Leading from behind may be President Obama’s preferred approach on foreign policy, but apparently that doesn’t apply when it comes to paying for the United Nations, where the U.S. is just one of 192 voting member states, but gets stuck with roughly one-quarter of the bill for the entire system. When it comes to spending billions on the UN, administration officials keep making the pitch for America to lead from the front. As far as there’s any logic to this pretzel of an approach, it seems to entail staying way out ahead of the pack on funding, while trying to lead from behind on policy.
The latest pitch came this week from Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer, in a June 15 address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Brimmer attempted the contortionist feat of combining, in a single speech, a profession of American support for Israel with a pitch for a continuing flood of American money into the UN system. What with the UN being a relentless font of Israel-fixated anti-Semitism, one might have supposed the better move would be to cut off the funding on which such UN bigotry enjoys a free ride. But so far that’s not in the administration’s playbook. Instead, the argument is that yet more U.S. money for the UN will help buy a degree of integrity from that institution which loads of money have already failed to produce. Brimmer says of the U.S. at the UN: “We must be a responsible global leader, and that means paying our bills.”
No, it doesn’t. Not when those bills are supporting an institution that undercuts American interests and savages an American ally. If the Obama administration wants to buy its way back toward global leadership, forget the UN — it’s time to go shopping somewhere else.