The US refusal to pay its due share of the financing of UNESCO is (as reported several times on this blog) because of Palestinian membership in Unesco. Along with the rest of us, Nigel Cameron ('The US should pay its UNESCO dues', Guardian 27 October 2013) says "It's a horribly misguided approach" . He describes this as another foreign policy disaster for the US, one "hardly anyone has heard of".
Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is about to give the United States a dishonorable discharge (the US could lose its vote at the Unesco general conference). Why? Because America has failed to pay its membership dues. The world's top power is effectively being booted out of the world's top soft power network at a time when soft power is key to global influence in the 21st century.Note also the resistance of the US antiquity dealers and collectors to anything related to UNESCO and the idea of us all working together to help protect the world heritage (or the bits of it they want to collect and trade in). But, argues Cameron, those who rejoice that the US is cutting funds and leaving the organization are burying their heads in the sand:
Notice how America's leaders are not making speeches, the press are not editorializing about this, and even the think tank community has given it a pass despite the fact that we are now well into the final act of the tragedy.
That's defence of course.
As the days tick past, it's worth pondering the lapidary words of American poet and diplomat Archibald MacLeish, a former Librarian of Congress and one of Unesco's founders, which have become the organization's motto – words that can give us goosebumps: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed". Let's hope America can not only avoid the potential humiliation of being labeled a deadbeat, and even more importantly, that the US will renew its commitment to international cooperation in the defense of peace.