Senator John Ensign just proposed a major cut to U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping on the Senate floor.
Just last month, with strong U.S. support, the UN Security Council authorized a peacekeeping mission to Darfur. It’s the largest, most expensive mission ever, and it’s coming together now in a very promising way. The new mission’s establishment means that half of all UN peacekeeping dollars are going to Sudan. It’s very simple: if we cut funds for U.N. peacekeeping, we are leaving victims in Sudan (not to mention 17 other countries that depend on the blue helmets) out to dry.
But that’s not all: by not paying our peacekeeping dues in full, we also irritate troop contributing nations – close allies all – who put their people in harm’s way with the expectation that they will get paid. Here’s a list of countries and the amount (U.S. dollars) that they are owed, courtesy of the Better World Campaign:
We’re already hundreds of millions of dollars behind on peacekeeping payments. With one roll call vote, the Senate can dismiss our international obligations, jeopardize the lives of innocent civilians around the world, and kick our closest allies in the teeth. Here’s hoping Ensign doesn’t get his way.
— Scott Paul
Update: Thankfully, the Ensign amendment failed overwhelmingly on a vote of 30-63. The roll call is here. Biggest surprise: Senator Sam Brownback, one of the most outspoken advocates for international help in Darfur, voted for the amendment. What’s more, he and the other 29 who supported the amendment did so despite opposition from President Bush, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and almost all of the senior Republicans on relevant committees and subcommittees (Lugar, Hagel, Gregg, Cochran, Lugar, Hagel, Warner).