U.N. Goals and Reform Depend upon American Participation

Article excerpt

Rep. Christopher H. Smith's Oct. 21 Op-Ed column, "UNcertain problem," expressing objections to U.S. support of the United Nations, ignores the leadership role our country has played in this important forum since our involvement as one of its founders following World War II. Should we continue to default on our treaty obligations in financial support of the United Nations, we would forfeit, to our overall disadvantage, an important tool in realizing worldwide aspirations for the establishment of democracy, the rule of law and market economies. Sending a signal of nonsupport to the United Nations is simply not in our best national interest.

Mr. Smith correctly points out that all is not well within the United Nations. Reforms of administrative practices are long overdue in many areas. To be sure, the process of reform often has been a "two steps forward, one step back" process. But most of the reforms accomplished recently have resulted from unrelenting pressure from the United States and other reform-minded member states. To disengage from this process would set back the cause of constructive reform and help assure the perpetuation of inefficient and ineffective practices. By opening ourselves to criticism as a "deadbeat" nation, we stand to relinquish our claim to constructive participation in seeking improved governance in the United Nations.

It is true, as Mr. Smith points out, that the president must share with Congress some of the blame for the recalcitrance that has led to this impasse. An unwillingness to compromise on both sides threatens the future of our effective participation in the United Nations. …