211. Withdrawal for U.N. would be a mistake
  Martin Swanson (May 8 letter) [210] is right to be upset about the U.S. losing its seat in the UN Commission on Human Rights,  but calling for the U.S. to withdraw from the UN shows a lack of responsibility.

Seats on this commission are not an entitlement. The U.S., however, has a permanent one on the Security Council. By withdrawing the U.S. will relinquish this seat.

Referring to Sudan, Pakistan and Libya, as if the U.S. was competing with them is misleading. Members of this commission are divided into groupings and the U.S., being in the Western group, was in fact competing against Austria, France and Sweden.

While the U.S had 41 written assurances, it got only 29 votes in a secret ballot. Instead of acting irresponsibly we should probably ask ourselves why we lost in a secret ballot? At the very least, this vote says that U.S. external policies are not viewed by the rest of the world as supportive of human rights. Being the only superpower implies a firmer stand for justice around the world, as opposed to focussing only on protecting interests and backing de facto allies. President Bush said in one of his speeches that although we are the only superpower we should be humble. Unfortunately, most of his actions so far show a lack of humility.

Mr. Swanson implicitly calls for withholding back dues to the UN, Mr. Swanson confuses the organization with its member states, which are the ones that didn’t vote for the U.S., not the UN. The annual budget of the UN is $1.25 billion. The U.S. contribution is 22 percent, or $275 million. The UN, its agencies and the diplomatic and consular corps contribute $3.2 billion a year to the economy of the New York City area alone. The U.S. is taking more than it’s giving.

May 16, 2001