A front-page story in today’s Washington Post suggests that Bush administration amendments to a 29-page draft agreement prepared by the United Nations for its upcoming world summit on poverty and U.N. reform have “thrown the proceedings in turmoil”:
Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event.
Unfortunately, nowhere in this article does its author, Colum Lynch, support such an assertion. In fact, there is not one quote from any U.N. representatives or officials stating that the U.S. amendments have in any way interfered with these proceedings.
Quite the contrary, the article cites officials who state support for the amendments:
Some delegates were sympathetic with the approach taken by [U.N. Ambassador John] Bolton, who took over as ambassador this month. "I think he just wants to be very cautious," said Canada's U.N. ambassador, Allan Rock. "He's coming into a situation where there's a -page document on the table, and I think he's looking at it very closely and he's concerned that great care be taken before his country's name is put to it, and that's quite natural."
So what is likely galling the Post about these amendments?
But the proposals face strong resistance from poorer countries, which want the United Nations to focus more on alleviating poverty, criticizing U.S. and Israeli military policies in the Middle East, and scaling back its propensity to intervene in small countries that abuse human rights.
Hmmm. So there are nations who plan on attending this summit to embarrass the United States and Israel? And to stop the U.N. from trying to prevent countries from abusing their citizens? But that doesn’t get covered in this story until paragraph thirteen? Moreover, as the tenor of this article implies disappointment that the administration proposed these amendments, should Americans be disgusted that our U.N. ambassador and our government might want to have a say in such things?
Moving forward, another issue of contention for this administration that is not addressed until paragraph seventeen is the following:
In meetings with foreign delegates, Bolton has expressed concern about a provision of the agreement that urges wealthy countries, including the United States, to contribute 0.7 percent of their gross national product in assistance to poor countries.
0.7 percent of our gross [domestic] product? Excuse me, but for 2005 this would represent $85 billion. Given the corruption and malfeasance of the U.N.’s Oil-for-Food program, and assuming that the U.N. would be asked to run this "poor countries" assistance fund, shouldn’t our government -- in our behalf -- have some say in Americans giving $85 billion more of their tax dollars to the U.N.?
Given the content of the body of this article, one would think that a more impartial first couple of paragraphs would have stated that the Bush administration recommended changes to this U.N. agreement that were totally in America’s best interest.
But that wouldn’t be newsworthy, would it?
(As a post script, special thanks go out to Thomas P. Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance, for alerting me to an arithmetic error in my GDP to contribution calculation. Thanks Thomas!)