IN his first United Nations speech, President Clinton was bluntly critical of the body he was addressing, saying that UN peacekeeping efforts need to be improved and that the United States is now paying more than its fair share of the world body's expenses.
He also announced that the US will push for an international ban on the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons and a heightened world emphasis on nuclear nonproliferation.
``I have made nonproliferation one of our nation's highest priorities. We intend to weave it more deeply into the fabric of all of our relationships with the world's nations and institutions,'' Mr. Clinton said.
Overall, the Sept. 27 speech seemed a sharp turnabout in tone from candidate Clinton, who talked of the possibility of a small, standing UN-led force to combat unrest around the world. It reflected more the concerns of a sitting chief executive who has heard the words of unease coming from Congress over the possibility of turning large numbers of US troops over to international command.
While UN peacekeepers have made invaluable contributions and sacrifices around the globe, the organization's peacekeeping ability ``has not kept pace with rising responsibilities and challenges,'' Clinton said.
Operations, the president declared, need to be run with more military rigor - and only in places where they make political sense.
The US isn't going to be the world's policeman, and the UN really can't be one either, said the president. ``If the American people are to say `yes' to UN peacekeeping, the United Nations must know when to say `no,' '' he said.
He complained that the assessed US share of UN expenses - about 30 percent of peacekeeping ventures and 25 percent of the overall UN budget - is too high. The US economy is far smaller relative to other rich nations than it was when those figures were set, Clinton said.
The president also urged that a de facto world moratorium on nuclear testing remain unbroken - an unspoken, though clear, reference to China, thought to be preparing a nuclear test.