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Are U.S. Interests Being Advanced at the U.N.?
Posted By Brett Schaefer On September 21, 2010 @ 4:32 pm In International | Comments Disabled
In anticipation of President Obama’s second address to the United Nations this week, the White House has published a lengthy press release titled “Advancing U.S. Interests at the United Nations ” that lists the achievements of the administration at the United Nations. The motivation behind the press release is that those achievements are not being given their due in the eyes of the White House. This is, however, entirely fitting because the achievements are themselves not really notable. In brief, the administration’s list of claimed U.N. accomplishments includes:
In an effort to sift the legitimate accomplishments from the bromides and the failures dressed up as successes let’s go point by point:
Even giving full credit to the administration’s claims, which is generous to a fault, are they really notable? Are they really the harvest expected by President Obama when he promised  “new era of engagement” with the United Nations to facilitate “a global response to global challenges”?
In a word, no. Some of the “accomplishments” are welcome, but none are truly consequential. Many resemble or simply repeat policy’s of the unilateralist Bush administration. The reform claims are simply wishful thinking.
This paltry record of accomplishment has to be galling to an administration that entered office ready to partner with other countries at the U.N. and eschew the generally frank approach of the Bush administration. Indeed, one wonders if the administration is feeling jilted by their prospective multilateral partner.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major foreign policy speech  at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this month which included this fascinating observation, “The UN was never intended to tackle every challenge, nor should it. So when appropriate, we are working with our partners to establish new venues and organizations to focus on specific problems.”
This is a welcome acknowledgement. The United Nations is a political body and many of the other member states are opposed to key U.S. policies and objectives. They use the institution to undermine those policies and are not shy about voicing disagreements and aspersions loudly  and frequently . They weaken  or block  U.N.  Security  Council  actions to sanction human right abuses or to enforce anti-proliferation efforts. Countries like Libya, China, and Cuba get elected  to the U.N. Human Rights Council by huge majorities. The U.N. is as good as its membership allows it to be and engagement will not change this reality.
By making engagement and good relations the primary goal and soft-pedaling  disagreements and problems, the administration is pursuing a policy of unilateral diplomatic disarmament. Nearly two years in, could the Obama administration finally be realizing that America is not the reason why the U.N. so often fails to live up to expectations? Well, at least we can hope for change.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/09/21/are-u-s-interests-being-advanced-at-the-u-n/
URLs in this post:
 Advancing U.S. Interests at the United Nations: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/20/advancing-us-interests-united-nations
 notes: http://www.aei.org/print?pub=article&pubId=102544&authors=%3ca%20href=scholar/121%3eJohn%20R.%20Bolton%3c/a%3e
 opposition: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3661134.stm
 serious problems: https://email.heritage.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/111/sch072909.pdf
 problems: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/decapua-drc-rapes-oxfam-8sept10-102448699.html
 not improved since the U.S. joined: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2009/11/the-un-human-rights-council-no-better-for-obamas-engagement
 U.S. participation only serves to extend U.S. credibility and legitimacy to a body that does not deserve it: http://blog.heritage.org../2010/09/16/the-ambassador-doth-protest-too-much
 so did the Bush Administration: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/gashc3940.doc.htm
 elected: https://email.heritage.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/04/29/elects-iran-commission-womens-rights/
 U.N. failed to lower the U.S. peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent as agreed: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2007/09/keep-the-cap-on-us-contributions-to-un-peacekeeping
 sabotaged at every turn by the U.N. bureaucracy: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/243512/u-n-insider-there-no-transparency-brett-d-schaefer
 the U.N. budget continues to grow at breakneck speed: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/02/Time-to-Rein-in-the-UNs-Budget
 U.S. contribution are at an all time high: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/08/us-funding-of-the-united-nations-reaches-all-time-high
 Obama administration agreed to an increase in the U.S. peacekeeping assessment rate: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/01/un-dues-obama-lets-american-taxpayers-down
 promised: http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2009/September/20090923110705eaifas0.3711664.html
 major foreign policy speech: https://email.heritage.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/09/08/clinton_pledges_another_century_of_american_global_leadership
 loudly: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/09/19/ahmadinejad-future-belongs-iran
 frequently: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/09/25/2009-09-25_venezuela_president_hugo_chavez_keeps_it_light_at_un_general_assembly.html
 weaken: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/world/asia/25beijing.html
 block: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/12/AR2007011201115.html
 U.N.: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China_Business/JG15Cb01.html
 Security: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1057912/1/.html
 Council: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6587497.stm
 elected: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/elections.htm
 soft-pedaling: http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/ObamaSoft-PedalsReformsUN/2010/09/20/id/370844
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