Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Gives U.N. a Mixed Review Speaking at Celebration, He Warns of `New Isolationists'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Gives U.N. a Mixed Review Speaking at Celebration, He Warns of `New Isolationists'

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton observed the golden anniversary of the United Nations at the site of its birth on Monday by suggesting it "does not work as well as it should" and must trim its operations.

At the same time, Clinton denounced Republicans in Congress who have urged a U.S. pullback from the body and blocked funds for the recent expansion of its peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

"Turning our backs on the U.N. is no solution. It would be shortsighted and self-destructive," Clinton told an audience of U.N. delegates and other diplomats. "We reject the siren song of the new isolationists."

Speaking in the ornate War Memorial Opera House, where President Harry S Truman addressed original framers of the charter 50 years ago, Clinton conceded that some complaints about the United Nations were valid.

Clinton said that "not all the critics of today's United Nations are isolationists. Many are supporters who gladly would pay for the U.N.'s essential work if they were convinced their money was being well spent."

With flags of the organization's 185 nations arrayed on the stage behind him, he said the same budget-cutting and scaling down under way in the federal government must be carried out by the United Nations.

"Over the years it has grown too bloated," Clinton said. "We must consider major structural changes. The United Nations simply does not need a separate agency with its own acronym, stationery and bureaucracy for every problem."

He said that his administration would lead the effort toward U.N. streamlining and that it should be accomplished in the upcoming session of the General Assembly beginning in October.

An administration official, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, rattled off a list of U.N. agencies and programs that the administration believes have outlived their usefulness.

They included the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, the Vienna-based U.N. Industrial Development Organization, a U.N. council set up to assist states emerging from colonial status and another one set up to combat apartheid. South Africa's abandonment of its apartheid policies made that council unnecessary, the official said. …

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