September 29, 2012

Benjamin Netanyahu Draws a Red Line at the United Nations

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu gave a powerful speech before the United Nations yesterday, one that should, but probably won't be, heeded by most nations of the world.

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"At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That's by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Red lines don't lead to war; red lines prevent war."

Exactly right. And, as the Prime Minister went on to say, we must draw a clear red line with regards to the Iranian nuclear program.

Here is the section of the speech where he draws the red line on the bomb diagram.

Look at NATO's charter: it made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all. NATO's red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century.

President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades.

In fact, it's the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression.

If the Western powers had drawn clear red lines during the 1930s, I believe they would have stopped Nazi aggression and World War II might have been avoided.

In 1990, if Saddam Hussein had been clearly told that his conquest of Kuwait would cross a red line, the first Gulf War might have been avoided.

Clear red lines have also worked with Iran.

Earlier this year, Iran threatened to close the Straits of Hormouz. The United States drew a clear red line and Iran backed off.

Quite correct. The "strategic ambiguity" favored by some only encourages troublemakers to continually test the limits, to push the more peaceful nations farther and farther. And in when they do so they usually go too far and war is the result. So how does this apply to the current situation with Iran?

...in fact the only way that you can credibly prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, is to prevent Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb.

So, how much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb? And how close is Iran to getting it? Let me show you. I brought a diagram for you. Here's the diagram. This is a bomb; this is a fuse

In the case of Iran's nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages.

The first stage: they have to enrich enough of low enriched uranium.

The second stage: they have to enrich enough medium enriched uranium.

And the third stage and final stage: they have to enrich enough high enriched uranium for the first bomb.

Where's Iran? Iran's completed the first stage. It took them many years, but they completed it and they're 70% of the way there.

Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it's only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I told you now is not based on secret information. It's not based on military intelligence. It's based on public reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They're online.

So if these are the facts, and they are, where should the red line be drawn?

The red line should be drawn right here.

Before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb. Before Iran gets to a point where it's a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon. Each day, that point is getting closer.

That's why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that's why everyone should have a sense of urgency.

Here is the entire speech

Where is the United States?

Two weeks ago Charles Krauthammer explained, as best anyone can, the position of the Obama Administration:


There are two positions one can take regarding the Iranian nuclear program: (a) it doesn't matter, we can deter them, or (b) it does matter, we must stop them.

In my view, the first position -- that we can contain Iran as we did the Soviet Union -- is totally wrong, a product of wishful thinking and misread history. But at least it's internally coherent.

What is incoherent is President Obama's position. He declares the Iranian program intolerable -- "I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" -- yet stands by as Iran rapidly approaches nuclearization.

A policy so incoherent, so knowingly and obviously contradictory, is a declaration of weakness and passivity. And this, as Anthony Cordesman, James Phillips and others have argued, can increase the chance of war. It creates, writes Cordesman, "the same conditions that helped trigger World War II -- years of negotiations and threats, where the threats failed to be taken seriously until war became all too real."

This has precipitated the current U.S.-Israeli crisis, sharpened by the president's rebuff of the Israeli prime minister's request for a meeting during his upcoming U.S. visit. Ominous new developments; no Obama response. Alarm bells going off everywhere; Obama plays deaf.

The old arguments, old excuses, old pretensions have become ridiculous:

1) Sanctions. The director of national intelligence testified to Congress at the beginning of the year that they had zero effect in slowing the nuclear program. Now the International Atomic Energy Agency reports (Aug. 30) that the Iranian nuclear program, far from slowing, is actually accelerating. Iran has doubled the number of high-speed centrifuges at Fordow, the facility outside Qom built into a mountain to make it impregnable to air attack.

This week, the IAEA reported Iranian advances in calculating the explosive power of an atomic warhead. It noted once again Iran's refusal to allow inspection of its weapons testing facility at Parchin and cited satellite evidence of Iranian attempts to clean up and hide what's gone on there.

The administration's ritual response is that it has imposed the toughest sanctions ever. So what? They're a means, not an end. And they've had no effect on the nuclear program.

2) Negotiations. The latest, supposedly last-ditch round of talks in Istanbul, Baghdad, then Moscow has completely collapsed. The West even conceded to Iran the right to enrich -- shattering a decade-long consensus and six Security Council resolutions demanding its cessation.

Iran's response? Contemptuous rejection.

Why not? The mullahs have strung Obama along for more than three years and still see no credible threat emanating from the one country that could disarm them.

3) Diplomatic isolation. The administration boasts that Iran is becoming increasingly isolated. Really? Just two weeks ago, 120 nations showed up in Tehran for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement -- against U.S. entreaties not to attend. Even the U.N. secretary-general attended -- after the administration implored him not to.

Which shows you what American entreaties are worth today. And the farcical nature of Iran's alleged isolation.

The Obama policy is in shambles. Which is why Cordesman argues that the only way to prevent a nuclear Iran without war is to establish a credible military threat to make Iran recalculate and reconsider. That means U.S. red lines: deadlines beyond which Washington will not allow itself to be strung, as well as benchmark actions that would trigger a response, such as the further hardening of Iran's nuclear facilities to the point of invulnerability and, therefore, irreversibility.

Which made all the more shocking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's dismissal last Sunday of the very notion of any U.S. red lines. No deadlines. No bright-line action beyond which Iran must not go. The sleeping giant continues to slumber. And to wait. As the administration likes to put it, "for Iran to live up to its international obligations."

Seen in this light, it seems clear that Netanyahu's speech was an attempt to reverse the current policy of the Obama Administration, which as Krauthammer explained is to talk loud but carry a small stick.

As Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismark (supposedly) said, "diplomacy without credible threat of force is like music without instruments."

Will the United States get with the program and draw a clear red line that the Iranians can clearly understand? If so, will our threat of force be credible? If not, will Israel feel compelled to attack Iran on it's own, and, if so, will the United States support her or complain and stand on the sidelines?

I don't know the answer to any of these for certain, but here is what I do know:


  1. Iranian is getting closer every day to getting the bomb
  2. Sanctions and diplomacy are not working
  3. The Iranian regime with the bomb is totally unacceptable
  4. Israeli military action alone cannot do the job
  5. Short of war, only a clear red line and credible use of force stands a chance of working
  6. A war would be extremely messy, but much better than a nuclear Iran
  7. The Obama Administration is not at all inclined to draw a red line
  8. Obama has not made a credible threat of force against Iran
  9. The way things are going now, Israel will attack Iran on her own, Iran will retaliate by trying to bloc the Strait of Hormuz, and we will become involved whether we like it or not

Iran is not Libya, and everyone knows it, so Obama's actions in that latter country don't scare anyone. I hope that our president wakes up before it's too late, but the similarities to our current situation and 1938 in Europe are too strong to be ignored. The clock is ticking, and we draw ever closer to midnight in the Middle East.

Update

Incredibly, our own ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, skipped Netanyahu's speech. Her excuse is so lame I have to think it was intentional.

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September 25, 2012

Obama at the United Nations: The Apology Tour Continues

This morning President Obama addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. Here is one excerpt from his remarks that I found

While there were many fine words and phrases in his speech, in general it was a disgrace. Following is some of what he said, full text here:

That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.

I know a liberal who insists that Obama has never apologized for the U.S., that it's all a fiction of the right. He might not use the word apology, but if you can't see this for the apology it is you need a lesson in English comprehension.

Worse, he's still pushing the fiction that it was the video that sparked the attack that killed our ambassador and the three others. This is incredible. It's also clearly meant to intimidate Americans into not criticizing Islam. As I said the other day, if this isn't an attempt to suppress the First Amendment, nothing is.

In less than two years, we have seen largely peaceful protests bring more change to Muslim-majority countries than a decade of violence. And extremists understand this. Because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant. They don't build; they only destroy.

And these "peaceful protests" have lead to a jihad-totalitarian government in Egypt, something no doubt similar in Libya, and most likely something similar in Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are the extremists, Mr. President

The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt -- it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted, "Muslims, Christians, we are one." The future must not belong to those who bully women -- it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.

And he's an idiot if he thinks that this represents anything more than a minority opinion in the Muslim Middle East.

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.

The second sentence is a throw-away line, as it's become painfully clear that Obama only cares when Muslims are the target. As my congressman, Frank Wolf (R-VA-10) says, this administration has the worst human--rights record of any he's seen in his 30 years in the House. When anyone else is persecuted, this administration is silent.

Bottom line is that Obama only cares when Muslims are insulted.

For that matter, Obama has never spoken up about the "art" workPiss Christ, or the Broadway musical Book of Mormon, both of which are horribly offensive. Secretary of State Clinton even went and saw the latter, and stood with the rest of the audience and cheered it. Charming.

I'd say it's all unreal but it's become all too real from this president.

It's all enough to confuse any normal person as to why our president is acting this way, but David French helps out with "The three rules of (leftist) Middle East morality:"

Rule 1: Nations who attempt genocide against Israel shall not suffer any lasting consequences.

Rule 2: Ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity -- unless Jews are purged from Muslim lands.

Rule 3: Religious fundamentalism is a relic of the dark ages and should be condemned -- unless it's Muslim fundamentalism.

Finally, lest you have any doubt as to what the people of Egypt want, take a look at the results of this 2010 Pew Research Opinion poll of Egyptians:

• 82% of Egyptians dislike the U.S. -- the highest unfavorable rating of the 19 Muslim nations surveyed.

• 49% of Egyptians said Islam had played only a "small role" in public affairs under President Hosni Mubarak, while 95% preferred the religion play a "large role in politics."

• 77% think thieves should have their hands cut off.

• 54% support a law segregating women from men in the workplace.
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• 54% believe suicide bombings that kill civilians can be justified.

• Nearly half support the terrorists Hamas, 30% have a favorable opinion of Hezbollah and one in five have positive views of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

Scary. And we have a president who is totally clueless about it all.

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June 29, 2011

North Korea to Chair UN Disarmament Conference

You just can't make this stuff up:

Despite numerous breaches of arms embargoes and continued threats to expand its nuclear weapons program, North Korea has assumed the presidency of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament. In a speech to the 65-nation arms control forum in Geneva, the newly-appointed president, North Korean Ambassador So Se Pyong, said he was "very much committed to the Conference."

As the most militarized country on earth, they've certainly got a lot of disarmament work ahead of them.


Nork Military Parade


Update

Following is come background from Anne Bayefsky of The Weekly Standard:

On Tuesday, the United Nations again made itself an international laughing stock - except perhaps to the American taxpayers who continue to foot 22 percent of the bill - by appointing North Korea chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. That would be the same North Korea that, according to an article this week by Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has "twice tested nuclear weapons...is developing missiles to carry them...has built facilities capable of producing highly enriched uranium for more nuclear weapons" and has defied a U.N. arms embargo by exporting weapons and sensitive technologies to rogue regimes.

Alas, Senator Kerry is also one of the lead champion of the United Nations in the Senate. According to the U.N., "The Conference is funded from the UN regular budget, reports to the General Assembly and receives guidance from it."

North Korea assumes the Conference chairmanship by being the next state in the alphabetical rotation of the 65 members, which include five nuclear weapons states and 60 other countries such as Iran and Syria. North Korea will preside over the Conference for a four working-week period.

North Korea's representative, So Se Pyong, was enthusiastic about his new job. He announced that he was "very much committed to the Conference" and that during his presidency he "welcomes any sort of constructive proposals that strengthened the work and credibility of the Conference on Disarmament." He also said that "he would do everything in his capacity to move the Conference on Disarmament forward."

That might make sense, if by "forward" he means toward a nuclear winter, or by "constructive," he means steering clear of anything that might impede North Korea. The official mandate of the Conference looks a bit different and includes "all multilateral arms control and disarmament problems" with the following "main areas of interest": "cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament; prevention of nuclear war, including all related matters."

North Korea's chairmanship was heralded by other U.N. aficionados, including the Iranian delegate to the Conference. Iran's Mohammad Hassan Daryaei told the Conference meeting: "I would like to congratulate the distinguished ambassador of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for the assumption of the presidency and assuring him of my delegation's full support and cooperation."

Iran's support is telling. Just yesterday Iran's Revolutionary Guards tested 14 long-range missiles that could carry a nuclear weapon, with the express purpose of hitting U.S. interests and Israel, according to the head of their aerospace division.

Congratulations also poured in from such upstanding world citizens and U.N. fans as China. China's Wang Qun "welcomed the presidency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea."

It was left to the Canadian delegate to speak plainly. Canada's Marius Grinius said: "[I]n the last 13 years the Conference has failed to move forward on its core disarmament responsibilities, including the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty...[T]he Conference on Disarmament is on life support because it no longer is the sole multilateral negotiating forum for disarmament. Indeed, it is not negotiating anything and has not been for a very long time."

Why not just put it out of its misery and pull the plug?

I can't think of any reason not to.

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October 17, 2010

The Threat from Islamic Intimidation on Freedom of Speech

I've been doing a series of posts in which I summarize the findings in Shariah: The Threat to America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, The Report of Team B II, a report by the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank. The purpose of the publication was to present an alternative analysis and set of recommendations to the official position, currently of the Obama Administration, but really of the Bush43 Administration as well.

It may be easy for some to dismiss this report and these types of posts because it's hard for some to see the impact on our daily lives. It's like of like terrorism, some will say that the threat was overblown by the Bush Administration because there was n 9-11 Part II. Never mind that the main reason there have not been more attacks was because we stopped them in their infancy, some will not think or investigate that far.

So it is the with threat of a "creeping shariah" by the Muslim Brotherhood and it's associated front groups like CAIR. It's all very fine and important to talk about captured documents and various statements, but in the end people will ask "so is this just a theoretical threat?" and if so turn back to watching the football game.

Two posts today at National Review's The Corner blog will help dispel the notion that there is no very real threat to our Freedom of Speech:

Some Context on the Wilders Case
October 17, 2010 4:30 P.M.
By Nina Shea

Geert Wilders is the latest in a lengthening roster of Europeans who have been criminally prosecuted for criticizing Islam. Under the slogans of stopping "Islamophobia" and banning "defamation" or "insult" of Islam, for two decades a concerted demand has been made for the West to enforce Islamic blasphemy rules, as is customary in certain member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

The Netherlands has been among the many EU states struggling to comply. In the name of liberalism, it has enacted laws criminalizing "hate speech," with grossly illiberal results. A sample of the Dutch cases shows that the desire to protect minorities is a self-deluding piety in these circumstances. What really lies at the root of these vaguely defined and arbitrarily adjudicated cases is fear of Muslim violence.

One of the earliest such Western cases occurred in the Netherlands in 1992, a few years after Iran's fatwa against Salman Rushdie triggered murders of "blasphemers" connected with his book The Satanic Verses. A Muslim cabaret artist of Pakistani background, "Zola F," was found guilty of authoring an unflattering book about Muslim immigration, entitled The Impending Ruin of the Netherlands, Country of Gullible Fools. This created the anomaly of a white court condemning a brown immigrant for "racist hate speech."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim of African heritage who became a Dutch parliamentarian, was similarly prosecuted. She was charged for criticizing the Islamic teaching on killing homosexuals. Already known for her role in co-directing Submission (the film on abuses against Muslim women that led to the 2004 murder by a Muslim extremist of her co-director, Theo Van Gogh), she announced plans for a sequel on the treatment of homosexuals in Islam. This prompted the Netherlands' main Muslim lobby to register a complaint that her remarks were "blasphemous and have been received with a great deal of pain by the Muslim community." In 2005, after two years of legal proceedings for "incitement" to hatred, during which time she received numerous death threats and had to go into hiding, a court finally decided that although she had "sought the borders of the acceptable," her speech did not warrant prohibition, and she was let off.

Hate-speech arrests occurred in the aftermath of the Van Gogh murder. When an artist in Rotterdam painted a street mural that included the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" next to the date of Van Gogh's murder, a local mosque leader complained to police that the message was "racist." The police, on orders of the mayor, sandblasted the mural and arrested a television reporter at the scene and destroyed his film. Another Dutch man hung in his window a poster for a far-right movement that stated, "Stop the tumor that is Islam. Theo has died for us. Who will be next?" After being convicted by two lower courts, he finally prevailed on appeal.

Widespread Muslim violence and protest over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed has put Dutch officials on high alert for provocative caricaturists. In 2008, after an Internet monitoring group reported him to authorities for cartoons deemed insulting to Muslims, the edgy Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot was arrested. Police seized his computer's hard drive and cartoon sketches. The cartoons in question opposed Muslim immigration in various tasteless ways. Nekschot remains under suspicion of "insulting people on the basis of their race or belief, and possibly also of inciting hate," and could face two years in prison or a $25,000 fine if prosecuted. During the course of this case, it was revealed that the Dutch government had established an "Interdepartmental Working Group on Cartoons," apparently to apprise officials of any drawings that Muslims could find insulting.

The Wilders case is not unique, but it is important. It demonstrates the continued willingness of authorities in Europe's most liberal countries to regulate the content of speech on Islam in order to placate Muslim blasphemy demands. Few such cases end in conviction, but their chilling effect on free speech within and on Islam continues to widen.

-- Nina Shea directs the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom and co-authored the forthcoming book Silenced (Oxford University Press), on contemporary blasphemy rules.

And the second one at NRO:

Dispatches from the Information War
October 16, 2010 12:46 P.M.
By Cliff May

The decisions by Dutch prosecutors to dismiss the charges against parliamentarian Geert Wilders can be seen as a battle won in a war the West is losing - the war for freedom of speech, the freedom without which no other freedoms can be defended.

As I argue in my latest column, influential people are not just avoiding criticism of all things Islamic, they also are legitimizing vile practices -- e.g. gender apartheid -- where these practices are rooted in Islamic practice.

Women's rights groups are silent. Most elite journalists are at least complicit.

The Washington Post recently refused to run a cartoon not of Mohammed but merely containing the words "Where's Mohammed?" (a parody on "Where's Waldo?"). Editors said they were being "prudent." The more accurate word, I think, would be craven. As Andy McCarthy has noted, such political correctness "betrays the core values of a free society" and can only be seen as a form "societal surrender."

