Nobody objects when the United Nations helps victims of natural disasters, so U.N. defenders always use disaster relief and peacekeeping as their chief tool for fundraising. The problem is that the United Nations is not an impartial philanthropic organization. It is a political institution where a broad coalition of nations hope to curtail the power and influence of the United States. France uses the organization to leverage its relatively meager power by rallying African and Arab nations against us. Kofi Annan uses his megaphone to decry the moral and legal legitimacy of American foreign policy. Its Human Rights Committee is festooned with torture states, but it seems capable of issuing only condemnations inconvenient to the United States. And we foot the bill.
This is the Catch-22 of the United Nations. Politically, it's often reprehensible and inimical to American interests. But we're never asked to pay for that stuff. This comes out of the general budget. It's only when human beings are suffering in vast numbers that we're shamed for being "stingy" - because the United Nations understands how to exploit America's decency. If only we could be shaken down for more money to pay the light bill in the General Assembly when they play whack-a-mole with the United States.
The larger picture Mr. Egeland fails to appreciate is that America's wealth and prosperity - partly sustained by low taxes - is a greater bulwark against human suffering than the United Nations ever has been or likely will be. America guarantees global stability by keeping the sea lanes open, by preventing North Korea from invading South Korea and China from seizing Taiwan. We did it by preventing Saddam from keeping Kuwait. We ignored the United Nations and intervened to stop genocide in Yugoslavia, and we have 150,000 troops in Iraq working to create a democracy - while the United Nations is still too scared of terrorists, and too anti-American, to help.
Meanwhile, American citizens, partly thanks to those stingy low taxes, send some $34 billion in private aid around the world every year. That's 10 times the United Nations total budget. America's Christian ministries, private foundations and agencies all do far more in direct charity and aid than the United Nations. But bureaucrats - some who've grown fat on oil-for-food money - measure stinginess in terms of support to the bureaucracy, not to the constituency the bureaucracy was intended to help.
It is our prosperity that drives global development, our courage and goodwill that keeps the peace, and our example that shines the path to liberty, not "blue papers" from Turtle Bay.