22 December 2017

Note from Norm: Rejecting the UN’s Rejection of US

The United Nations has a way of making those of us who believe in its potential shake our heads when they fail to live up to their mission and purpose.

The United Nations General Assembly voted to denounce President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

While 128 nations voted against the United States at the United Nations, 9 nations voted against the General Assembly repudiation of the President’s Jerusalem decision, 35 abstained and 21 countries didn’t vote – put another way, 65 countries stood with us and Israel.

As my good friend, and former Senate colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham stated, “I don’t mind the United Nations expressing displeasure with American foreign policy decisions through a non-binding vote of the General Assembly…However, I do MIND sending American tax dollars to: an inefficient UN, a weak UN in the face of evil, and a growing anti-Semitic UN. We will deal with these issues in 2018.”

Well said, and, as we should.

Let’s first start with the United Nation’s obsession, and enmity, against Israel.

No other nation in the world has been at the receiving end of the animus with such vitriol as Israel.

As Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accurately states, “To its shame, the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel…It’s a wrong that undermines the credibility of this institution and that, in turn, is harmful for the entire world.”

So bad is the body’s hatred for Israel that 100 members of the United States Senate signed a letter earlier this year, addressed to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, calling out the “unacceptable” anti-Israel bias in the international body.

Authored by Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) the letter stated “Through words and actions, we urge you to ensure that Israel is treated neither better nor worse than any other UN member in good standing.”

And, according to The Times of Israel, further stated that the “continued targeting of Israel” in the world body as “unacceptable.”

The United Nations is made up of 193 member countries, in which the United States provides nearly 22% of its general funding – or roughly $3 billion a year.

Adding in other payments the United States makes to the United Nations we are on the hook for nearly $8 billion a year to the United Nations.

In 2004 as the Chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations I called upon then Secretary General Kofi Annan to resign because of his failure to adequately police the so-called “U.N. Oil-for-Food” Program.

This program began in 1996 to allow Iraq to sell oil to pay for food and other critical needs of its people, ended up being a source of ill-gotten gains for thousands, including Annan’s own son.

Saddam Hussein himself manipulated the program to pay himself nearly $2 billion in bribes.

In 2005 I began a series of hearings into the matter and shed further light on the fact that the United Nations was complicit in helping to help others make money off the suffering of the Iraqi people by trading oil for money and favors.

In the end, the United Nations itself did more to harm the people of Iraq by allowing others under its control, and within its own operations, to benefit financially from the program.

It also allowed other bad actors to not just walk away with untold millions of dollars that should have gone for food for the Iraqi people – but permitted Hussein himself to use money to buy more weapons for his military buildup.

But it wasn’t just the UN Oil-for-Food Program that exposes serious problems with the United Nations.

In 2008 the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing regarding the United Nations Development Program in North Korea.  Reports in 2007 outlined massive management failures at the UN about this program.

Our hearings found inappropriate staffing, inadequate administrative and fiscal controls, inaccessible audits and insufficient whistleblower safeguards – confirming the worst fears raised in 2007.

Essentially, the UNDP was nothing more than a massive money laundering scheme by the North Korean government.

Months later the United Nations Development Program took the unprecedented step of suspending its North Korean operations.

We live in a dangerous world.  The United Nations was founded upon the belief that it could be a body capable of helping to make it less dangerous.

A place where nations could come and reason together and find common ground.  A place where world conflicts could be resolved by dialogue and discussion and compromise.

Instead, the United Nations continues to be the epicenter of biased anti-Israel resolutions adopted in the General Assembly by UNESCO, the Human Rights Council and other U.N. bodies.

It’s tough to stomach lectures on Human Rights from the likes of North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Iran.

The United Nations legacy of bloated corruption still lingers.

President Trump and Ambassador Haley have established exactly the right tone and made it clear that there is no more free lunch for demonizing our ally, Israel, at the United Nations – and that continued support of the United States by the world body is not a blank check any longer.

Reform of the UN and its mission, purpose and operations must be addressed in 2018.

The world deserves a UN that is focused on bringing nations together, not driving them apart.

American taxpayers deserve to know that the money they spend to support the UN is money that is making the world a better and safer place – not a world that uses the world body to settle scores with the United States or our allies.