Amid waning public support of Americans and the Bush administration for the United Nations, one congressman proudly flies the blue and white U.N. flag outside his D.C. office.
While most of his 534 colleagues display banners of their home towns at the entrances to their offices in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., moved last month to use that platform to demonstrate his longstanding love of the U.N.
“If the U.N. didn’t exist, we’d be inventing it right now,” Farr told the San Francisco Chronicle, calling the U.N. “the only way to build up the infrastructure around the globe for the human rights, labor, environmental conditions that are fair and equitable.”
According to the Chronicle account, the 61-year-old, six-term Democrat’s interest in the U.N. dates back to a boyhood experience in 1955, when his parents took him to events in San Francisco commemorating the 10th anniversary of the U.N. Charter’s signing in the city.
Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.
“I fell in love with all the flags flying in San Francisco from all the nations,” the Chronicle quotes Farr as saying. “We’ve got to do everything in our power to make the U.N. the leadership body it was intended to be. … This president has no respect for the United Nations.”
Farr voted against last October’s congressional resolution authorizing Bush to take military action against Iraq.
The United Nations Association, of which Farr is a member, applauds the congressman’s pro-U.N. stance.
“It’s a consciousness-raising thing. I bet people are surprised by it,” Steven Dimoff, the group’s Washington vice president, told the Chronicle. “His point is that the U.N. is what you make of it. If you engage in it, you can have a big impact.”
Public sentiment toward the global body soured in the days leading up to the war in Iraq, as U.N. Security Council members France, Germany and Russia locked horns with President George W. Bush over the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction.
As WorldNetDaily reported, a poll conducted by Scott Rasmussen Public Opinion Research in January found more Americans – 46 percent – favored the U.S. taking action without U.N. backing. Only 36 percent said it would be better to cooperate with U.S. allies and leave Hussein in power.
Rasmussen’s poll also found 48 percent held a favorable opinion of the U.N., with 31 percent holding an unfavorable opinion and 21 percent responding they were not sure.
That compared at the time to a 61 percent approval rating for Bush.
After toppling Saddam Hussein with the assistance of about 40 other countries who formed a “coalition of the willing,” the U.S. returned to the Security Council this month to resume international diplomacy over the issue of sanctions. On Thursday, the 15-member council appeared to smooth the rift over Iraq by passing a resolution that approved the U.S.-led administration of the country.
The White House maintains this latest diplomatic chapter demonstrates its commitment to “multilateralism and to the United Nations,” reports the Chronicle.
Others hold a dimmer view of the global body’s role on the world stage.
“Reform of the U.N. is impossible. The U.N. and its agencies are fatally flawed,” maintains Phyllis Kaminsky, a U.S. delegate to the Human Rights Commission and a Reagan administration official.
“There are two alternatives to immediate American withdrawal from the U.N.: selective rather than full participation in U.N. activities, and targeted financial contributions. The United States should start considering the creation of an alternative world organization open exclusively to democracies, ” she said at a forum sponsored by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
WorldNetDaily reported last month a concerted effort is under way among some of Farr’s colleagues to push Congress to consider the complete withdrawal of the U.S. from the U.N.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, began the drive April 16 with a letter to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s office requesting that H.R. 1146, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, be brought to the floor for a vote rather than proceed through the normal committee process. The measure, introduced by Paul March 6, requests the United States cease further participation with the United Nations – including funding.
Coinciding with Paul’s formal inquiry is an effort on the part of The Liberty Committee’s executive director, Kent Snyder, to garner grass-roots support for the floor vote – and ultimate passage – of H.R. 1146. The Liberty Committee, a caucus of congressional members committed to upholding the provisions of the Constitution during the legislative process, has posted an Internet petition for activists seeking to give nationwide voice to Paul’s measure.
“Americans should take notice when pro-U.N. forces in Washington recently spent $600,000 of taxpayers’ money to renovate the kitchen of the ambassador’s Waldorf-Astoria apartment,” Snyder said. “I bet Julia Child’s kitchen didn’t cost 600 grand.”
Farr told WorldNetDaily he doesn’t expect the legislation to go very far.
“Like it or not, the United States is part of the international community – and no action of Congress will change that,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
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