Barton Hinkle at the Richmond Times Dispatch observed:

Once upon a time, members of the media could be counted upon to champion free expression even when nobody else would. Where the First Amendment was implicated, newspapers were willing to go to bat for everyone from neo-Nazis to Hustler magazine, and to take on powerful institutions from the Vatican to the Pentagon, often while patting themselves on the back for "speaking truth to power." Yet when it comes to the Islamic question, many in the media will not even stick up for themselves.

Meanwhile, this new development: Norwegian journalist Halvor Tjønn, recently finished a biography of Muhammad only to have his Oslo publisher, decline to publish it. Islamist Watch reports:

"It's an internal matter," said Kagge's director, denying that any threats had been received. Tjønn remarked, "If the publisher had objections to the book's quality, that would have come up much earlier in the process, and not after a year and a half"; he declined to get more specific. Naturally the tight lips bolster suspicion of fear-based self-censorship at work yet again. This case certainly fits the history of books about Islam disappearing as anxiety over violence grows:

And Andy has written about the intellectual surrender in the Fort Hood case. Even the Wall Street Journal, in a news column (the editorial page has not yet waved a white flag), pretends that the massacre has "raised questions" about "mounting stress among soldiers who have been on multiple tours." Really? Oh, is that what this is about? The story contains exactly one mention, near the very end, of Maj. Nidal Hassan's "fervent Islamic beliefs."

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June 9, 2010

More Useless Santions on Iran

Haven't we been down this path before? Here we go again:

After nearly half a year of tough negotiations, the United Nations Security Council has endorsed a U.S. sponsored sanctions resolution against Iran over its suspect nuclear program, which the West believes is aimed at developing atomic weapons. ...

The resolution imposes an arms embargo against Iran, blacklists entities controlled by the Islamic Republic Shipping Lines, and freezes the assets of certain individuals and organizations tied to Iran's nuclear program and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It also calls for tighter restrictions on Iranian banks, asking countries to avoid transactions that could be connected to Iran's nuclear and missile programs.

yada yada yada.

resolution here

Even the Washington Post seems to know it's an exercise in futility:

A resilient Iran shields itself from pressure by building alliances
By Thomas Erdbrink and Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2010; A01

TEHRAN -- A year ago Iran was on its way to becoming a pariah state. Dozens of governments accused Iranian leaders of stealing the presidential election and condemned the brutal crackdown on protesters that followed. The country faced sanctions and international scorn over its controversial nuclear program.

Now, even as the U.N. Security Council prepares to impose its fourth round of sanctions on Iran with a vote slated for Wednesday, Tehran is demonstrating remarkable resilience, insulating some of its most crucial industries from U.S.-backed financial restrictions and building a formidable diplomatic network that should help it withstand some of the pressure from the West. Iranian leaders are meeting politicians in world capitals from Tokyo to Brussels. They are also signing game-changing energy deals, increasing their economic self-sufficiency and even gaining seats on international bodies.

Iran's ability to navigate such a perilous diplomatic course, analysts say, reflects both Iranian savvy and U.S. shortcomings as up-and-coming global players attempt to challenge U.S. supremacy, and look to Iran as a useful instrument.

I've no time to write my own analysis, but Michael Rubin gets it right and asks the salient question at the end:

Many supporters of Obama's approach to diplomacy are applauding the president for the careful diplomacy that got China and Russia on board for the latest U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Iran. Rather than show the strength of Obama's diplomacy, however, it appears to show its weakness. In order to win Russia's support, for instance, Obama gave the Kremlin concessions involving Georgia, Poland, and the Czech Republic, and also gave Tehran months more to enrich; the Islamic Republic now has enough low-enriched uranium to make sufficient high-enriched uranium for two bombs.

While George W. Bush is lambasted in many quarters for his allegedly Manichean attitudes toward diplomacy, the fact of the matter is that Bush achieved unanimity several times on the Security Council on the Iran issue at far less cost.

Sure, all of the previous U.N. Security Council resolutions were weak: It is near impossible to get a strong, biting resolution out of the Security Council. But it is also clear that this latest resolution won't be enough. So, with Obama already giving up so many U.S. chits, what do we have left to bargain with as we move forward?

The answer is that we have nothing except a preemptive military strike, and it's hard to imagine Obama ordering that. Israel can strike, but they don't have the capabilities to do the damage that needs to be done in order to seriously set back or destroy Iran's nuclear program.

It might not be 1939 yet ,but it's getting close.

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November 7, 2009

"Undermining Sri Lanka"

One of the most infuriating things about the modern left is that they spend almost all of their time criticizing democratic governments on their conduct of military action, while letting the most blood-thirsty murderous terrorists and insurgents off scot-free. We've seen it with the recent Israeli wars against Hezbollah and Hamas. The Goldstone Inquiry on Israel's Operation Cast Lead, for example, is an absolute travesty.

Some months ago the forces of the Sri Lankan government finally defeated the Tamil Tigers insurgency. It was difficult and bloody, but they did it. In the end the people of Sri Lanka are much better off. Leave it to idiot leftists in the U.S. Congress to engage in their usual moral equivalence:

Undermining Sri Lanka

America takes the wrong side in anti-terror fight

Sri Lanka is joining Israel as a country facing a war crimes investigation for effectively fighting back against terrorism. America should support the Sri Lankan government or keep its nose out of Colombo's business.

Last week, Stephen Rapp, U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, filed a report to Congress on incidents during the recent conflict in Sri Lanka that "may constitute violations of international humanitarian law or crimes against humanity." The report focuses in particular on January to May 2009 when, after 12 years of conflict, the Sri Lankan military surrounded and destroyed the major armed formations of the Tamil Tigers and killed the terrorist group's leaders.

The report chronicles allegations of war crimes by both Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat whose subcommittee on the State Department and foreign operations requested the report, is calling for "a full and independent investigation" so those responsible can be "held accountable."

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights joined in the call for an investigation of Sri Lanka's war, saying there are "too many questions" left unanswered. U.N. Human Rights Spokesman Rupert Colville drew a direct comparison to the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission overseen by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. Sri Lanka and Israel are both pursuing internal investigations and have rejected the idea of international involvement in the process.

The Rapp report is not comprehensive, more a list of allegations than a fully documented indictment. Most of the offenses listed are either directly attributable to the Tamil Tigers, such as forcibly recruiting children to fight for them, or the consequence of terrorist activities, such as Sri Lanka shelling hospitals being used by the Tigers as command posts.

The tone of moral equivalence in the Rapp and Goldstone reports is most objectionable. War is by its nature violent, complex and tragic. Rules exist to mitigate war's suffering but can never eliminate it. Terrorist groups like the Tamil Tigers, Hamas and al Qaeda do not consider themselves bound by the rules of war and violate them as a matter of doctrine by targeting noncombatants, using civilians as human shields, torturing and executing prisoners, and by using hospitals and religious sites as headquarters and sniper platforms.

Any war against such an enemy will impose a degree of tragedy on people who under other circumstances would be spared war's horrors. But this is part of the terrorist tool kit, and reports such as these play into their hands. By placing the terrorists' systematic offenses against human dignity on par with the unintentional or otherwise regrettable actions of the regime trying to defeat them, such reports level a moral playing field that by rights the terrorists have no right even to set foot on.

Mr. Leahy should control his zeal to pursue what he views as justice in Sri Lanka. Any objective comparison of Sri Lanka's war against the Tamil Tigers or Israel's offensive against Hamas to America's struggle against al Qaeda would cast the United States in the same light, and elevate our enemies to a status they do not deserve. It hands the enemies of freedom unearned victories even as they are being defeated.

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"Green World Government"

While I was out campaigning for Bob McDonnell and other Republicans, this editorial in the Washington Times struck me as particularly relevant now that Barack Obama, the most leftist president in our history, seems intent on pushing cap 'n trade through Congress:

Green World Government
The U.N. uses environmentalism to seize control

Environmental alarmism is being exploited to chip away at national sovereignty. The latest threat to American liberties may be found in the innocuous sounding Copenhagen Climate Treaty, which will be discussed at the United Nations climate-change conference in mid-December. The alert was sounded on the treaty in a talk given by British commentator Lord Christopher Monckton at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., on Oct. 14. Video of the talk has become an Internet sensation.

The treaty's text is not yet finalized but its principles are aimed at regulating all economic activity in the name of climate security, with a side effect that billions of dollars would be transferred from productive countries to the unproductive.

The control lever is the regulation of carbon emissions, which some purport are causing global warming. The treaty would establish a Carbon Market Regulatory Agency and "global carbon budget" for each country.

In effect, this would allow the treaty's governing bodies to limit manufacturing, transportation, travel, agriculture, mining, energy production and anything else that emits carbon - like breathing.

Treaty supporters market the agreement through fear. Even though mean global temperatures have been on a downward spiral for several years after peaking in 1998, we are told that catastrophe is imminent. "The world has already crossed the threshold beyond which it is no longer possible to avoid negative impacts of anthropogenic climate change," says proposed treaty language being circulated by Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other groups. It is critical that they cultivate a sense of impending doom to justify the sweeping restrictions and new powers enshrined in the treaty. The sky is falling and they want us to act now, act swiftly, act before it is too late - but don't read the fine print.

The governing authority envisioned by the document reads like a bad George Orwell knockoff. The treaty establishes a body called the Conference of the Parties (COP), which is given ultimate authority over administering and enforcing the treaty. Its executive arm is something called the Adaptation Fund Board, under which is the Copenhagen Climate Facility, also known as "the Facility." The Facility is necessary because in order to save the planet, "the way society is structured will need to change fundamentally." This change would be impossible under the "fragmented set of existing institutions," so the Facility will step in with "such legal capacity as is necessary for the exercise of its functions and the protection of its interests." That's the Facility's interests, not yours.

The Facility will be run by an executive committee, the membership of which "may include representation from relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental stakeholders." So left-wing pressure groups, animal rights fanatics, tree-huggers, Al Gore or any other part of the environmentalist fringe would be eligible for executive committee membership. Naturally, global-warming skeptics like Lord Monckton need not apply.

A "massive scaling up of financial resources" will be required to fund the COP's activities. The United States and others will be required to transfer $800 billion over five years, with additional funding requirements assessed on an as-needed basis. The COP will have taxing authority "including, but not limited to, a levy on aviation and maritime transport." The ability to tax aircraft and shipping is bad enough, but as careful readers of the elastic clauses of the U.S. Constitution know, the phrase "including but not limited to" authorizes any tax they can imagine.

Signatories of the treaty will be required to file reports to the Committee for Reporting and Review ("the Committee"), and if found not in compliance with the treaty's terms, they may have to face "the Facilitative Branch." If this branch finds that a country is violating the terms of the agreement, it will "undertake the measures necessary" to bring the country back into compliance.

The treaty language would be farcical but for the fanaticism of its proponents. The environmental movement is driven by a millenarian determination to save humanity from itself, regardless of its impact on real people. President Obama reportedly will skip the Copenhagen meeting unless the treaty language is finalized. We urge him to resist the urge to pander to the international community at the expense of the United States.

We look forward to headlines about record cold temperatures during the December climate summit, and to hearing desperate speeches about stopping irresistible global warming during the signing ceremony, held during a blizzard.

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October 8, 2009

The Moral Bankruptcy of the United Nations - Part 12,874,372

Watch this, if you can.

Warning: Put all throwable objects out of reach first.

Eye on the UN via TWS

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September 25, 2009

Obama v Netanyahu at the United Nations

United States President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu each gave major speeches at the United Nations this week. One was a profile in moral cowardice, the other in courage.

Profile in Cowardice

Obama's speech was, or should be, a national embarrassment. The man is stunningly naive, with a child-like view of the world that is breathtaking. He insults his own country again and again. He is more narcissistic than any politician I've known. And he is a moral coward because he hides behind politically correct pieties and refuses to address, let alone acknowledge the villains and evil nations in the world.

A few excerpts

I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. Part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies, and a belief that on certain critical issues, America has acted unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others.

I'm disgusted with him already. Lucky I didn't see him on TV or I'd have thrown my shoe through it.

Now, like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 -- more than at any point in human history -- the interests of nations and peoples are shared.

"more than at any point in human history" any point? More than at any time in thousands of years of recorded history? The ignorance is staggering.

On my first day in office, I prohibited -- without exception or equivocation -- the use of torture by the United States of America.

We never tortured, you pathetic excuse for a president. And thank you for giving our enemies a propaganda point that they will use against us again and again.

We've also re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council. (Applause.)

Of course they're applauding, you idiot. The UN Human Rights Council serves to protect dictators and human rights abusers. Sitting on it now are among other human-rights -abusing countries China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Bahrain, and the Russian Federation. They're on the council so they can prevent it from condemning and taking action against abusers such as themselves. The council spends most of it's time bashing Israel. Who in their right mind thinks that this council is capable of anything good?

The cooperative effort of the whole world. Those words ring even more true today, when it is not simply peace, but our very health and prosperity that we hold in common. Yet we also know that this body is made up of sovereign states. And sadly, but not surprisingly, this body has often become a forum for sowing discord instead of forging common ground; a venue for playing politics and exploiting grievances rather than solving problems. After all, it is easy to walk up to this podium and point figures -- point fingers and stoke divisions. Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles, and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions. Anybody can do that. Responsibility and leadership in the 21st century demand more.

What meaningless drivel.

In an era when our destiny is shared, power is no longer a zero-sum game. No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold. The traditional divisions between nations of the South and the North make no sense in an interconnected world; nor do alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long-gone Cold War.

The time has come to realize that the old habits, the old arguments, are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people. They lead nations to act in opposition to the very goals that they claim to pursue -- and to vote, often in this body, against the interests of their own people. They build up walls between us and the future that our people seek, and the time has come for those walls to come down. Together, we must build new coalitions that bridge old divides -- coalitions of different faiths and creeds; of north and south, east, west, black, white, and brown.

Unreal. As I said, a staggering level of naivete.

But if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East -- then they must be held accountable. The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced. We must insist that the future does not belong to fear

Really? And what exactly will you do when they ignore your words and forge ahead with their nuclear programs? The most you're going to get Russia and China to agree to is to ban the export of number two lead pencils to Iran. The truth, Obama, is that you don't do a blasted thing. You'll give more fine speeches but "the world" isn't interested in stopping Iran or North Korea.

These principles cannot be afterthoughts -- democracy and human rights are essential to achieving each of the goals that I've discussed today

Oh but it most certainly is an afterthought, coming at nearly the end of the speech.

I've had enough. On to a man of courage.

Profile in Courage

It took the leader of one of the smallest nations in the world, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to speak the truth. His was the speech Obama should have given Excerpts:


Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments.

Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews. Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler's deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie?

This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie? And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie?

One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife's grandparents, her father's two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

No they are not lies, Mr. Prime Minister. But I'm sure that many in the room listening to you think that they are. Anti-Semitism has a home at the United Nation.

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency? A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state. What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!

Truth. The emperor has no clothes.

Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You're wrong. History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries.

Indeed those who think that it's a small terrorist problem of al Qaeda that we can solve through police type actions and "international cooperation" are dead wrong. Radical Islam will consume us all unless we recognize it for what it is and take action to stop it.

That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction, and the most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

A real challenge, unlike the PC nonsense Obama spouted.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

Yes, and the real problem with the UN is not that it won't address "climate change," as Obama said, but because it will not call evil for what it is and take firm concrete action. Instead of taking action against Iran and North Korea for their nuclear programs, they spend their time condemning Israel.

But it gets better


For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks.

We heard nothing - absolutely nothing - from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one. In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis. We didn't get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare.

You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent. Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country's civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II.

During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians - Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas. We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave.

Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm's way. Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth! What a perversion of justice!

Delegates of the United Nations, will you accept this farce? Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

A devastating indictment of the UN.

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order. The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

For all Obama's strong words today about Iran's secret enrichment facility the way things are going now it's going to be accommodation.

In an normal world Netanyahu would have received the applause and Obama the silence. Of course it was just the opposite.

Netanyahu has moral courage for speaking the truth. Obama is a moral coward for refusing to do so.

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January 17, 2009

Of Moral Idiots and War Crimes

Note: I wrote this before the cease-fire was announced. I'll have more to say about it later tonight.

Now we have "senior UN officials and human rights groups" accusing Israel of war crimes. The charge is that the IDF engages in "reckless and indiscriminate" shelling of civilian neighborhoods in Gaza. To add grotesqueness to an already idiotic charge, they charge that IDF soldiers are using "Palestinian families as human shields."

Just because I had to see the idiocy on display for myself, I went to the website of the UN Human Rights commission, and found their latest missive on how "the violence must stop." It is a model of moral neutrality. Read it for yourself. If you were completely unfamiliar with the players, you would never know from anything this commission said that Israel was a democracy that had been the subject of terrorist attacks for years, and that the other was a fascist jihadist terrorist entity.

But no, they couldn't do that. The article in the Guardian exposes the moral idiocy of the UN and that of these so-called human rights organizations in all their macabre glory. Or gory.

The UN's senior human rights body approved a resolution yesterday condemning the Israeli offensive for "massive violations of human rights". A senior UN source said the body's humanitarian agencies were compiling evidence of war crimes and passing it on to the "highest levels" to be used as seen fit.

Some human rights activists allege that the Israeli leadership gave an order to keep military casualties low no matter what cost to civilians. That strategy has directly contributed to one of the bloodiest Israeli assaults on the Palestinian territories, they say.

John Ging, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said: "It's about accountability [over] the issue of the appropriateness of the force used, the proportionality of the force used and the whole issue of duty of care of civilians.

Who said terrorism doesn't pay?

One of the things Israel is accused of doing is the illegal use of "white phosphorus," particularly in the form of what are called M825 Felt-Wedge projectiles. The claim is that the IDF is illegally using this and similar weapons in densely populated areas, and that this is illegal.

To be sure, White phosphorus can be nasty stuff. So can suicide vests, but the UN and so-called human rights groups can't be bothered with them. Might get death threats, you know.

John Noonan, writing at The Weekly Standard, explains

The problem in the UN's argument, as with most of the arguments against Israel's use of force in Gaza, is that it rewrites international treaties on warfare to better fit an anti-Israel narrative. White Phosphorous -- or 'Willy Pete' -- has been used for decades to create large smokescreens for troop cover and target illumination and is not -- despite any claim to the contrary -- an incendiary weapon (nor is it proscribed under any law on armed conflict). Article one of the treaty banning incendiaries says as much:
Incendiary weapon means any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target. (a) Incendiary weapons can take the form of, for example, flame throwers, fougasses, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary substances.

