Cultural Revolutions

Debate on Capitol Hill

The United Nations has generated more debate on Capitol Hill in recent months than at any time since its birth 52 years ago. Several factors account for this recent strain in relations, including the end of the Cold War and increased scrutiny by a Republican-controlled Congress. However, the excesses and missteps of the United Nations itself have been the greatest contributors to the present crisis in U.S.-U.N. relations.

The United Nations was established in 1945 to maintain global peace and security; achieve international cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems; and promote human rights. Despite the idealistic nature of such goals, the United States can justify its membership in the world body only if it advances America's national interests and foreign policy objectives.

The decisions and actions of the great powers of the world have the most impact on global events. During the last 50 years, the United States has acted unilaterally or in concert with its allies to achieve its foreign policy goals—involving the U.N. has been little more than an afterthought.

Despite this fact, there remain benefits to U.S. membership in the U.N. The U.N. provides a forum for the U.S. to communicate with both its friends and foes. As the Gulf War demonstrated, the U.N. can be used to build international coalitions to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives. Membership in the United...

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