Reform the UN — in Geneva

Ken Blackwell Former Ohio Secretary of State
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President Obama famously responded to a question about “American exceptionalism.” Asked by a reporter if he believed in it, Mr. Obama replied: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” It was as if he’d just gotten back from Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.

So if Americans are exceptional and so are the Greeks and the Brits — and presumably the Bangladeshis and the Paraguayans and everyone else are exceptional, too — what remains of our exceptionalism?

Well, if that’s the president’s position, let’s apply it to one area greatly in need of such a formula: reform of the United Nations.

The UN was originally supposed to be a world body, a forum for the prevention of war and the maintenance of a just and durable peace. That was FDR’s great vision. But it never achieved that lofty goal. It never has come close.

The UN managed to overlook the captivity of hundreds of millions of people in the Soviet bloc for nearly half a century. The UN never heard of the Gulag Archipelago. The UN turned a blind eye to Mao Zedong’s half century of murderous rule in China. Tens of millions of forced abortions take place in China every year — with the active assistance of the UN Fund for Population Activity (UNFPA).

Cuba — a member of the UN’s notorious Human Rights Council — is under the grip of a senescent Communist dictatorship. Orlando Zapata — the true Cuban champion of human rights — died in a Castro prison recently, following a hunger strike in which he demanded nothing more than what the UN proclaimed in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than 60 years ago.

Still, the United States pays more than 22 percent ($1,800,000,000) of the UN’s annual budget. That’s because FDR considered the United States exceptional, the leader of the free world.

Since President Obama thinks everyone is exceptional, let’s cut the U.S. share of the UN budget back to 6 percent. After all, we are constantly told by the Obama administration that U.S. claims to preeminence are arrogant and offensive to others in Europe and the developing world.

So let’s be more modest. Liberals constantly tell us how much we consume and suggest that because we are only 6 percent of the world population, we are somehow hogging more than our fair share. (They never note that we produce a huge portion of the world’s GDP).

If we are only 6 percent of the world’s really exceptional folks, let’s knock our contribution to the UN down to that figure.

What? The UN as currently structured could not survive on that amount? Precisely.

But a UN headquarters moved from New York to Geneva, Switzerland could be trimmed back to its core functions as a world forum. The UNFPA should be the first body to be scuttled. Followed by the Inter-Governmental Climate Panel (IPCC), which has become nothing more than Al Gore’s sandbox. The IPCC recently had to backtrack on its environmental doomsday predictions. Those glaciers in the Himalayas are not going to melt by 2035, after all. They’re slated to melt by 2305. Just a typo, the IPCC gnomes claimed.

The UN Human Rights Council should be deep-sixed. It’s more than an outrage to have Cuba, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia sitting on a body so named — it’s hypocrisy on stilts.

By moving the UN headquarters to Geneva, the traditional city of diplomacy, we can avoid the gross humiliation of having the world’s leading terrorist — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — come to our greatest city to spew his hatred from the platform of the UN. He represents an Iranian regime that murdered 241 U.S. Marines and Navy Corpsmen in Beirut in 1983 and that threatened 52 American hostages with death for 444 days in our Tehran embassy. He is killing American servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Even as he spoke to the UN General Assembly, he was holding two American hikers prisoner. And yet we have to pay New York’s police to provide security for his wretched life!

If all the UN can be is a forum for the airing of international disputes, then Geneva is the obvious location. President Obama could embrace this move as a cost-cutter and a first step in his effort to show the world a kinder and gentler U.S. profile.

Ken Blackwell is a visiting professor with Liberty University School of Law and senior fellow with the Family Research Council. He is the co-author of The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.