LEADING ARTICLE : Waging war on the UN

Share
Related Topics
President Clinton may yet veto the Bills advancing through Congress to cut American contributions to United Nations peacekeeping and restrict the power of the President to send troops abroad on multinational missions. But American disillusionment with the UN will only be increased by a presidential veto.

This conflict is as much about domestic politics as foreign involvement. It stems from the victory of Republicans in the congressional elections last November. Their triumph ensured that the Clinton presidency - already scarred by epic congressional battles over the President's economic and health plans - would forever be hostage to a hostile House and Senate.

It was not long before America's boldest politician, the House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, found an easy showcase for the foreign policy aspects of his "Contract with America". It emerged in the portentously titled National Security Revitalisation Act, which passed the House last week by 241 to 181 votes.

Mr Gingrich capitalised on the UN misadventure in Somalia, which seemed, to critics, to sum up all that was wrong. The intervention lacked clear purpose. It entailed needless American losses. There appeared, at times, to be as many warring factions in the UN command structure as there were on the streets of Mogadishu. All this led to the failure of the mission.

Somalia may have encapsulated the ills of the UN but it remains a bad example upon which to make policy for a nation as mighty as the United States. The considered judgement of US foreign interests has become unhealthily mingled with the emotional struggle between Bill Clinton and conservative America.

Few politicians could be more aware of this than Bob Dole, the Republican leader in the Senate. He has crafted a less partisan version of the Bill. Senator Dole has three reasons for prudence. First, he is by nature an internationalist, more aware than Mr Gingrich of America's complex interests beyond its shores. Second, he knows that those interests have been well served by America's ability to invoke the authority of the United Nations. Third, he wants to run for president in 1996 and, presumably, he has no wish to tie the hands of a future executive.

Whether the veto is exercised or not, the fact is that American involvement in the UN has been placed under debate. The UN does indeed need a shake- up - in this, its 50th year, it cries out for reform. But peacekeeping is the wrong battleground on which to fight. Better to wage war on the rotten boroughs of the UN's agencies than to make international security hostage to the ideological struggle between President Clinton and his foes. The best response to Mr Gingrich's populist zeal is a drive to make the UN credible again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are less likely to become scientists and engineers  

International Women's Day: How much could be achieved if we scrapped the idea of 'male' jobs?

Anne Richards
Dame Maggie Smith stars in Downtown Abbey as Countess Violet  

We need to see Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon on stage again

David Lister
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable