Politics Trumps Strategy When It Comes to the U.N.
P.A. moves will also prompt withholding of crucial aid
Earlier this week, the Obama Administration was unusually boastful of halting funding to UNESCO—which was an unequivocal requirement of U.S. law—following the cultural group’s acceptance of the Palestinian Authority. In fact, it has little to be proud of. The United States may end up defunding many other U.N. groups that the P.A. seeks to join next, including even more important ones like the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency. There will also likely be legislation to back the United States out of UNESCO altogether as well as to revoke the more than $550 million in annual U.S. aid to the P.A. All told, the P.A. gambit could turn out to be the catalyst for accomplishing the very thing that many conservatives have long sought for a host of reasons: severe U.S. retrenchment from the United Nations. (Israel announced it is withholding P.A. funds and amping up construction in disputed areas, starting with 2,000 new units in East Jerusalem, in response to the UNESCO move.)
Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin has the must-read report. What is remarkable is that even the people spearheading these moves believe they are not in U.S. interests. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a notable voice on foreign affairs, said, “What you are going to do is eventually lose congressional support for our participation in the United Nations. That’s what’s at risk here. That would be a great loss.” And yet he is the one who will introduce the bill to have the United States remove itself from UNESCO! No longer giving aid to the P.A.? “I don’t think that’s in our near-term or long-term interest,” according to Graham. Yet politics dictate that he support it: “if the Palestinians continue to go to more organizations, such as the World Health Organization, well—it’s just going to be politically impossible for a guy like me to support a body who’s playing a destructive game with the peace process.” (In September, Anthony Cordesman Congress Cuts P.A. Aid; ‘Political Opportunism.’)
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