Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by darthmalt16, Sep 19, 2004.
Light blue is a peaceful color, I believe, which is why they used it.
No, I know that. But what about lavender? Pretty peaceful. Maybe that puts people to sleep?
I can understand not using colors that might mean different things to different cultures, but baby blue is just....
Now Royal Blue......
Then my question becomes, why aren't they? What about the existence of the UN prevents any member from acting autonomously?
If the Iraq war showed us anything, it showed that the members don't have to get a UN OK before they take action.
To a certain extent they are. Charities after all provide support across the world.
The issue is however that Un programs are in essence multinational government charities. Sicne the dues paid are "required" is it any wonder governments aren't lining up to support a non UN run one? Instead they're far more likely to give direct subsidies to governments, which may or may not actually accomplish anything.
Meanwhile, the UN run ones are hampered because they're UN run. If you consider it, it's the same reason DC is a poorly run city, because it has to go through a federal level that has not much reason to care.
Thats one of the reasons E_S question on who will idtentify refugee's is so outrageous. To claim somehow that a body of governemnts atleast some of whom are almost certainly responsible for any refugee crisis are the only ones who can determine when there is one is just plain silly.
If I can address this single point, according to Wikipedia, the US dues arrears to the UN currently total over $1.3 billion. The US started witholding dues off and on since Reagan.
Are we using that money to provide support across the world?
According to a [link=http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/trade/files/98-916.pdf#search=%22us%20expenditures%20on%20foreign%20aid%22]CRS study[/link] in 2004, the US Government donated $8.1 billion in foriegn aid (25% to military aid).
According to [link=http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/06s1284.xls]The Census Bureau[/link], the US gave $23.6 billion in grants and credits (different from foreign aid) in 2003.
This is budgeted aid, of course which does not include the emergent aid that we occasionally provide to countries when bad things happen. As a percentage of GDP, our total expenditures are fairly small (on the order of tenths of a percent) but the amount of money is not insignificant and not at all required. What's more, this doesn't include vast sums of debt that we forgive from third world nations.
So...by my admittedly hasty account, we spend over 20 times the amount of money we owe the UN.
You need to evaluate what that aid is spent on. I don't know the exact percentages, but from what I recall when I looked closely at it most of it's military aid, for training and compatability purposes. Much of it too, is capacity building projects. It's not all humanitarian, and I seem to recall something like <20% was actually humanitarian marked in US aid projects.
Which was part of the point I was making E_S. States tend to directly support governments rather then provide for charities.
The larger point is that by having these UN supported charities which give the appearance of accomplishing something you hinder the hope of actually accomplishing something.
Very true, E_S. Actually, the percentage for military aid is around 25% (fluctuates to as low as 23% and as high as 32%). About 12% actually goes directly to humanitarian aid. The rest is "Economic Political/Security Aid". That's from the first link. Of course, 12% of $8.1 billion is still nearly a billion. Even using that same number for grants and credits (actually the percentage for direct humanitarian efforts is higher but I digress), you get about $2 billion. Add it all up and you still beat out our UN dues by a factor of 3.
No, I know, but it's more that the aid the US gives is often touted as being impressive, until you distill it down to it being mostly military aid and political compatability projects...
Well, that "mostly" is debatable (the US gives more money than any other country, regardless of how it is divied up), but that wasn't my point. My point was not to suggest how impressive our aid is. My point was that our aid far outstrips any responsibilities we have to an organization that actually meets on our soil that we routinely don't agree with.
From a philosophical standpoint, I have a problem with the government putting a gun to my head and telling me that I will cough up my money to give to someone else (regardless of how worthy or in need that other person may be). That being said, the government does do it and it does it a lot. It bothers me when people turn around and say "it's not enough." It's akin to a beggar on the street getting a dollar from a wall street tycoon and then spitting in his face because it's not a twenty dollar bill. But that's a topic for another day and another thread.
Ah, the "well, you have to give more because you can" bit
Sorry, wasn't meaning to say the US' contribution is meaningless - just that it's highly vulnerable to spin on it's merits from just looking at the total amount and the word "aid".
Lowie; the nation which has contributed most on a per capita basis to UN peacekeeping is...