(b) Incendiary weapons do not include:
(i) Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signalling systems.

That's not to say Willy Pete is without collateral effects. There have been several documented cases where WP has injured or killed civilians, as the illuminant burns slowly at extremely high temperatures. But like with other legal conventional munitions such as artillery shells and guided bombs, the responsibility for incidental death and damage lies with Hamas and any other combatant which uses human shields to mask its operations.

International war crime statutes were written to prosecute those who fill mass graves with the bodies of noncombatants, the Hitlers and the Milosevics, not those who use legal illuminants in small, localized conflict. If a treatise on armed conflict can no longer differentiate between the use of military smoke shells and deliberate rocket attacks on civilian populations, the effect is to doom such treaties to irrelevance.

It's the last paragraph that's important. There is a type of "internationalist" and human-rights type who can no longer distinguish between a terrorist entity that deliberately puts it's own civilians in harms way hoping they will be killed so they can be used for propaganda, and a democracy fighting a defensive war imperfectly.

Balance of Outrage

What gets me is that the outrage over atrocities, real or imagined, is so far out of balance. No one would say that Israel, or the United States for that matter, is above reproach. If you want to say we should not use this or that weapon, fine, make your case.

But shouldn't you also spend just a little bit of time criticizing terrorists? If you want to ban cluster bombs ok, make your case, but why can't we have one banning suicide vests as well? Of course, we know why such a treaty doesn't exist; the UN and human rights organizations don't care, and the Muslim nations would object. They'd say that singled them out (as if banning cluster bombs doesn't single us out) or insist on an exemption for "wars of national liberation" (like they do for a simple definition of terrorism).

I've heard all the excuses about how we must maintain the moral high-ground, how it would be useless to ban something like suicide vests, or how two wrongs don't make a right so what does it matter? I don't buy any of them.

Melanie Phillips, as always, cuts to the heart of the matter and asks the right questions:

One final question: when Foreign Secretary David Miliband, UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon and a zillion others in the west lament the 1000 in Gaza whom the Israelis have killed, are they lamenting the killing of the 75 per cent-plus of that total who were Hamas terrorists, whose purpose in life was to annihilate Israel and exterminate Jews? Are they lamenting the killing today of the key senior Hamas leader Said Siyam, said to have been a radical close to Iran? Would they have preferred that all these individuals remained alive to continue pursuing their genocidal project? Are they saying that no-one should be killed in war and that therefore there should never be war? And if so, when will we hear Miliband similarly lament all those Taleban who have been and are still being killed by British forces in Afghanistan, along with al Qaeda in Iraq?

I'm not sure about the first three, but the answers to the last two are yes and that's probably next.

Double Standards

If the "world community" is so upset about civilian deaths in Gaza, why aren't they as concerned about what's going on in the Congo? A story in Pajamas Media, using at it's source a Ugandan news outlet, says that "over 1,000 civilians have been killed by a Ugandan rebel group since Christmas."

Terrible that so many of the horrors that take place in Africa go unreported.

Sunday Evening Update

Mona Charen adds more to our list of horrors ignored by those oh-so-concerned by Gaza:

Since the start of 2007, 16,000 civilians have been killed in fighting. Not in Gaza, so you may have missed it. It was in Somalia, where an Islamist movement is fighting Ethiopian troops. This is the 18th year of civil strife in that country.

In Sri Lanka, some 70,000 people have perished in a civil war that has flared on and off since 1983. The regime in Burma has killed thousands and forced an estimated 800,000 into involuntary servitude.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), 45,000 people are dying every month. Nearly 5.5 million have died since 1998 in a conflict that grew out of the violence in Rwanda and spread. Half of those deaths were of children under the age of five, according to the International Rescue Committee. The violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has caused more human devastation than any conflict since World War II.

In Darfur, Sudan, more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made homeless by violence.


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December 7, 2008

Muslim Nations and the UN: The Goal is Censorship

Last week in The Washington Times we learn that Muslim nations are unhappy with the UN. Something we can agree on, perhaps? Unfortunately, no

Muslim-majority nations are yearning for a stronger United Nations, freed from what they regard as a prevailing influence of the United States, a new survey reveals.

The poll conducted in Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, Palestinian territories, Azerbaijan and Nigeria by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a global network of research centers, found that people in those countries favor a more dynamic United Nations while simultaneously viewing the international organization as dominated by the U.S. and failing to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"There is a surface negativity about the U.N. in Muslim countries, but if you scratch underneath, there is actually a tremendous enthusiasm for the role that could play a robust U.N. able to stand up to the United States," Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org, told The Washington Times.

Nearly every option for giving greater powers to the U.N. received strong support.

A vast majority of Muslims favored the U.N. Security Council having its own standing peacekeeping force (64 percent) and being entitled to authorize military force to stop a country from supporting terrorist groups (76 percent) or to prevent genocide (77 percent).

If I didn't know these areas/countries so well, I'd be encouraged by that last paragraph. Stopping countries from supporting terrorist groups sounds good to me. Then we remember that among those countries surveyed are Iran and the Palestinian territories. I rather doubt they're asking for a force to invade themselves.

No, I think there's another reason for the strong UN support.

The Wall Street Journal has the story everyone who cares about freedom of speech should read:

"Durban II," planned for April in Geneva, promises to be an encore of the same old Israel-bashing. The draft declaration says Israel's policy toward the Palestinians amounts to no less than "a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security." We'll spare you the rest of the diatribe.

Israel will be the conference's main object of obsession, but it's not the only target. The draft declaration also goes after the West's freedom of speech and antiterror laws under the guise of protecting religion -- read: Islam -- from "defamation."

The entire West will be in the dock for allegedly persecuting Muslims. "The most serious manifestations of defamation of religions are the increase in Islamophobia and the worsening of the situation of Muslim minorities around the world," the draft reads.

"Islamophobia" is a vague term used to brand any criticism of Islam as a hate crime. The real Islamophobes, though, Islamic terrorists who have killed hundreds of thousands of their co-religionists, get a free pass.

Instead, the draft calls for a media code of conduct and "internationally binding normative standards...that can provide adequate guarantees against defamation of religions." If this sounds like censorship, that's because it is.

The conference is being organized by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which, like its discredited predecessor, the Human Rights Commission, has been taken over by several of the world's main abusers of human rights. The Organization of Islamic Countries, the most powerful voting bloc at the U.N., managed to put Libya in charge of preparing Durban II. Tripoli is being assisted by such other pillars of the international community as Iran and Cuba. Last week a key U.N. General Assembly committee passed a draft resolution, sponsored by Islamic states, that calls for national laws against the "defamation of religions."

If the Durban II drafters have their way, any challenge of Islamic teachings, including teachings used to justify violence, would be taboo. Reprinting the Danish Muhammad cartoons, exploited by Muslim agitators in 2006 to incite riots around the world, would be a criminal offense. Even gross human-rights violations in Islamic countries -- such as the stoning of adulterers in Iran -- could be immune from criticism as these practices are rooted in religion.

This cannot stand. Nothing can be exempt from challenge or criticism.

I don't like it when my religion, Christianity, is mocked. I don't like it when militant atheists such as Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins spout their nonsense about religion being not only wrong but dangerous in and of itself. I don't like it when people draw nasty cartoons about Jesus, or caricature, deride, insult, laugh at, make fun of, parody, show contempt for, or sneer at Christianity of Judaism. I myself criticize conservatives who go overboard in their attacks on Muslims and Islam.

But not for anything in the world would I take away any one's right to do any of the above.

Back To The Survey

While I do think that such nefarious reasons are part of, even much or most of the motive behind support for the UN, there are other reasons too.

Part of it is anger at Israel. It's mostly unjustified, to be sure, but it is a real motive.

A lot of it is also a feeling of impotence. With the exceptions of Iraq and Turkey, Muslims are ruled by autocrats, live in societies notorious for their corruption, and whose econonomies make our current difficulties look like paradise. Of course their frustrated. At school they learned about the glories of the Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, and Ottoman empires, and realize that those days are long gone with little chance of regaining them.

As a result of this, the colonial period, and more, they believe that Islam is "not respected." Because they also have no tradition of tolerance as we understand it, their reaction is to want laws to prevent criticism of Islam.

Their reaction is understandable, perhaps, but it must be stopped nonetheless. The WSJ article notes that "the decision about whether to send a delegation to Durban II will be an early test of Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton and the new Obama Administration." Indeed it will be. Let's hope they boycott it.

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November 23, 2008

Creeping Sharia Update

Time for another update on how we're slowly losing our civilization to the jihad.

Losing? To the jihad? Impossible, you say?

Yes, we can lose. Let us not think that what we have will or can last forever. Our bombs and bullets are important, and surely we must win in Iraq and Afghanistan. But let's all be clear that our Muslim extremist enemies aren't simplistic enough to just come at us with their own bombs and bullets. Strykers with cage armor will help us win on foreign battlefields, but here at home we must open our eyes to what is going on around us, be strong enough to withstand the forces of political correctness when they try and denigrate us.

On with it, then.

Bye Bye, First Amendment?

The indomitable Nina Shea reports on two international conferences that were held to promote interfaith dialogue, tolerance, peace, love, understanding... you get the point. One, called the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), was organized by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and held under the auspices of the United Nations. Its 20 member states are without exception Islamic.

Reading the OIC's charter, their objectives all look quite unremarkable and innocuous. But are they?

According to Shea, the

(OIC) has pushed the U.N. to adopt a universal ban on defaming Islam. This measure would aim to curb the freedom not only of Danish cartoonists but also of scholars, writers, dissidents, religious reformers, human rights activists, and anyone at all anywhere in the world who criticizes Islam.

Not it all becomes clear. Their version of tolerance and respect are quite different than ours. Islam must be tolerated and respected; no criticism is allowed. Indeed, Shea says, the good king is trying to strike a bargain with the West; "Suppress criticism of Islam and you will be spared retaliatory violence."

The New York Post (h/t Islamist Watch) has more on what the OIC is up to:

Consider one key draft resolution at the event. Introduced jointly by the Philippines and Pakistan, it openly seeks to limit press freedoms. Sure, as read by Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, the language pays lip service to the notion of freedom of expression.

But the document then goes on to emphasize the "special duties and responsibilities necessary for the respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, or of public health and morals."

Translation: Don't even think of publishing those Danish cartoons or anything even close to them. And forget about questioning authorities in places like, say, Riyadh.

Come now, is it really that bad? Yes it is

Consider one key draft resolution at the event. Introduced jointly by the Philippines and Pakistan, it openly seeks to limit press freedoms. Sure, as read by Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, the language pays lip service to the notion of freedom of expression.

But the document then goes on to emphasize the "special duties and responsibilities necessary for the respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, or of public health and morals."

Translation: Don't even think of publishing those Danish cartoons or anything even close to them. And forget about questioning authorities in places like, say, Riyadh.

All that "freedom of speech" stuff is, you know, so old fashioned.

The second conference was called A Common Word. This one was a bit more ecumenical, with Christians apparently being represented too, including some from the Vatican.

A Common Word might prove useful, if, as Shea notes, "open discussion of these texts is permitted in Muslim societies." Otherwise, it's all pointless. We are and should be free to examine any religion here in the West, and it must be that way in Muslim countries also.

What the Muslims want is obvious; they want to make it illegal to criticize Islam, even in the West. Shea further notes that this is not as inconceivable as it may seem, for "already Canada, the Netherlands, France, and Italy, without real debate, have taken tentative steps to deploy defamation, hate-speech, and even long-dormant blasphemy laws."

Yup. Just ask Bridget Bardot about the European version of "free speech."

How About A 0% Savings Account?

The most important aspect of "creeping sharia" is the attempt by Muslims to force their culture and laws on us. Let me be clear from the outset: Sharia (or "shariah")is a totalitarian system of laws that is antithetical to everything that we in the West hold dear. And for you leftists, no I don't want the book of Levicitus incorporated into our legal code (and I'm a conservative Christian evangelical), so don't make fools of yourselves by leaving comments about "Christian theocrats."

"Sharia Finance" is that system of banking and economy based on Sharia law. Follow the link and you'll learn all you need to know about it. You'd better, because it's coming to the United States:

The U.S. Treasury Department is submitting to Shariah - the seditious religio-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy.

As reported in this space last week, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Robert Kimmitt set the stage with his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Persian Gulf states. His stated purpose was to promote the recycling of petrodollars in the form of foreign investment here.

Evidently, the price demanded by his hosts is that the U.S. government get with the Islamist financial program. While in Riyadh, Mr. Kimmitt announced: "The U.S. government is currently studying the salient features of Islamic banking to ascertain how far it could be useful in fighting the ongoing world economic crisis."

Yes well if that's what it takes to recycle those petrodollars. Looks like the Wahhabist plan to undermine us is working out nicely. Walid Phares must be smiling... or shaking his head.

What's the big problem, you say? If you weren't good and didn't follow the link to Spencer's site above, take it from Frank Gaffney:

What makes the Shariah-Compliant Finance gambit both a big and troublesome "deal" is that, unlike these other religious traditions, Shariah's adherents are pursuing a global theocracy. They believe they must impose their agenda on everybody else, religious and secular alike, using violence if necessary. And SCF is explicitly described by leading practitioners as a complement to violent holy war: "financial jihad" and "jihad with money."

In other words, there is no such thing as free-standing Shariah-Compliant Finance. According to all of the recognized authorities and institutions of Islam, Shariah is a unified, indivisible program to which all faithful Muslims must adhere comprehensively.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the Saudis & Co. are not simply seeking to insinuate Shariah-Compliant Finance into our capital markets. They are also advancing creation of a parallel Shariah-governed society through various other means.

One of these techniques will be in evidence when the Saudi monarch himself convenes a meeting in New York City in the hope of imposing Shariah blasphemy laws worldwide.

Get it now?

The Illusion of Safety

A recent case makes it clear that you don't have to actually make criticism of Islam outright illegal to get the same end result. Just this past summer, Random House was on it's way to publishing The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones, a book about Aisha, the child bride of Mohammed. Then they suddenly changed their mind. Was it because they thought it wouldn't sell? Unfortunately, no.

Random House deputy publisher Thomas Perry said in a statement the company received "cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

"In this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel," Perry said.

Ah yes, safely. Mustn't upset the Muslims, else some of them become, you know, violent.

And in this case although the decision was cowardly, the concern was warranted. In September the eventual publisher in the UK had his house firebombed.

One might take as the lesson here not to publish books critical of Islam, or you will find yourself targeted. Some will say that because of the firebombing, Random House was therefore correct. I would say that the very reason some find themselves targeted is because others refuse to stand firm in the face of threats. By backing down Random House only encouraged the extremists.

Fortunately, stout hearts at Beaufort Books in the United States and by Gibson Square in the United Kingdom published Ms Jones' book.

Parallel Legal Systems, Parallel Countries

Across the pond, they've decided to let the Muslims have their own court system. Only for family cases, they assure us. For now.

Islamic law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims....

Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

So what's the problem if they want to have their own court system? Isn't it all voluntary? And don't the Jews have their own courts?

I rather think that we should all know by now that there's not much of anything that's voluntary under Muslim rule. The whole purpose of this is for Islamist community leaders to keep their people, and especially their women, in their place.

Then there's the whole aspect of social cohesion. Diversity yes, but let's draw some limits. At the end of the day we have to all recognize the same laws. Once you head down the path to parallel legal systems you effectively have two different countries.

As for the objection "aren't the Jews allowed their own courts," oh please. The Jewish community is hardly expanding, their culture is not at all based on coercion, and they don't threaten anybody and everyone knows it. More to the point, their system is not parallel to English law but simply complementary. And they're not really legally binding.

Londonistan it is, then.

No Weenies Allowed

Just thinking about this story makes he hungry. Again, from our friends in the British Isles we have this:

Some 300 modern-day Scouts (the word Boy was dropped in the 1960s) settled down to a meal prepared in a 'kitchen marquee' and consisting entirely of vegetarian food - so as not to offend any religious faiths.

Clare Haines, a spokesman for the Scout Association, said: "It was really to do with religion that we were not able to provide sausages and burgers and all that kind of food.

"We have been very careful to make sure food is provided to everybody's tastes and beliefs, so no one feels left out.

"They enjoyed their vegetarian meals, especially vegetable chilli, fresh salads and jacket potatoes."

Oh yes I'm sure they did.

Although the story didn't mention any particular religion, I've never heard of Christians objecting to burgers and weenies.

Not At Your Desks, You Don't!

Glad I don't live in Scotland. I always eat at my desk at work. Of course, we don't really have a lunchroom so it's not much of an option. This time the virus of political correctness strikes Scotland:

The NHS (National Health Service) in Lothian has advised doctors and other health workers not to have working lunches during the 30-day fast, which begins next month.

The health service's Equality and Diversity Officer sent an e-mail to all senior managers, giving guidance on religious tolerance. This includes ensuring Muslim staff are given breaks to pray, and time off to celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan.

It is understood they also advised hospital managers to move food trolleys away from areas where Muslims work.

A Brief Time-Out

Lest you think I'm just picking on merry old England, au contraire. Just scroll down through my "creeping sharia" posts and you'll see I've gone after everything from Muslim footbaths at George Mason University to the Islamic Saudi Academy.

Ok, now back to picking on England

The Polls! The Polls!

Some people have bought into the standard PC line that "the vast majority of Muslims are just like us, it's only a few extremists causing all this trouble."

I wish.

Less than two years ago John Hood reported on a poll in the UK that showed that

...nearly four out of 10 of British Muslims aged 16 to 24 say they would prefer to live under Sharia law than under British law. That's according to a survey commissioned for the independent think tank Policy Exchange. "The emergence of a strong Muslim identity in Britain is, in part, a result of multicultural policies implemented since the 1980s which have emphasized difference at the expense of shared national identity and divided people along ethnic, religious and cultural lines," said the main author of the report.

Some 13 percent of the young British Muslims expressed admiration for "organizations like al Qaida."

