A House GOP plan to force the United Nations to reform or face massive U.S. funding cuts was assailed by President Obama's ambassador to the world body today as a wrong-headed political scheme.
"Legislation that would withhold funding for the United Nations is fundamentally flawed in concept and practice, sets us back, is self-defeating, and doesn't work," charged Ambassador Susan Rice.
She added that it would cut American influence in the New York-based assembly and turn the United States into a carping outsider.
During a breakfast interview with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Rice said that the U.S. is working to reform the United Nations, long seen by critics as an ineffective, anti-American body that wastes money.
"The goal of reform is one that we are working to pursue every day of the week but we believe very strongly that the way to do that is from the vantage point of a member in good standing that meets its obligations and is viewed as a constructive player where our influence is much enhanced rather than as a laggard and a debtor who's carping from the outside that things are not changed as we would like to see them changed," says Rice in unusually sharp language. [See photos of unrest in Libya.]
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman IIeana Ros-Lehtinen, a leading U.N. critic, is pushing a plan to let had the U.S. pay for what it wants at the U.N. as a way to pressure for new reforms. Currently the U.S. funds about 22 percent of the United Nations, or $6.4 billion out of the U.N.'s $22.3 billion budget. That's double what it was just 10 years ago.
Choosing what to pay for instead of ponying up the full amount would crush U.S. influence, says Rice.
"We can't violate our treaty obligations and take an a la carte approach to paying our obligations," says Rice. Previous efforts to punish the U.N. by slashing U.S. donations, she added, "reduced our standing, it reduced our influence, and it made it much harder for us to use the institution to obtain the positive results for the United States."