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Henry Hyde, president of the Foreign Commission of the House of Representatives

The Bush administration hasn’t stopped repeating, through neo-conservative reporters, that it does not understand why it would have to abide by international law, that is, cooperatively established rules, when it can make decisions unilaterally. According to the U.S., the world is unipolar and Washington is its center. The survival of the most powerful one is not that bad when you are the most powerful one, and besides, when you think God is with you.

After having subjected the UN Secretary General to electronic surveillance [1], accusing him of having deliberately lied before the Security Council [2], about the colonization of Iraq [3], the White House has set in motion a UN destruction plan.

Move America Forward - a Republican movement supporting the Bush administration - has unleashed various advertising campaigns on U.S. T.V. channels intended to discredit the UN, presenting it as a mainstay of terrorism, which supports the enemies of the U.S. [4]. This association requested the closedown of the UN headquarters in New York and the expulsion of the organization.

Afterwards, President Bush named John Bolton U.S. Ambassador to the UN [5]. This “diplomat” attained notoriety after having publicly launched a call to eliminate the international organization since it hinders the U.S. action. In the face of the opposition that Bolton’s nomination met, even within republican ranks, Move America Forward took on his defense until he was ratified by the Senate.

The Congress, controlled by the Republicans, didn’t lag behind. In December 2004, it voted a 1.5-million-dollar credit for the United States Institute For Peace (USIP) in order to create a bipartisan working group in charge of preparing a report about the running of the UN. The law specifies that congresspersons made that decision because “they are deeply troubled by the UN inaction on many fronts, such as the one regarding the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and the allegations of corruption regarding the UN Oil for Food Program” [6]. The working group, which should soon hand over its final conclusions, is under the joint presidency of Newt Gingrich and Democrat George Mitchell. The group is composed of a dozen members among whom are the unavoidable [R. James Woolsey- >http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/detai...] and general Wesley K. Clark, as well as many experts designated by the six major think-tanks [centers for research, propaganda and dissemination of Ideas, generally political, N.B.], which are dedicated to this issue [7].

Regardless of that prediction, Representative Henry J. Hyde - president of the Foreign Commission of the House of Representatives - submitted a bill. Far from being a personal initiative, as asserted by the U.S. press, this bill reflects - according to our information - the standpoint collectively developed by the Republicans within the USIP two-party working group. That common posture is somehow less categorical if compared to the even more radical proposals of some members, such as Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner [8].

The proposal gave rise to audiences at the House of Representatives on May 19, 2005. On presenting the debate, Henry J. Hyde emphasized that everyone, including UN supporters, agrees in relation to the need for a reform. Declaring that he felt attached to the institution, he explained that he only wanted to put an end to squander and corruption. However, despite his speaking precautions, he could not avoid attacking the UN when he reticently said that from decades ago, it has been affected by a violent anti-Americanism.

Even the drafting of Hyde’s proposal matched that of an ultimatum. It listed 38 propositions and stipulated that in the event that at least 32 of them failed to be applied, the United States would reduce to half its financial contribution, though established by international treaties, and would abstain from getting involved in any new mission to keep peace. In short, the UN is forced to “yield or resign”.

With a fixed contribution of $ 439 million for 2006, the United States is the first contributor of the organization since it provides 22% of the budget. In order to get obedience, U.S. congresspersons consequently aim at the UN pocket, its main idea being that the U.S. financial contribution should only fund the actions approved by Washington. They also demand the removal of 18 UN programs and agencies, though they would accept that they remained through the voluntary contributions of the other member States. On the other hand, the UN would not have, from now on, any power to change its budget during the year, except by means of a unanimous agreement and under strict limitations.

Considering that the UN administration is inadequate and corrupt, Hyde demands the creation of an Independent Oversight Board (IOB) and an Ethics Bureau that would be in charge of avoiding the emergence of interest conflicts among international officials.
Republicans repeatedly stress that the "128 poorer States" contribute, altogether, not more than 1% of the UN budget, and each has, however, a vote. Paying to finance actions decided by others is something that Republicans cannot tolerate - a reasoning that calls the equality principle of the member States into question with the unique purpose of establishing, without any doubt, a suffrage according to the volume of the sum contributed to the budget. Hyde’s proposal essentially focuses on the reform of three defined activities:
- Although the United States adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but have not signed the Pacts related to the civil and political rights as well as to the cultural and social rights, U.S. congresspersons do not conceive that the Geneva Human Rights Commission and the High Commissioner may criticize the “country of freedom” and make relative the violations perpetrated by the “renegade States”. Consequently, they demand that the States that have committed serious offenses are not elected to be members of that commission. But, who would dare say that the United States is today one of the most reprehensible States in such doings with its world record of criminal population, its Guantánamo GULAG and its torture practices?
- Since they know that the International Atomic Energy Organization resisted the preparations of the Iraq invasion and that it is resisting again the new military adventure against Iran, U.S. congresspersons try to strip the Committee of Governors of its prerogatives to transfer them into an Expert Committee on which it would be possible to influence in a similar way than they did on the disarmament inspectors.
- On the other hand, by using as arguments evidence of crimes committed by the blue helmets in Africa and the Caribbean, U.S. congresspersons try to limit the employment of multinational forces that are not under the U.S. control, thus arrogating the Interpol role to itself.

Finally, under several pretexts, Hyde managed to slip into some unusual ideas. He suggested “rebalancing” the importance of Israel and the Palestinian representation by cutting the funding of the Division for Palestinian Rights, of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People [9], from the Special Coordinator for the Middle East and the NGO’s that are dedicated to this issue. Even more interesting is the fact that Hyde asked that Israel were not considered anymore as a Middle East State and became a Western State so that it could join the same group of European countries and the Unites States.

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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

This scene would be incomplete if we ignored the presentation, within the Foreign Relations Commission itself, of a resolution from representative Ileana Ros-Lethinen. Although the text is part of Hyde’s proposal, it adds an explicit political demand to his financial blackmail. Through its approval, U.S. congresspersons would put as a condition to the payment of the U.S. annual contribution to the UN, the suspension of all those member States whose ambassadors used terms contrary to Israel within the premises of the international organization.

The U.S. Congress blackmail threatens the running of the UN, and therefore, the career of its officials, some of whom -as the general secretary- could be tempted to betray their functions to protect their own future. The defense of the international law won’t come then from the heart of the international administrations but only from the member states. However, nobody will be able to neutralize the U.S. pressures without being able to ensure the UN budgetary balance.

[1] «Washington et Londres placent l’ONU sur écoutes», by Thom Saint-Pierre, Voltaire, March 4, 2003.

[2] «Discours de Colin L. Powell devant le Conseil de sécurité», February 5, 2003.

[3] «Qui gouverne l’Irak ?», by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire, May 13, 2004.

[4] «Qui veut bouter l’ONU hors des États-Unis ?», Voltaire, November 23, 2004.

[5] «John Bolton et le désarmement par la guerre», Voltaire, November 30, 2004.

[6] “The conferees are deeply troubled by the inaction of the United Nations on many fronts, especially in regard to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan and the allegations of corruption regarding the Unites Nations oil-for-Food program”. Public Law 108-447.

[7] We are talking about the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution.

[8] About the posture of the Fondation Heritage, please refer to The United Nations Reform Act of 2005: A Powerful Lever to Advance U.N. Reform, by Brett D. Schaeffer, WebMemo #759, Heritage Foundation, June 10, 2005.

[9] A committee created with the aim of safeguarding the “right to return” committee, which does not mean that the Palestinians have to physically return to the lands out of which they were expelled but that they should receive, at least, a fair compensation.