Polls showing this sort of attitude are a dime a dozen, and have been reported on regularly. Either you have your eyes open, or you don't.

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September 20, 2008

Book Review - Surrender is Not an Option

William F. Buckley Jr. once called Jeane Kirkpatrick "St. Jeane" for her work at the United Nations during the Reagan Administration. To those of us on the right who remember the odious Andrew Young as ambassador to the UN under Jimmy Carter, "St. Jeane" was a godsend. Instead of apologizing for our country as Young so often did, she put the dictators of the world on defense and forthrightly stated our case.

To conservatives, John Bolton is a sort of latter-day Jeane Kirkpatrick. To liberals, he is a loud-mouth "ugly American" who is brash and arrogant. Readers of this blog well know that I am in the former camp.

Bolton may not have had to clean up the mess of Young and the Carter Administration, but he had his work cut out for him nonetheless. The UN is corrupt, and at best useless and at worst a positive harm to US and Western values. It a swamp of kelptocrats whose purpose in life is to draw a salary and prevent Western values from taking hold in other regions of the world. Process, not progress, is the watchword of the day.

John Bolton made his mark when he got a recess appointment as Permanent US Representative to the UN, serving from August 2005 until December 2006. His book, Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations, is mostly about his experience at that institution.


Bolton attended Yale University, graduating summa cum laude, and made his mark by standing up for conservative values in the face of much opposition. On "Class Day", which was just before graduation, he addressed the assembled parents and students with a few remarks. For his efforts he was heckled by the leftists, who could not stand any dissent. "A typical example of liberal 'tolerance'" he dryly remarks. In addition to his B.A. Bolton earned a J.D. from Yale.

His early career, from 1974 through 1999, was mostly spent in private legal practice, though with stints in the Reagan and first Bush Administrations in a variety of positions, perhaps the most important of which as serving as Assistant Attorney General from 1985 to 1989.

IN 1975 the United Nations General Assembly passed it's infamous Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism. Repeal of this odious measure became the test by which Israel and many pro-Israel groups in the US would measure the UN.

At the State Department

During President George W. Bush's first term Bolton served as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Among other things, he was influential in establishing the Proliferation Security Initiative(PSI), whose purpose it was to interdict WMD shipments around the world. Hardly a unilateral effort, it started out with eleven member states and has grown to 75 countries today. What made the PSI effective was that it was "an activity not an organization", while the UN was just the opposite.

His "happiest moment at State was personally "unsigning" the Rome Statue that created the International Criminal Court (ICC)" ICC advocates contend that it simply provides a framework for trying "crimes against humanity" where there was no other judicial system that could do the work. Bolton saw it as something that would be exploited by those with an anti-American agenda to go after American politicians and military leaders. Typically the State Department was against the "unsigning", because their main (seemingly only) concern was that our action would make others unhappy. Bolton, on the other hand, only considered the well-being of the United States, and the rest of the world could go fly a kite if they didn't like it.

Bolton also thwarted attempts by elements at the UN to sneak in "global gun control" provisions which would have superseded our Second Amendment. Many attendees of the UN Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons had a hidden agenda, which Bolton smoked out and shot down.

The "catechism" of what Bolton calls the "Risen Bureaucracy" was that "North Korea(DPRK) can always be talked out of its nuclear weapons program." As it is, his conclusion after years of effort is that the DPRK "will never give up nuclear weapons voluntarily" but "often promises to do so," and those promises fool many people.

Among the players in the administration, Rice was always "maneuvering for position," and it was to know her true thoughts. Richard Armitage comes across poorly. Powell comes across well, and Nick Burns so so.

Appointment to the United Nations

As is well known Bolton's appointment to become ambassador to the United Nations generated much opposition in the Senate. Bolton took the entire exercise in stride, though, never seeming to become upset or bitter about how it turned out. His persona, in fact, seems to relish opposition. Of the senators who opposed him, Christopher Dodd is probably the biggest villain.

One of the charges against him was that he tried to pressure an intelligence analyst named Christian Westerman. While I have neither the time nor the inclination to investigage this story elsewhere, Bolton makes a persuasive case in the book that the charge was a fabrication.

The other charge was more personal, that he wasn't a nice person. My take is that Bolton is more just blunt, and won a lot of bureaucratic battles, the result being that several people used his confirmation battle to settle personal scores.

In the end he was not confirmed by the Senate, so President Bush gave him a "recess appointment", whereby he was made interim Permanent US Representative, which lasted from August 2005 to December 2006.

At the United Nations

Revelations about what became known as the Oil for Food scandal were hitting in full force as Bolton took up residence at Turtle Bay. Paul Volker, formerly chairman of the Federal Reserve, made his report, which was highly critical of much of the UN bureaucracy involved in oversight of the program. Although the report made waves (tsumanis, really), in the United States, the UN leadership made sure that the report went nowhere and was buried without a trace. Among other incidents this confirmed Bolton's view that the UN needed a major overhaul.

Much of his tenure there, then, was dedicated to reforming the UN. Secretary General Kofi Annan would pretend to go along, but in the end always stymied any attempt at real reform, preferring to move the deck chairs around a bit. The other force preventing reform was simply that many nations see the UN as a means to soak the richer nations of money, and the last thing they wanted was an organization that spotlighted their corruption and human rights abuses.

As such, one of Bolton's goals was to replace the UN's discredited Human Rights Commission with a newly designed "Human Rights Council". Rules for membership would be changed so as to keep the worst abusers off the council. With the old commission, the worst of the human rights abusers tried their hardest to get on the commission, the better which to prevent investigations into their own abuses, and to retarget the commission's energies toward their real enemy - Israel. Unfortunately, in the end the HRC is no better than the old commission. The abusers won.

One characteristic of the UN was it's focus on process over progress, or substance. As long as a peacekeeping operation reported back to the Security Council, everyone (except the United States) was happy. Heaven forbid anyone should ask whether the peacekeeping operation was making a difference, or that the diplomats were making any progress in resolving the conflict.

Another of Bolton's initiatives involved the DPRK. Since the Six-Party talks weren't going anywhere, he wanted to use the Security Council to force (diplomatically, of course) the DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons. Japan was to prove a strong ally in our efforts there. In the end, the deal achieved in February 2007 was "radically incomplete." It contained too many flaws, and represented the triumph of the "permanent government" of go-along-get-along bureaucrats. As mentioned earlier, neither talk nor incentives will persuade the DPRK to give up their nuclear weapons. In the end, only a collapse of the north and reunification will resolve the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Throughout his tenure, Bolton attempted to bring the issue of Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons to the Security Council for serious sanctions, but to no avail. The EU-3 (UK, France, Germany), insisted that they could handle Iran through negotiations, believing that they could talk Iran out of pursuing nuclear weapons. Despite years of effort, no real progress was ever made. Instead, Iran used the time to perfect the fuel cycle and most likely work on bomb design. Bolton concludes, accurately I think, that the result is that we are on the "road to the Nuclear Holocaust."

The UN spends a lot of time, energy, and money on peacekeeping operations. Much of its efforts are focused on Africa, which is logical considering the troubles on that continent. The problem is that there is little desire to achieve actual results, the objective more being to simply "show concern," easy to do when the West is doing most of the financing. Even asking whether a given UN action or operation is helping or hurting the situation is "politically incorrect."

The Middle East, specifically the Israel-Palestine conflict, also consumes much time. Anti-Israel bias at the UN is pervasive. The double standards applied to Israel during its 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon were breathtaking. Further, the war illustrated what is perhaps the biggest moral failure of the UN; its refusal to recognize that in most wars or conflicts both sides are not equally guilty, but rather most of the time one side is more in the right. But few at the UN were willing to see anything wrong with groups such as Hezbollah.

Lessons Learned

Feelers were sent out to key Senators to see if they may have changed their minds about Bolton at the end of his recess appointment in December of 2006, but to no avail. Deciding not to take another position in the Administration, Bolton retired from public service.

Bolton concludes that the EU will avoid confronting problems (such as Iran) and will "kick the can down the road" through endless negotiations. Process has been substituted for progress.

The UN badly needs reform, not so that "the US can get what it wants," as our critics (foreign and domestic) say, but rather so that it, too, can actually work towards solving problems rather than allow them to go on forever as long as there is a "process."

However, Bolton is not one who wants to withdraw from the UN. He sees it as useful, but warns that we must avoid "the trap of channeling all or most of our efforts through the UN system." We should look to and use other institutions, for example NATO and the OAS, when they suit our needs.

Another problem is our own State Department. Too many there see their role as pushing their own agendas rather than that of the president.

Unlike some who only make their true feelings known years afterward in a memoir, Bolton made his views known throughout his career. A fighter like Jeane Kirkpatrick two decades before him, he was an unabashed champion of the United States and Western values and didn't put up with any nonsense from anyone. While this no doubt earned him some enemies, it also earned him, and our country, much needed respect. It is a shame that the Senate did not have the wisdom to confirm him as ambassador.

The Book

Much of the book is a blow-by-blow account of the details of each of the subjects outlined above, as well as many more. Although rich in detail, it gets to the point while reading where I found myself skipping pages. While invaluable for the researcher, at times the detail can be a bit much for the general reader.

If you are of the type that believes that the UN is mostly corrupt, does as much harm as good, and should be hit over the head with a 2x4, then you will like this book. If you are of the sort who thinks that the US has too much power, uses it too often, and needs to be "reigned in," you probably don't like Bolton anyway so will not like this book.

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July 22, 2008

Two Worthless Institutions

This story illustrates everything that is wrong with both the United Nations and the African Union:

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (AP) - The African Union will ask the U.N. Security Council to suspend action for a year on the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Darfur genocide charges, Nigeria's foreign affairs minister said on Monday.

The African Union will make the request in an effort to allow progress in slow-moving negotiations to end the five-year-old conflict in Darfur, Nigerian Foreign Affairs Ojo Maduekwe told journalists.

He spoke after an emergency meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council, held to discuss the International Criminal Court's July 14 indictment of al-Bashir on charges of genocide and rape in Darfur.

The statute that set up the court allows the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution to defer or suspend for a year the investigation or prosecution of a case. The council can renew such a resolution.

I used to blog a lot more about Africa and Darfur than I do today. I don't much anymore because nothing seems to ever get done. Thousands die and all we get are "slow-moving negotiations" and UN resolutions that don't achieve anything.

Some will blame the West, but the Africans themselves don't care themselves, either about Darfur or their other big disaster, Zimbabwe. I think half the reason they have troops in Darfur is to make the West happy. Just about a year ago Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe got a standing ovation from fellow African leaders.

So now we have an ICC (International Criminal Court) indictment. Big deal.

Few Western leaders will stick their necks out for Darfur or Zimbabwe, not because there's no oil, but because they'll get nothing but grief for doing so. The Africans will object if we holler too loud, and anything stronger gets problematical.

Awareness campaigns? I think everyone already knows.

Sanctions on the Sudan? We've already done what we can and they haven't done any good. Sure, we could punish China hoping that they turn up the screws on Khartoom, but that'll hurt our economy and sour relations with China.

Put the navy off the coast with a targeted blockade? We'll never get UN approval, and the legality of unilateral action is messy. Those today who proclaim the loudest that they "care" will be the first to protest direct military action.

The whole thing seems intractable. My long term solution is to completely revamp our international institutions, dumping the UN and forming ones based on shared values. I've written at some length about all this and I've said it all before so won't go into it again. Interested parties can go here.

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June 6, 2007

No Reason to Stay In the UN

Nat Hentoff (bio here) asked recently why we were still in the United Nations, and I have no good answer for him.

Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe has gone from being the breadbasket of Africa to an economic basket case. Other African nations used to buy food from Zimbabwe, now they export food to it so that it's people won't starve. There's no drought or global warming to blame here, for the fault is entirely that of Robert Mugabe. President of the country since 1980, in recent years he has become an ever more brutal dictator.

So how does the United Nations reward such behavior? Henhoff explains

The United Nations is increasingly becoming a parody of itself while American taxpayers last year provided $439 million to the regular U.N. budget — plus a headquarters in New York that the U.N. management wants to expand. Not only has this dysfunctional and occasionally corrupt organization failed to stop the genocide in Darfur, but on May 11, the insatiably brutal Robert Mugabe's government of Zimbabwe was elevated by the United Nations to chair its Commission on Sustainable Development — dealing with land, rural and economic development, and the environment.

Astonished, The Economist magazine (May 19) noted that Zimbabwe, once known as "the breadbasket of Africa," has had its agriculture "largely destroyed by its government's catastrophic policies."

This year, it was Africa's turn to lead the Commission on Sustainable Development, and the U.N.'s African members shamefully and inexcusably support Mugabe's government for that post.

And just who was responsible for electing Zimbabwe to this position? Other African nations, that's who. The chair of this commission is rotated among continents, and this year it was Africa's turn. How bad is the situation in Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe is a disaster area. The country's own Social Welfare Commission, as reported by The New York Times on Dec. 19, found that 63 percent of the rural population and 53 percent of the urban population cannot meet basic food requirements.

Under Mugabe's rule, Zimbabwe's inflation is the highest on the planet — more than 2,200 percent.

The African nations voting to bestow "legitimacy" on Mugabe's terrorism against his own people closed their eyes and consciences to the fact — as reported by The Economist — that "every day desperate Zimbabweans cross the Limpopo river, braving crocodiles and occasionally drowning, to try their luck in neighboring South Africa. Trapped into illegality there, many are exploited and abused."

Meanwhile, the liberator of Zimbabwe from white rule into its present wasteland is planning a 2008 campaign for an additional six-year term and a $4 million museum (a "shrine") of his lifetime achievements (Washington Times, May 2). Mugabe will surely win — if not by acclamation then certainly through long-practiced intimidation. In May, for example, he forbade Zimbabwe journalists — those who still risk beatings and prison for reporting the truth — from marching in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day (New York Times, May 7).

If African nations wish to ignore the horrors Mugabe is visiting on his country, I suppose that is their business. We shouldn't be a part of it, however, and as members of the UN we are.

Hentoff slaps down the notion that this situation with Zimbabwe is somehow unique

To cap the current (and chronic) disgrace of the United Nations, guess who the new officers of the U.N. Disarmament Commission are? The chair is Syria, home of abundantly armed warring factions — and the vice chair, believe it or not, is Iran, the leading prospect to blow up its region of the world. Having this proud stoker of nuclear destruction become second-in-command of the U.N. Disarmament Commission is like springing Jack Abramoff from prison to fill the new vacancy at the World Bank.

The United Nations is structurally incapable of reform. It is fatally flawed and beyond repair. Hentoff's solution mirrors my own

It makes much more sense for us to walk away from the United Nations itself, period. There are other organizations that — with more help from us and other concerned nations — can feed the hungry and provide medical aid for those in need around the world. But Eleanor Roosevelt's dream of the United Nations serving as an international beacon of human rights has become a nightmare of millions of people's betrayed hopes.

I've written much more about the UN here, essays detailing exactly how we should distance ourselves from it and what alternative institutions we should build.

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October 1, 2006

Kofi Annan - War Criminal

The Sunday Times of London has a piece that removes any doubt that Kofi Annan is one of the worst and most destructive men ever to have headed the insane asylum known as the UN (hat tip LGF and Powerline). The piece examines Annan's tenure at the UN, first as bureaucrat and then as Secretary General. Money quote

A more specific charge would be that, under the doctrine of command responsibility, the UN is guilty of war crimes. Broadly speaking, it has three principles: that a commander ordered atrocities to be carried out, that he failed to stop them, despite being able to, or failed to punish those responsible. The case rests on the second, that in Rwanda in 1994, in Srebrenica in 1995 and in Darfur since 2003, the UN knew war crimes were occurring or about to occur, but failed to stop them, despite having the means to do so.

Yep. That's how Dore Gold laid it out in his book, Tower of Babel, too.

Here's the part leading up to that quote

The bodies were still warm when Lieutenant Ron Rutten found them: nine corpses in civilian clothes lying crumpled by a stream, each shot in the back at close range. It was July 12, 1995, and the UN-declared “safe area” of Srebrenica had fallen the previous day. The lush pastures of eastern Bosnia were about to become Europe’s bloodiest killing fields since 1945.

Refugees poured into the UN compound. But the Dutch peacekeepers (Dutchbat) were overwhelmed and the Serbs confiscated their weapons. “From the moment I found those bodies, it was obvious to me that the Bosnian Serbs planned to kill all the men,” Rutten said. He watched horrified as Dutch troops guided the men and boys onto the Serb buses.

Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.

Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.

The charge sheet would include guarding its own interests over those it supposedly protects; endemic opacity and lack of accountability; obstructing investigations, promoting the inept and marginalising the dedicated. Such accusations can be made against many organisations. But the UN is different. It has a moral mission.

It was founded by the allies in 1945 to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights”. Its key documents – the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the genocide convention – are the most advanced formulation of human rights in history. And they have been flouted by UN member states for decades.

A more specific charge would be that, under the doctrine of command responsibility, the UN is guilty of war crimes. Broadly speaking, it has three principles: that a commander ordered atrocities to be carried out, that he failed to stop them, despite being able to, or failed to punish those responsible. The case rests on the second, that in Rwanda in 1994, in Srebrenica in 1995 and in Darfur since 2003, the UN knew war crimes were occurring or about to occur, but failed to stop them, despite having the means to do so.

It goes on like this for several pages. Read the whole thing and then tell me that we should stay in the UN.

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July 29, 2006

Nothing Better to do at the UN

From the department of "don't they have anything better to do" we see this being reported by Reuters

The United Nations Human Rights Committee on Friday urged U.S. lawmakers to give the District of Columbia a voting member of Congress, saying the lack of such representation appeared inconsistent with international law.

(Hat tip TigerHawk)

Certainly beats doing anything serious, like condeming Hezbollah or Hamas for their deliberate targeting of civilians. Or dealing seriously with the massacres in Sudan.

Among the members of the UN Human Rights Council, we find Algerian, Bahrain, China, Cuba, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia and Zambia. All well known for their record on human rights. Abusing them, that is.

The UN Human Rights Committee appears to be a subset of the UH Human Rights Council. According to the relevant web page on the UN website,


The Human Rights Committee is composed of 18 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights.

