LEADING ARTICLE : Waging war on the UN

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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are