Ambassador Susan Rice Tries to Sell Main Street on the United Nations

Feb 11, 2011 6:53pm

Kirit Radia reports:

Tonight, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice will deliver a speech in Portland, Oregon, the first in a series designed to sell Americans on the importance of the United Nations and American engagement with the world.

“Now more than ever, Americans’ security and wellbeing are inextricably linked to those of people everywhere. Now more than ever, we need common responses to global problems,” she’ll say, according to an advance copy of her remarks obtained by ABC News.

Rice’s comments come as the Obama administration is fighting Congress to maintain its foreign affairs budget in an era of budgetary pressure and concerns about the United States’ mounting debt.

Yesterday, Rep Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) challenged Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg about the utility of foreign aid.

“Borrowing more money from China in order to give it to other people in different countries is not something that I consider to be a positive option. It's crazy. It's insane,” he said during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing.

While Rohrabacher’s remarks represent the view that America needs to address its own economic woes before sending money abroad, Rice will tonight argue that it is imperative for the United States to engage with the rest of the world.

“In these tough economic times, we’re focused on getting our economy growing and providing jobs to Americans who’re hurting.  Yet even as we get our own house in order, we cannot afford to ignore problems beyond our borders,” she’ll say, citing the threat of nuclear proliferation, foreign conflict, terrorism, and disease.

“Main Street America needs the United Nations, and so do you and I, especially in these tough economic times. America can’t police every conflict, end every crisis, and shelter every refugee. The UN provides a real return on our tax dollars by bringing 192 countries together to share the cost of providing stability, vital aid, and hope in the world’s most broken places.  Because of the UN, the world doesn’t look to America to solve every problem alone,” Rice will say.

While admitting that the United Nations could be more efficient, Ambassador Rice will also strike back at critics who argue that the United States should stop funding the international body.

“This is short-sighted, and it plain doesn’t work,” she’ll say. “When we shirk our responsibilities, our influence wanes, and our standing is diminished.”

“Those of us—Democrat and Republican alike—who support the UN owe it to American taxpayers to ensure that their dollars are well and cleanly spent. But, equally, those who push to curtail U.S. support to the UN owe it to U.S. soldiers to explain why they should perform missions now handled by UN peacekeepers, and they owe it to parents around the world to explain why their children should suffer without the medicine, food, and shelter that only the UN provides,” she’ll say.

Rice will also seek to allay concerns about whether the United Nations could ever constrain United States law.

“The fact is: the UN can’t tax us.  It can’t override U.S. law.  The UN can’t order our soldiers into battle. It can’t take away our Second Amendment rights. The UN can’t impose social norms on us. And it doesn’t begin to have any much-hyped fleet of secret black helicopters.  The truth is:  the UN Security Council can’t even put out a press release without America’s blessing,” she’ll say.

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