President Bush’s budget beefs up defense spending, shortchanges UN peacekeeping

In the record-setting $3.1 trillion budget proposal that he unveiled yesterday, President Bush allocated nearly $1.5 billion for 18 UN peacekeeping missions across the world. While the administration lauds the budget’s contributions to helping “end conflicts, restore peace, and strengthen regional stability,” this figure actually falls over half a billion dollars short of the amount that the US needs to provide for these UN missions to perform effectively. Moreover, the $610 million shortfall that this gap creates will only add to the $1.195 billion that the US still owes in arrears to UN peacekeeping.The insufficient US funding for UN peacekeeping missions is even more striking when compared to the enormity of the FY2009 budget for the Department of Defense. DoD’s base budget of $515 billion already represents the highest inflation-adjusted level of military spending since World War II, and, much to Democrats’ consternation, emergency allowances for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan push the budget to over $600 billion. This number dwarfs the State Department budget of $39 billion and strongly suggests a heightened focus on military defense over diplomacy and peacekeeping.

The administration nonetheless recognizes the high value of diplomacy, trumpeting the increase in funds “to support key allies in the Global War on Terror and improve responses to international crises.” However, the money allocated to support the militaries of countries like Egypt ($1.3 billion) and Israel ($2.55 billion) stands in sharp relief to the funds left out of UN peacekeeping budget. The best way for the US to contribute to international peace and stability is to follow through on its treaty obligations and its votes in the Security Council by fully funding UN peacekeeping missions.