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Republicans in Congress putting Bush on the spot



Published: Fri, August 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



So much for members of his own party heeding his advice. Earlier this year, President George W. Bush urged the Republican-controlled House of Representatives not to withhold overdue payments to the United Nations, saying the United States had entered into an agreement with the world body after "good faith" negotiations.

Bush let GOP leaders on Capitol Hill know that this country's credibility would be undermined if it went back on its word.

So, what do House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., and Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, among others, do? They treat the president like he is some kind of political Bush-leaguer.

According to the Washington Post, the Republican leaders have told the administration that payment of the money owed to United Nations will be held up unless Bush agrees to legislation that would exempt Americans from the International Criminal Court.

The court is a permanent tribunal being established in The Hague to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The Bush administration opposes the international court, but has not yet decided how to get out of a treaty signed by former President Clinton that established the court.

The Senate must ratify the treaty -- and there is little chance of that occurring.

Yet, Hastert, Hyde and others believe it is necessary to strong-arm the president. And if that isn't bad enough, the threat to withhold payment to the U.N. comes just weeks before Bush is scheduled to address the General Assembly of the international organization.

Jaundiced eye: World leaders already view the U.S. with a jaundiced eye, not only because of the nonpayment of dues, but also because the Bush administration, unlike the Clinton administration, has decided to go it alone on issues involving the environment, nuclear arms and biological warfare. This isolationist trend has begun to worry our European allies, prompting Bush and his foreign policy team to reassure them that the U.S. will continue to be a major player in the international arena.

The speech the president is to deliver to the General Assembly in late September could be one of the important of his tenure because he will be speaking to an audience that no longer trembles at the word "superpower." The end of the Cold War and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union have resulted in the emergence of different sets of power blocs within the United Nations. These blocs have agendas that aren't necessarily in keeping with the U.S.' view of the world.

That is why Bush should not be burdened with silly political posturing of the type that the Republican leadership in the House is displaying over the payment of the U.N. dues as he prepares to go before the United Nations.




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