People love to wax poetic about the United Nations and how its stunning Turtle Bay location on prime real estate in New York City is a jewel in the world’s crown. Indeed, schoolchildren across the United States are taught that the global body saved the world from nuclear annihilation.
Perhaps that was the original intent. Reality today is less idealistic and certainly worth a reevaluation by President Donald Trump and his administration.
Readers of these pages, no doubt, are familiar with one of the Obama administration’s final jabs at Israel — the decision to abstain on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, in which the council voted to declare that the Jewish state’s populations in the traditional Jewish lands of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem were illegal “settlements.” Secretary of State John Kerry followed this duplicitous abstention with a ridiculous parting jibe, saying that Israel cannot be both a Jewish state and a democratic state.
Lame duck Barack Obama’s final act was an attempt to mobilize 70 nations in France the week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, to hold a “peace” conference to discuss the Israel-Palestinian conflict — i.e., a full court press on Israel. The idea was to present a good old-fashioned fait accompli against Israel served up to the new U.S. president.
It appears that Trump got wind of this feckless move and played a chess piece of his own — the Queen. Her majesty’s government in the United Kingdom decided against supporting a global lynch mob against Israel, and the result was a meaningless, toothless statement issued out of Paris.
This tells us three things about our new president. First, he believes in the need to act in America’s interests. Second, he supports a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. And third, the world is watching him, as seen by the newfound support coming from British Prime Minister Theresa May.
One would hope the United Nations noticed, but it probably didn’t.
Let’s look at some numbers as they relate to the United Nations. The United States has always been the largest contributor, providing 22 percent of most U.N. agencies’ budgets and more than 27 percent of the overall peacekeeping budget. There are 193 member states and the United States carries nearly a quarter of the budget. Are we getting our money’s worth? Is this a good deal?
The short answer is: No.
Is there a reason for us to remain in the United Nations? Under President Trump there may be, but we should renegotiate our terms of membership. Our dealmaker-in-chief may be just the leader we need to get other member countries to pay their “fare share” of U.N. dues, starting with the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
In President Trump’s first 100 days in office, the United States should undertake the following actions:
Disavow U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334. We should also move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. The world will follow; it is watching us.
Put forward a meaningfully strong sanctions resolution against Iran with no waiver options. We should dare Russia or China to veto. Trump should unequivocally denounce the Iran nuclear deal and discontinue U.S. support for it. He will receive strong bipartisan support in Congress and it will be an early victory with the legislative branch. The world is watching.
Propose strong sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime in the Security Council. We can dare Russia to veto. The world is watching.
Withdraw from membership in the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The United States is currently still a member and wracking up dues “in arrears” following our legal requirement to cut off funding to UNESCO when the agency’s members voted to grant membership to Palestine. We should not pretend that this U.N. body is anything other than a rogue agency. Other U.N. agencies will think twice before voting in Palestine as a member state. The world is watching.
Stop all funding of UNRWA. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was a willing aid to Hamas during the Gaza war against Israel. Weapons and rockets were stored in UNRWA schools in Gaza, with UNRWA employees clearly complicit in Hamas’s terror war against Israel. UNRWA was established more than 60 years ago as a temporary initiative, but has become a permanent U.N. institution rife with corruption and ties to Hamas and other radical terrorist groups. The world is watching.
Pull out of the U.N. Human Rights Council. The UNHRC is a toxic body that spends the majority of its time, efforts, energy and U.S.-funded budget demonizing a single U.N. member state, Israel. Until the council changes its leadership and shows that it actually cares about human rights in countries like Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, there is no reason taxpayer dollars should be poured into its operations. The world is watching.
Withdraw from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Senate did not ratify the so-called “climate treaty,” rather Obama approved it through executive fiat. Treaties are negotiated by good dealmakers. Obama, our capitulator-in-chief, got us a bad deal, but he’s no longer in charge. When we walk away, the world is watching.
Should the United States withdraw from the world? Absolutely not. But Americans should realize that the United Nations no longer adequately represents the world. The body must show President Trump and all Americans that it is a good value for the money. It needs to show that it is a good investment. The ideals of the organizations established in 1945 have been hijacked by, in the best case, inefficient global bureaucrats, and in the worst case, by enemies of the United States and Israel. It’s time for America, the most powerful member of the United Nations, to negotiate a much better deal. The world is watching.
Bonnie Glick is a nonprofit executive and veteran American diplomat and businesswoman. She lives in Bethesda.
Well said, Bonnie!