The United States should withdraw from the United Nations
The first round will be for acceptance, second/third for contentions, defense of contentions, and rebuttal, fourth for conclusions. No new ideas may be introduced in the fourth round.
Please have at least two contentions and keep things somewhat organized. Contentions do not necessarily have to be rebutted.
1. Should: "ought to"
2. Withdraw: "cease to participate in or be a member of;" in this case, this includes financial, military, and political support
I look forward to an interesting debate, and wish good luck to my opponent.
I have been presented an opportunity to make the case for American involvement in multilateralism, world peace, human rights, humanitarianism, international law and open discourse between nations.
Ah well. Winning isn’t everything.
I want the debate more than the win. Therefore, I will argue that the US should continue to contaminate the UN with its up-endery and insolence. This should be a fairly easy win for my partner, as there is no convincing argument that I can think of for a US role in any of these matters. In fact, there is no role for any member of the United States citizenry to have any more than a passing interest in such outlander concerns as genocide and mass starvation. This, and we should – at all costs – prevent our elected servants from extending an enabling hand (holding the inevitable sack of rice) to those lazes who choose to relax all day instead of gainfully working for their food. The intricacies of international treatydom are arcane – and quite beyond the ability of most Americans to grasp. (Americans are, after all, well-known for their feeble intellects, and inability to breathe through their noses rather than mouths.)
I agree fully with my “opponent,” that our nation, populated as it is with ignorant country rubes, is far too unwise to meddle in such things. We are better advised to leave such matters to those expert in such Byzantine machinations. Such as the Bosnians, Iranians, and the Syrians. Americans…. Americans do not belong at the “Grown-up Table” of the International Community, and we should learn to accept that fact.
Nevertheless, even though my partner and I agree fully in every respect, and there exist no differences of opinion of any size in the matter being debated, I will, with a heavy heart, accept this challenge.
Thank you to my rather sarcastic opponent for accepting this challenge, and I look forward to an interesting debate.
1. The interests and values of the U.S. often conflict with those of the U.N.
In matters of foreign policy, the U.S. government has an obligation, first and foremost, to promote and protect the interests of its people. There is no valid reason for a national government to forsake the interest of its people in favor of the approval of an international body. Take, for example, the U.N.'s long history of bias against Israel . Despite pressing concerns in other theaters, the U.N. General Assembly has become fixated on Israel, passing resolution after resolution denouncing its foreign policy. Should the U.S. abandon an important friend because of the disapproval of a collection of various other nations, many of whom have an innate bias against Israel in the first place? While the U.N. remains almost hostile towards Israel, it refuses to play hardball with Iran, who inches ever closer to nuclear capability. The U.S. cannot possibly justify following an international organization that castigates its allies while turning a blind eye to its enemies.
The U.S. and the U.N. endorse different values and pursue different policies based in those different values. For instance, the International Criminal Court, which claims to uphold justice across borders, guarantees no right to habeas corpus . This is a clear contradiction of an American constitutional right and cannot be ignored. Even the very idea of an international court flatly contradicts every American's right to trial by a jury of his peers. The Constitution must be America's first commitment, not the whims of a foreign body that promotes policies contrary to American values.
2. It is wrong for the U.S. to continue to generously fund such an ineffective and corrupt organization.
Every year, over $6 billion in American taxpayer money is contributed to the U.N. . One would expect such a sum to make a meaningful impact through a large international body. But, as history has proved, the U.N. is able to do little towards achieving its goals. After WW2, as full details of the atrocities of the Holocaust continued to be revealed, the international community declared with one voice, "Never again." But, in the 67 years since, we see countless examples of the U.N."s failures. Genocides have blazed through Cambodia, the Balkans, Rwanda, and, most recently, Sudan . Though the U.N. claims to protect peace and encourages the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, an unstable and almost universally hostile North Korean government has access to these weapons of mass destruction, and a similar Iranian government is not far off . Even the U.N.'s research and distribution program to reduce child deaths due to disease had "no measurable effect on child mortality," according to Global Governance Watch . Furthermore, nations with appalling records of human rights violations, such as Syria, Sudan, and Turkmenistan, are still active, even respected, members of the U.N. .Some, as disgusting as it sounds, actually participate in the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
The U.N. is notorious for blindly giving monetary aid to corrupt regimes that enrich themselves under the guise of humanitarian needs. U.N. money has been funneled into areas where transparency is nonexistent and accountability is impossible; such areas include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, and Somalia . The U.S., engulfed in a debt crisis as it is, has an obligation to its people to cease its participation in such a corrupt organization where American dollars may find their way into the pockets of dictators and terrorists.
