Senator Jesse Helms told the U.N. Security Council exactly what it
needed to hear: 1) the United States “will
not countenance” the U.N.’s “global governance” aspirations; 2) “the U.N.
serves nation-states, not the other way around;” 3) “no treaty or law can
ever supersede the Constitution of the United States of America;” and 4)
Americans reject and resent the suggestion that we are a “deadbeat” nation
when we provided $10.179 billion dollars to the U.N. in 1999.
He told them a lot more.
The ambassadors on the Security Council listened intently, as did the
audience of ambassadors from more than 100 other nations.
With all the diplomacy of a Southern gentleman, Helms apologized for not
being conversant with the “elegant and rarefied language of the diplomatic
trade,” and expressed his hope that the translators could speak “Southern”
in order to translate words like “y’all” and “I do declare.”
He asked forgiveness in advance “if I come across as a bit more blunt”
than the ambassadors were accustomed to hearing. “I am an elected official
with something of a reputation for saying what I mean and meaning what I
say,” he explained.
Blunt he was. Don’t believe the polls commissioned by U.N. supporters, he
admonished, which claim that the U.N. enjoys the support of the American
public. “I have never won a poll,” he said, “or lost an election.” He told
the ambassadors he had received “literally thousands of letters” expressing
deep frustration with the U.N.
Helms explained that he had been instrumental in working out the
arrangement to pay $926 million in U.N. dues in exchange for agreements to
certain reforms in the institution. He said he recognized that some members
do not like having reforms dictated by the United States, but “I ask you to
consider the alternative” which he said “would have been a breach in
U.S.-U.N. relations that would have served the interests of no one.”
Helms praised the U.N. for the occasions when it met its “core tasks”
well. He listed those “core tasks” as: 1) helping sovereign states
coordinate collective action by coalitions of the willing; 2) providing a
forum where diplomats can meet and keep open channels of communication in
times of crisis; and 3) providing to the peoples of the world important
services such as peacekeeping, weapons inspections and humanitarian relief.
“But if the U.N. seeks to move beyond these core tasks, if it seeks to
impose the U.N.’s power and authority over nation-states, I guarantee that
the United Nations will meet stiff resistance from the American people,”
“Americans sense that the U.N. has greater ambitions” than simply
meeting its core tasks. “They see the U.N. aspiring to establish itself as
the central authority of a new international order of global laws and global
governance. This is an international order the American people will not
countenance. I guarantee you!”
With all the skill of a Southern politician, Helms took Kofi Annan’s
recent declaration that the peoples of the world have “rights beyond
borders” and explained “we in America call (them) inalienable rights,
endowed not by kings or despots, but by our Creator.” He explained that
nations derive their sovereignty from the consent of the governed, and
quickly pointed out that nations that rule without the consent of the
governed lose both their legitimacy and their right to claim national
He cited Slobodan Milosevic, Fidel Castro, and Saddam Hussein as examples
of dictators who rule without the consent of the governed, and therefore
cannot legitimately hide behind “phony claims of sovereignty.”
He warned: “the American people will never accept the claims of the
United Nations to be the sole source of legitimacy on the use of force in
the world.” He said it is a “fanciful notion,” and pointed out that “the
United Nations has no power to grant or decline legitimacy” to the foreign
policy decisions of the United States. He said that the U.S. ratification of
the U.N. Charter in 1945 “did not cede one syllable of American sovereignty
to the United Nations.”
As if twisting the blade plunged into wounded prey, Helms referred to
“international law” as a “make-believe justification for hindering the march
of freedom.” He cited the U.N. General Assembly’s condemnation as a
violation of “international law,” the U.S. “liberation of Grenada from the
hands of a communist dictatorship.”
Helms said the United States would never accept the International
Criminal Court, which he described as “a system in which independent
prosecutors and judges, answerable to no state or institution, have
unfettered power to sit in judgement of the foreign policy decisions of
“No U.N. institution … is competent to judge the foreign policy and
national security decisions of the United States,” he said emphatically.
Helms paused, took a drink of water, and concluded his remarks:
“If the United Nations respects the sovereign rights of the American
people, and serves them as an effective tool of diplomacy, it will earn and
deserve their respect and support. But a United Nations that seeks to impose
its presumed authority on the American people without their consent begs for
confrontation and, I want to be candid, eventual U.S. withdrawal.”
Ambassadors raced to sign-up to speak. The ambassador from Cuba was
furious. His requests were rejected because he is not on the Security
Council. He found a television camera and railed against the senator’s
“slanderous remarks” about Cuba.
The ambassadors who did speak revealed the wide chasm between what Helms
said and what they heard. With much more diplomatic skill than Helms used,
the ambassadors protested the failure of the United States to pay its full
assessment without conditions. None acknowledged that the United States had
paid much more than its assessment through its peacekeeping support.
Helms was told that his withholding of U.N. payments was a detriment to
reform, and the wrong way to go about strengthening U.S.-U.N. relations.
Canada’s ambassador, Robert Fowler, said “we need a U.N. for 2000, not
1945,” suggesting that Helms’ assessment of the U.N. purpose is obsolete.
Agam Hasmy, ambassador from Malaysia went even further, saying that the
Security Council had to be expanded, and that the veto question had to be
dealt with. The Commission on Global Governance recommended in 1995, that
the veto be eliminated and the council be expanded to 23 members. This
“reform” would essentially take the Security Council out from under the
control of the five permanent members and give the institution free reign to
operate independently. The only remaining control from member nations would
be the purse strings.
The same Commission on Global Governance, as well as the U.N. Association
and virtually all of the U.N. supporting non-government organizations, are
pushing for U.N. taxing authority which would give the U.N. complete
independence and create the circumstance in which the member states would
serve the U.N., rather than the other way around.
Helms’ vision of what the U.N. is supposed to be is held by a diminishing
minority in government, and in the country. Even Hillary Clinton has
endorsed the concept of world government under the authority of the United
Nations, when she introduced Walter Cronkite at the meeting of the World
In a mini-history lesson, Helms told the Security Council that the reason
the U.S. Senate did not ratify Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations was Wilson’s refusal to allow 14 conditions that would guarantee the continuation of
America’s absolute sovereignty. He said that little has changed since then.
America expects the U.N. to serve the United States, and its other member
nations; not the other way around.
The United Nations has scheduled a chain of events in the year 2000
leading to a Millennium Summit at which documents, which are already
prepared, will be considered to give the United Nations global sovereignty,
forcing member nations to serve its will, a situation Helms says America
will not accept. We’ll see.