The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Nothing at All

Last week the United Nations General assembly conducted an utterly meaningless vote that was given far more media attention than it deserved. Member nations condemned the United States for the temerity of noting that: (1) Jerusalem IS Israel's capitol, and (2) our embassy will be moved there. The hard left New York Times observed the vote, and with typical arrogance told us that the UN vote was actually a condemnation of their arch enemy, the current duly elected President of the United States. Nah, actually the vote was typical anti-American sentiment at the U.N., applauded by the increasingly anti-Israel Left. The current vote is but one of dozens that demonized and condemned Israel for "occupying" the fantasy country* that the palestinians insist actually existed before modern-day Israel was formed. This outright lie has become conventional wisdom among denizens of the left and a majority of UN member states.

The U.N. General Assembly is at least honest in its prevailing anti-US sentiment—an ironic position given that the United States contributes about 22 percent of the U.N budget—3.3 billion each year. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley noted that the current vote might precipitate a re-evaluation of those massive taxpayer donations to an unabashedly anti-U.S. organization. I can only hope that the Trump administration follow-up in 2018 and does exactly that.

In fact, it looks like tiny steps have already been taken. Andrew Keshner reports:
The Trump administration has worked out some “historic” belt-tightening at the United Nations, officials announced Sunday.

The UN’s budget has been slashed by more than $285 million, according to Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said the cost cuts gutted the organization’s “bloated management.”

On Sunday, Haley said the trimmed-down budget would mean increased discipline and accountability throughout the international organization.

She said the UN’s “inefficiency and overspending” were “well-known.”

Haley said she was pleased with how the new budget was shaking out.

“You can be sure we’ll continue to look at ways to increase the UN’s efficiency while protecting our interests,” she added.
$285 million in budget reductions is a very small start, but at least it is a start.

After all, since members of the U.N General Assembly want to flex their muscle with anti-Israel and anti-American votes and express their solidarity with the fantasy claims made by the palestinians, the least they can do is increase their collective contributions to pay for it.

A few years ago, on the 70th anniversary of the UN I wrote:
... There is a need for some of the functions that the UN provides, but these functions can be provided without the concomitant corruption, wasteful bureaucracy, and brazen anti-American sentiment from an organization to which we contribute over $1 billion a year.

It's time for a UN makeover. The organization should move out of the United States to a location better suited to its anti-Western membership. The United States should reduce it's support to the average yearly contribution of the top ten contributing nations. If that leads to budgetary problems for the UN, the organization should reduce the size of its massive, unnecessary bureaucracy. It should eliminate the various "commissions" that do little to improve the plight of the oppressed and everything to harass and denigrate targeted countries.

The UN is an anachronism that provides the appearance of an effective world body. Appearances, however, can be deceiving. It might be possible to restructure the UN into a smaller, more effective organization, but that's highly unlikely. In its present form, it does relatively little that could be not be accomplished more effectively with smaller targeted organizations.
The current U.N vote did nothing to change my mind. Nothing at all.


John Bolton makes a few concrete suggestions on how the USA can reduce its commitment to the UN:
Despite decades of U.N. “reform” efforts, little or nothing in its culture or effectiveness has changed. Instead, despite providing the body with a disproportionate share of its funding, the U.S. is subjected to autos-da-fé on a regular basis. The only consolation, at least to date, is that this global virtue-signaling has not yet included burning the U.S. ambassador at the stake.

Turtle Bay has been impervious to reform largely because most U.N. budgets are financed through effectively mandatory contributions. Under this system, calculated by a “capacity to pay” formula, each U.N. member is assigned a fixed percentage of each agency’s budget to contribute. The highest assessment is 22%, paid by the U.S. This far exceeds other major economies, whose contribution levels are based on prevailing exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity. China’s assessment is just under 8%

Start with the U.N. Human Rights Council. Though notorious for its anti-Israel bias, the organization has never hesitated to abuse America. How many know that earlier this year the U.N. dispatched a special rapporteur to investigate poverty in the U.S.? American taxpayers effectively paid a progressive professor to lecture them about how evil their country is.

The U.N.’s five regional economic and social councils, which have no concrete accomplishments, don’t deserve American funding either. If nations believe these regional organizations are worthwhile—a distinctly dubious proposition—they are entirely free to fund them. Why America is assessed to support them is incomprehensible.

Next come vast swaths of U.N. bureaucracy. Most of these budgets could be slashed with little or no real-world impact. Start with the Office for Disarmament Affairs. The U.N. Development Program is another example. Significant savings could be realized by reducing other U.N. offices that are little more than self-licking ice cream cones, including many dealing with “Palestinian” questions. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees could be consolidated into the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Many U.N. specialized and technical agencies do important work, adhere to their mandates and abjure international politics. A few examples: the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. They shouldn’t be shuttered, but they also deserve closer scrutiny.

Some will argue incorrectly that unilaterally moving to voluntary contributions violates the U.N. Charter. In construing treaties, like contracts, parties are absolved from performance when others violate their commitments. Defenders of the assessed-contribution model would doubtless not enjoy estimating how often the charter has been violated since 1945.
It's time. At the end of the day, tough love might be the only thing that could cause the UN to reform. Let's do this!


*I often refer to the "fantasy country" that underlies the unfounded claims of occupation by the palestinians (note that I purposely use the lower case construction because there is no actual palestinian people, only a collection of Arabs who have decided to call themselves "palestinians." David Solway provides an excellent discussion:
The vast majority of Palestinians hail from Egypt and South Syria, as 19th century census records and a plethora of authoritative studies, such as Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial, indicate beyond the shadow of a doubt. The PLO is a modern invention dating from the Rabat Summit of 1974. As has been pointed out more than once, if Palestine ever existed, where were the original borders? What was the currency? Where is the original flag? Where are its documented kings and rulers? Where are the historical artifacts and architectural remnants? And where are the founding texts and scriptures? The current fracas over the status of Jerusalem, the eastern section of which has been designated by the PA and the EU as the future capital of Palestine, is utter hooey. (Interestingly, India, China and Russia appear to have reversed their insistence on the East Jerusalem gambit, having “notably refrained from recognizing ‘East Jerusalem’ as the capital of Palestine at their annual meeting in New Delhi.” An invented nation can have only an invented capital. Neither enjoy legitimate existence. Palestine is the poster child for the anti-Zionist left -- that is the pivotal reason for its apparition -- but it is a nothing shawarma. [a play on "nothing burger"]