Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

U.S. Public Supports UNESCO, Despite Funding Cuts

A recent poll reveals widespread U.S. support for various UN agencies—including UNESCO, which the U.S. has withheld its support from ever since the agency agreed to recognize the “state” of Palestine.

Print Friendly

A national poll revealed that 83 percent of voters in the United States believe it is important for the country to be a member of and provide funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, commonly referred to as UNESCO.

Polling results released on Jan. 16 by Better World Campaign(BWC), an organisation that works to support U.S.-U.N. relations, came after recent rows between the U.S. government and U.N. bodies surrounding Palestine’s push for statehood.

In November 2012, the United States was one of nine member states out of 193 in the General Assembly that tried to unsuccessfully bar Palestine from gaining non-member observer state status, and in October 2011, the U.S. cut off funding to UNESCO for admitting Palestine as a member.

The move to cut funds stemmed from a 20-year-old U.S. law that prohibits funding to any U.N. organisation that recognises Palestine as a state.

“The U.S. remains a member of UNESCO even though the U.S. has stopped funding UNESCO,” George Papagiannis, external relations and information officer at UNESCO, told IPS.

“It is even a member of the organisation’s executive board, and fully participates in UNESCO’s Programs,” added Sue Williams, media chief at UNESCO’s Department of Public Information.

UNESCO, a specialised U.N. agency, is described in the poll as an organisation that “helps prevent conflict and build peace around the world by promoting democracy, working to eradicate poverty, and supporting education for all”.

“The public support, indeed, affirms that UNESCO matters to Americans at home and abroad,” said Papagiannis.

Controversial issues

Jeffrey Laurenti, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, told IPS, “There is very little the U.N. does that runs counter to U.S. foreign policy,” but the U.N. does prioritise some issues that are “inconvenient and premature” in Washington politics.

These issues include the death penalty under the Bush administration and the Israel-Palestine conflict under any administration, explained Laurenti.  U.S. President Barack Obama is, however, “pressing to rescue UNESCO from the tangle of 1994 de-funding legislation with regard to Palestinian membership”, Laurenti added.

Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates conducted the bipartisan pollby surveying 900 registered voters via telephone between Jan. 6 and Jan. 9, on behalf of BWC.

“[Part] of our objective is to be the people who look at American attitudes just about what’s happening around the world,” said Bill McInturff, partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies.

In response to one of the survey’s open-ended questions, “What do you think should be the main international priorities for the Obama Administration to accomplish in the next four years?” three out of every 10 responders said they hoped to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

According to McInturff, a veteran pollster who gathers data biannually for the U.N. Foundation, three out of 10 is a very high ratio for a response to an open-ended question.

Funding to multilateral organisations

Also on the survey were questions related to U.N. funding.

“We know from previous research [that] Americans greatly overestimate the share of the budget that goes to foreign assistance,” said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, citing that the actual amount was less than 1 percent.

During a press teleconference on the morning of the poll’s release, Garin, McInturff, and Peter Yeo, executive director of the Better World Campaign, discussed the topic of U.S. funding to the U.N.

“Two-thirds of our voters support paying our dues to the United Nations on time,” said Yeo, even though “in past years, the U.S. has not paid its dues [on time]“.

“Americans have a sense of ‘Hey, if you’re a member of an organisation, and you’ve agreed to pay the bill, guess what? It’s like a mortgage, it’s just like any other bill. You have an obligation to pay,’” added McInturff.

Laurenti told IPS, “Presumably, the U.S. will continue to pay its assessed dues on time, in full, and without conditions.”

Other multilateral organisations ranked high in polling as well: 87 percent of those surveyed thought the U.S. should be a member of the World Food Programme(WFP).  “You just need to look at the headlines from Syria to know the important role that WFP is playing in feeding and taking care of refugees there,” said Yeo.

Additionally, 92 percent believed the U.S. should be a member of the World Health Organisation(WHO). “This is particularly relevant given that we’re experiencing the worst flu season in many years,” Yeo said.

Laurenti also added, “The U.N.’s performance ratings among Americans are vastly higher than those of the U.S. Congress.”

“Among the international agencies tested, a higher percentage [of people] feel they know enough about what the U.N. is doing that they can offer a judgment, compared to any others,” he noted.

George Gao is a contributor to Inter Press Service.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Mike Pompeo (R-KS) is a conservative Republican congressman who was voted into office as part of the “tea party” surge in 2011 and nominated by Donald Trump to be director of the CIA.


Although better known for his domestic platform promoting “limited” government, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has expressed strong sympathies for projecting U.S. military power abroad.


James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general and combat veteran who served as commander of U.S. Central Command during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.


Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) was one of Congress’s staunchest foreign policy hawks and a “pro-Israel” hardliner.


A self-styled terrorism “expert” who claims that the killing of Osama bin Laden strengthened Al Qaeda, former right-wing Lebanese militia member Walid Phares wildly claims that the Obama administration gave the Muslim Brotherhood “the green light” to sideline secular Egyptians.


Weekly Standard editor and PNAC cofounder Bill Kristol is a longtime neoconservative activist and Washington political operative.


Kelly Ayotte was a Republican senator from New Hampshire who is close to right-wing and neoconservative factions.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

Spurred by anti-internationalist sentiment among conservative Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration, the US is headed for a new confrontation with the UN over who decides how much the US should pay for peacekeeping.


Print Friendly

Decent developments in the Trump administration indicate that the neoconservatives, at one point on the margins of Washington’s new power alignments, are now on the ascendent?


Print Friendly

As the end of Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president approaches, it seems that his version of an “America-first” foreign policy is in effect a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine.


Print Friendly

Hopeful that Donald Trump may actually be their kind of guy, neoconservatives are full of praise for the cruise-missile strike against Syria and are pressing for more.


Print Friendly

Steve Bannon’s removal from the NSC’s Principals Committee doesn’t mean that he’s gone from the White House or no longer exerts a powerful influence on Trump. His office is still located very close to the Oval Office, and there’s nothing to indicate that his dark and messianic worldview has changed.


Print Friendly

Promoting sanctions that could undermine the Iran nuclear deal, pushing security assistance for Israel, combatting BDS, and more.


Print Friendly

Contrary to some wishful thinking following the Trump administration’s decision to “put Iran on notice” and seemingly restore U.S.-Saudi ties, there are little signs of apprehension in Tehran.


RightWeb
share