WASHINGTON (CN) – Demonstrating its break with the world philosophy of the prior administration, American UN Ambassador Susan Rice said Wednesday the Barack Obama administration intends to fulfill its financial obligations to the United Nations in the promotion of diplomacy over military force. “America simply cannot send our armed forces to every corner of the globe wherever war breaks out,” she declared.
“This is burden sharing as its most effective,” Rice added.
While she acknowledged problems like slow deployment and bias in criticizing human rights violations, Rice highlighted the United Nations’ success in resulting conflict, reminded lawmakers that it allows the United States to share the burden of global security with others, and said it has a unique standing that leaves other countries more willing to allow the organization to intervene.
The United States had a bitter relationship with the United Nations under the George W. Bush administration, in part because the United States invaded Iraq over its objections, but also because former President Bush appointed John Bolton, a harsh critic of the body, as ambassador to the United Nations, among other things.
Florida Republican Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen criticized the United Nations as a “failed body,” citing the human rights commission’s praise of Cuba’s human rights record, and said 80 percent of its criticisms have been against Israel, many times in support of Hezbollah.
But instead of shunning the counsel, as the Bush administration had done, the United States now seeks a seat on the panel. While Rice agreed that the committee criticisms have been “outrageous,” she argued that the United States would be better off leading from within.
As part of the trend towards greater United Nations support, a bill to pay the nation’s United Nations peacekeeping dues in full was approved by the House last month.
The body currently has 116,000 personnel from 120 countries deployed in 17 peace operations, and is running on a $7.8 billion budget this year, more than $2 billion of which comes from the United States.
“Peacekeeping has saved the United States not only treasure but blood,” Massacheussets Democrat William Delahunt said.
“In terms of the American taxpayer, it certainly has proven to be a good investment,” He declared, adding that “It would have cost the United States taxpayer to support a United States-only mission there 8 times what it costs the United States taxpayer now.”
Haiti surfaced as an example of the body’s cost effectiveness to the United States. After political turmoil, the United States led a Multinational Interim Force into the country to restore peace in 2004. Later, the UN took over the mission.
“If the United Nations was not present in Haiti today, then there would be a significant US presence there,” Delahunt said.
Despite its enormous financial contribution, the United States provides only 93 military and police personnel to the organization, about 0.1 percent of its workforce.
65 other nations provide more personnel, including the other permanent members. China supports 2,153. France provides 1,879. Russia supplies 328. And the United Kingdom provides 283.
Delahunt said that only 15 percent of the force called for is deployed within 90 days, with the rest coming in much later, and said this should be addressed.
Rice admitted that there are many faults with the United Nations, but maintained that it benefits the United States enormously