Members are elected for a term of four years by States parties in accordance with articles 28 to 39 of the Covenant. Members serve in their personal capacity and may be re-elected if nominated.

The membership of the Committee is a bit better, the members being from places like Japan, Panama, India, Tunisia, Switzerland, Ireland, Columbia, Egypt and the UK. Take a look for yourself.

It all still smacks of anti-American politics to me. With all of the governments around the world doing so much evil to their own people, this is what they consider to be important?

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July 28, 2006

More Moral Confusion at the UN

Jan Egeland, the guy who called US aid to Indonesia "stingy" after last year's tsunami, is at it again. Now he says that Israel has "created a generation of hatred" with it's attack on Hezbollah (hat tip TigerHawk)

Talk about being born yesterday. The Arabs have hated Israel from day one. The never accepted that country's right to exist.

But what's most interesting is that he goes to great lengths to be evenhanded in the way he condems both Hezbollah and Israel

"The rockets have to stop. The terror has to stop. But please remember that for every civilian killed in Israel there are more than 10 killed in Lebanon. It has to stop on both sides." He charged that Israel had used "excessive" and "disproportionate" force in violation of international humanitarian law, and dismissed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's contention that proportionality is measured in relation to the threat posed by a force.

"You cannot invent new kinds of proportionalities. I've never heard that the threat is supposed to be proportional to the response," he said. "Proportionality is there in the law. The law has been made through generations of experience on the battlefield. If you kill more civilians than military personnel, one should not attack," he said.

Egeland reiterated his condemnations of Hizbullah's tactics. "Armed men should not cowardly hide among civilians. It will inflict civilians casualties," he said, calling Hizbullah's cross-border kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers "a mega-catastrophe."

But, he stressed, "Civilians must be protected, and when there are many more dead children than armed men, something is fundamentally wrong, not only with how the armed men behave and where they seek hiding, but also in the response."

From what I can tell, Egeland is saying that because not as many Israeli civilians have died, Israel should not be responding as vigorously. Or that they're killing too many Lebanese civilians.

Yes it should "stop on both sides." But here's what it comes down to: You go to Israel and ask, "what would it take for you to stop?" The Israeli spokesperson would say "Hezbollah has to stop attacking us." Go to Hezbollah and ask the same question, and the response you'll get is "Israel must cease to exist and we're going to fight it until we win." The only way to reconcile these differences is for one or the other to be destroyed.

Speaking of rockets, one fired by Hezbollah hit the top floor of a hospital in he Israeli border town of Nahariya earlier today. Fortunately no one was killed. Think many people will trip overthemselves in a rush to condemn Hezbollah?

The same article goes on to say that Hezbollah has fired a "new kind of rocket, which landed deeper inside Israel than hundreds of other strikes in 17 days of fighting." But according to Egeland, Israel is supposed to sit there and take it, becasue they cannot respond proportionally.

Proportionality

The proportionality is part of just war theory, something developed in the West by Christian thinkers which I think is a pretty good guide to actions before and during war. I wrote extensively about it last year, and you can find all of my posts on it here.

From the section on proportionality

"The principle of proportionality with regards to conduct in war "deals not with a whole war but with a single military action in that war. The criterion requires that the good to be achieved by the action be proportionate to the damage done. Again, this means values preserved compared with values sacrificed, not a single cost-accounting of lives and dollars."

and

In summary, then, the jus ad bellum criterion of proportion says one mustn't go to war unless the values to be preserved by the war exceeded the values to be sacrificed. Within the war, the jus in bello criterion of proportion says that when one takes action against enemy military units or installations, the values sacrificed in the attack must not exceeded the values that would be threatened by the continued existence of the target.

The application, of course, is where it get's tricky. Let's take a quick look at a few things that are going on.

1) Hezbollah rockets have turned Israel's third largest city, Haifa (pop 280,000) into a ghost town. Ditto for the border along Lebanon.

2)By dropping leaflets, Israel is warning residents who live near Hezbollah sanctuaties to evacuate.

3) Israel is using precision weapons when necessary. No these do not prevent all civilian casualties, but they do mimimize them

4) Just War Theory does not allow sanctuaries. It is impermissable to hide behind civilians and then scream foul when they are killed.

5) The number of civilians killed so far is far less than in previous wars.

6) The doctrine of proportionality does not contain a "one to one" rule. That is not how it works.

7) If Israel had done nothing, or stops short of destroying Hezbollah and accepts a ceasefire under the auspices of the UN, within a short time Hezbollah will rearm itself with more and longer-range missiles. They will return to firing them, this time deeper into Israel. Israeli civilians will be killed. At some point Israel will say "enough is enough" and respond, but this time Hezbollah will be even stronger, so the fighting harder, thus more civilians killed. It is therefore better to suffer some casualties now than more casualties later.

Creating "a Generation of Hatred"?

The idea that all Israel is doing is creating "a generation of hatred" is the strangest of all. The Arabs have hated Israel since 1948. Even before the state of Israel was created, the Jews and Muslims in the area did not always get along. Perhaps a few Lebanese who didn't mind Israel will now be turned against it, but even that doesn't go very far.

Here's the point; suppose that is was true that most Lebanese hate Hezbollah and want them gone. Suppose further that they are sympathetic to Israel, or at least don't hate it (ok, a lot of supposing, but hear me out). Wouldn't they want Israel to destroy Hezbollah even if it cost civilian lives?

The website of the D-Day Museum says that during the Battle for Normandy, "between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing", which fits with what a tour guide told me when I was over there some years ago. Yet the French were and are today thankful that we freed them (Yes they are. Despite policy differences since then, they do appreciate that we liberated them from the Nazis).

Any deaths are a tragedy. The question is whether it is better to suffer fewer now or more later. And I think the answer to that question is obvious.

Posted by Tom at 8:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 26, 2006

More Reasons Not to Trust the United Nations

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says that Israel deliberately attacked a UN position in southern Lebanon

The UN secretary general Kofi Annan says an Israeli attack on a UN observation post was "apparently deliberate". Four unarmed military observers were killed in the air strike in southern Lebanon. ...

Mr Annan later called for participants at a Mideast conference to push for an immediate ceasefire to end fighting between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas.

Hizbollah must stop its "deliberate targeting of Israeli population centers". And Israel must put an end to all bombing, ground operations and blockades of Lebanese ports.

"Deliberately"?

Only someone completely deluded could believe such a thing. I could go through my usual analysis, but I think that John Podhoretz summed it up best over at NRO:

He's an anti-Semite who sucks up to Arab dictators and presides over an organization choking on its own immoral filth.

I think that about sums it up nicely.

But if it's analysis you want, head over to Belmont Club where Richard Fernandez does his usual masterful job. After examining various UNIFIL press releases about it's activities in southern Lebanon, Fernandez concludes that ". If each of the press releases is read in their entirety is manifestly clear that UNIFIL is performing none of these authorized missions," which are to "to a) Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon; b) Restore international peace and security;" and "c) Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area."

Maybe this picture of a Hezbollah and UN flag side-by-side say it all

UN and Hezbollah.jpg


Michelle Malkin has details.

Posted by Tom at 9:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 25, 2006

The Israeli attack on Hezbollah

I haven't written anything about the current Israeli war against Hezbollah for two reasons, one, I've been too busy, and two, it all seems so obvious. To me, Israel must be allowed to destroy Hezbollah. If Hezbollah is allowed to survive, all that will happen is that it will reconstitute itself and resume attacks on Israel. In other words, we'll return to the situation that prompted the war in the first place.

The problem is that Lebanon does not have a government that controls the entire country. The reason for this is that it has been fractured by years of civil war and Syrian intervention. The Cedar Revolution eliminated the latter in an overt form, but of course Syrian influence remains. Syria supports Hezbollah, and doesn't want the government of Lebanon to tolerate it. Hezbollah gained so much strength that it has cabinet ministers in the Lebanese government, so it's influence is not easy to eliminate. Indeed, it spent much of the past several years killing anyone in Lebabon who spoke out too strongly against it.

So the first step towards peace and stability in Lebanon is to eliminate Hezbollah. We've all heard that UN Security Council Resolution 1559 called for the disarming of Hezbollah, but of course that hasn't happened, and won't as long as the UN is in charge of making it happen.

Therefore, the worst thing that could happen now is for other nations to impost a premature cease-fire that allows Hezbollah to survive. This would be repeating 1982, when we allowed that terrorist Arafat and his PLO to survive and escape to Tunisia just when the IDF had them cornered in Beirut.

Alan Dershowitz lays out the case why we should not allow the UN to mediate or have anything to do with the situation. He describes how the UN legitimizes terrorism:

If anyone wonders why the UN has rendered itself worse than irrelevant in the Arab-Israeli conflict, all he or she need do is read UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's July 20 statement. Annan goes to great pains to suggest equal fault and moral equivalence between the rockets of Hezbollah and Hamas that specifically target innocent civilians and the self-defense efforts by Israel, which tries desperately, though not always successfully, to avoid causing civilian casualties. In his statement, Annan never condemns, or even mentions, terrorism, which is a root cause and precipitator of the conflict.

Even Annan was forced to acknowledge that "Hezbollah's provocative attack on July 12 was the trigger of this particular crisis"; that Hezbollah is "deliberate[ly] targeting ... Israeli population centers with hundreds of indiscriminate weapons"; and that Israel has the "right to defend itself under Article 51 of the UN charter." But he doesn't stop there. He goes out of his way to insist on equating Hezbollah's terrorists with Israeli military response, which he labels "disproportionate" and "collective punishment." He condemns both Hezbollah and Israel. He also criticizes Israel for its efforts at preventing Qassam rocket attacks against its civilian populations, noting that the Hamas rockets have produced no "casualties in the past month." (This, of course, is not for lack of trying.) He ignores Hamas' long history of terrorism against innocent civilians.

Annan then calls for an "immediate cessation of indiscriminate and disproportionate violence" on both sides, again suggesting a moral equivalence. Among the most immoral positions anyone can take is to suggest a moral equivalence between morally different actions.

Dershowitz nails the entire problem with the UN; moral equivalence. It simply cannot distinguish between agressor and defender, between right and wrong, between terrorist and victim. To Annan, Israel and Hezbollah are simply two warring parties which must be brought to heal.

Unfortunately, this attitude has infected many around the world and in the US. Hezbollah hides among civilians, knowing that no matter how precise the Israeli attack, some will be killed. Despite that the civilian death toll is far less than in the 1982 operation, many insist on a cease fire "for the children". So the terrorists get to have it both ways; when they fire their rockets into Israel or send forth their suicide bombers, a few tut-tut but then quickly insist that Israel must make this or that concession "for peace". But when Israel tries to destroy the terrorists, it's "they're using disproportionate force" and "it perpetuates the cycle of violence".

Lastly Derschowitz reminds us that there have been UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon for years, but they haven't exactly done any good

The UN peacekeepers on the Lebanese border have turned out to be collaborators with Hezbollah, videotaping the Hezbollah kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers in 2000 and then refusing to release the video--which could have helped in the rescue--on the grounds that it might compromise their "neutrality."

Yes the current situation is frought with danger. A wider war, and a spread of chaos would not been good for the situation in Iraq. It is worth the risk, however, if we can destroy or at least significantly harm Hezbollah. Let Israel do what it has to do.

Posted by Tom at 9:54 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 24, 2006

Book Review: Tower of Babel

However bad you think the United Nations is, however corrupt, however useless, anti-American or anti-Israeli, however much you think you know about it's misdeads, you're wrong.

It's even worse than you think. More than that, it's been that way from day one. It's not as if the UN started out well and then slowly got worse. We are forever hearing about this or that plan to reform the UN. What many people don't realize is that this has been going on since the organization's inception in 1945.

For anyone who still has a glimmer of hope that the UN has some virtue, somewhere, that redeems it, that makes the billions spent on it worthwhile, this book by Dore Gold should be the final nail in the coffin.

Because if the UN was merely useless that would be one thing. If it was simply a huge waste of billions of dollars that would be bad enough, but sufferable. What makes it worse than you think is that the UN does positive harm to any reasoned idea truth, justice, and peace in the world. And what is important to note is that this holds true whether you are a liberal or a conservative. It's not that the UN is simply anti-George W Bush or anti-neocon, as an institution is is anti-democratic and is deeply morally confused.

We saw this reflected just the other day when UN General Secretary Kofi Annan "criticized both Israel and Hezbollah for their actions since the July 12 abduction of two Israeli soldiers." Both sides. The inability to distingiush right from wrong, agressor from defender, is inherant in UN thinking. According to the account by the Associated Press , Annan justified his thinking by saying that "his priority was helping the Lebanese people and preventing more civilian casualties." Where was the UN when Hezbollah was firing rockets into Israeli cities and towns? Or, for that matter, when Hamas sends suicide bombers into Israeli pizzarias?

Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold lays out his case in Tower of Babel: How the United Nations has Fueled Global Chaos (2004). The case he makes is in my opion iron-clad; the UN stands condemed. The only question now is how to move beyond it, and fortunately in his last chapter Gold makes some useful recommendations.

Gold avoids the temptation to simply fill the book with examples of anti-Israel bias, which would have been all too easy to do. If you didn't read on the cover that he had been Israel's ambassador to the UN(1997-1999), you'd never know it. Gold is writing for an American audience, but again, not all of his examples of UN perfidy involved the US, for he spends an entire chapter on the Pakistani-India conflict over Kashmir. Rather, Gold takes us from the formation of the UN in 1945 to the present day, stopping off wherever necessary.

The big problem with the UN can be summed up with one term: Moral Equivalency. the organization knows no difference between tyranny and democracy, between agressor and victim. All nations are simply "member states", regardless of how they treat their people. It ignores the massive crimes of dictators, preferring instead to condemn much smaller offenses (real or imagined) by the leaders of democratic states. An alien from another planet would be excused for thinking that Israel was the most murderous country on the planet, and that the Palestinians were the most peaceful people.

The men who founded the UN, mainly President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, laid out a vision that was good in theory but has not worked out in practice. The founders had moral clarity, those who run it today have anything but. Unfortunately, it did not take long for the organization to get off track.

The current General Secretary of the UN, Kofi Annan, typifies all that is wrong with it. A lifetime UN bureaucrat, he was the Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations when the Rwandan and Bosnian massacres occured. You might think that a man with such failures under his belt would resign in disgrace, but then you don't know the UN. Shortly after overseeing these disasters, he was promoted to General Secretary. But of course.

To top it off, in 1991 he was awared the Nobel Peace Prize, which tells you all you need to know about it (ok, if you really want more go here).

Of all the times the UN has failed the people of this world, and of all the examples that Gold goes through, it's hard to decide which is worst. Two that stand out were the massacre in Rwanda, and the way the UN coddled and pandered to Saddam Hussein. In the first instance the means to avoid a massare were at hand, but a deliberate decision was taken not to use it. In the second, the UN had many chances to hold Saddam accountable and failed each and every time.

Rwanda

The situation in Rwanda was complicated, but essentially during colonial times the country had been ruled by the minority Tutsi tribe(10-15%). When the country gained it's independence in 1962, the minority Hutus started a campaign to purge the Tutsis from government posts. There were also many violent attacks against Tutsis, which led many to flee the country over the next few decades. After much violence and a few wars, the UN eventually brokered a deal in which a new government would be formed. So far so good.

In 1993 the UN deployed 2,500 peacekeeping troops to Rwanda, mostly soldiers from Belgium, Bangladesh, and Ghana. They were under the command of Canadian Major General Romeo Dallaire. His mission was to enforce a peace agreement, part of which specified that he was to demobilize the warring parties, and help to create a new national army.

In early January of 1994 General Dallaire received what he believed was conclusive proof from an informant that an extremist Hutu militia was planning the "extermination" of the Tutsis. He devised a plan whereby his troops would seize arms caches that the informant had told him would be used in the massacre, thus hopefully preventing it. He then sent word of his intentions by coded cable to UN headquarters in New York.

To his astonishment, headquarters cabled back that he was to do nothing. Dallaire's cable had gone to the UN Department of Peacekeeping, which was headed by Kofi Annan. Annan's assistant, Iqbal Riza, received the telegram, and after consultation with his assistants, ordered Dallaire to stand down.

The reasoning behind the refusal to authorize action was that Dallaire's plan "went beyond the mandate entrusted to UNAMIR" (UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda). Further, Iqbal was to later justify his actions by saying that the UN mandate did not authorize peacekeeping forces to actively disarm warring parties, merely to "assist" them in doing so. His mindset can be seein in the cable he sent, which said, in part, "The overriding consideration is the need to avoid entering into a course of action that might lead to the use of force and unanticipated consequences." Even with genocide staring them in the face, the need to maintain neutrality and not take any risks was formost in their minds.

Dallaire sent additional warnings throughout February and March, yet the UN did nothing. By this time, Kofi Annan had been informed, so could not plead ignorance. He also pushed for additional troops, believing that he needed at least 5,000 total. Adding to the problem, no major country, such as the US, did anything to push the UN to act. The Clinton Administration must therefore bear some responsibility in the matter also.

By April the predicted massacres started, and other the next several months some 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu sympathizers were killed.

For his incompetence Annan was elevated to Secretary General a few years later. And now the man who could have prevented a massacre goes around telling us "never again", yet again does nothing about Darfur.

Iraq

On the surface, one might think that Iraq was a success story for the UN; Security Council resolutions leading up to the Gulf War and the inspections afterwards that destroyed most of Saddam Hussein's WMD. Wasn't it only the bad old USA that spoiled a largely successful inspections program with an unnecessary invasion?

The reality was that UN involvement with Saddam Hussein's Iraq from the 1980s through the 2003 invasion was mostly characterized by coddling the dictator and an overriding concern to "respect" the regime. Had the UN acted decisively during that time, Operation Iraqi Freedom would not have been necessary. The United States and the United Kingdom pushed the UN to do more, but the two nations alone could not change ingrained attitudes.

The problems started well before the Gulf War. The UN Security Council should have condemned Iraq for it's invasion of Iran, but did not, mostly because the US and USSR wanted to remain neutral, mainly because they did not want to jeapordize oil shipments. The inspections that were carried out by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) proved a failure, when Hans Blix admitted after finding out the truth after the Gulf War that "It is correct to say that the IAEA was fooled by the Iraqis. Blix had led IAEA inspections in Iraq during the 1980s.