3. The U.S. could do more to promote and protect human rights without the restrictions of the U.N.
With overwhelming evidence testifying to the ineffectiveness of the U.N, it becomes clear that another champion of human rights must take up the mantle. The U.S. has proved that it can work well outside the structure of an international body. U.S.-led interventions that promoted human rights have taken place in Pakistan, Georgia, the Congo, and several other countries .
American individuals, even more than the government, are responsible for billions of dollars worth of disease research and development aid . Funding for charities and non-profit organizations is vastly more likely to make a difference than funding for the U.N. Usually, these organizations go directly to the people in need, bypassing corrupt governments and limiting the chance of regimes to abuse the money. Organizations such as these are immensely more efficient than the U.N. and are superior in their ability to make a meaningful impact.
I will discontinue wasting my partner’s goodwill, and answer his argument.
“The U.S. and the U.N. endorse different values and pursue different policies based in those different values, and contradicts American constitutional rights and cannot be ignored. The Constitution must be America's first commitment, not the whims of a foreign body that promotes policies contrary to American values.”
This argument, deverbed, has two components:
Many readers will have spotted the logical problem with this argument right away: that in order to impose its will fully, the UN would need to be a totalitarian power, which outrages the “sovereignty clause” of the argument. In other words, the argument can be reduced to:
Another reading of this argument could go as follows:
“Party A does not always fully agree with Party B, yet regularly influences Party B. Therefore, A should stop attempting to directly influence B.”
Clearly this is absurd. The United States is not logically compelled to resign what influence it has over the UN – simply because that influence is not totalitarian.
The influence that the US exerts over the UN is significant. Besides co-authoring the UN Charter in the first place, America also holds a permanent place on the powerful United Nations Security Council. This position, shared with the Russian Federation, China, France, and the United Kingdom, gives the United States government effective veto power over almost any Security Council action that can ever be taken by the United Nations. 
Article 27 of the United Nations Charter is one important clause that prevents the will of the United States ever being subject to that of the United Nations. This rule enables the Unites States “to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft.” 
This veto power does not permit the United States to arbitrarily impose its will upon the UN – it only prevents any move by the international community to gain legal precedence over any aspect of the United States Constitution, or our other treaty obligations, or even our extra-constitutional powers abroad.
As permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations can never, under any circumstances, violate American sovereignty, or force our nation to adopt measures that outrage American values or priorities.
Every year, over $6 billion in American taxpayer money is contributed to the U.N.
This figure was provided by the Heritage Foundation, and is seriously in error. I will allow the Heritage Foundation to justify its own data, and explain where the $6 billion figure came from, but this figure is grossly overblown. The actual annual budget of the United Nations operation, excluding peacekeeping activities (such as the mission in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan,) is only $1.9 billion a year.  Even taking into account military spending, the entire United Nations operation costs only $15 billion a year. The actual annual dues for America’s membership are $362 million – less than talk radio host Rush Limbaugh’s salary of $400 million. 
I expect this rebuttal to cover all arguments that the UN is too expensive for the US.
The notion that the "UN is corrupt and ineffective" is easy to demonstrate as false, and so I will postpone saying so in much detail until next round.
Thank you to my opponent, I will now defend my contentions.
“This argument, deverbed, has two components:
Many readers will have spotted the logical problem with this argument right away: that in order to impose its will fully, the UN would need to be a totalitarian power, which outrages the “sovereignty clause” of the argument. In other words, the argument can be reduced to:
“The US should support a totalitarian UN in order to support freedom.””
