May 14, 2001
The Deepening United Nations Quagmire
The United States recently was humiliated when the UN Economic and Social Council voted by secret ballot to remove us from the UN Human Rights Commission. Ironically, the U.S. was instrumental in establishing the commission; Eleanor Roosevelt was a founding chairman in 1946. Apparently, our fellow member states no longer consider America qualified to judge human rights violations, although brutal regimes like Sudan and Cuba remain on the commission. The U.S. also was voted off a UN counter-narcotics commission, raising questions about how other countries view our self-appointed status as the global drug policeman.
The Congressional response to these most recent expressions of anti-American sentiment took the form of amendments to a State Department spending bill. One amendment, which passed in the House with my support, requires reinstatement of the US on the Human Rights commission before Congress pays part of nearly one billion dollars in back dues "owed" to the UN. I certainly support any measure that suspends or delays payments to the UN- I don't want one more penny of taxpayer funds going to the global bureaucrats who hold such disdain for America. Unfortunately, the measure is largely symbolic, as it is unlikely to survive in the Senate.
I proposed two substantive amendments to the State Department bill, both of which were rejected without debate and without a vote. One would have eliminated US funding for UN "peacekeeping" missions; the other would have eliminated US funding for worldwide abortion and family planning. These proposals were ignored because Congress does not want to address the real issue of whether we should continue to participate in an organization that serves no national interest and threatens our national sovereignty.
A sovereign nation cannot wage war at the behest of an international body, and our Constitution expressly reserves warmaking authority to Congress. This most serious power cannot be delegated, as no treaty can supersede the legislative function of Congress. Regardless of the Orwellian doublespeak, UN "peacekeeping actions" are indeed wars. The UN sends our young soldiers to fight under its command in wars that don't involve us. It uses our young soldiers to fight for causes deemed legitimate by international bureaucrats. It escalates deadly conflicts in places like Kosovo and Somalia by inevitably favoring one warring faction over another. More than anything, the UN violates our sovereignty by using our military might in undeclared, unconstitutional wars. My amendment could have eliminated UN war funding and restored proper command over our armed forces. Yet Congress refuses to recognize the problem and end our participation in UN military adventurism.
Undeclared wars are only one of many threats to our sovereignty posed by the UN. The recently proposed International Criminal Court seeks to subject U.S. citizens to the jurisdiction of an unconstitutional world tribunal. Our soldiers are especially at risk, as wartime actions later could be prosecuted as "crimes of aggression" or "crimes against humanity." One amendment to the State Department bill makes a weak attempt to protect soldiers from prosecution, but the validity of the tribunal itself is not challenged. What about rights guaranteed to American citizens under the Constitution, such as due process, jury trials, the right against self-incrimination, and the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures? The conflict between our national laws and a global court is clear. I introduced legislation earlier this year that would rescind U.S. approval of the ICC treaty (signed by a Clinton administration official), yet again Congress sidesteps the issue rather than address the central question of whether the Constitution permits American citizens to be brought before an international court.
The UN unquestionably intends to exert more and more control over both our foreign and domestic policy. The UN wants to tax us, involve us in wars, determine our labor, environmental, and gun policies, and subject us to the jurisdiction of its courts. We cannot ignore this threat to our national sovereignty any longer. Congress must be held accountable whenever it unconstitutionally cedes more of its authority and our freedom to global bureaucrats.