After the Gulf War Iraq did destroy vast quantities of WMD, mainly because it feared a US invasion. The UN agency created to oversee the destruction of the WMD was called UNSCOM (UN Special Commission). UNSCOM did a good job at first, but as time went on found itself stymed by UN bureaucrats, Kofi Annan in particular.

Annan obstructed UNSCOM leader Richard Butler in many ways, not the least of which was by creating what became known as the Oil-for-Food program. Oil-for-Food proved a disaster because Saddam was easily able to circumvent it and use the money for arms purchases (and to build palaces, not exactly what the designers of the program had in mind).

Worse was Annan's attitude. During a 1998 trip to Baghdad, Annan announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Iraq. Annan had negotiated a relaxing of inspection requirements that was nothing short of ridiculous. Vast areas of Iraq were to be off-limits to inspectors under the guise that the were "presidential sites". Further, UN diplomats would now be required to be present at what visits were allowed to these sites. Obviously, friendly diplomats could tip off the Iraqis as to what sites were to be visited.

Annan told the BBC that it was important "not to insist on humiliating Saddam Hussein." He "made a priority of treating the Iraqi regime with respect and sensitivity." After the February 1998 visit, Annan's senior staff "described the UN weapons insptecotrs as a bunch of out-of-control "cowboys" who had ignored Iraq's nationals sensitivities." On and on it went.

Gold lays all this out in excruciating detail, and it makes for painful reading. The bottom line is that the UN "could verify that Iraq had fulfilled it's original obligation to turn over its most deadly weapons." And Gold reminds us that "the UN put the burden of proof squarely on Iraq for disclosing what had happened to its weapons of mass destruction - not on the inspectors."

Recommendations

Many UN supporters treat any criticism as an endorsement of a “go it alone” strategy. They cannot imagine anything else. But the reality is that between reliance on the UN and unilateralism there is a third option; working with other states that share your values and/or objectives.

The biggest problem with the UN is moral equivalency because its members have no shared values. The very term “international community” is nonsensical, because to have a community you need to have shared values and interests. The simple fact is that the UN is broke, and nothing will fix it. It’s time for new ideas.

As such, we need to bypass the UN entirely and form our own alliances. They may be temporary ad hoc coalitions established to meet specific goals, or they may be more or less permanent. An example of the former would be the PSI (Proliferation Security Initiative), established to identify and sometimes intercept shipments of WMD and related materials. An example of the latter would be NATO, or more recently, the Community of Democracies, established by the Clinton Administration in 2000.

While it is not necessary that all members of each coalition meet our level of democracy and commitment to human rights to be a member, they should meet some basic minimum standard. For example, while we can and must work with Pakistan in the War on Terror, they don’t qualify for membership in any organization we would want to form. But we can use these organizations to incent countries to change their ways so that they do qualify.

Happily, Gold’s recommendations coincide with ones that I have made. As a practical matter we’re not going to completely get out of the UN. Besides, it would be useful to retain our seat on the Security Council, if for no other reason than to veto resolutions that might harm us or our allies. Rather, we should work to marginalize the UN and work to establish alternative institutions. Gold’s book is one step farther towards this laudable goal.

Posted by Tom at 9:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

The "Cartoon Intifada" Intimidation Spreads to the UN

The United Nations, believe it or not, is in the midst of overhauling it's Commission on Human Rights. Unfortunately, it's hit a little snag

A drive by a bloc of Islamic nations for a global ban on "defamation of religions and prophets" has thrown a major kink into U.S. hopes for an overhaul of the leading U.N. human rights body.

The proposal by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), floated last week amid violent protests over the publication in Europe of cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad, came as U.N. delegates were trying to negotiate the charter for a new Human Rights Council.

"It's a giant monkey wrench in the process, and that is what it was designed to be," said Hillel C. Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based United Nations Watch, a watchdog group that has closely followed the talks.

"To include this in the charter, just as an appeasement to violence, would taint the body before it even began," he said.

I told you the reaction to the cartoons was all about intimidation here and here.

The entire affair is an attempt to intimidate the West into making concessions to radical Islam, and what's happening in the UN is only the latest example.

FYI if you're not completely familiar with what what I call the "Cartoon Intifada" a great summary can be found at The Foreigner in Formosa, the latest addition to my blogroll.

As for the OIC, go to their website and check them out. Their site doesn't allow for permalinks within it, but if you go to "Press Releases" and then down to the one titled "Speech of H.E. Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic conference, before the sixty-first session of the United Nations commission on human rights" here are some gems you'll find:

Islamophobia, which is a new name to an old phenomenon, has been recently brought to the forth after the criminal, evil and tragic events of 9/11. Although these horrendous atrocities received a swift and unanimous condemnation by the OIC, Muslim leaders and scholars throughout the world, the irrational voices of hatred and bigotry were quick to demonize Islam and Muslims. Some Western media fueled the fear of Islam linking it with terrorism.

I can't imagine why anyone would link Islam with terrorism.

I would like to hasten to admit that a gap exists between Islamic teachings as rooted in the creed, and between the practical application of them in some Muslim countries. But whenever there is a departure from these teachings, the reasons are to be found in wrong application.

Maybe so. But what I'm not seeing is any serious attempt to put an end to the problem within Islam, and that is a problem with violence.

While some Governments in the West and elsewhere have been keen to ascertain that the war on terrorism is not directed against Islam or Muslims, the measures that were taken by them, have almost solely targeted Islam and Muslims who bore the brunt of harassment and the denial of their rights and civil liberties.

I can't take it anymore. Listening to this from someone from an Arab Islamic nation is too much.

The Fundamental Problem at the UN

If you want to know what the problem is with the UN Commission on Human Rights, just go it's website and take a look at their membership. Here are some of the current members:

Cuba
Indonesia
Nepal
Nigeria
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
Sudan
Zimbabwe

Not exactly a list of winners when it comes to human rights. Many good nations are also on the list, but the fact that the above nations are there also makes a joke out of the entire thing.

The editors of National Review have an excellent editorial on reforming this body. Read it. They identify the problem just as I have

The UNCHR's basic problem — which is, come to think of it, also the basic problem of the U.N. — is that it puts liberal democracies side by side with genocidal despotisms as though they were equally legitimate

Their solution is something along the lines of what I have suggested, create an alternative body

Regardless of whether we participate in the new council, it's time to create an alternative. The United States should lead efforts to found a new institution devoted to the protection of human rights, and involving eligibility requirements that would limit member states to genuine liberal democracies.

I agree 100% Let's make it happen, and not be intimidated by radical Islamists who want to limit press freedom through bogus "defamation of religions and prophets" proposals.

Posted by Tom at 7:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 30, 2005

Shaking Them Up at the UN

John Bolton seems to be doing good work over at the United Nations.

A senior U.N. administrator warned yesterday evening that a U.S. proposal to pass an interim three-month budget while delegates continue to debate reform could have a disastrous effect on the United Nations.

Good. If it's bad for the UN, it's good for us and freedom seeking people everywhere.

The Bush administration has refused to pass the proposed $3.6 billion biennial budget unless it includes a variety of administrative and management reforms to make the organization more efficient and effective.

To avoid a budget crisis, U.S. officials have suggested passing a sort of continuing resolution, which is common in Washington and other capitals but unprecedented at the United Nations.

"We do not want to be in a position where we adopt a budget next month and we get no more reform for the two-year life of the budget," U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton told reporters on Monday.

But U.N. Comptroller Warren Sach said the interim budget would leave the organization in a cash crunch, forcing it to borrow from closed peacekeeping missions and dwindling management accounts.

The UN is such a corrupt organization, and so in the pocket of dictators, that it needs to be hit over the head with a two by four. If this is what it takes to force reform, then so be it.

But wait, there's more. Here's one reason, among so many, why it's so important to shake that organization to its roots.


The UN Plan to Control the Internet

The UN denies it, and I've read editorials in techie magazines at work whereby they minimize it, but the fact of the matter is that some at the UN want to assume control of the most important part of what makes up the Internet, the name servers. From StrategyPage:

The United Nations (UN) is campaigning to take over the one aspect of the Internet that can be controlled centrally, the DNS (Domain Name Server) system. This was one of the key ideas that make the Internet work. DNS is a system of server computers that contain the list of web site names, and the twelve digit long IDs that computers actually use to find sites on the net. Since DNS was invented in the United States, the organization ICANN, that supervises the assignment of web site names, is in the U.S. (as an organization independent of any government and staffed by an international crew.) But the UN believes that its American origins makes ICANN the creature of the U.S. government, and believes an international organization should control the DNS system.

Why is control of DNS so important?

Major members, or groups of smaller members, of the UN, can exercise considerable control over UN organizations. For example, uf DNS were controlled by the UN, China could insure that any site names China did not approve of, never appeared.

Now do you see?

The planners at the UN, of course, doesn't see it this way. Their stated goals, are, as you may predict, quite laudable. They "...include expanding Internet access in developing countries and fighting spam."

But given the UN's history, it is not the organization to take on these objectives. All it would likely create is a huge bureaucracy and lots of red tape. In other words, it would be hugely expensive and accomplish little.

The real danger comes from dictators who don't like to be criticized. Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky & Joseph Barillari, in an article posted on NRO in September, explain:

Only dictators, and, perhaps, the doctrinaire internationalists who so often abet them, stand to gain from placing the Internet under "international" control. If, for example, the U.N. were to control domain names, its component tyrannies would find it much easier to censor and repress. After all, "internet public policy" is subject to interpretation, and it is hard to imagine international bureaucrats resisting — as ICANN and the U.S. largely have — the temptation to politicize their task. At first, this could even seem reasonable: E.U. officials might seek to eliminate neo-Nazi domains. Inevitably, however, dictatorships would seek to extinguish undesirable foreign web content at the source. Given the U.N.'s penchant for condemning good causes, it is easy to imagine Tehran pushing to suppress "racist" (i.e. "Zionist") websites, or steady pressure from Beijing to eliminate Taiwan's ".tw" domain. (One China, one top-level domain.)

China, a major proponent of a U.N.-administered Internet, already operates the world's largest and most advanced system of online censorship. Thousands of government agents, including some from ITU Director Zhao's former Department of Telecommunications, make sure that websites, e-mails, and even search-engine results deemed threatening to the regime remain inaccessible to a fifth of the world's population. U.S. companies have shamefully participated in this system, as shown by China's recent jailing of dissident journalist Shi Tao based on information revealed by Yahoo!, Inc. Chinese Internet users are unable to access the websites of the Voice of America or, even, the BBC. The regime's filtering is so sophisticated that many sites, such as cnn.com, time.com, and, curiously, yale.edu, are filtered page-by-page, thus maintaining the illusion of openness. Other WGIG participants have similar policies. Like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia also recognize that control over the Internet brings them closer to control over minds. It is unsurprising, then, that Mr. Zhao and his ilk support the U.N.'s drive to give them more of it.

Gotta keep an eye on 'em. For now, Bolton seems to be right for the job. But he is a recess appointment, who's term will be up in January 2007. The Democrats will likely object to him if he is renominated.

I've written about these UN plans before, but it seems a good idea to keep them in the spotlight. They'll sneak them in under the radar unless we keep a watch on them.

Posted by Tom at 8:21 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 31, 2005

More Reasons to Dump the UN

Today we'll tackle three UN schemes that are designed to take our money or our sovereignty. Or both.

The UN Reorganization Plan

A Global Taxation Proposal

Plan to Control the Internet

I've been on vacation or too busy to write busy most of late July and August, so most readers will have heard about these UN schemes by now. Even so, it helps to keep them in the forefront so that we can be on our guard against them.

Let's look at these one at a time

The UN Reorganization Plan

Anything that has to do with the UN has got to be comple. The better, I think, to pull the wool over our eyes.

Kofi Annan's plan was best described by Wretchard of The Belmont Club, who called it a "Grand Bargain." I first wrote about this last March:

According to the Financial Times, (hat tip Belmont Club), what Annan has in mind is a kind of "grand bargain" (the FT article is subscription only, so I'm going on what Wretchard has on his site)

Mr. Annan's officials say the package basically proposes a bargain whereby rich countries help the poor to develop, by promoting the Millennium Development Goals, while poor countries help alleviate rich countries' security concerns. In both cases, Mr Annan says, action must be underpinned by respect for human rights.

Of course this means more money from the United States, Europe, and other developed nations. Don't count on any of them to support this.

And, as Wretchard points out, by "security", Annan means the Security Council. And forget about going around it. From the text of the UN report, Annan says "The task is not to find alternatives to the Security Council as a source of authority, but to make it work better"

Without going into details, Annan proposes increasing the size of the Security Council by adding members from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. He offers two proposals, which vary by the number and term of the new seats, and whether they are permanent or rotating.

This is not a plan for action; it is an attempt to permanently prevent action. With so many competing interests on the Council, gridlock would be enshrined forever.

If would also, of course, have the effect of diluting American power. As it is today, the council would not vote to enforce their own resolutions regarding Iraq.

Even if we buy the notion of a "grand bargain", it is hard to see how and deal would work. Is Annan saying that the underdeveloped nations could attempt to "buy off" their votes each time an Iraq-like situation arose? Does anyone seriously expect such a deal to work?

The good news is that the Bush Administration is firmly opposed to these measures. UN Ambassador John Bolton has put that organization on notice that the United States is firmly opposed to the plan. Simply put, the UN wants to usurp our sovereignty, and take for themselves rights such as when military force can be used. From todays Washington Post:

Bolton argued that the Security Council already had sufficient legal authority to send foreign troops to halt atrocities in places such as the Sudanese region of Darfur. He insisted that the U.N. charter "has never been interpreted as creating a legal obligation for Security Council members to support enforcement action." He also urged the deletion of language calling on nations to prevent "incitement" of mass atrocities, saying it runs counter to the U.S. First Amendment protections of speech.

Bolton wrote that the United States "stands ready" to intervene in select cases where governments fail to halt mass killings on their soil. But he said that world leaders should not "foreclose" the military option by the United States and other governments "absent authorization by the Security Council."

The U.N. doctrine of humanitarian intervention, known as the "responsibility to protect," has been promoted by Secretary General Kofi Annan, European governments and human rights advocates, who had been pressing U.N. members to accept greater responsibility for intervening in countries where atrocities are taking place. They have also been pressing to ensure a more central role for the Security Council in authorizing military action, a position that the Bush administration has strenuously opposed.

A Global Taxation Proposal

The plan it to put a tax on international airline travel. Both the EU and UN are behind it. The tax money will allegedly be used for fighting either "global poverty" or "aids", depending on which article you read. One thing you'll never find is "spreading democracy and overthrowing dictators."

Predictably, France is one of the prime instigators:

As a first step, France proposes to create a pilot scheme which would serve as a showcase of the feasibility of innovative financing mechanisms while, at the same time, contributing to meet urgent financing needs (such as the fight against HIV/AIDS).

Why plane tickets? As one of the main driving forces behind globalization, passenger air transport is a fast growing activity. While the industry may meet with temporary cyclical difficulties, traffic volume has increased by 7.4% since April 2004 and is currently projected to grow annually by an average 5% worldwide over the next decade.

In both developed and developing countries, airline passengers seldom belong to the poorest segments of the population. A contribution on plane tickets would therefore be progressive, a characteristic which could be reinforced if higher rates were to be set for business and first class passengers.

Translation: you, dear reader, have been stealing from the world's poor for too long and we're going to get you for it.

From what I can tell, all this is part of the UN's grand Millenium Development Goals (MDG), which you can read all about on a special section of the UN website. Of course, it all sounds so nice and wonderful. The goals run the complete gamut of do-good projects, such as "Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger", or "Promote gender equality and empower women" to "Develop a global partnership for development"

That last one sounds suspiciously like the socialist "New World Economic Order" that they tried to foist on us in the closing days of the Cold War. And you can be sure that most countries, especially the Arab ones, have no intention of granting women any meaningful rights.

The problem with all this is obvious; if they get the ability to impose one tax, more will follow. And they'll get higher and higher. Meanwhile, little good will actually follow. Not to mention that most of the money will go to line the pockets of third-world kleptocrats and UN bureaucrats. This may actually make the "Oil for Food" scandal look small by comparison.

Plan to Control the Internet

Companies in the United States, aided by enlightened government policies and research projects, were instrumental in developing the Internet. I have much personal experience in this field, having spent most of the 1990s working for some of the largest Internet Service providers.

What is this all about? Here you go:


UN bureaucrats and telecommunications ministers from many less-developed nations claim the U.S. government has undue influence over how things run online. Now they want to be the ones in charge.

While the formal proposal from a U.N. working group will be released July 18, it's already clear what it will contain. A preliminary summary of governmental views claims there's a "convergence of views" supporting a new organization to oversee crucial Internet functions, most likely under the aegis of the United Nations or the International Telecommunications Union.

At issue is who decides key questions like adding new top-level domains, assigning chunks of numeric Internet addresses, and operating the root servers that keep the Net humming. Other suggested responsibilities for this new organization include Internet surveillance, "consumer protection," and perhaps even the power to tax domain names to pay for "universal access."

Consider, too, that countries like Syria, China, Brazil, Ghana are the ones pushing for the change. They don't like that the big bad US has what they consider to be undue influence.

The actual UN report behind all this can be found here (hat tip Michelle Malkin. The good news is that the UN isn't united behind any particular plan:

"...the UN group couldn't decide what should be done about it. Instead of reaching a consensus, the nations participating in the discussions listed four possible options ranging from modest changes to creating an entirely new 'Global Internet Council' under the auspices of the United Nations.

The bad news is that they are united in saying that "no single government should have a pre-eminent role in relation to international internet governance"

I can think of about a hundred reasons why we the UN should have no role in the Internet. Investor's Business Daily does too:

Given its record of mismanagement and corruption, the U.N. shouldn't be handed the keys to the Internet. It's too precious a resource. We need look only as far as the oil-for-food scandal — possibly the largest fraud in history — for evidence as to why this is true.

Giving the U.N. control over the Internet would be giving it control over the future — which rightly belongs to entrepreneurs, inventors and dreamers, not faceless bureaucrats who can scarcely conceal their loathing for the free-market success the U.S. represents.

