Not that long ago, when critics of the United Nations claimed it was a threat to U.S. sovereignty, they were dismissed as kooks.

After all, the United Nations was nothing more than a paper tiger — a bunch of international politicians making speeches in New York with no real power and certainly no authority over the lives of individual Americans.

Boy, how things change. Today, the U.N. is designating American geographic wonders from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon to Lake Tahoe as “World Heritage Areas” and telling the citizens of the United States how we should behave around these “international” treasures.

The United States Army has, in the case of Bosnia and elsewhere, been drafted into service to the U.N. Michael New, a serviceman who swore allegiance to the Constitution and the United States when he signed up for duty, refused to don U.N. colors and serve under U.N. command. He was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged for his principled and logical stand.

But it’s getting even weirder. Now the U.N. has sent an investigator into the United States to look into capital punishment as a human rights abuse. Recently, according to the office of Sen. Jesse Helms, R-NC, Waly Bacre Ndiaye of Senegal, concluded an 18-day mission probing allegations to a Geneva-based commission about an increase in U.S. executions, racism in the use of the death penalty and other complaints.

Helms, though, was virtually alone in raising a ruckus about this intrusion into domestic American affairs.

“Please reverse any and all State Department cooperation with this absurd U.N. charade,” he said in a letter to U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson. “Bill, is this man confusing the United States with some other country, or is this an intentional insult to the U.S. and our nation’s legal system?” No word on a response from Bill.

Mr. Ndiaye’s comments on the minor controversy aroused by his visit were revealing: “If the U.S. can refuse, all other countries can do the same thing. This visit is a clear indication of the government’s willingness to cooperate with the U.N. on the United States’ shortcomings.”

Shortcomings? The fact that we in the United States execute murderers under the authority of our Constitution is a shortcoming? Apparently in the eyes of the U.N.

Then there’s this incredible and little-reported development. Karen Parker, the chief delegate to the United Nations for the Humanitarian Law Project, said her group would ask the international body to intervene on behalf of that well-known victim of human rights abuses … Susan McDougal. No kidding. This is not a joke.

The Humanitarian Law Project was joined by Americans for Democratic Action in calling for U.N. intervention on behalf of the reluctant Whitewater witness who has refused to testify about whether President Bill Clinton is telling the truth. All she has to do to be released from jail is to tell a grand jury what she knows.

Of course, she’ll probably wind up in jail anyway for perjury or for unrelated charges in Los Angeles that she embezzled $150,000 from conductor Zubin Mehta for whom she worked as a bookkeeper.

Parker, by the way, is asking the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights to investigate whether McDougal’s treatment “matches the international law definition of torture.” Parker also pledges to bring the issue before the Organization of American States. The Humanitarian Law Project is an officially recognized non-government organization, or NGO in U.N. parlance, specifically charged with bringing complaints to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Her status is as secure as if she was the official representative of a member state.

Now do you understand why people are getting nervous when they see U.N. vehicles patrolling American streets or when they hear about U.N. officials investigating environmental abuses alongside employees of the Environmental Protection Agency? Kind of makes you wonder where all this is leading, doesn’t it? And notice the way this administration fully cooperates with the U.N. and vice versa. They are literally doing each other’s bidding.

Some have even suggested that Bill Clinton might have his eye on the position of U.N. secretary-general when his term expires in 2000. And why not? He’s certainly running out of government jobs in this country. Unless he can manage to get the two-term limit on presidents lifted, as legislation already introduced in Congress by Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, would do, he’s going to need a place to hang his hat.

White House press secretary Mike McCurry indicated last week, the president is thinking about such things — including the possibility of resigning early and allowing President Al Gore to name him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. If I were Chief Justice William Rehnquist, such news would not help me sleep at night. The 77-year-old Rehnquist would, God forbid, have to die in office, become incapacitated or retire to make way for such a possibility.

Whatever Clinton decides to do, the U.N. is becoming more powerful and more intrusive in domestic American issues. Unless there’s a radical transformation of U.S. popular opinion and some assertiveness on the part of U.S. leaders other than Helms, that ominous trend is certain to continue into the next millennium.

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