January 24, 2017

Horse 2216 - The United States Wants Out Of The United Nations

The last three United States Congresses under President Obama were the three least productive in the United States' history. Congresses 112, 113 and 114 were even less productive than the so-called "Do Nothing" 80th Congress under President Truman. Some people will argue of course that the system was working as designed, as the legislative branch was acting as a check and balance against the executive branch.
This extended to the Senate refusing to accept holding a hearing or vote on President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland and the blocking of Cassandra Butts to be Ambassador to the Bahamas; with Senator Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, blocking the nomination to specifically hurt Obama. Senator Cotton, got his wish because 820 days after being nominated, Ms Butts died from leukemia.
The 2016 election for both the President and the Congress has meant that all possible checks, balances and shackles have been thrown aside, with the Republican Party holding the keys to both houses of Congress and the White House. Open the doors, chaps, now you can make all sorts of crazy laws, and boy, it certainly looks like that the Congress already has started on the job.

One of the more disturbing pieces of legislation that has been put before the House of Representatives is the rather Newspeakian named American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017; just the description on the Congress website should be enough to make people shudder.

American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017
This bill repeals the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 and other specified related laws.
The bill requires: (1) the President to terminate U.S. membership in the United Nations (U.N.), including any organ, specialized agency, commission, or other formally affiliated body; and (2) closure of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
The bill prohibits: (1) the authorization of funds for the U.S. assessed or voluntary contribution to the U.N., (2) the authorization of funds for any U.S. contribution to any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation, (3) the expenditure of funds to support the participation of U.S. Armed Forces as part of any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation, (4) U.S. Armed Forces from serving under U.N. command, and (5) diplomatic immunity for U.N. officers or employees.

Incidentally, this new bill which was introduced by a bonkers group of six, is identical to a bill (except for the date) introduced in the 114th Congress by a slightly different bonkers group of seven:

Link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1205

The rhetoric coming out of the White House at the moment is both erratic and populist. The actual policy set coming out of the White House and the Congress though, borders on isolationist and dare I say it fascist and I mean that in a functional sense where you have a capitalist economy subject to authoritarian governmental controls, suppression of the opposition, and open nationalism and racism, rather than as a pejorative term.

Granted, that many people within the United States probably don't want the financial burden of being the policeman of the world and that's why they want out but it seems incredibly hypocritical to me that the United States wants to pull out of something which is headquartered in New York City.

The United Nations which as a thing was originally proposed by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1941, was originally intended to be a more concrete thing where the signatories would actually do something to keep peace and act as a replacement for the League of Nations which had been mostly ineffective and incapable of stopping the rise of Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. The United Nations started out after Roosevelt died and had reasonably good intentions but the world became immensely more complicated with the Cold War and the Communist Revolution in China among other things. The UN was also handed the impossible question of what was to be done with the land of Palestine and to be honest, we're still not really finished with sorting that out.

I suspect that the reason why the United States and the Congress in particular wants out of the United Nations is that they don't want to pay for its upkeep and they rather resent being told what to do by it. Among other things the United States is probably still annoyed that it was told by the then UN Secretary General that under the UN Charter, it didn't have the authority to judge unilaterally that Iraq had broken its obligations of compliance to UN resolutions; which formed the basis of the United States going to war in Iraq in 2003.

Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.
- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as quoted by BBC News, 16th Sep 2004.

If you drill down into the text of the bill, the United States wants out of:
- The United Nations itself
- Hosting the United Nations' HQ
- Contributing into ANY fund, which includes by the way things like UNICEF, the WHO and UNESCO
- All peacekeeping operations or forces
- Diplomatic immunity of any officers or employees of the United Nations
- Any United Nations Environment Programs
- United Nations Environment Program
- Participation in any conventions and agreements

That is a very very serious list indeed. If any other country had enacted such a thing, then it would very quickly find itself becoming a pariah on the world stage. The United States though, which also wants out of trade agreements and NATO, can and one would argue already does engage in bigger army diplomacy.

The scary thing is that with the Republican Party now holding both houses and the White House and having lurched very quickly to the right, either we'll see the United States close ranks on itself or perhaps more worryingly, not bother about what the rest of the world thinks when it next decides to bomb yet another country back to a smouldering pile of rubble. Without the UN to voice a hesitation, the United States wouldn't be held back and its worth remembering that so far it has only been the United States who have actually had the audacity to use nuclear weapons in an act of war - twice.

No comments: