Pay Up

Do Americans have an interest in saving jobs? In keeping US businesses competitive at home and abroad? In preventing biological and chemical warfare?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

Is Secretary of State Madeleine Albright talking sense, then, when she asks Congress to provide new funding for the International Monetary Fund and pay back dues to the UN?

Yes. And yes.

Obviously the IMF does not singlehandedly rescue economies in trouble. Its rescue packages have flaws. But it is a major factor in saving threatened economies. In the latest cases - Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, and Indonesia - had currencies and economies continued to spiral downward, American workers and businesses would be in greater jeopardy. More US products and services would lose out abroad and at home.

Bottom line: Replenishing IMF coffers is less expensive to US taxpayers than the cost of job and profit losses.

And the UN?

It's not the only agent trying to prevent nations like Iraq from getting ABC weapons (atomic, biological, and chemical arms). But it provides a first line of defense in places like Baghdad. And it's a venue where the US can gain backing from other major nations.

Yes, there are critics who complain that using the UN tends to dilute the pressure on Iraq. They presumably want the US to go it alone with large- scale aerial attacks. That's a brave theory. But it carries a high risk of casualties and possible terrorist attacks on US interests abroad.

Secretary Albright has quit cajoling Congress and gone into bluntspeak. She cites lawmakers for "blackmail" and says they're holding funds for the two world bodies "hostage" for irrelevant reasons. Sadly, she's right. It's time to pay up for services rendered.

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