Tip of the Iceburg

The worst part is that this is just part of a long train of abuses:

* Oil-for-Food, the greatest financial scandal in modern history
* Peacekeepers in Congo, Somalia, Kosovo, and elsewhere raping and otherwise sexually abusing the very people they are supposed to be protecting
* Failure to provide relief to the victims of the recent tsunami, and then attacking the United States for forming a coalition of nations who were successful in bringing aid
* Failure to stop what is just about genocide in Sudan
* A Security Council that will not enforce it's own resolutions
* A Security Council that passes an ever-increasing number of resolutions to little or no effect on the world scene
* They put the worst human rights violators on the planet in on the UN Human Rights commission
* Iraq under Saddam was voted chair of the UN Committee on Disarmament
* A General Assembly that, in general, is virulently anti-Semitic and shows it in their actions and speech
* The World Conference on Racism, held in Durban South Africa 2001, turned into an anti-Semitic and anti-American hate-fest
* They promote fatally flawed treaties such as the Kyoto protocol on "global warming", which would have the effect of crippling the US economy
* The promotion of the World Court, whose purpose would be to prosecute Americans and Israelis, while largely ignoring third-world kleptocrats

What to Do?

As I've written before, marginalize the UN and build alternative organizations.

Posted by Tom at 9:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 30, 2005

The Haiti Precident

Troubles in Haiti continue


A U.S.-backed effort to reform and disarm anti-government gangs went horribly wrong 10 days ago when hooded police and machete-wielding civilian backers attacked participants at a soccer game, killing at least six persons.

The "Play for Peace" soccer match was financed and sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development, and was designed to steer young people away from the gang violence that has beset Haiti since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled into exile in February 2004.

Witnesses to the Aug. 20 massacre said about 6,000 spectators were packed into the soccer stadium when police officers ordered everyone to the ground. Shots rang out, and people ran for the walled field's only exit.

Police fired wantonly into the crowd, witnesses and relatives of victims said. Outside, they said, civilians armed with machetes and more police officers attacked people trying to flee the chaos.

The United States has intervened in Haiti many times over the past hundred years or so. Each time we have attempted to set up a legitimate government and bring some order to the country things seem to go awry.

Things are no different this time. Despite our best efforts, Haiti is still an unstable country plagued by violence.

Our last invasion was in 1994, when Bill Clinton was president. He did so largely for humanitarian reasons, as Haiti certainly posed no security threat to the United States or our allies.

I have no problem with his decision to invade. I do disagree with his decision to obtain a resolution from the UN Security Council "authorizing" our operation. This helped to set a precident started by President George H W Bush, who insisted on UN "approval" to evict Iraq from Kuwait.

These actions set precidents that have come back to haunt us, as I feared they would at the time. As I have stated on this blog numerous times, we do not need approval from anyone besides our own US Congress to conduct any military operation that we see fit.


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July 19, 2005

No US Support for Expanded Security Council

In some good news today, Presdent Bush has decided not to support India's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security council.

President Bush yesterday acknowledged India as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology but declined to endorse its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

After a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House, Mr. Bush said he supports civil nuclear energy cooperation with India as it realizes its goals of promoting nuclear power and achieving energy security.

India's bid for a seat is part of a larger campaign to expand the Security Council. This past March, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a plan for reform that Wretchard at Belmont Club called a "Grand Bargain". Quoting the Financial Times (subscription only):

Mr. Annan's officials say the package basically proposes a bargain whereby rich countries help the poor to develop, by promoting the Millennium Development Goals, while poor countries help alleviate rich countries' security concerns. In both cases, Mr Annan says, action must be underpinned by respect for human rights.

At the time I wrote a more complete analysis, interested readers can read it if they wish (see link above). For now, I'll summarize why I do not support any expansion of the UN

The Root Problem

The problem with all proposals to expand or change the Security Council, or any other aspect of the UN, is that it misses the real problem. The fundamental flaw with the UN is that any nation can be a full-fledged member, regardless of its form of government, or how it treats its citizens. All nations are equal.

The result is that tyrannies spend their time protecting their own. Several times the US and the UK have proposed sanctions against the government of Sudan for their murderous ways in Darfur, and each time such action has been vetoed by China and Russia, with France expressing reservations as well. At least we can talk to the French as democratic equals, with Russia and especially China any "dialogue" is delusional.

This failure to take into account the nature of a state's government is best exemplified by the UN Human Rights Commission in which China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe are members.

Hats off to our president for doing the right thing. Too bad the Democrats in congress can't help him out by confirming John Bolton.

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May 18, 2005

Fun Facts

Readers of this blog will not normally be under any illusions as to just how terrible the United Nations has become. Nevertheless, it does bare reminding every now and then as to just why we need someone like John Bolton as our ambassador.

Ambassador Rudy Boschwitz is currently head of the delegation to the 61st session of the UN Commission on Human Rights. He was formerly a GOP Senator from Minessota from 1978 - 91. Yesterday he wrote an editorial that appeared in the Washington Times. He relayed just how antithetical at body has become to concepts of democracy and freedom around the world:

Americans must understand that the United Nations is not a very friendly forum for our country. The State Department puts out a study of voting patterns of the 191 nations that constitute the U.N. General Assembly. Only 10 of those 191 voted with the United States more than 50 percent of the time last year.
Wonderful. So that's what all of our foreign aid money is getting us.
At the six-week session of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) this spring — a commission made up of 53 countries, including some of the worst human rights abusers — we could only come up with a consensus resolution — albeit a fairly strong one — about Darfur that did not mention the government of Sudan by name as an abuser, though the implication was pretty clear. Last year, when we insisted on a strong Darfur resolution condemning Sudan, the vote against it was 50-1 (the one being the United States) with two abstentions. The CHR membership has too many arsonists and too few firemen.
This year, Ambassador Boschwitz says, the situation on the commission was so bad that they did not even try to get any resolutions condemning Iran, Zimbabwe, China or "even Turkmenistan, where the dictator has renamed the months and days of the week after family members."

So what did the commission busy itself with?

But the commission had no difficulty this spring (or any other spring) in condemning Israel — not once but in four separate resolutions. In the last session of the 191-nation-member General Assembly, 26 human rights resolutions aimed at member states were passed. Amazingly, 22 of those 26 condemned the State of Israel.
That's nice. The one democracy in the Middle East gets all the blame. Nothing new there, unfortunately.

We're all familiar with the excreable 1975 "Zionism is Racism" resolution. What the Democrats do not seem to remember is that it was John Bolton who, in 1991, was instrumental in getting that overturned.

More reasons not only to send John Bolton to the UN, but to look for alternatives to that outfit.

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May 2, 2005

Resign, Kofi, Resign!

So Kofi Annan has threatened to resign:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has claimed that a "lynch mob" is out to "destroy" him in the wake of the Iraq oil-for-food debacle and other U.N. scandals.

In his first major interview since he was criticized in a report into the discredited oil-for-food scheme, which the United Nations administered, Mr. Annan refused to rule out stepping down in the fall, a year before his second term is due to end.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Maybe this new report of sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, this time in Liberia, have something to do with it (hat tip Captain Ed):

UN peacekeepers sexually abused and exploited local women and girls in Liberia and more accusations are expected, a UN spokesman said Friday.

Stephane Dujarric said a preliminary investigation by the UN mission in Liberia indicated that some allegations against its personnel could be substantiated, while others could not.

"The allegations range from the exchange of goods, money or services for sex to the sexual exploitation of minors. The peacekeeping department here in New York as well as the mission on the ground are taking appropriate follow-up action," he said.

A UN official speaking on condition of anonymity said the number of allegations could eventually total 20.

The head of the mission in Liberia, Jacques Paul Klein, is to step down when his contract expires at the end of the month, a UN spokesman announced Thursday. His deputy Abou Moussa will temporarily take over.

The allegations of sex abuse in Liberia are just the latest to be leveled against UN peacekeepers who have been accused of exploiting the very people they were sent to protect in missions from Bosnia and Kosovo to Cambodia, East Timor and Congo.
It just keeps getting worse and worse.

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March 30, 2005

Another Plus for John Bolton

Another reason why John Bolton should be our new ambassador to the United Nations are the reasons given for opposing him. Yesterday fifty-eight ex-diplomats sent a letter to Republican Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which they urged Congress to reject his nomination. The diplomats came from both Republican and Democrat administrations, which tells us all we need to know about why we're in our current situation.

Their criticism dwelled primarily on Bolton's stand on issues as the State Department's senior arms control official. They said he had an "exceptional record'' of opposing U.S. efforts to improve national security through arms control.
I'm not sure exactly what this refers to, but I'll tell you that in my opinion pursuing arms control misses the point. The reason why there are conflicts is due to opposing ideologies and ways of thinking, which are brought to the forefront by totalitarian and dicatatorial regimes. The best way to improve national security is to spread democracy. Now, that said, certainly preventing the spread of some weapons is beneficial. But simple pursuit of arms control does not necessarily enhance our national security.

But the former diplomats also chided Bolton for his "insistence that the U.N. is valuable only when it directly serves the United States.''

That view, they said, would not help him negotiate with other diplomats at the United Nations.
Well, good. I don't want him to "negotiate", I want him to clean up the place. The old go-along-get-along-don't-ruffle-feathers attitude is what got us into this situation in the first place. Enough of the old way. We're going from Andrew Young to Jeanne Kirkpatrick here. And just as the left screamed bloody murder when Kirkpatrick went to the UN and gave them hell, they're screaming now.

Further, the problem with the UN directly serving the United States is...?

The letter tells us all we need to know about how we got to our present situation. This is the attitude that allowed so many scandals to fester unseen. This is the attitude that allowed virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism to take hold. One reason why so many hate us is because they do not respect us. We appear weak to them, and weakness breeds contempt. Children respect a teacher who is strict yet fair, while they hold one who doesn't enforce rules in contempt. They may not love us once Bolton is done with them, but by heavens they will respect us.

Tellingly, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, ambassador to the UN under Reagan, did not sign the letter (or at least I can't find that she did. However, I'm sure that if she did her name would have been mentioned in news stories. I am so far unable to find the actual letter on the Internet).

If anyone can find the actual letter please post the links in the comments section. I've searched the usual big-name blogs but can't find anything on it yet.

Posted by Tom at 11:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Reform at the UN - or Replacement?

The other day in the paper I saw the following story about the United Nations:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called for an international inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, after an initial U.N. inquiry found that the Lebanese government, intelligence and police services had bungled the criminal investigation.
There may have been a time when I would have applauded this type of action, and believed that such an inquiry might get to the bottom of the matter. After all, the Lebanese police can hardly be expected to issue any report critical of Syria, the likely perpetrator. But those days are long passed.

The scandals and problems at the UN are many, so please excuse me if I miss a few;

  • Oil-for-Food ('nuf said there)
  • Peacekeepers in Congo, Somalia, Kosovo, and elsewhere raping and otherwise sexually abusing the very people they are supposed to be protecting
  • Failure to provide relief to the victims of the recent tsunami, and then attacking the United States for forming a coalition of nations who were successful in bringing aid
  • Failure to stop what is just about genocide in Sudan
  • A Security Council that will not enforce it's own resolutions
  • A Security Council that passes an ever-increasing number of resolutions to little or no effect on the world scene
  • They put the worst human rights violators on the planet in on the UN Human Rights commission
  • Iraq under Saddam was voted chair of the UN Committee on Disarmament
  • A General Assembly that, in general, is virulently anti-Semitic and shows it in their actions and speech
  • The World Conference on Racism, held in Durban South Africa 2001, turned into an anti-Semitic and anti-American hate-fest
  • They promote fatally flawed treaties such as the Kyoto protocol on "global warming", which would have the effect of crippling the US economy
  • The promotion of the World Court, whose purpose would be to prosecute Americans and Israelis, while largely ignoring third-world kleptocrats
Only in the interests of space will I stop here.

The situation has gotten so bad that even Kofi Annan has recognized that something needs to be done. As such, he has issued a 62 page proposal for reform, the text of which can be found here.

The Grand Bargain

According to the Financial Times, (hat tip Belmont Club), what Annan has in mind is a kind of "grand bargain" (the FT article is subscription only, so I'm going on what Wretchard has on his site)

Mr. Annan's officials say the package basically proposes a bargain whereby rich countries help the poor to develop, by promoting the Millennium Development Goals, while poor countries help alleviate rich countries' security concerns. In both cases, Mr Annan says, action must be underpinned by respect for human rights.
Of course this means more money from the United States, Europe, and other developed nations. Don't count on any of them to support this.

And, as Wretchard points out, by "security", Annan means the Security Council. And forget about going around it. From the text of the UN report, Annan says "The task is not to find alternatives to the Security Council as a source of authority, but to make it work better"

Without going into details, Annan proposes increasing the size of the Security Council by adding members from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. He offers two proposals, which vary by the number and term of the new seats, and whether they are permanent or rotating.

This is not a plan for action; it is an attempt to permanently prevent action. With so many competing interests on the Council, gridlock would be enshrined forever.

If would also, of course, have the effect of diluting American power. As it is today, the council would not vote to enforce their own resolutions regarding Iraq.

Even if we buy the notion of a "grand bargain", it is hard to see how and deal would work. Is Annan saying that the underdeveloped nations could attempt to "buy off" their votes each time an Iraq-like situation arose? Does anyone seriously expect such a deal to work?

Perhaps we should back up a moment. What is the purpose of the UN? In another post, Wretchard thinks that the UN can or should fill these rolls:

  1. To set a global agenda that brings the principal concerns of the nations to the forefront. This is the function that the General Assembly is supposed to fulfill;
  2. To keep the peace through the collective action of the Great (a function of the Security Council) and;
  3. To provide essential international services, which nation-states would not provide otherwise, through specialized technical agencies.
Well, maybe. Or, put another way, "in a perfect world, yes." A global institution should do these things. Whether the UN ever will is, at this point I think, open for debate.

Wretchard proposes a electronic "moderated forum", by which I think he means web-based discussion group. Nice idea, but no one will buy it. Honest discussion is the last thing third-world kleptocrats want.

My Analysis and Recommendations

Fundamentals

The basic problem with the United Nations is that all nations are admitted as equals, regardless of their form of government or human rights records. Every country is simply a "member state". The UN is not immoral so much as it is amoral.

It is for this reason that it cannot agree on a simple definition of "terrorism", or for years a resolution remained on it's books equating "Zionism" with "racism". It is also why China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe can be on its Human Rights Commission, and why Saddam's Iraq could chair it's commission on disarmament.

The Security Council

We need to forget trying to change the Security Council. The entire purpose of the Security Council is to prevent action. The founders set it up with a balance of power in mind that would prevent the most powerful nations from waging war with it's approval. And given that they had just finished a world war that left 52 million dead, this was hardly an unreasonable goal.

The Cold War may have been marked by stalemate, but it was a stalemate of which Franklin Delano Roosevelt would have approved. I also think that it was a good thing.

The world has now moved beyond the Cold War. Instead of containment, we are now properly trying to encourage and spread freedom throughout parts of the world (Reagan's "rollback" was nothing compared to what is happening today, apologies to the Gipper).

Stalemate is no longer acceptable, if we believe that Security Council authorization is necessary in order for war to be legal and just. One of the most unfortunate consequences of the Gulf War was the notion that only the Security Council can authorize war. Since I can think of no reorganization of that body that would make it act in a more responsible manner, and since I certainly do not accept the idea that only it can authorize war, I propose that we simply ignore it.

Let the left scream. It's what they're best at, anyway.

At this point we need to stop and point out the founders of the UN, most notably FDR, can be forgiven if they foresaw none of this. As I mentioned, their objective was to prevent another world war, and in that they succeeded.

The General Assembly

In the General Assembly all nations have one vote regardless of GDP or population. Fortunately it is also powerless. Nevertheless, it can be quite troublesome, especially when it passes odious resolutions such as the infamous one which equated Zionism with racism.

We cannot do much about this body, and although it is troublesome it is also powerless. My proposal is to let it be.

Peacekeeping

As Captain Ed has noted, the UN recommendations on ending sex abuse by it's own peacekeeping troops is nothing but a whitewash. The UN "solution" is to simply transfer responsibility to the nations that provide the troops. But this would leave the foxes to guard the henhouse. The problem at the root of the sex-abuse scandal is that the governments whose armies are involved condone, tacitly or otherwise, this type of behavior. Attempts to enforce standards of behavior are not likely to succeed given the nature of these governments.

We therefore need to require that nations who wish to send peacekeeping troops meet minimum standards of democracy and human rights within their own countries. Given that
they see peacekeeping as a moneymaking enterprise (the UN pays them much more per soldier than they cost to support) they will have every incentive to reform. They will squawk loudly at first, and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but we can succeed if we do not blink.

Financial

I believe that it is impossible to seriously reform the United Nations. I would therefore withdraw as much monetary support as we legally can and then proceed to ignore it.

Our task, then, is to build an alternative institution or institutions. It or they need not even be permanent, but may be ad hoc, that is, designed to meet a present need, and then disbanded when it's goals have been met. This institution(s) would be built around several principles:

  • Membership is dependent upon having some basic form of representative government
  • Membership is dependent upon meeting basic human rights standards
  • Withdrawal from the organization is an option
  • The organization exists for a specific purpose, and once it has achieved its goal or met its objectives it must disband or reorganize
There are some examples of these types of bodies, already, and I have posted on them before. Two that look promising are:
  • The Council for a Community of Democracies - founded in 2001, " a leader in the worldwide Community of Democracies, an inclusive transnational movement fostering democracy and cooperation among the world’s democracies and assistance to aspiring democracies in their transition through a new Democracy Transition Center;"
  • The Proliferation Security Initiative - a global effort that aims to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials worldwide. Members of the PSI are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US.
It is therefore my contention that while the United Nations is incapable of real reform, we are unable to totally extradite ourselves from it. We should therefore ignore it as much as possible, and work to forming alternative organizations.

