Wednesday, July 27, 2011
UNDP high level management, including Resident Representatives and Regional Directors whom have been given Corporate Credit Cards, have spent almost half a billion dollars in Credit Cards charges.
While President Obama exhorts American taxpayers to tighten their belts, and the U.S. flirts with default, the United Nations is setting new records for spending American money. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget has produced its latest report, required by Congress, on U.S. contributions to the UN. For the 2010 fiscal year, the U.S. bankrolled the UN to the tune of $7.69 billion. As the Heritage Foundation’s Brett Schaefer notes, that’s a “staggering 21 percent increase over FY2009.”
It’s also more than double the $3.539 which U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, in testimony this April to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, implied was the rough amount of U.S. annual spending on the UN.
The rise in U.S. contributions reflects soaring UN budgets over the past decade, to which the U.S. has been the biggest contributor. The exact percentage of UN activity funded by the U.S. varies, depending on which part of the UN we’re talking about. But browsing the OMB report can give you a pretty good idea of how big a hunk of the UN tab is bankrolled by American taxpayers. Scroll down in the report to page 2, where you can discover that the U.S. in fiscal 2010 bankrolled 27.3% of all UN peacekeeping, 22% of the regular budget, 33.6% of the World Food Program, and 26.5% of the budget of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).
What’s America getting for all this money? One seat, with one vote, in a 192-member General Assembly dominated by the largely anti-American preferences of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the G-77 plus China. One permanent seat on the Security Council, alongside veto-wielding China (which contributes a mere 3.189% of the UN’s regular budget) and Russia (which contributes 1.6%). And such privileges as a chance to rub elbows with the likes of Iran and Cuba on the governing board of the UN’s flagship agency, the UN Development Program (UNDP). Plus the endless circus act in which the UN promises transparency, better oversight and more efficient management — and delivers soaring budgets, opaque finances and bubbling scandals. All those American billions now pouring into the UN had their origins in work done by Americans, who earned that money, and then had it taxed away by government — and turned over to the UN. Given a choice, could those taxpayers perhaps find better uses for their dollars?
The U.S. administration has just invited a senior North Korean official, Kim Kye Gwan, to come to New York to talk about ending Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Or, as these things tend to play out in the meta-world of North Korean nuclear shakedowns, to talk about holding further talks to talk about ending North Korea’s nuclear program.
As it happens, we’ve been here before — with the same North Korean senior official, Kim Kye Gwan. In 2007, it was the Bush administration that invited Kim Kye-gwan to come talk nukes in New York. Kim spent a lively four hours dining and drinking at the Waldorf with the U.S. envoy of the hour, Chris Hill. That was followed by U.S. concessions and gifts to North Korea which included free food and fuel, arrangements to return to Kim Jong Il some $25 million in allegedly tainted North Korean funds frozen in Macau, and the removal of North Korea from the U.S. list of terror-sponsoring states. North Korea’s regime responded by stalling, stonewalling, cheating and ultimately walking away from the denuclearization deal; then conducted a second nuclear test in 2009 and in 2010 unveiled a uranium enrichment facility which it had previously denied.
The Obama administration, to its credit, has so far refrained from being suckered into another of these North Korean shakedown routines. But that could all be about to change, with Kim Kye Gwan preparing to enjoy another round of American hospitality in the Big Apple.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said, “We are open to talks with North Korea, but we do not intend to reward the North just for returning to the table.” Too late. For North Korea, a United Nations-sanctioned erstwhile pariah of the so-called international community, it is already a reward to have America dignify Vice Foreign Minister and former nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan by inviting him for an encore in New York. And with the State Department saying America is looking for signs that North Korea is serious about returning to the negotiating table, a negotiation of sorts has already begun — in which America is already at a disadvantage. North Korea’s negotiators are masters at taking whatever they can get, and then welshing on whatever they have promised.
But if the State Department is determined to entertain Kim yet again in New York, there might be a way to redeem the situation. Upon Kim Kye Gwan’s arrival, U.S. officials ought to offer him five little words, and nothing more. Quite simply: “Would you like to defect?” It’s unlikely Kim would say yes. But if he does, that would be a lovely diplomatic coup, and an excellent start to the next round of “talks” with North Korea. And if he doesn’t, it’s still the kind of message that might provoke some useful cogitation among his colleagues back in the gloomy confines of Pyongyang. Haggling with the North Korean regime is a routine that by now fits the definition of insanity. Inviting Pyongyang’s envoys to come to New York, as long as they then stay there for good, might sound crazy. But something in this routine needs to change. Why not give it a try?