Calling the Palestinian Authority statehood bid at the United Nations a “travesty,” Texas Governor Rick Perry has called for the United States to reconsider funding the world body.
The United States currently underwrites 22% of the United Nation’s annual budget, and 27% of its so-called peace keeping operations.
“I think it’s time not only to have that entire debate about all of our foreign aid, but in particular, the UN,” Perry, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run for the Presidency in 2012, said. “Why are we funding that organization?”
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ statehood bid has already led US lawmakers to suspend an aid bloc of $200 million to cash-strapped Ramallah – and to threaten to do the same to any UN organ that recognizes the PA as a member state.
But it’s not just the PA’s bid that many question when looking at the forecast for US interests at the United Nations – as the nation runs full steam towards the presidential election season.
A worst-case scenario could see Mauritania, Pakistan and Azerbaijan win Security Council seats in January over allies such as Morocco, Slovenia and Hungary.
A cut in US aid under a situation where Washington’s interests are negatively impacted is not unprecedented. Since 1985, US lawmakers have frozen aid to the world body under the heading “policy withholding” 11 times.
Under the Reagan administration, the United States also withdrew from UNESCO, withholding dues as an effective lever against Russian and Arab influence at the world body.
Congress has infuriated officials in the Obama administration by saying they will cut aid to any UN organ that recognizes the PA as a member state.
On the other hand, the Obama administration has done the same. With UNESCO admitting the PA as a member to its ranks over US objections this month, a test-case for the US zeitgeist on foreign aid has presented itself. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton openly warned UNESCO officials its US dues may be on the line.
But the question remains, will the ever poll-conscious Obama seek to cut the wind from the sails of rivals like Perry and tap into the general frustration with the UN in the United States – or will he stake it out as a campaign issue for debate in 2012?
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