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TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Now is not time to demand changes at United Nations

This is the wrong time for U.S. lawmakers to demand major changes in the United Nations.

Congressional leaders are batting around numerous demands for U.N. makeovers. They want the organization to come down harder on human rights abuses, to kick out member states that commit genocide, to impose more sanctions on rogue regimes and to give heightened power to those nations that give the United Nations the most money.

Some of the ideas are good ones, and without question the United Nations is in desperate need of a tune-up. More than at any other time in its history, however, the United States currently needs to avoid the appearance that it controls the organization.

U.S. success has long made it a popular punching bag for envious nations. Nothing we do — short of failure — will change that. What is unique about our current status in the international community, however, is that we are giving an abundance of ammunition to our detractors.

War is ugly. That ugliness stains its participants. As we continue our nearly solitary military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, we provide the world with a daily buffet of U.S. embarrassments. Our critics have plenty to talk about, and alienation is the result.

At least in the short term, our alienation from the international community is a problem. It gives the European Union a greater chance to garner unsettling power. It gives anti-U.S. Islamic countries more international support. Alienation also impedes our ability to effectively sanction Iran, North Korea and Syria for their terrorist activities and nuclear adventures.

Until our military quests begin to wind down, we need to be a humble, if not always obedient, member of the United Nations.

Not as a favor to others, but as a favor to ourselves.

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