by Jane Miller Chai
How is it that people in so many countries of the Middle East have had the courage, with little expectation or facility, to stand up against their powerful dictators of many decades? What provided the hope they could succeed and be part of a better world?
Individuals felt they had a “body behind” them, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, has suggested. And that body has been an idea, the idea of individual worth, furthered in the Arab spring by the globalization of media. Individuals learned they are not alone.
The United Nations exemplifies the “body behind”–that individuals can work together to address problems of the world—typhoons in the Pacific, health in Haiti, flooding in Pakistan, survival in Somalia, civilian protection in Libya, peacekeepers in Africa.
The United Nations is a unique institution. It reflects American ideas and beliefs. But the United States cannot be the world’s savior or its policeman. Nevertheless, individuals in every land have been inspired by the United States, and nations throughout the world have followed America’s leadership and its example.
The Congress of the United States currently has had under consideration a bill to cut 50% of our funding of the United Nations. Our contribution is less than 1% of the American budget, and for every $1 we donate we receive $2 back in services and acquisitions purchased. In this time of austerity and challenges of many kinds, each of our dollars to the UN actually monetarily benefits the U.S.
Failure to fulfill our obligation to the United Nations will damage the ability of the U.N. to be the “body behind”–inspiring, helping and saving–exemplifying American beliefs.
Our Congressmen need to know that bill H.R. 2829 is extremely short sighted, setting a very bad example. We need to voice our opinions. Most importantly, we need to sustain in good health the United Nations and the associations that exist to support it.