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September 19, 2017

Trump Bumps, and May Even Dump, the UN Swamp


President Trump addressed the opening of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly with blunt talk the body doesn’t often hear: “No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the well-being of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing and oppression of countless more.” 

He also said, “We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.” 

That will be a challenge. The UN was created as a forum for deliberation, as a way to address international problems and threats in a peaceful manner. Yet the organization treats petty dictators and murderous despots equally with democratic societies that respect the rule of law and try to protect individual rights and freedoms. And the strongman governments regularly join forces to quash any efforts to protect human rights and reign in rogue regimes.  

And speaking of human rights abuses, the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, which the UN says is “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them,” includes Cuba, Venezuela and China. Well, at least those countries know something about the council’s topic.  

That’s one reason why, as a presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain suggested a new international body, one composed only of democracies. 

Occasionally the U.S. can herd the cats into taking action, such as condemning and imposing sanctions on North Korea, but sanctions usually seem to have little or no impact on a rogue country’s behavior. 

So is it worth throwing more taxpayer dollars at the UN? 

The UN assesses member countries a percentage of its operating budget. The U.S. pays 22 percent of the UN’s budget, the maximum, which comes to $1.2 billion.  By way of comparison, China, the world’s second largest economy, pays 7.921 percent, and third-ranked Japan pays 9.680 percent.  

But there are other member costs, such as peacekeeping. According to Politifact, when all the programs are combined, the U.S. spends $3.3 billion a year. 

Trump told reporters before his speech, “The main message is: Make the United Nations great—not again—make the United Nations great. Such tremendous potential.”  

Early on President Trump drafted an executive order cutting the U.S. contribution by 40 percent. He hasn’t issued it, but his comments may have put the UN on notice.


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