Wednesday, August 10, 2005

So, up at the United Nations, Benon Sevan is out and John Bolton is in. That’s one small step for rooting out corruption; one giant leap for American interests. Mr. Sevan, the former head of the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food program, resigned his post after the Independent Inquiry Committee, headed by Paul Volcker, confirmed that he was pocketing cash and taking bribes from Saddam Hussein. On his way out, Mr. Sevan picked a fight with Secretary-General Kofi Annan, accusing him of “sacrificing” Mr. Sevan for “political expediency.” It was great theater — like the heady days when Bill and Hillary were throwing White House china at each other.

While some have said that the Volcker Commission is to investigations what Barney Fife is to law enforcement, it is not without at least some success. Its finding so far have claimed the scalps of three U.N. officials — one of whom, Alexander Yakovlev, found himself in custody shortly after Mr. Volcker released his most recent report. It has also exposed Kojo Annan as a manipulative businessman eager to cash in on his father’s position. The IIC has been more careful when it comes to the secretary-general, but what it has found certainly takes Kofi out of the running for the Ethics in World Government Award.

So while investigators continue to sort out the graft in the Oil-for-Food program, the U.N. General Assembly will meet in September to adopt a series of reforms laid out by Kofi Annan in a 63-page transformation plan he announced last spring. The blueprint includes new rules for the use of military force, the adoption of an antiterrorism treaty, and an overhaul of the U.N.’s shameful Human Rights Commission. Ideas to end the corruption and ineptitude within the organization are also on the table. Likewise, Congress has proposed legislation tying future U.S. financial commitments to U.N. reform.

However, other more important issues regarding U.S. interaction with the world body are simmering out of the limelight — issues that, in terms of America’s sovereignty, mean much more than whether or not the U.N. can improve its office efficiency.

One topic up for discussion next month is whether the U.N. Security Council will be expanded from its current 15-member roster to 25 members. The so-called G-4 of Brazil, Japan, India and Germany are lobbying for permanent seats for themselves and two African countries, in addition to four more rotating seats. The administration is resisting it, but Democrats have shown great interest in giving the U.N. more of a voice in America’s national security. An expansion of the Security Council means that many more countries who will try to influence the deployment of U.S. troops to world hot spots.

In September, the United States will also be pressured to increase its commitment to the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, which call for developed countries to hand over 0.7 percent of their Gross National Product (GNP) to the United Nations to alleviate “extreme poverty.” The Goals amount to a U.N.-imposed $75 billion annual tax on the American economy — an idea embraced by the U.S. and other nations at the International Conference for Financing and Development in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2002. Apart from their levy on GNP, the U.N. is desperately seeking new streams of financing — from taxes on airline tickets to currency transactions. The House of Representatives, where “all Bills for raising Revenue shall originate,” would do well to investigate these U.N. tax schemes.

In a move that would impact the First Amendment rights of American citizens, internationalists are advocating centralized governance of the Internet at the hand of the United Nations. Al Gore did not invent the Internet so Kofi Annan could run it. The World Wide Web has become a significant part of the American culture, economy, media and political system. Today, the exercise of free speech is largely carried out on-line, and the U.N. want to be the speech police. Where is the ACLU when they are needed?

Our Constitution’s Second Amendment is also under assault by the United Nations and global gun control advocates who met in New York last month to embrace an Arms Trade Treaty. Spearheaded by the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), the treaty is an outgrowth of the U.N. Program of Action, a 2001 agreement that calls for curbing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons through global regulations. But “small arms and light weapons,” as they relate to the treaty, would include firearms used by American hunters and sportsmen. The NRA is fighting valiantly, but they may be out-manned.

Day by day, the United Nations is redacting portions of our Constitution. It is only a matter of time before the World Trade Organization overturns another U.S. law or the next U.S. president re-enlists Uncle Sam into the International Criminal Court.

When compared to these issues, the corruption of the Oil-for-Food program is but a nuisance. John Bolton is a good man, but he cannot save American sovereignty alone. Congress must begin serious deliberations about the impact U.N. programs are having on our system of government. If we give the U.N. another 60 years, America will no longer control her own destiny.

Thomas P. Kilgannon is president of Freedom Alliance, an educational foundation dedicated to the preservation of American sovereignty.

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