- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate makes the case, as reported by the Washington Independent’s David Weigel:
“It’s time to get a jackhammer and to simply chip off that part of New York City,” said Huckabee, “and let it float into the East River, never to be seen again!” That remark got him a standing ovation, and Huckabee went on to suggest de-funding the U.N. entirely.
“It’s time to say enough of the American taxpayer’s dollar being spent on something that may have been a noble idea, but has become a disgrace!” said Huckabee. “It has become the international equivalent of ACORN and it’s time to say enough!”
Huckabee continued, suggesting that the U.N. be handed over to one of the nations that attacked America. “Let’s end the diplomatic excesses that these people enjoy,” he said. “Let any country that is willing to spend the money that the United States is hosting–let them have it. Give it to the Saudis and let these diplomats suck the sand out of the Saudi desert for a few summers and see if that’s where they’d like to go, and make their ridiculous speeches.”
I actually think it wouldn’t be the worst idea for the U.N. to find a new home. The security requirements for that many heads of state are pretty taxing on post-9/11 New York City, and it couldn’t hurt to have the organization based in a country that doesn’t arouse such strong feelings in the vast majority of the world’s population.
That said, I don’t quite get what point we’d be proving by sticking the Saudis with the event and the ACORN comparison doesn’t make too much sense beyond that fact that they’re both "institutions that Mike Huckabee doesn’t like."
Update: U.N. Dispatch‘s Matthew Cordell says the security issue is bogus:
First off, the stringent security requirements and the accompanying costs are only a burden on the city one week a year. At most other times the security perimeter of the UN rarely extends beyond its grounds. The economic benefits, on the other hand, stream in every day, as the UN draws in droves of diplomats, press, NGO types, and business leaders to spend money in NY hotels, restaurants, cabs, shops, and on and on. Mayor Bloomberg’s office has said that the United Nations adds $2.2 billion a year to the economy of New York City and creates 18,000 jobs. On top of that, the current renovation of the UN headquarters is expected to bring in over a $1 billion to U.S. businesses. If I were a New Yorker, I’d be up in arms about a suggestion that would lead to more money being drained from the city.
Fair enough. For the record, I don’t think the United States should "kick out" the U.N. or withdraw from it or any of what Huckabee was suggesting. I do think that it couldn’t hurt for at least the General Assembly to be held in a somewhat more neutral site, but I’m sorry this was seen as a "silly side-swipe" at the United Nations.