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

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has been an outspoken proponent of militarist U.S. foreign polices and the use of torture, aping the views of her father, Dick Cheney.

United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.

John Bolton, senior fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute and the controversial former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, has been considered for a variety of positions in the Trump administration, including most recently as national security adviser.

Gina Haspel is a CIA officer who was nominated to head the agency by President Donald Trump in March 2018. She first came to prominence because of accusations that she oversaw the torture of prisoners and later destroyed video evidence of that torture.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson, is a “tea party” Republican who previously served as director of the CIA.

Richard Goldberg is a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who served as a foreign policy aide to former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL).

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has been advocating regime change in Iran since even before 9/11.

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

Hardliners at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies are working overtime to convince the Trump administration to “fix” the nuclear agreement with Iran on the pretext that it will give the US leverage in negotiations with North Korea.

Print Friendly

North Korea and Iran both understand the lesson of Libya: Muammar Qaddafi, a horrifyingly brutal dictator, gave up his nuclear weapons, was eventually ousted from power with large-scale US assistance, and was killed. However, while Iran has a long and bitter history with the United States, North Korea’s outlook is shaped by its near-total destruction by forces led by the United States in the Korean War.

Print Friendly

Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

Print Friendly

Key members of Trump’s cabinet should recognize the realism behind encouraging a Saudi- and Iranian-backed regional security agreement because the success of such an agreement would not only serve long-term U.S. interests, it could also have a positive impact on numerous conflicts in the Middle East.

Print Friendly

Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

Print Friendly

Donald Trump should never be excused of responsibility for tearing down the respect for truth, but a foundation for his flagrant falsifying is the fact that many people would rather be entertained, no matter how false is the source of their entertainment, than to confront truth that is boring or unsatisfying or that requires effort to understand.

Print Friendly

It would be a welcome change in twenty-first-century America if the reckless decision to throw yet more unbelievable sums of money at a Pentagon already vastly overfunded sparked a serious discussion about America’s hyper-militarized foreign policy.