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Can the U.S. find a substitute for the U.N.?

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Steve Dufour

Nov 15, 2005, 5:37:06 AM11/15/05
The Washington Times

Can the U.S. find a substitute for the U.N.?

By Betsy Pisik
Published November 15, 2005

America's representative at the United Nations said yesterday that the
organization must become better at solving problems and more responsive
to U.S. concerns or Washington will seek other venues for international
During a luncheon with reporters and editors at The Washington
Times, U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said repeatedly that the Bush
administration requires nothing less than "a revolution of reform" at
the world body, encompassing everything from U.N. Security Council
engagement to management changes to a focus on administrative skills in
choosing the next secretary-general.
The United Nations, he said, "has got to be a place to solve
problems that need solving, rather than a place where problems go,
never to emerge."
He added: "In the United States, there is a broadly shared view
that the U.N. is one of many potential instruments to advance U.S.
issues, and we have to decide whether a particular issue is best done
through the U.N. or best done through some other mechanism. ...
"The U.N. is one of many competitors in a marketplace of global
problem solving," Mr. Bolton said. That realization "should be an
incentive for the organization to reform."
One alternative, he said, is for regional organizations to play a
larger role. He praised the Organization of American States for its
work in Haiti and said he would like the African Union to take on
greater responsibilities in Africa.
Mr. Bolton, who has been directly or indirectly involved in U.N.
affairs since the Reagan administration, said he has found little
surprising in his 3½ months in Turtle Bay.
"It's exactly what I expected," he said. "It does move in many ways
that lead you to think it's caught in a time warp, with discussions
they could have had in the '60s, '70s, '80s."
Referring to obsolete mandates and bodies, he said: "Even though
the Cold War is over and many of these issues are over, frankly, the
mind-set in the U.N. complex hasn't changed much. I don't think that
it's a philosophical point of view. ... There is a culture of
The ambassador said he would like to see change within the "P5,"
the powerful conclave of five permanent U.N. Security Council nations.
Russia, China, France, Britain and the United States must work more
closely to craft powerful resolutions and make sure they are enforced,
he said.
Mr. Bolton also wants to see the 15-member council address the
underlying causes that have spawned 17 active peacekeeping missions,
including a half-dozen that are decades old.
"The biggest change that we should try and make is to have the
Security Council play a larger role in solving these problems, rather
than turning them over to the Secretariat and special envoys," he said.

Where Washington and its P5 counterparts find their national
interests in opposition, he said, Washington "may need to find another
organization to accomplish our objectives."
The ambassador, who previously handled the disarmament portfolio at
the State Department, accused Iran of concealing significant
nuclear-weapons programs and said that the International Atomic Energy
Agency will remain a key player in its disarmament, with or without a
referral to the Security Council.
The Bush administration has been a principal advocate of management
reform at the United Nations -- supported by a mandate from U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the passion of new management and budget
czar Christopher Burnham, and crisply worded criticism from
oil-for-food investigator Paul Volcker.
But developing nations have mounted stiff resistance to many of the
administrative changes sought by Washington -- most of which call for
reducing micromanagement by budget committees within the General
The Bush administration and many lawmakers also are seeking to
create a more credible and responsible Human Rights Council, which also
is arousing suspicion in many quarters.
"I have to say these efforts have slowed down, and I'm concerned we
may not make it by the end of the year," Mr. Bolton said. "There is
substantial opposition."
He said the administration has increased its lobbying efforts at
the United Nations and in foreign capitals.
Washington's frustration with the General Assembly is well-known.
Mr. Bolton said yesterday that the United States pays 22 percent of
the regular U.N. budget, yet has only one vote out of 191 cast.
"We have one-half of 1 percent of the total [votes], meaning we pay
44 times more than our voting power," he said.
"My priority is to give the United States the kind of influence it
should have. Everybody pursues their national interests. The only one
who gets blamed for it is the United States."

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