Hope­fuls see UN play­ing key roles

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Betsy Pisik

NEW YORK — Sen. Barack Obama would talk di­rectly with ad­ver­saries, with­out the fig leaf of mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism.

Sen. John McCain wants to cre­ate a “League of Democ­ra­cies” to take ac­tion when a di­vided U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil won’t.

And Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton would beef up peace­keep­ing mis­sions around the globe with Amer­i­can cash, as­sets, train­ers and tech­nocrats.

None of the can­di­dates would rad­i­cally al­ter when or how the United States en­gages the United Na­tions, ac­cord­ing to their own se­nior for­eign-pol­icy ad­vis­ers, but each would tweak the re­la­tion­ship in his or her own way. And the con­sen­sus around the halls of the United Na­tions is that the U.S.-U.N. re­la­tion­ship is likely to warm no­tice­ably in Jan­uary, re­gard­less of who be­comes the next pres­i­dent.

All three pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates sup­port the broad no­tion of a strong and in­de­pen­dent United Na­tions, ac­cord­ing to their cam­paign staffs: They want to pay Amer­i­can dues fully and on time; they all want the United States to have greater in­flu­ence; and they say the world body should be more ef­fec­tive in coun­tert­er­ror­ism and na­tional se­cu­rity but note that the United Na­tions is not the only mul­ti­lat­eral op­tion.

The can­di­dates, all mem­bers of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions or Armed Ser­vices com­mit­tees, have reser­va­tions in their sup­port of the world body.

Each agrees that the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil should be ex­panded to re­flect the cur­rent world power struc­ture but won’t share the veto with any new per­ma­nent mem­bers, and each wants the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA) to grow some teeth and an an­tenna in mon­i­tor­ing emerg­ing nu­clear pow­ers.

A McCain ad­min­is­tra­tion cer­tainly would share intelligence with the IAEA more freely than the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion has, said Randy Sche­une­mann, the cam­paign’s for­eign pol­icy and na­tional se­cu­rity aide.

“The IAEA is crit­i­cal to the non­pro­lif­er­a­tion regime we have right now,” he told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “What­ever flaws it has and im­prove­ments it needs, we need a strong IAEA, fully re­sourced, and that’s more than just dol­lars.”

Mr. Sche­une­mann said sus­pected nu­clear scofflaws should be re­ferred au­to­mat­i­cally to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil if the IAEA board of gov­er­nors can­not agree what ac­tion to take. It now takes the unan­i­mous agree­ment of the 35-mem­ber body to send coun­tries such as Iran or North Korea to the coun­cil’s cham­bers.

Mr. McCain, Ari­zona Republi- can, also plans to cre­ate a sep­a­rate as­so­ci­a­tion of democ­ra­cies to craft its own approach when de­vel­op­ing or dic­ta­to­rial gov­ern­ments refuse to sup­port U.S. goals. Mr. McCain thinks this is es­pe­cially im­por­tant in bring­ing mul­ti­lat­eral pres­sure against Iran, North Korea, Zim­babwe, China or Burma, the ad­viser said, not­ing that all have power or pro­tec­tors in var­i­ous U.N. bod­ies.

The U.N. com­mu­nity has de­rided the idea of a coali­tion of only the “like-minded.” Crit­ics note that al­lies al­ready agree on most of the im­por­tant is­sues.

Mr. Obama, Illi­nois Demo­crat, does not plan to cre­ate a new or­ga­ni­za­tion, but he sup­ports mul­ti­lat­eral en­gage­ment out­side the United Na­tions, whether it’s the “EU3” na­tions of Great Bri­tain, France and Ger­many lead­ing nu­clear ne­go­ti­a­tions with Iran, or the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity pres­sur­ing Zim­bab­wean Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe.

“The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil ought to be the venue of first re­sort when and if ef­fec­tive,” said Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s se­nior for­eign-pol­icy ad­viser. “If not, there are other mech­a­nisms.” That in­cludes di­rect con­ver­sa­tion with Tehran, a po­si­tion that is more pop­u­lar among diplo­mats than it is with many U.S. vot­ers.

Mrs. Clin­ton’s sup­port of the 2003 Iraq in­va­sion would haunt her at the still-of­fended United Na­tions, but she would not hes­i­tate to move out­side the world body if she deems it ap­pro­pri­ate.

The New York Demo­crat ap­pears more will­ing than her ri­vals to make use of the United Na­tions. On the cam­paign trail, she has promised to “op­er­a­tional­ize” the prin­ci­ple that all na­tions have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect civil­ians when their own gov­ern­ment can­not or will not.

In adopt­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect, or “R2P,” as it is known, “the United Na­tions ac­cepted the prin­ci­ple that mass atroc­i­ties that take place in one state are the con­cern of all states,” she said, adding that a Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion would rec­og­nize the pre­ven­tion of mass atroc­i­ties as a na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est, not just a hu­man­i­tar­ian goal.

She would also see that U.N. peace­keep­ing is made more ef­fec­tive, to bet­ter per­form the com­plex mis­sions that are asked of it, said Clin­ton cam­paign for­eign-pol­icy ad­viser Lee Fe­in­stein.

“Peace­keep­ing needs to be able to de­ploy rapidly and she thinks the U.S. has a lot more it can do to ap­prove the U.N. ca­pa­bil­ity to be ef­fec­tive,” he said.

That means pay­ing for mis­sions Wash­ing­ton ap­proves in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, but also “pro­vid­ing more sup­port, such as train­ing, work­ing with [the de­part­ment] at head­quar­ters, fi­nan­cial, a whole range of things that the Pen­tagon it­self says could hap­pen.”

Like the other ad­vis­ers, Mr. Fe­in­stein de­clined to say whether Mrs. Clin­ton would put Amer­i­can troops un­der a U.N. com­mand.

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