Bush should skip UN General Assembly

Posted: Sep 18, 2006 4:41 PM
Bush should skip UN General Assembly

Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel says Iran should be booted from the United Nations because its leader called for the destruction of another member state of the UN. The suggestion is sound – or would be – if one actually believed that any of the 57 countries that constitute the Islamic Conference at the United Nations would approve of the idea. Its doubtful too, that any of the 103 countries that are designated "not free" or "partly free" by Freedom House would rally to such a cause. And Kofi Annan, who recently had the diplomatic equivalent of a conjugal visit with Iran's leader, would quash any sign of momentum for the move.

Wiesel's proposal also suggests that Iran's membership is a blemish on an otherwise noble institution. But the UN's tolerance of terrorist states, their elevation of human rights abusers to positions of honor, and their reputation for corruption indicates that Iran is right at home in the United Nations with the other malcontents who infest the international enclave on Manhattan's East Side.

It is America that is miscast in Turtle Bay, and our membership in the UN has become a stain our national pride.

"I'm frustrated with the United Nations," President Bush said in the Rose Garden last week. So are the American people. At a time of war, 50 percent of Americans believe the United Nations undermines U.S. national security interests, according to a poll released by the Hudson Institute. The same survey shows that 75 percent of the public view the UN as "no longer effective."

The public's tolerance of the United Nations has run its course. Since September 11, 2001, Americans have come to see the UN for what it is – a corrupt cauldron of anti-Americanism. Not only is the United Nations undermining our foreign policy, but it is pilfering our sovereignty on a systematic basis. As I travel the country promoting my book, Diplomatic Divorce: Why America Should End Its Love Affair with the United Nations, I find the public screaming for a leader who will end the "business as usual" relationship we have had with the UN for the last 60 years.

It explains the grassroots popularity of Ambassador John Bolton who, unlike other U.S. Representatives to the UN, has refused to be a doormat for Kofi Annan and his deputies. But Bolton can only carry out the policies set by his president.

President George W. Bush speaks to the UN on the same day as Iranian strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When asked if he would meet with Ahmadinejad while at the United Nations, Mr. Bush replied firmly, "No, I will not meet with him." Correct answer. But neither should Mr. Bush grace the same podium that hosts the leader of a state sponsor of terrorism, and which is providing support to Shia militias in Iraq to attack U.S. military personnel.

One would think that the UN would deny a microphone to a leader who vows to destroy another member state of the United Nations. But since logic and political courage are in short supply in Turtle Bay, Mr. Bush should protest the use of our dues to underwrite such hostility.

Led by John Bolton, the United States convinced the UN Security Council to adopt Resolution 1696 which demands that Iran "suspend all [uranium] enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development." This is the single provision the United States requires before entering negotiations with Iran over their nuclear ambitions. But when Ahmadinejad ignored the Security Council, he was rewarded with a visit from Kofi Annan, which only split a united world community.

After the 9/11 attacks, Kofi Annan wrote in the New York Times, that “the international community is defined not only by what it is for, but by what and whom it is against. The United Nations must have the courage to recognize that just as there are common aims, there are common enemies.”

President Bush should have used this opportunity to challenge Kofi Annan's sincerity on that statement and help the United Nations set a new course that no longer tolerates terrorist states, their acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, and their overt threats to other member states. For reform of the policies and procedures at the UN is meaningless until the people who run the place reform their mindset.

A visit from the President of the United States – for any individual or any institution – is a coveted prize. Mr. Bush's leverage in exacting meaningful change from the UN would have been to withhold his presence from their annual meeting.

By doing so, he would have defended the honor of his nation. But by attending the UN's General Assembly, he gives the UN no reason to reform, no reason to set higher standards for membership and responsible behavior on the world stage. Another lost opportunity.

Thomas P. Kilgannon serves as the president of Freedom Alliance, a Townhall.com Gold partner.