- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

‘Theater of the absurd’

Are you one of the millions of Americans upset because Uncle Sam contributes far more dollars than other countries to a U.N. Security Council that often rises against him?

Well, legislation has been introduced by Rep. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, that would reduce the U.S. contribution to the U.N. budget by more than $240 million annually — down from $341 million in 2003.

“The current dues arrangement is particularly objectionable when you consider that each of the other permanent members of the [U.N.] Security Council regularly votes against U.S. proposals,” Mr. Hayworth tells us. “Equal power should be matched by equal dues.”

Current assessments of the other permanent members are: China, $24 million; Russia, $19 million; and the United Kingdom, $86 million. (Ironically, nine countries that do not have veto power are assessed more for the regular budget than China and Russia. They include Japan at $303 million, Germany at $152 million and the Republic of Korea at $29 million.)

According to State Department records of Security Council votes in 2002, China voted against the U.S. position on issues of importance 80 percent of the time. Russia opposed the U.S. position 78 percent of the time, followed by France and the United Kingdom at 50 percent.

“Aside from simple equity, I hope this legislation will lead to a reconsideration of how U.N. dues are assessed,” says the congressman, a staunch supporter of President Bush. “China and Russia are now essentially getting a free ride. The solution would be for all permanent members to pay equal amounts of the regular budget because of their veto power.

“France and the U.K. would have to pay a little more, Russia and China a lot more, the U.S. a lot less.”

The bill does not affect U.S. payments to the United Nations for peacekeeping operations, voluntary programs and membership organizations. However, it would limit U.S. contributions to the United Nations’ regular administrative budget to no more than the largest assessed contribution of any of the four other permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council.

“Our veto power should cost no more than that of the other permanent members — China, France, Russia or the United Kingdom,” says Mr. Hayworth. “Even though their combined gross domestic product nearly equals that of the U.S., we contribute about $115 million more to the U.N. regular budget than those four countries combined.

“That doesn’t make sense and Congress should put a stop to it,” he says. “There must be reforms if the United Nations is to avoid being reduced to an irrelevant international theater of the absurd.”

Larry VanHoose, Mr. Hayworth’s spokesman, tells Inside the Beltway that the congressman’s “conversations with members indicates strong support for the bill.”

Permanent protesters

The U.S.-led war in Iraq is history. But that doesn’t mean the antiwar movement — even if the war is against terrorism — will end anytime soon.

In fact, it never will.

“We should expect antiwar protests to accelerate rather than diminish in the months ahead,” says John J. Tierney, faculty chairman at the Institute of World Politics in Washington. “If President Bush and his top advisers are correct in their view that the war against terrorism will be long and protracted, then it should also be clear that protest and dissension will be just as protracted.”

Mr. Tierney, writing in the Capital Research Center’s Organization Trends, says the short-term victory over Saddam Hussein will simply fuel the fires of anger and frustration against the United States, both here and overseas.

“We need to understand that war protest is a ‘political’ phenomenon against ‘political’ policies,” he says. “It will not disappear after victories on distant battlefields. In this sense, the nature of the political enemy at home is almost exclusively ideological and, thus, permanent and resolute.”

Fortunately, he says, the antiwar movement has been “notably unsuccessful” to date.

People candidates

It’s dubbed “The Choosing of an Independent President 2004,” a process created by a national conference of independents held in January when 800 activists from 35 states met to strategize their role in the next presidential election.

While the conference was sponsored by the independent movement’s major think tank, the Committee for a Unified Independent Party, you don’t have to be an independent candidate to get the support of the party’s voters.

In fact, we see where two Democratic presidential candidates — Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Al Sharpton — already have taken steps to connect their campaigns to independent voters nationwide.

The “CHIP 2004” process begins with presidential candidates filling out a questionnaire on issues of concern to what’s been described as a “maverick and unpredictable voting bloc” making up 35 percent of the electorate, according to one recent poll.

“People feel like American politics is broken and they’re right,” Mr. Edwards wrote in response to one question. “My campaign will be about bringing people together across partisan lines.”

Mr. Sharpton pledged in one answer, “I am not Party managed, but I am People managed.”

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected].

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