Clearly, this is a complete misinterpretation of my argument. The United Nations should never "impose its will fully." The U.N. bases all its "power" on the willingness of its member-states. The U.S. can better further its own interests outside the U.N. and should do so. I'm not entirely sure how this is an endorsement of a totalitarian U.N. or an infringement of anyone's national sovereignty, so I will leave it to my opponent to clarify that. My argument was not for the U.S. using the U.N. as a tool to pursue American interests, but rather to work completely free of the U.N.
My opponent also tries to argue that the United States should not relinquish its influence in the U.N. simply because the two do not always agree. First, the U.N. has very little power without American backing. The U.S. provides 22% of the U.N.'s annual budget, and the next 6 top contributors are American allies . Therefore, if the U.S. decides to withdraw, it will leave behind an extremely weak United Nations. Second, if this withdrawal did happen, the United States would not suddenly suffer a decrease in international influence. As the world's leading economic, technological, military, and political power, the United States will continue to exercise a vast amount of influence in the world for the same reasons it wielded such influence in the U.N. Third, the Security Council, like the U.N. as a whole, has no teeth without American support. The U.S. provides 27% of the Security Council's peacekeeping budget, which would make a U.S. withdrawal a crippling blow . However, even with U.S. power in the Security Council, it has proved to be an inadequate avenue for protecting American interests and human rights, in general. For proof, look at Syria. The Assad regime has been allowed to murder tens of thousands of its own people because the Security Council is paralyzed by the vetoes of China and Russia. In summary, the argument that the U.S. would be giving up any amount of influence or power by withdrawing from the U.N. is completely invalid.
“I will allow the Heritage Foundation to justify its own data, and explain where the $6 billion figure came from, but this figure is grossly overblown.”
The Better World Campaign, a decidedly pro-U.N. organization (their motto is "Dedicated to a strong U.S.-U.N. relationship"), puts the figure of U.S. funding for the U.N. closer to $4 billion in 2012 . This amount of funding is still ridiculously high given the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the U.N. The U.S. can and does accomplish much more with its own foreign aid programs, in addition to the contributions of private citizens . I'm not sure what relevance Rush Limbaugh's salary has to this debate, but I'm sure my opponent has a good reason for referencing it twice.
Thank you to my partner, I will begin:
My partner has made the contention that American individuals and private charities are more effective than the UN. This argument is so absurd that I must insist that it be supported with examples or ignored. The argument that homeowners associations and donation plates have ever eradicated a disease, ended a war or rebuilt a nation is sheer nonsense.
My opponent also argues that the United States should not relinquish its influence in the U.N. simply because the two do not always agree. First, the U.N. has very little power without American backing.
This is my argument exactly, and represents a concession on the part of my partner to my case that the US should remain in the UN in order to continue to exert American influence internationally. America’s influence within the UN is significant, if not total. It cannot be argued that the “UN has anti-American tendencies" without also arguing that the US is presenting an impressive counter-argument. Should the US step off of its side of the see-saw by leaving the UN, these forces will control the UN much more than they do today. Therefore, any argument that the US should leave the UN is an argument that multi-national anti-American forces should be much more powerful and influential than they are today.
The U.S. provides 27% of the Security Council's peacekeeping budget.
The US has conducted at least two official wars over the past decade, making international support and participation with our “peacekeeping” efforts more than critical; but necessary for our national sovereignty.
The Assad regime has been allowed to murder tens of thousands because the Security Council is paralyzed by the vetoes of China and Russia.
This is not an effective argument for giving Russia and China even greater influence by removing our significant degree of counter-influence.
The Better World Campaign puts the figure of U.S. funding for the U.N. closer to $4 billion in 2012.
I'm not sure what relevance Rush Limbaugh's salary has to this debate.
The legal amount that the US pays to the UN is a matter of public record, and I have provided that amount in the earlier round, using official sources. The extra payments to the UN are war-associated costs, which are temporary, and will end when the wars end. The US would pay more if it funded these efforts alone.
