing the MDG Advocacy Group, carrying with him the same fatally flawed philosophy to champion on the world stage.

Given President Obama’s own proclivities for unrestrained social spending and wealth redistribution, we will likely be falling into this same trap.

Netanyahu to International Community: Stop the Hypocrisy

Netanyahu to International Community: Stop the Hypocrisy

 

Posted By P. David Hornik On June 3, 2010 @ 12:38 am In FrontPage | 106 Comments

 

The IDF has released two more videos from the incident Monday morning on the Mavi Marmara, the largest in the Turkish-organized six-ship flotilla that challenged Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and the only one to prepare a violent ambush. One of these two videos is even more dramatic than the one released on Monday [1], now viewed by over a million on YouTube, that shows Mavi Marmara “peace activists” among other things beating the soldiers with iron bars.

The relatively less dramatic [2] of the two newly released videos shows the “activists”—actually jihadists seeking “martyrdom” [3]—attacking the soldiers with a stun grenade, a box of plates, and water hoses as they try to board the ship. The other newly released video is actually almost purely audial footage [4] of a frenetic exchange between soldiers on the Mavi Marmara and the nearby IDF ship. The former, in a state of acute panic, shout that they need reinforcements, are being fired at from all directions, and have to be evacuated immediately. For a while the jihadists can be heard chanting something in the background.

The iron-bars video was released only late Monday afternoon after the “Israel kills peace activists” media-storm had already swept through the world for eight or nine hours, and some in Israel have bitterly charged that releasing it a good deal earlier, if not immediately, could have saved Israel much of the media and diplomatic damage. The reason for the delay was a concern for military morale: seeing soldiers of the Naval Commandos—one of the most legendary of all IDF units—being abjectly beaten, and in one case thrown over the side of the boat, is not the sort of imagery the IDF and Israel itself want to project of these fighters.

But if the iron-bars video is problematic in that regard, the new one in which the soldiers shout, in panic, for their lives is even more so. Why, then, was it released now, when the UN Security Council, with President Obama’s acquiescence [5], has already condemned Israel over the incident, the UN Human Rights Council is preparing another Goldstone-type “investigation,” [6] and Israel has generally been dragged through another worldwide round of condemnation? This new video proves beyond a doubt to any reasonable human being that the soldiers finally opened fired, killing nine of their attackers, solely to save their own lives. But what good could it do at this point?

The answer is that Israel realizes its troubles from this incident are not over and indeed are just beginning. Another ship, the Rachel Corrie (named after the young anti-Israeli activist accidentally killed by an IDF bulldozer in 2003), is already on its way [7] to Gaza from Malta; while carrying only fifteen activists, Irish prime minister Brian Cowen has described it as Irish-owned and is calling on Israel to let it through. A group called the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza claims to be planning a new, much larger flotilla than the one intercepted by Israel this week. Newly elected British prime minister David Cameron is calling on Israel [8] to lift the Gaza blockade altogether.

In other words, the democratic world is now getting into the act too—with a vengeance. It was one thing for increasingly-Islamist, Iran- and Syria-friendly, Hamas-supporting Turkey to send the first flotilla. It is quite another thing—and well beyond the usual, de rigueur, but shameful cooperation with Arab-, Islamic-, and “nonaligned”-bloc calumny against Israel in the UN—for Western governments to start getting on this bandwagon as well.

It was in response to the increasingly alarming situation that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a brief, terse statement [9] to the nation Wednesday night in which he said: “The state of Israel faces an attack of international hypocrisy. This is not the first time we have faced this; two years ago we faced a massive attack of missiles fired by Hamas who hid behind civilians. Israel went to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties; but whom did the UN condemn? It condemned Israel.”

Noting that “It is our right according to international law to prevent arms smuggling to Gaza and that is why the naval blockade was put in place,” Netanyahu pointed out that two ships intercepted by the Israeli navy in recent years—the Francop [10] in 2009 and the Karine-A [11] in 2002—were carrying hundreds of tons of Iranian-supplied weapons, and that while the smuggling of Iranian weapons into Gaza through tunnels continues, what can be delivered by sea is incomparably vaster and would result in an Iranian port in Gaza threatening not only Tel Aviv but also “other countries in the region.”

Turning finally to the uproar over the Mavi Marmara, Netanyahu, noting that he had talked personally with the wounded soldiers and heard firsthand accounts of how their lives were endangered, stated:

The soldiers defended their lives with incomparable restraint. What would any other country do?… I ask the international community, what would you do instead? We’ll continue to defend our citizens and assert our right to self-defense, which is my first duty as prime minister.

It is important that we stay united on this issue, which is a matter of life and death.

The questions Netanyahu raised are indeed very much open. It is no longer clear whether the international community, including its democratic component, is prepared to tolerate the soldiers of the Jewish state shooting back when shot at by a mob, and no longer clear whether it is prepared to countenance the Jewish state defending itself, or existing, at all. Israel, meanwhile, is still trying to make its case, hardly confident that it makes a difference.

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