Monday, September 25, 2006

For millions of Americans, the spectacle of buffoonery and bombast served up last week in New York by the U.N. General Assembly — in particular, the appearances there of despots like Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — raised anew questions about the legitimacy and utility of the United Nations. Incredibly, despite this performance and the U.N.’s rampant corruption, scandals and virulent hostility toward the Free World, the organization has taken a major step toward becoming a supranational government, unaccountable to and ever more routinely at odds with the United States.

The occasion was the seemingly innocuous launching on Sept. 19 of a new International Drug Purchasing Facility, dubbed UNITAID, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. UNITAID will, for the first time, rely for its institutional funding on what the U.N. euphemistically calls an “innovative financing mechanism.” Another word for it is “globotaxes” — levies imposed on international transactions, in this case, airline tickets.

As Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted on the occasion of UNITAID’s launching, the French, Chilean, Norwegian, Brazilian and British governments have been responsible for this initiative. He also credited them with “advancing similar innovative financing mechanisms” that “can help us reach the Millennium Development Goals” for reducing poverty, disease and other blights on humanity.

That is U.N.-speak for a commitment developed nations like the United States undertook in 2002 to commit 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product to Official Development Assistance (ODA, also known as foreign aid). The Bush administration claims to have a different interpretation of this commitment. But U.N. types like Jeffrey Sachs, Mr. Annan’s point man on the Millennium Development Goals, assert that — since the United States only gives 0.15 percent of GDP in official (as opposed to private) foreign aid — this country “owes” some $845 billion between now and 2015 in ODA.

Since there is no likelihood any Congress, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, will approve that kind of money for foreign aid, the alternative idea of generating such funds instead through new, international taxes has gained traction. That is, in part, due to the vested interest former President Bill Clinton has in such an idea.

As Kofi Annan noted in his Sept. 19 statement welcoming UNITAID: “I am pleased that… the Clinton Foundation will be actively involved” in this initiative. In fact, under the leadership of Hillary Clinton’s controversial former health care guru, Ira Magaziner, the Clinton Foundation will be responsible for negotiating bulk purchases of drugs for UNITAID. Mr. Magaziner enthused about the power of such a private sector-U.N. partnership last week: “Through this initiative we’ll have a sustainable way to assure a supply of drugs and tests for the long term.”

What is particularly worrying is that UNITAID’s seemingly unobjectionable disease-relief program will simply be the first of many purposes to which the U.N. hopes to apply globotaxes. For example, U.N. types have already begun discussing levies on energy purchases, carbon emissions, international corporate activity and currency transactions. The last of these alone is estimated to be capable of generating a mind-boggling $13 trillion per year.

The purposes towards which such funds might be applied include development assistance, humanitarian relief, peacekeeping operations, raising and maintaining a U.N. army, and underwriting for the international institutions that will be charged with administering these funds. Some advocates even explicitly propose international taxes as a means of redistributing wealth from the developed to the developing world.

The cause of promoting “innovative financing mechanisms” on U.S. taxpayers has become a focus of, among others, the Clinton Global Initiative. This is the former president’s vehicle for promoting international good works with respect to climate change, poverty alleviation and mitigating religious and ethnic conflict, along with global health.

Under the rubric of public-spiritedness, Mr. Clinton has enlisted the help of a number of major corporations, Democratic Party operatives and policy wonks and public figures, including First Lady Laura Bush. Of particular concern, however, are the political implications of the immense amount of money and personal prestige being put in the service of the U.N.-Clinton agenda by such philanthropists as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros, Ted Turner and Richard Branson.

With the resources and influence of such deep-pocketed friends, it seems likely that the traditional mantra of Democratic class warfare — “soak the rich” — will be turned on its head. All other things being equal, the precedent created by an international airline levy-funded UNITAID for fighting disease will likely result in a determined campaign aimed at imposing a variety of globotaxes whereby Bill Clinton’s rich friends will help soak the American taxpayer.

A United Nations that becomes, thanks to globotaxes, increasingly independent of its member states’ contributions is a U.N. that will become even more unaccountable, non-transparent and, in all likelihood, even more corrupt and virulently anti-American. Such an organization will inevitably also seek to sap this country’s sovereignty as it strives to build a supranational government attuned to the sentiments of its so-called “non-aligned” majority that is increasingly brazen in its hostility towards the United States.

Legislation sponsored by Sens. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, and Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, and Republican Reps. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Ron Paul of Texas is pending in Congress that would block U.N. taxation of Americans without representation. Our forefathers fought a revolution to prevent just such an infringement on our sovereignty and rights. We must resist the present danger no less vociferously.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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