I make reference to the salary of Rush Limbaugh as a means to demonstrate that America’s dues and other contributions to the UN are not expensive. At least, not when compared to Mr. Limbaugh, who’s contract is more expensive than a year’s dues. Considering that the UN has eradicated diseases, ended wars, made international trade and business possible in areas where it would have otherwise been impossible, and provided important development assistance to nations that have later become important trading partners of the US…. I feel that a strong case can be made for having got a good deal for that money. Compared to the contributions that Mr. Limbaugh has provided to this nation, at a similar cost, the bang for our buck looks even better.
My argument remains intact: the US, by remaining a member of the UN is exerting incredible influence over the international community. This argument has now been conceded by my partner. Also as a member of the UN, the US can use its position to prevent any concerted attempt by the international community to impose its will on the US, or to supplant our constitution – an ability that would not exist without recourse to war otherwise. My third contention is that membership in the UN provides the American taxpayer with a great bargain – saving this nation billions of wartime dollars.
His only real counter-arguments have been that the UN does not always follow the United States, and that our citizens should foot the entire bill for such things as nation-building and disease eradication alone.
The admission in the first round by my partner that the US is unlikely to withdraw from the UN is critical to this debate. It proves that we agree that there exist compelling reasons to remain within the UN. He may not agree with these reasons, but he is aware that they exist, and he also understands that these reasons are convincing to important decision makers. This should be seen as a concession.
1. The interests and values of the U.S. often conflict with the U.N.
The U.S., as a sovereign nation, must be free to promote its own interests whenever, wherever, and however it deems fit. If the U.N. disapproves of or attempts to hinder these interests, then the American government's duty to its people compels it to cast the U.N. aside. No government, especially the U.S., should be have any obligation above that of its people. The U.S. also has commitments to its allies that must be honored. Israel has been, by the Secretary-General's own admission had received a grossly disproportionate amount of scorn by the U.N., even while they face a severe existential threat from Iran's nuclear development . How can the U.S. justify its support of an international organization that so unjustly denounces its allies and hinders their interests, even their efforts at self-preservation? My opponent
argues that the U.S. can use the U.N. to spread our values and Constitution, but the U.N. is completely the wrong forum for that. The merit of the Constitution is best demonstrated by deeds, making the U.S.'s own actions the best way to spread the Constitution. Additionally, the U.S. and the U.N. support different values, making it almost impossible to spread American values through that institution.
2. It is wrong for the U.S. to generously fund such an ineffective and corrupt organization.
My opponent has still not seriously addressed this glaring issue, as it is impossible to contradict. The ineffectiveness of the U.N. is legendary and it is seriously troubling that the United States continues to pour money into this organization with very few results. The U.N. has proved that it is completely unable to protect human rights in areas where they are under the most threat, as evidenced by horrific genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Sudan . Despite proclaiming its lofty goals to protect human rights, the U.N. lacks the proper apparatus, the strength, and the resolve to adequately defend the basic rights of people throughout the world.
The U.N. is also well-known for throwing money at corrupt regimes, apparently oblivious to the painfully obvious fact that those regimes enrich themselves at the expense of their people who truly require humanitarian aid. National governments, charitable organizations, and individuals can and do provide aid more effectively, efficiently, and directly than the U.N. Organizations such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, United Way, Habitat for Humanity,and the Peace Corps all provide an immense amount of aid, both personal and financial . Indeed, the Pan American Health Organization is credited with mostly eradicating smallpox in the Western Hemisphere .
3. The U.S. could do more to protect and promote human rights without the restrictions of the U.N.
Opponents of withdrawal often cite the possibility of a loss of American power overseas. This scenario is almost laughable in its absurdity. America does not draw its power and influence from its position in the U.N., but rather from its economic might, dominant military, and commitment to democracy and human rights. Our allies will not forsake us; they know we are their most valuable supporter. As for an power gap in the U.N. after an American withdrawal, the remaining major players can use the U.N. for little more than public relations unless the U.N. has U.S. support. With or without the U.N., the U.S. is the most influential nation on this planet and can use its power far more effectively than the U.N. The example of Syria still works well here. If the U.S. withdrew from the U.N., the American government would be rid of the hesitation forced by reliance on stalemated Security Council. A concerted effort by America and her allies would put an end to the Assad regime's murderous crackdown and the cause of human rights would be furthered immensely in a region that sorely needs it. Without the counterproductive restrictions of the U.N., the U.S. would be free to protect the rights of all human beings across the world. Other nations would join us in this effort because of the same principles that made them first look to the U.N. A shared commitment to human rights among a diverse group of nations will lead to important global change and such change can be implemented far more effectively outside the ineffective, hypocritical, and corrupt body that is the United Nations.
