Thursday, May 15, 2008

Restoring Credibility Through International Cooperation

When I was a senior in high school I participated in the model united nations program. As thousands of students do each year, I chose a country to represent as part of the student program. In my case I chose Norway, the home of my mother's ancestors. I was very excited to receive mailings from the Norwegian embassy, which I diligently researched in order to accurately represent my country of choice. Sitting in our high school library we passed resolutions to abide by strategic arms control and non-proliferation issues.

It has been more than twenty years since I participated in that program as a high school student, and in that time a lot has changed in the world. The cold war ended with the fall of communism in eastern Europe, the economic engines of southeast Asia and China have changed the playing field in global politics, free trade agreements have devastated the American economy and global awareness has become focused on the dangers of greenhouse gas warming of the planet.

Some things stay the same though, from one decade to the next. Men and women still fall in love, the birds sing and the bees buzz, the rain falls and the wind blows, and the United States fails to pay its dues to the United Nations, year after year, to the tune of some $2.8 billion dollars. According to the United Nation Association of the USA, the U.S. owed $633 million in arrears to UN peacekeeping alone and this number is estimated to increase by between $250 million to $1 billion over the course of 2008.

The right wing yak machine loves to discuss the ineffectiveness of the United Nations on talk radio. Day after day, week after week, the public is bombarded by arguments against international cooperation and peacemaking. In the meantime, the Bush administration follows a unilateral approach with regards to foreign policy. As a result of these twin towers of ignorance and power, the United States is now perceived internationally as a rogue superpower, willing and able to ignore international agreements and national sovereignty in the name of fanatical patriotism and war profiteering.

The United States still has a role to play in the United Nations, but only if we elect representatives who will respect the historic role that the UN plays as an agency of first resort for all agreements international. Whether it is peacekeeping, refugee assistance, development, food aide, nutrition, global health, disarmament, weapons inspection, disease prevention, global education or family planning, there is a UN program available to deal with that situation. The United Nations is an integral element of global peacemaking and development.

As a candidate for federal office I support full funding of the United Nations and associated programs. I believe this is the right thing to do, not just for the international community, but also for the United States. I firmly believe that the way to restore US credibility in the international community is by fully paying our dues and supporting the UN in their role as an agency of international cooperation.

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