Foreign policy held hostage Congress: Delay of IMF funding, strings on U.N. arrears harm U.S. national interests.

May 01, 1998

CONGRESS ought to pay the more than $1 billion in past dues and assessments owed the United Nations. Not paying weakens U.S. influence and cripples national interests.

Congress also ought to add $18 billion to the funding base of the International Monetary Fund, the principal regulator of the global economy. Without it, many businesses in this country would go broke and their workers would be unemployed.

The most acute criticism of the IMF comes from those who resentit as a tool of U.S global economic policy. The 18 percent U.S. share-holding gives the United States an effective veto over its policies. Congress has run out of excuses for not paying. What's left is an isolationism bordering on anti-business paranoia.

No wonder House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday that funding of the $18 billion IMF package will go through by midsummer. Republican leaders had dropped it from an emergency funding measure last week.

Congress passed legislation to pay most of the U.N. arrears, but the bill includes a provision to deny U.S. aid to any organization that participates in public discussions of abortion policy. President Clinton may veto the bill and tell Congress to try again. The IMF funding, if it comes, may carry the same strings. Neither the United Nations nor the IMF underwrites abortions. That is not what this is about. Funding for the international organizations is being held hostage to another issue, as though they don't really matter. And in catering to the right wing of its party, GOP leadership risks its identity as the friend of business.

The U.N. funding and IMF funding ought to be considered on their merits. Aid to international family planning organizations, none of which under current law can be used to promote abortions, should also be decided on its merits. Separately.

National interests in an orderly world, national obligations and U.S. influence in the world are being sacrificed in the abortion struggle by people who apparently don't care about those interests, and who also happen to be members of the House and Senate.

Pub Date: 5/01/98

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