Bashing the United Nations is one of the most well-thumbed pages in the right wing foreign policy playbook. Apparently Republicans see no problem in resurrecting Bush-style unilateralism or thumbing their noses at the rest of the world, because House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has just introduced a new bill to punish the UN.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s move was prompted by the specter of an impending UN vote on Palestinian statehood later this month, but this is merely a convenient pretext for the congresswoman’s deep-seated animus toward the world body. One way we know this is that the then-new chairman (her preferred title) chose this as the topic of her very first committee hearing back in February, as I wrote at the time.
My friend Don Kraus, CEO of Citizens for Global Solutions, recites the many problems with the UN-bashing bill over on his blog. But the main problem is this: it is an attempt to punish a diplomatic venue for a vote taking place there. Don captured the essential fallacy with the following sports analogy:
Funding for the United Nations should not be cut based on the actions of some of its members. It’s like blaming Madison Square Garden for the Knicks losing a game.
Actually, the Foreign Affairs Committee has been a wellspring of ideologically-driven legislation since the Republicans took control of the House. A few weeks ago, the committee’s mark-up of the foreign operations authorization bill spurred ranking minority member Rep. Howard Berman to characterize it to Josh Rogin of The Cable blog as “a series of tantrums.”
Not to say that the Palestinians’ push for UN recognition isn’t a serious issue of its own. As Josh reports, the Israeli government is threatening to respond to the UN vote by nullifying its agreements and cooperation with the Palestinian Authority (PA), on the grounds that the authority will have assumed a totally new identity. The United States has sided with Israel in opposing the Palestinians’ UN campaign — viewing it as worsening the situation — but the Obama Administration likewise urged Israeli leaders not to cut off cooperation with the PA. The path toward a two-state solution is far from clear, since the Palestinian strategy is likely based on an underlying assessment that the intermittent peace process is illusory.
It’s a bleak picture, to be sure, but the United Nations as a diplomatic arena is hardly the source of the problem.
Photo credit: Chris Smith