Time for Reasoned Diplomacy and Clearly Delineated Goals

In his recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ambassador Bolton announced that the U.S. is “prepared to consider” a 90-day extension of the spending cap that threatens to disrupt invaluable UN operations at the end of this month.

However, he also acknowledged that “it hasn’t met with a lot of support,” and that “it’s an indication … that we’re not trying to force this to an issue on the 30th [of June].” Ambassador Bolton hits the nail on the head. It is clear to nearly every party involved that such a proposal is very unlikely to be accepted. Member States would not want to engage in this complicated debate as the 2006 U.S. Congressional campaigns hit the home stretch or in the same time frame as the annual General Assembly meeting, where nations will also be hotly debating the selection of the next Secretary-General. Doing so would only make matters more contentious in what is already a highly charged environment. Some have even suggested that this proposal is just what the Ambassador said it was, “an indication,” a non-starter intended to make the U.S. appear more amenable to compromise while painting the G-77 into a corner.

For quite a while (and again at the recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing) Senators on both sides of the aisle have pressed the U.S. mission on what would be a far more effective and responsible strategy – clearly delineating the reforms that would satisfy those who fought for the budget cap. Unfortunately the Administration has yet to do so.

The battle is pitched at the United Nations. Now is the time for reasoned diplomacy and clearly delineated goals, if we are to avoid a head-on collision that threatens to paralyze the UN, a situation that benefits no nation.