Sunday, April 15, 2007

A February 2007 Gallup poll indicated that 66 percent of surveyed Americans believe the United Nations is doing a poor job. It’s the worst global body rating in Gallup polling history. And it may worsen once the American public reads the recently published State Department report on U.S. voting practices for 2006.

The State Department issued the 24th annual installment of this congressionally-mandated report in March 2007. It shows that, among other things, 191 U.N. General Assembly members collectively voted against U.S.-supported positions 76 percent of the time, out of 94 non-consensus votes cast, on important issues such as threats to international peace and security, terrorism, disarmament, economic and social development, humanitarian relief and human rights.

To fully comprehend this one must first look at the type of governments voting. The General Assembly is currently split into two main factions: free nations and those that are not. According to Freedom House — a democracy-focused group co-founded by Eleanor Roosevelt — only 89 of 192 U.N. members have truly free governments.

In other words, the U.N. majority is composed of 103 nations whose governments and leaders do not provide their 3.5 billion subjects the full panoply of political rights and civil liberties like those enjoyed by citizens of free states. Worse, a substantial number of people residing in these countries suffer the dual indignity of severe oppression and extreme poverty.

Unfortunately for their citizens, most rulers of U.N. majority nations instinctively look to despots and human-rights abusers like Cuba’s Castro, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Libya’s Gadhafi, Venezuela’s Chavez and Zimbabwe’s Mugabe for leadership. Any doubters should attend a typical U.N.-sponsored global gathering and witness this cast of characters spewing their anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-free-world diatribes while receiving loud accolades and encouragement from their many enablers.

They, along with putative U.S. European allies like France and Germany (who often place their national business interests with despotic governments over free world security interests), generally detest the United States standing as free-world leader and President Bush’s stated national security strategy of defeating terrorism by promoting and expanding global freedom.

The General Assembly majority shrewdly uses democratic theory — under the “one nation, one vote” concept enunciated in the U.N. Charter — to protect their interests and oppose U.S.-supported positions — while denying their own citizens the constitutional right to freely elect and replace government leaders.

To buttress and advance their national, regional and global agendas they have formed strong, intertwined U.N. alliances. And since the United States poses the greatest threat to their existence by advocating the expansion of freedom, they typically vote in blocs against this country. For example, the 114-nation Non-Aligned Movement voted against the United States 85 percent of the time, the 56-nation Islamic Conference voted against 87 percent of the time and the 53-nation African Union voted against 86 percent of the time.

The State Department report also provides some other important facts. The United States authorized $13 billion in direct bilateral financial aid to 148 nations. Seven countries: Israel, Afghanistan, Columbia, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Sudan received 57 percent of it. Israel voted with the U.S. 84 percent of the time. The six others collectively voted against the U.S. 88 percent of the time.

And what about the three Muslim countries U.S.-led coalitions liberated from invaders and oppressors at a cost of several thousand American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer expenditures? Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait expressed their independence, and ingratitude, by collectively voting against the United States 86 percent of the time.

America’s European Union allies (25 nations) did somewhat better by voting against the United States only 57 percent of the time.

The majority of U.N. General Assembly members, over strong U.S. objections, have effectively blocked substantive and much-needed institutional reforms; refused to define deliberate attacks on civilians as terrorism; made Iran’s terrorist state vice chair of the Disarmament Commission even though it actively pursues nuclear weaponry technology over Security Council objections; and placed human-rights abusers like China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia on the new Human Rights Council.

The United States was the primary impetus for the U.N.’s creation and has served as its chief benefactor and host since 1945. And generous Americans contribute about $3 billion annually to the U.N.’s various missions and causes. However, the global body has not lived up to its basic founding principles of keeping the peace, protecting human rights and promoting and expanding global freedom. Based on current member voting habits and the majority’s actions, it probably never will.

Fred Gedrich is a foreign policy and national security analyst and former U.S. State Department official.

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