Accuracy in Media

By any reasonable standard, the Bush policy on the U.N. should be more controversial than the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. The President, who is depicted by the media as a unilateralist in foreign policy, is presiding over an unprecedented expansion of U.N. power on the world stage. Despite U.N. scandals and corruption, his administration spends more money on international organizations year after year. And global taxes for the U.N. may be on the horizon. 

One might think that a President who went to war in Iraq without U.N. approval and appointed the tenacious John Bolton as U.N. Ambassador would have a strong anti-U.N. foreign policy. But the truth is something else entirely. In fact, in violation of a Bush campaign promise, the Bush administration is assigning U.S. troops to perform on U.N. missions under foreign command.

With the President’s campaign promise on judges under scrutiny, it’s worth remembering that Bush also promised when he ran for office that he would “never” place U.S. troops under U.N. command. He made that declaration during a November 19, 1999, speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

The promise was prompted, in part, by the controversy over President Clinton’s secret Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 25, forcing U.S. soldiers to wear U.N. uniforms and report to foreign U.N. commanders. This policy resulted in the court-martial and discharge of Army soldier Michael New, who refused to follow this illegal and unconstitutional order. New said he had signed up for the green team, not the blue team. His “crime” was patriotism.

The 2000 Republican Party platform declared, “The United Nations was not designed to summon or lead armies in the field and, as a matter of U.S. sovereignty, American troops must never serve under United Nations command.”

But the Clinton PDD remains in effect and has never been repealed. In addition, U.S. troops have remained under U.N. command and control every year of the Bush administration. The latest figures show that the U.S. has 26 American troops or military observers deployed in five U.N. missions run or commanded by foreigners. Typically, U.S. soldiers in these missions wear U.N. blue berets and U.N. shoulder patches.

These include UNMIL, the U.N. Mission in Liberia, whose force commander is from Nigeria; MINUSTAH, the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, whose force commander is from Brazil; UNMEE, the U.N. Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, whose force commander is from India; UNOMIG, the U.N. Observer Mission in Georgia, whose chief military observer is from Pakistan,: and UNTSO, the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization, whose chief of staff is from New Zealand. U.N. commanders take an oath to the U.N.

Michael New’s case is still on appeal in the courts. You can read about it at But the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration, is lined up against him.

While Bush ultimately bypassed the U.N. on Iraq, the President also opposed the U.N.‘s global warming treaty and fought for legislation to undermine the International Criminal Court. These were all positions consistent with his campaign promises and statements.

Yet the administration endorsed a radical document that came out of the September World Summit that dramatically expands the power and authority of the U.N. in global affairs. It gives the U.N. Security Council the power to intervene in the internal affairs of member states when national governments fail to stop human rights violations. This is called the “responsibility to protect.”

It sounds good in theory. But why is the U.N. qualified to make such a decision when the world body failed to stop a genocide in Rwanda and its peacekeepers have committed human rights violations, including the sexual abuse of women and children? This new U.N. doctrine would seem to justify a U.N. invasion of Communist China, one of the greatest human-rights violators on the planet. But that won’t happen because China is on the Security Council and would veto the operation.

We were led to believe by news accounts that Bolton, though on the job for just a few weeks, was demanding all kinds of changes in the World Summit document. In the end, however, the document was so radical that it endorsed “reproductive health,” a euphemism for abortion rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that justifies U.N. interference in the raising of children. The U.S. later issued a reservation to the document saying it did not agree that reproductive health meant abortion rights. But no statement was issued disavowing the children’s rights treaty, a favorite cause of Hillary Clinton. 

The document did endorse the drafting of another U.N. treaty on terrorism. But this was a phony victory, considering that the U.N. still can’t agree on how to define terrorism. The Arab/Muslim states, about a third of the U.N.‘s membership, believe Palestinian terrorism should not be defined as terrorism. It’s not clear what the benefits will be, however, when and if a definition is finally accepted. The U.N. already had 19 anti-terrorism treaties in place when the U.S. was hit on 9/11.

As for Bolton, he recently made his first appearance as Ambassador before Congress. He reiterated that the administration opposes Rep. Henry Hyde’s bill to withdraw U.S. funds from the world organization to force U.N. reform. Rep. Hyde said, only half in jest, that he felt like he had been stabbed in the back. Hyde knows that Bolton’s tough anti-U.N. rhetoric is hollow unless the U.S. threatens to cut off or reduce the U.N.‘s allowance. 

At the same time, in another bow to the U.N., the administration supports the Law of the Sea Treaty, which establishes a new international legal regime, including a new international court, to govern activities on, over, and under the world’s oceans. The treaty explicitly governs seven-tenths of the world’s surface and could easily be interpreted to restrict U.S. military activities. The provisions of the treaty would also permit international rules and regulations governing economic and industrial activities on the remaining land area of the world in order to combat global warming and other perceived pollution dangers. The treaty provides for the taxing of U.S. and other corporations which mine the ocean floor, thereby establishing the first independent source of revenue for the U.N.

Like the Law of the Sea Treaty, the World Summit document endorses a variation of a global tax. It proposes an international tax on airline travel, as long as it is implemented by countries on their own and not through the U.N. Bolton, to his credit, watered down this airline tax so the U.S. would not have to specifically endorse and implement it. But France and other countries will continue pushing the proposal until the entire world accepts it. The U.S. has no apparent strategy to counteract this.

The World Summit document also endorses a strengthening of U.N. military peacekeeping operations and the creation of a standing police force for the world organization. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which has already announced that it is receiving the cooperation of Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, could use these new U.N. police to apprehend fugitives from international justice, possibly including American soldiers facing dubious “war crimes” charges.

Meanwhile, having rejoined the U.N. Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at a cost of $60 million a year, the U.S. now finds this U.N. organization promoting a “Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Content and Artistic Expression,” which U.S. officials believe is designed to keep American influences and products out of the rest of the world. UNESCO just elected a Cuban Communist as one of its vice-presidents.

At the same time, the U.N. is holding a conference in November where the subject of the U.N. seizing control of the Internet will be seriously proposed and discussed. The U.S. response is to verbally oppose the proposal while continuing to underwrite the conferences and bureaucrats that make this power grab possible. 

Administration officials have explained this pitiful performance by saying that personnel changes in the State Department and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. earlier this year kept the U.S. on the “defensive” as the World Summit document was being written and the U.N.‘s global agenda was moving forward. Reminded that the Bush administration came to power back in 2001?more than four years ago?one official was more candid, saying that the global criticism of the U.S. war in Iraq had taken its toll and had forced the Bush administration to mollify the international community. It was a depressing display of candor.

Bush could easily change course by telling his administration to quit fighting Michael New’s vindication in the military and civilian courts. It would be the right thing to do and would be consistent with the President’s campaign promise. But it would also alarm the liberal media and many in the State Department.

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