(CNSNews.com) - Senator Jesse Helms, a frequent critic of the United Nations, Thursday became the first Member of Congress to address the United Nations Security Council, and although he began his speech by "offering a hand of friendship," his forty-minute talk was not greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm.
To a reception described as "cool" and "polite," Helms shared with the Security Council "what the American people tell me." The North Carolina Republican said American taxpayers are frustrated with the UN's apparent lack of gratitude. "They know instinctively that the UN lives and breathes on the hard-earned money of the American taxpayers, among others, yet they have heard comments ... constantly calling the United States a 'deadbeat nation.'"
Helms said at his request, the US General Accounting Office figured out exactly how much American taxpayers contributed to the United Nations in 1999. According to the GAO, Helms said, "Last year, the American people contributed a total of more than $1.4 billion to the United Nations system in assessments and voluntary contributions."
He said American taxpayers also spent an additional $8.8 billion in military funds to support various UN resolutions and peacekeeping operations, for a grand total of $10,179,000,000 spent in 1999. "No other nation on earth comes even close to matching that investment," Helms said.
"All of us want a more effective United Nations, Helms said, "but if the United Nations is to be effective, it must be an institution that is needed by the great democratic powers of this earth, the world, and most Americans."
He said unlike the Europeans, Americans are moving away from what he called "supranational institutions."
"Most Americans ... do not regard the United Nations as an end in and of itself," he said, adding that "To the extent that it becomes ineffective -- or worse, a burden, -- the American people, through its elected representatives, will cast it aside."
Along those same lines, Helms told the UN Security Council, "If the United Nations respects the sovereign rights of the American people and serves them as an effective instrument, it will earn and deserve their respect and support. But a United Nations that seeks to impose its presumed authority on the American people, without their consent, begs for confrontation and - I want to be candid with you - eventual US withdrawal."
As part of an effort to improve understanding between the United Nations and the American people - and the lawmakers who represent them - Helms invited the 15 Security Council members to visit his Foreign Relations Committee in Washington.