I want to thank my partner for posing an interesting subject for discussion. This is an important topic to many people, and this forum tends to attract quite a thoughtful audience to such themes. This has been a considered debate, from my view.
My argument has been simple: It is best that we do nothing radical or potentially destructive to our national interests – without careful and measured consideration. In the case of withdrawing from the forum that the totality of the entire civilized world has used to negotiate, establish trade, remedy grievances and strengthen alliances, I feel that the United States would be insulting virtually the entire planet.
Currently, the United States uses the UN to spread our ideals and values globally – with an embarrassment of influence and prestige. Thanks to our membership within the world body, I have demonstrated that our constitution is more secure, our borders are safer, and our will is more easily imposed upon the rest of the world. If we are removed from the community of nations, we will suffer grievously in all of these areas, and lose much of our ability to defend our borders, our freedoms, and our interests abroad – not to mention our allies.
Our membership within the United Nations ensures that we do not fight wars alone, that we do not foot the entire bill for nation-building and securing states in danger of collapse by ourselves, but as a valued part of the civilized world. Recent history has shown beyond any doubt that these dangers present by far the greatest risk to our national defense – the danger once posed by massed Soviet-style armies is long since gone.
Throughout this debate, my partner has never convincingly made any argument that the United States taxpayer should bear the burdens in the stead of the world community. Our influence and imposing presence within the UN helps to ensure that the American Treasury is not required to fund these critical missions alone. The omnipresent reach of the United Nations ensures that our priorities are transmitted to the greatest possible level of international saturation – we should not be eager to relinquish this reach.
My partner has repeatedly conceded that the UN is a de facto agent of the United States, arguing that the body would be greatly weakened following an American withdrawal, and repeatedly pointing out that our funding of UN missions is critical to its success. I have only weakly attempted to counter such arguments, since they support my case: if the US were to leave the UN, and establish its own independent international forum – this new forum would simply be a new UN with a different name. There would be differences – the new UN would lack the credibility and history and international reach of the current model, for example. But the new "Americanized" UN would just be a reduntant and uneccesary attempt to accomplish the work that the UN is already doing.
Let us be Machiavellian for a moment, and discuss Realpolitik.
In the event that the US did withdraw from the UN, what would be the most likely outcome? I have tried to present this piecemeal, but I should be well advised to be more explicit: The US would offend the world, and attempt to do the same thing that the UN is already doing, at great cost and enormous effort. Our borders would be less secure, our constitution under siege (observe the penalties for actions, unprotected by First Amendment-equivalent laws in the Muslim world, for example), and our taxpayers burdened with the woes of the world. We would also lose the ability to coerce the international community to obey our will. We need these powers, and this influence, for good reasons.
I want to thank everyone who has followed the debate to this point. I feel that I have offered convincing reasons to remain within the UN, at least sufficient to have met my part of the burden. As we have been discussing reasons why the US ‘ought’ to remain within the UN, I want to underscore what I feel to have been the most convincing argument in closing: My partner has conceded that the US is unlikely to withdraw from the UN – which implies that he is aware that convincing reasons exist for retaining our membership. It does not matter that he does not enumerate these reasons, or that he agree with the logic – for the purposes of this debate, it is sufficient that he has conceded that these reasons and this logic exist, and is compelling to important decision makers.
I regret that I have not dwelt upon this point more forcefully, which is why I repeat it here, at the end of the discussion. This is tantamount to a full concession, and should be persuasive.
Again, I want to thank the voters, ask that my performance be kindly considered as they are casting their verdicts, and thank once more my partner for presenting this challenge.
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