- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2006

NEW YORK — Nearly three-quarters of the American people think the United Nations is no longer effective and could support cutting U.S. contributions to the world body, according to a poll released yesterday by the conservative Hudson Institute.

Respondents were primarily concerned about corruption and mismanagement, according to pollsters, who note that three years ago oil-for-food and other scandals barely registered.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents agreed that “if the U.N. cannot be reformed and made more effective, it should be scrapped” and replaced. Thirty-eight percent disagreed.

Exactly half of those surveyed felt the world body undermines U.S. national security interests, while 34 percent say it promotes them.

But disengagement does not seem to be on people’s minds: 73 percent said the United States should take a more active role in the United Nations, because “it is the best way to influence world affairs.” Some 24 percent disagreed.

Eight hundred people responded to the phone survey conducted by Luntz Maslansky Strategic Research, a Virginia-based polling firm with close ties to the Republican Party.

“When you find out that people are enriching [themselves] off your hard-earned tax dollars, they won’t stand for it,” pollster Frank Luntz told a handful of reporters yesterday.

“And when the institution refuses to fix itself? The response is reform or die.”

That is largely the message being delivered by the Bush administration and its ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton.

Mr. Luntz said the poll was impartial despite his and the Hudson Institute’s affiliations.

He said that the United Nations must overcome its reputation for corruption and mismanagement, and must take significant action to halt Iran’s presumed quest for nuclear weapons. He also counseled politicians to take advantage of popular distaste.

“If they fail on Iran, the [U.S.] leader who says: ‘Let’s find an alternative. If I’m elected president, we will leave the U.N.’ will be elected,” Mr. Luntz predicted. “Someone should say, ‘Not one more dollar.’”

U.N. officials were not thrilled by the poll, but did not seem overly concerned by its findings.

“We don’t tell our story; we should be more — we should kick back,” said outgoing General Assembly President Jan Eliasson, who noted that the United Nations takes on such difficult tasks as the Darfur region of Sudan, the Middle East and other solution-defying conflicts.

In June, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown touched off a firestorm when he told two left-leaning think tanks that the Bush Administration is engaged in “stealth diplomacy” by working with the organization on a number of issues, but rarely defending it against critics.

The Hudson Institute survey, which included some September 11-related questions, found that 34 percent of respondents think Iran is “the single greatest threat to world peace,” followed by North Korea (15 percent), Iraq (11 percent), the United States (11 percent) and China (8 percent).

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