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Wed, Oct. 23

Column: United States should leave the UN

The United States should not only withdraw from the United Nations, it should kick the whole organization out of our country. At best, it is an inept, expensive, ineffective organization that costs this country billions of dollars annually. According to Better World Campaign, the United States U.N. contributions in fiscal year 2012 were $4.040 billion and the Obama administration will ask Congress to increase that contribution to $4.236 billion this year. However, The Heritage Foundation suggests that while most of these contributions come from the U.S. State Department and the Agency for International Development, they fail to include hundreds of millions of dollars paid to various U.N. agencies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2005, the Office of Management and Budget calculated that the State Department's contributions were only about 75 percent of the total of U.N. contributions paid by the United States. It is probably safe to assume that percentage is fairly constant.

At worse, the U.N. is a den of thieves, in which corruption goes unchecked and our money flows into the hands of dictators and yes, corrupt U.N. officials. This money is often spent on policies and programs that are often counter to the interests of our country and indeed the very people it is purported to help.

Freedom House is an organization that was started in 1941, with the quiet encouragement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt'. Its first co-chairs were former Republican presidential nominee Wendell Willkie and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. According to its website, "Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world." Annually, it rates the countries of the world into three categories: Free, Partly Free and Not Free. In its 2011 report, Freedom House listed 85 of the 193 U.N. member nations as "free," 60 countries as "partially free" and the other 48 countries as "not free".

The U.N. is comprised of two parts: the Security Council which consists of five permanent members - the U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France and 10 member nations with two-year terms. The permanent members have veto powers, and so China and Russia veto anything that might be in our interest and therefore nothing that is good for the U.S. (or bad for that matter) gets done there. The main items and policies from the U.N. are created in the General Assembly, which consists of the aforementioned 193 nations. Every nation gets one vote, regardless of population or geographical size.

A majority vote in the General Assembly is 97 votes. If 85 member nations are 'free," that leaves 108 nations as only "partially free" or "not free." Is it any wonder Iran, that bastion of gender equality, was elected to a four-year term to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in April of 2010? Really. Iran is the same country where women can be stoned to death for adultery and be whipped for being judged "immodest." The U.N. Human Rights Council has 47 member nations, 11 listed by Freedom House as "not free" and 13 listed as only "partly free." That means that a majority of the voting members on that council are not from free countries. Does anyone seriously think that the majority would vote for or recommend to the General Assembly any meaningful resolutions on human rights?

Another good information source is Transparency International. Its mission statement states, "Our mission is to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society. Our core values are transparency, accountability, integrity, solidarity, courage, justice and democracy." Its website list the countries of the world. Click on any country and it will tell you where it ranks as far as how honest it is in government, business and other areas. There are three basic categories: honest, corrupt and very corrupt. Interestingly enough, the U.S. ranks 24 of 49 in the honest category. I am of the opinion that if we took Illinois (where five governors have served penitentiary time since 1972), we would probably make it to the mid teens. Another point of interest is that just because Freedom House may list a country as "free," doesn't mean that it will be listed as honest by Transparency International.

Corruption is rife in the U.N. even among "free" member nations. The scandals are many and varied. The most well know is the "Oil for Food" scandal that was supposed to send food and medicine to the poor in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. France made money. Russia made money. Kojo Annan, son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, somehow received a $10 million contract. A French, Russian and even a Vatican official received oil allocations in this corrupt program. That is just the best known of the scandals. U.N. peacekeeping troops have been accused of trafficking in young women in Bosnia and of sexually molesting young girls and boys in Haiti and Uruguay. And seldom, if ever, does anyone get punished for these crimes. There are other scandals, but you get the point. We need to leave the U.N.

Buz Williams is a retired Long Beach, Calif., police officer who has lived in Prescott since 2004.

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