Speaking before a town hall meeting earlier this month, Lankford gladly weighed in on every topic that his constituents threw at him. One resident seemed particularly riled by the insidious effect the U.N. has on the United States’ policies, particularly the ominous sounding “Agenda 21″ and its aims of achieving sustainable development. When asked about his views on the relationship between the U.N. and United States, Lankford didn’t hesitate to make his distaste for international partnerships clear:
CONSTITUENT: The UN in my opinion is a continuing criminal enterprise. I would like to know why we are still funding them?
LANKFORD: Right. [Loud applause] You know where I am on that completely. The UN had a set purpose in its earliest days of trying to form relationships, but it has far left that. Our technology has far exceeded the purpose of what we have in the UN. The “benefits” of what we could get out of the UN we can do with a telephone now and over a Skype. […] It is a transition of wealth from wealthy nations to poorer nations is what the UN’s sole purpose is now. I would be glad to defund it and do our relationships in another way.
Watch his remarks here:
Lankford is previously on record as supporting the concept of a Constitutional amendment prohibiting the U.S. from paying its dues to the United Nations, that time at another town hall in 2011. The Congressman was also one of 130 representatives who signed onto a letter warning of the dangers of any potential U.N. Arms Trade Treaty to the rights of Americans.
These stances put him well within the mainstream of GOP thought on international organizations, considering that the foreign policy plank in the 2012 Republican Platform firmly declared that Republicans “strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty.” Unfortunately for them, that places the GOP well outside the mainstream among the public, as polling shows approximately eight in ten voters believe that the U.S. maintain a strong role in the United Nations, and that the U.S. keep up a strong relationship with the U.N.
Contrary to the belief of Lankford and his questioners, the United Nations does much more than serve as a forum that can be replaced by Skype. The U.N. provides critical relief in the event of wars and natural disasters, sheltering thousands of refugees in the countries surrounding Syria and Mali, as well as feeding millions on the verge of starvation. Current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice has also previously stated that the U.N. saves the U.S. millions in terms of providing security. “If the US was to act on its own – unilaterally – and deploys its own forces in many of these countries, for every dollar the US would spend, the UN can accomplish the mission for twelve cents,” Rice said in an interview in 2009.
Even U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton — a harsh U.N. critic — has praised the role the U.N. plays in providing humanitarian relief in times of disaster. That hasn’t stopped Republicans from pushing massive cuts to the organization and to the U.S. State Department since they retook control of the House in 2010 or spiking multiple treaties in the Senate.