When Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) introduced the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011 (H.R. 2829), opposition from supporters of the United Nations was expected. After, the bill would have the U.S. withhold contributions to the U.N. unless it adopts specific — and long overdue — reforms. The traditional liberal response to congressional efforts to pressure the U.N. to reform by using financial incentives is to hyperventilate about how withholding a) is ineffective, b) undermines U.S. influence, and c) is not really an honest effort at reform, but a reflection of conservative hostility to international organizations in general.
I believe these arguments are wrong, as I argued on NRO earlier this week, but differing opinions can lead to differing conclusions.
But comparing Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to a terrorist for having a differing position on how to press forward on U.N. reform would be beyond the pale, right? Apparently not. Jeffrey Laurenti of the Century Foundation, a former board member of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, recently wrote,
Preoccupied as they were over the weekend by the looming threat of Hurricane Irene, Americans were scarcely aware of the deadly suicide bomber attack that leveled the United Nations offices in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja last Friday. A group with deepening ties to al Qaeda claimed responsibility.
Islamist extremists’ hostility to the United Nations is well known … But the United Nations is now at risk from an even more destructive assault — from conservative fundamentalists now in power in the U.S. Congress.
Really? Does Laurenti honestly believe that introducing a bill in Congress tying U.S. contributions to U.N. reforms is the moral equivalent of planning and carrying out a bombing that resulted in at least 18 deaths? This is reprehensible and a humiliating debasement of the people who lost their lives in that attack.
— Brett D. Schaefer is the Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation.