Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Deadbeat Diplomacy

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Deadbeat Diplomacy

Article excerpt

The United States Congress has done it again. The recent compromise between the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the administration to pay less on our United Nations debt, with conditions and over three years instead of two, has enormous implications for US credibility and legitimacy as a leader of the international community.

It was bad enough that the Clinton administration had only enough political gumption to put forward a two-year plan to pay off our UN debt, instead of paying it off in one lump sum. But worse still is the cavalier attitude of Congress toward both the UN and the other 184 member states. By giving in to Sen. Jesse Helms's fantasies of running the UN and US foreign policy from Capitol Hill, the administration only deepens the suspicions of America's allies and friends that the future "new world order" will be of, by, and for the US alone.

After ousting Boutros Boutros-Ghali from the top UN post and implying that after doing so the US would finally make good on its grossly overdue bills, the US Congress has succeeded in forcing the administration to renege on its "word." Not only is the amount being offered - $819 million over three years - well below the UN's figure of $1.3 billion, but the conditions for making payment are simply illegal. Perhaps UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was naive to believe he could count on the Clinton administration to move this Congress to settle the US debt to the UN. Mr. Annan has made deep cuts in the UN's budget and streamlined the bureaucracy, going as far as he can, and then some, to meet US demands for reform. His reward? More delays in getting payment of US arrears and more unreasonable demands from the organization's biggest deadbeat. Apparently, Mr. Helms believes his Senate committee has the same power over the UN as it does over the administration. …

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