Fiji. It's not having more = giving more; the US expects alot from the UN and can get alot out of it. It's actually in US interests to work the UN system; and withholding dues is one way of trying to do that.
Personally I have no problem with the idea that the US should give more.
But really the current system works well for everyone except the people it's supposed to help.
It isolates individual governments from the charities, so that they don't become internal political footballs. It gives the UN an umbrella, read fig leaf, of respectability to hide behind. IT even allows the charities a certain amount of gaurenteed funding.
The problem though is exactly as I've stated, it's not enough. E_S personal favourite UNHCR operates on half the budget of Albania. Think about that. They're dealing with refugee crisii world wide with half the money Albania consideres neccesary to function.
So sure, all you have to do is provide more funding, but you see since it's the United Nations HCR every dollar asked for is refracted through the prism of how happy you are with the UN and it has nothing to do with Refugees.
How is the UNHCR supposed to accomplish anything when it's being judged not on it's own merits but on whats happenign in the SC or the GA or the human rights commission?
farrie, due respect but you're hamstrung by not knowing the day to day operations of UNHCR like I do.
They process and determine refugees, then work with states to redistribute them under the Refugees Convention or MOUs if the Convention doesn't apply. Resettlement isn't done by UNHCR, just administering and processing the convention.
Unicef's 2004 budget was just under 2 billion, makign it roughly equal to the budget of Albania.
The rest of the arguement continues the same.
Well, on the UNHCR front - which body is responsible then in Farrieland for assigning refugee status?
Frankly after taking a quick look at the ideas behind the UN High Committees I don't really care.
They are the interface between UN Bureaucracy and the member states. Frankly the thought of the UN leading and coordinating anything gives me hives.
Yes you're right E_S if there's an international body of any sort there must therefore be some sort of agency responsible for interactions between that body and the states of the world. Furthermore there will be several agencies each one dealing with different issues.
My point here however references the groups delaing with general crisii not with the unspectacular though annoying and admittedly helpful task of interfacing with governments.
I will notice however that while you insist that I talk about UNHCR you're refusing to respond in kind to my actual point instead making it a pissing contest about which UN agency we should be discussing.
No, I'm not. I need us to be the same, or similar, page to make this work.
Which is why I'm trying to get you to see things from where I'm coming from.
The UN has as much good as bad, really, and that's my central point. Though reform, or even a reset, would be necessary I think to make it majority-workable.
What I see E_S is that you courageously refuse to admit that whatever good the UN does is not because it's the UN.
That is, there isn't an inherent goodness to the UN that is being masked by the problems, nor is whatever good being done because of the specifics of the United Nations organization.
Whatever replaces it can and would do atleast the same.
I need you to recognize that the UN's sole claim to sucess is that it's only comparison is the League of Nations.
End of story. The only thing that makes them look good is the last attempt was even worse, and that not much to brag about.
You're now putting words in my mouth. I'm trying to illustrate is that because the international agenda can be served by a multinational force indicates the UN has potential; not that the current one is teh winnar.
You're right, it's not unique to the UN the good these agencies do. But that doesn't mean we don't need a supra-national body like the UN to do that job.
Now, the true test of my point would be, has our humanitarian spending trend been arguably perturbed when we stopped paying our dues?
Unfortunately I currently lack the time to give the question the proper research.
What exactly does political compatability mean? And why is the US spending so much money on it?
Simply put, anything that is a capacity building project which expands the US' influence and makes for allies worldwide. It can be something like getting government branches to use an alerts database which Washington can access, or providing intelligence analysis training to friendly governments.
I don't know if that is actually true anymore. During the cold war, yes, that would certainly be accurate.
USAID manages about 30% of the US's total foreign aid, which falls under the category of development aid. This includes debt relief, subsidies for HIV vaccines, the Peace Corps, etc.. (as an example, the US alone contriubtes 1.7 billion dollars to the category that funds UNICEF)
Factoring in immediate humanitarian aid, (disaster, crisis response, etc...) 50% of all US aid is of this type, that is to say non-politically based. As a comparison-back in 1990, 38% of US aid was developmental aid, while 33% was military aid. In 2004, 51% of US aid was developmental, and 23% was military.
The collaspe of the Soviet Union accounted for the switch in focus.