Posted by Tom at 11:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

Bolton's Principles

John Bolton, who was recently appointed by the president to be our next ambassador to the United Nations, has a firm set of ideas for dealing with that body. Bolton laid out these principles in a 1997 essay which was part of a Cato Institute publication titled "Delusions of Grandeur". In his essay, "The Creation, Fall, Rise and Fall of the United Nations", he outlines five things that we should insist on when dealing with the UN:

  1. "The new secretary-general must deliver on reform." This remains as relevant now as it was eight years ago. Mr. Bolton still believes that the key to reform lies in breaking down the United Nations' traditional fiefdoms in the development program, environment program, the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and others, and treating the United Nations as a single system.
  2. The United Nations should "stick with traditional peacekeeping," which means following the old rule that permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- should not take part in peacekeeping. Moreover, "what should be relegated to history's junk pile at the first opportunity are the chimerical Clinton notions of U.N. 'peace enforcement' and 'nation-building' and 'enlargement.'
  3. "Do not reform the Security Council." Mr. Bolton wants the current permanent members to keep their veto, a power that he sees as "the greatest single protection the U.S. has at the U.N. ... The desire to remold the Security Council now to conform to theoretical models of contemporary global politics should not obscure our present ability to make the council function effectively, at least in certain circumstances."
  4. "Management and financial reform remains essential." Mr. Bolton questions the financial basis of the United Nations, under which each country pays dues that are meant to be assessed roughly in accordance with their wealth. "Eliminate assessments altogether, moving toward a U.N. system that is funded entirely by purely voluntary contributions from the member governments ... [which] would allow each government to judge for itself whether it was getting its money's worth from the U.N. and each of its component agencies."
  5. "Face reality" and accept the United Nations' limitations and the realities of national interest, and from the American point of view, remember, "The U.N. is only a tool, not a theology. It is one of several options we have and is certainly not invariably the most important one."
The only one I'd quibble with at all is number three, yet even there Bolton's warnings are well taken. On the one hand, the Security Council is a relic of the Cold War, and at best reflects a world that hasn't existed in almost a hundred years (the only reason France has a permanent seat is because everyone felt sorry for them after World War II). On the other hand, revising it may only make matters worse (and things can always get worse).

Other than that I see his appointment as nothing but positive. The UN desperately needs to be shaken up, and to be told things that it doesn't want to hear.

Best of all, Bolton has all the right enemies. The usual suspects in the Democrat Party have promised to oppose his nomination, which I take as meaning that President Bush appointed the right man.

Posted by Tom at 3:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 5, 2005

Crisis in the Congo: UN Sex Abuse Charges

Fox News has been at the center of investigating the various scandals that have rocked the United Nations over the past few years. Most people by now are familiar with Oil-for-Food, the one in which during the 90's bureaucrats around the world enriched themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people. Over the past few months new scandals have emerged, ones involving massive abuse of the civilian populations by UN peacekeeping troops.

I'm not going to attempt any new reporting or analysis here, rather just want to keep the issue in the forefront for anyone not following these stories. The reason is not to "bash" the UN, as some would allege,but rather to illustrate how the institution as it now stands often does more harm than good. It is my belief that at this point, the onus is on the defenders of the UN to explain why we should continue to pay all of our dues to this outfit.

On with the latest scandal. First, a bit of background;

Five years ago, more than 10,000 peacekeepers working for the United Nations came to the Democratic Republic of Congo,to help end a six-nation war. But reports of sexual abuse of local women and girls began soon after they arrived from Morocco, South Africa, Australia, India and Europe.
Eventually, someone caught on. But the response has been too little too late
In January, the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services released a report claiming peacekeepers regularly had sex with the Congolese women and girls in exchange for food or small sums of money.

"We have had and continue to have a serious problem of sexual exploitation and abuse," William Lacy Swing, the U.N. special representative to Congo, said.

The scandal intensified after the recent discovery of hundreds of violent, pornographic photos and videotapes of children, supposedly taken by a U.N. official. The images depict naked Congolese children in positions of severe physical degradation performing sexual acts with and under the control of a man, the United Nations admits, who is one of their own.

The worst part is that this sort of abuse is nothing new

The Congo scandal is not the first time U.N. peacekeepers have come under scrutiny. Past reports of ill practices surfaced in Cambodia, Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo and Somalia. Despite that history and after four years of sex abuse reports by U.N. peacekeepers in the Congo, there still is no procedure of investigation or accountability on the ground.

UN officials have of late insisted that they have a "zero tolerance" policy toward such abuses. But Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan, on the scene in the Congo, reports otherwise

When night falls in Goma, U.N. peacekeepers can still be seen leaving their base in search of sex.

Some of them duck down in the rocks with prostitutes in lava fields. Others patronize brothels located near the base. These are clear violations of the rules under "zero tolerance," which includes a strict curfew and a ban on contact between U.N. peacekeepers and local women.

There are many reasons why this is allowed to occur. First, you have troops from third world countries who are often more than organized mobs. They more resemble an eighteenth-century European army than a modern force, back in the days when looting was an accepted way of exacting retribution on an enemy and rewarding one's own troops.

The UN pays a per diem to countries who contribute troops. It is a fixed amount, $1,028 per month per soldier/peacekeeper, regardless of the country that sent him. The issue is that it costs a European or American taxpayer much more per soldier than it does a third-world taxpayer. The result is that peacekeeping is a money maker for these countries. What this means is that when there are abuses no one wants to rock the boat for fear of upsetting the gravy train.

UN bureaucrats from the third world see the UN as a gold mine, where they can live in New York or Paris and receive salaries unimaginable in their home countries. They do not want to kill the goose that lays golden eggs.

Then you have the simple fact that the UN is accountable only to itself. There is no incentive to root out and eliminate abuse.

I used to think that the UN was at least good for humanitarian missions. Then came it's abject failure to deal with the south-east Asian tsunami disaster, and the revelations of these sex abuse scandals.

I've written quite a bit about the United Nations on this blog, as regular readers know. Among my posts are these:

Worse and Worse at the UN
The Harmful UN
A Perfect Knave
Alternatives to the UN
UN Alternative Update

Sunday Update

The Washington Times has a good article this morning on UN peacekeeping operations. It's just as I suspected; some third-world countries use this as a money-making operation:


Because the United Nations pays a flat rate of $1,028 per person per month, there is a built-in disincentive for the better trained and equipped nations to contribute people.

Every American, European, Australian and Canadian peacekeeper is subsidized by their respective governments, while lesser-paid African and South Asian soldiers actually generate income for their nations.

For some of the poorer nations -- Senegal, Niger and Ghana, for example -- sending soldiers on a U.N. mission is a win-win situation, a way to keep peacetime troops combat-ready while providing hard currency.

Bangladesh, for one, nets about $150 million a year from its peacekeeping participation.

"To some, our involvement in other countries may be controversial," Bangladesh's U.N. ambassador, Iftekher Chowdhury, said recently.

To be fair, there are other objectives than money
But Dhaka long ago figured out that it's possible to do well by doing good. A sustained commitment to peacekeeping has allowed the government to forge strong ties with far more powerful nations, establish future trade relationships in Africa and leverage its international involvement into global prestige, he said.

"You know, we have never lost an election" in the United Nations, Mr. Chowdhury said, ticking off a list of U.N. bodies and subsidiaries where Bangladesh has a seat.
And the armies of some countries, such as India, have performed admirably
India takes its peacekeeping so seriously that it has created a training center for officers, and recommends that other contributing nations follow its example of keeping its peacekeepers busy with noncombat tasks, such as running clinics and digging wells for local people.

Indian troops have not been accused of wrongdoing in recent years, a fact that Indian Ambassador Nirupam Sen and U.N. officials quickly volunteer.

"We are the backbone of the [upcoming] Sudan mission," Mr. Sen said.


Unfortunately, India is the exception rather than the rule. As all of this illustrates, the United Nations is a mess and needs to clean up it's act immediately. Because as things stand now, this organization does more harm than good.

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February 24, 2005

Worse and Worse at the UN

The situation at the United Nations just goes from bad to worse. While Oil-for-Food is perhaps the best reported scandal, it is only the tip of the iceberg. There are several sex scandals that are almost unbelieveale.

On of the worst UN horror stories took place in the Congo. The allegations are that UN peacekeeping troops raped literally hundreds of women.

Steve Harrigan is currently leading a Fox News team in the Congo:

Our team here in the Congo found another group of girls who say they have been raped by U.N. peacekeepers. We've been interviewing four or five a day. It is easy to get hardened or callous after three of four days of it. The first girl, age 11, sat down and told her story. It was mesmerizing. She said she was going downn to the lake to wsh cloghes when she was taken. She sat in the chair and spoke Swahili in a soft voice. After 10 or 12 girls it was hard to take in.
I'll bet. It's hard enough to read about it.

It's your tax dollars at work, too. Since 2000, the U.S. has contribued some $759 million to MUNOC (U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Michelle Malkin is all over the story. In a Feb 16 column, she tells us that

Fifty U.N. peacekeepers and U.N. civilian officers face an estimated 150 allegations of sexual exploitation and rape in the Congo alone. Last Friday, ABC's 20/20 program aired a devastating expose by investigative reporter Brian Ross highlighting some of the worst alleged crimes.

The accused include Didier Bourguet, a United Nations senior official from France charged with running an Internet pedophile ring in the Congo. According to ABC News and others, pictures taken from his personal computer contained thousands of photos of him with hundreds of girls. Police say Bourguet had turned his bedroom, plastered with mirrors and rigged with remote-control cameras, into a stealth porn studio. He was caught in a sting operation while allegedly preparing to rape a 12-year-old girl.

But UN General Secretary Kofi Annan is aggressively investigating and punishing those responsible, right? Well, not exactly.
Annan's spinners would have us believe that the problem of U.N. sex predators is confined to a tiny band of rogues and locals beyond the control of headquarters. But according to Bourguet's lawyer, there was an entire network of U.N. personnel who had sex with underage girls in Congo and the Central African Republic. Investigators are now digging into claims of U.N. infiltration by organized pedophiles
Strategypage has some excellent background and a timeline of events. Check it out.

ABC News has done some great investigative journalism, and deserve much credit for their reporting.

Unfortunately, this sort of behavior from UN officials is nothing new. We had this in Bosnia too

In 2001, American whistleblower Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska policewoman who worked for U.N. security in Bosnia, uncovered scores of sex crime allegations and prostitution rings in the Balkans involving her fellow U.N. employees. Girls were forced to dance in bars for U.N. personnel and beaten or raped, Bolkovac reported. After being fired from her job for "time sheet irregularities," she told a British tribunal that Mike Stiers, the international police task force's deputy commissioner, flippantly dismissed victims of human trafficking as "just prostitutes."

Then there's U.N. refugee chief Ruud Lubbers. Earlier this week he resigned over allegations of sexual harassment of a female employee.

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January 28, 2005

Two More Reasons to Dump the UN

What a day we have here. Not one but two new reasons why the United Nations is not only utterly useless but downright harmful. Oh, and the French are behind one of them.

France, you see, has called for a $10 billion global tax to help fight AIDS. World leaders are "mulling" the proposal. Sadly, Tony Blair seems to support the idea. If Blair has his way, the proposal will be discussed when G8 finance ministers meet next week in London.

To be sure, the chance of such a proposal being implemented is slim to none. And the UN is not directly involved in this proposal. But these things can take on a life of their own unless it is immediately squashed. Fortunately, the Bush Administration "... not inclined to support international taxation schemes," Good. I bring the UN into this because they would undoubtebly be the organization to implement such a scheme.

The irony is that, to it's credit, George Bush has done an awfully lot to combat AIDS, especially in Africa.

The Fox Guarding the Henhouse

Adding to the absurdity above, we have this;

Cuba, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia have been elected to a five-member panel that will decide which complaints are heard by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights at its annual meeting in Geneva this spring.

U.S. and U.N. officials said the Working Group on Situations, which also includes Hungary and the Netherlands, will meet next month to review more than 80 complaints against dozens of countries — including the United States.

The presence in the group of what the West considers to be three of the world's worst human rights abusers has angered the Bush administration, but officials said there was little that they could have done to prevent it.
You just can't make this stuff up. It goes to the heart of the problem with the UN; it is an amoral institution. Nations are simply "member states" and all are equal. The UN is sadly lacking in moral clarity.

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December 23, 2004

UN Alternative Update

In an earlier post on the United Nations, I mentioned the PSI (Proliferation Security Initiative) as a possible replacement. Bill Gertz has a story in today's Washington Times that describes the program as largely successful

The war in Iraq has set the United States at odds with some allies, but the international community is strongly supporting a U.S.-led initiative to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

More than 60 nations — including Russia and France, two key opponents of the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq — are supporting the 19-month-old Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The global effort to halt arms proliferation has also gained favor from the United Nations.
Not that I really care what the UN thinks, but so far so good. Here is what the PSI does
PSI, launched by President Bush in May 2003, was an outgrowth of the administration's effort to prevent weapons of mass destruction from reaching terrorists.

Its core participants include the governments of the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand and Britain.

But more than 40 other states have signed on to its principles and have chosen to keep their participation secret or limited.

The initiative is hoped to be the first step in creating a new global system to control the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missile systems.
It is important to note that the PSI is "an activity, not an organization." It is an ad hoc group of nations working in concert to achieve a particular goal.

This may be the wave of the future, or at least what we should be working towards. Many of us who see the UN as a failure, and NATO as limited, have been searching for alternatives. But permanent organizations and alliances may not work in a post-Cold War world. The PSI is a model that we should follow closely to see how well it works in upcoming years.

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December 20, 2004

The Unpopular UN

The battle over Kofi Annan's future at the UN is in full force. US Senator Norm Coleman, among others, has called for his resignation. The EU has come out in support of Annan.

Defenders of Annan have now taken to saying that Annan is in fact a great reformer. Shashi Tharoor, Under-Secretary-General at the UN, tells us so in a letter to the Washington Times

Your editorial "Kofi's dysfunctional institution" (Dec. 6) glosses over the fact that Kofi Annan has on many occasions been labeled the "reform" secretary-general. In 1997, his first blueprint for action on reform, "Renewing the United Nations," emphasized improved coherence and coordination and marked the momentum for change, evaluation and improved performance that has characterized his tenure.
First there is the "has...been labeled" line. That somebody has been called something good by unnamed sources proves nothing. Second, plans are worth a dime a dozen. It's the implementation that it important. Given the revelations of the Oil-for-Food Scandal now unfolding, any "reforms" were not serious.

In the rest of the letter the Under-Secretary lays out what has become the standard defense; we helped you (the US) set up elections in Afghanistan and are helping you in Iraq. This may be true, but it is beside the point. Given the amount of money the UN spends, they had better be able to help with a few elections. The real question is whether the benefits to the world outweigh the harm. And it seems pretty clear to me that the UN has done more harm than good.

Consider the experiences of Kenneth Cain, who has served in UN peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti, and Liberia

Before my recent return, the last time I was in Rwanda was 10 years ago; I was counting skulls. A young U.N. human-rights officer, I was tasked with collecting evidence for the U.N.'s forthcoming war-crimes tribunal after the successful genocide of Rwanda's Tutsi minority by Hutu militias in 1994. We were looking for the mass graves of mass murder. We found them in churches, schools, gardens, latrines--anywhere Tutsis had gathered seeking protection or their killers had dumped their bodies, dismembered and entangled, like life-size rag dolls. Some 800,000 bodies rotted in the African sun.

But it isn't just the stench of death I remember so vividly; the odor of betrayal also hung heavily in the Rwandan air. This was not a genocide in which the U.N. failed to intervene; most of the U.N.'s armed troops evacuated after the first two weeks of massacres, abandoning vulnerable civilians to their fate, which included, literally, the worst things in the world a human being can do to another human being.

Cain relates how General Romeo Dalliare, the UN force commander, pleaded with Anan for authority to protect the minority Tutsis. Instead, Annan ordered Dalliare to "stand down" so that the UN would be seen as impartial.

"Impartial"? With regard to mass murder? But this goes to the heart of the problem with the UN; it is at best an amoral organization, at worst one that advances the interests of the dictatorships of the world.

The British Economist said that the failure of these forces to do anything in Africa made them "the world's least effective UN peacekeeping force" (Hat tip Belmont Club). Elites who tout the UN's "indespensability should note how the organization is perceived by the people it is supposed to be protecting

Indeed, it would be hard to exaggerate the UN's unpopularity. Some Congolese shake their fists or throw clumps of mud at passing UN patrols. Three months ago, militiamen burned 17 people to death while a detachment of MONUC troops 200 metres away, whose mandate authorised them to use force to prevent such massacres, did nothing. “Is MONUC here to do anything apart from count the bodies?” asked a Congolese witness.
The UN may be popular among liberal elites, but it is unpopular where it counts; among the people it is supposed to be protecting.

Why is the UN so ineffective? Wretchard gets to the bottom of it

The key problem facing the United Nations is lack of accountability not to its constituent institutions, though it lacks that, but to the individual inhabitants of the world. Its inefficiency, corruption and fantasy policies are the result and not the cause of its problems.
"Individuals" do not matter to dictatorships. And indeed many western Europeans do not seem interested at all in the spread of democracy, or see it as a benefit. The Oil-for-Food Scandal, as bad as it is, is but a symptom of a more fundamental problem. And it is one that "reform" will not solve.

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December 14, 2004

Spying on the IAEA

Yesterday's Washington Post informed us that the United States has been tapping the phones of Mr. Mohamed ElBaradei:

The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials.
And what bad things might the good Mr. have done to warrant such treatment?

"Some people think he sounds way too soft on the Iranians, but that's about it," said one official with access to the intercepts.

After all, he is "well-respected inside the United Nations", so that should settle it, right? Wrong.

This is the same Mohamed ElBaradei who leaked the story about the 377 tons of missing explosives in Iraq just before the presidential election, in what seemed to many of us a blatant attempt to influence the outcome.

ElBaradei was never happy with the idea of US invasion, insisting in January of 2003 that Iraq should get "one more chance," that "we had not exhausted the peace process yet." But of course one can never "exhaust" a process. There are those who opposed the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq by saying that war should be a last resort. Well yes, but what defines "last"? One can always try something else, or something once more.

While his work to end the proliferation of nuclear-weapons technology is laudable, he is of the moral-equivalence school:

We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security — and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.
Uh, no. Just as there is a difference between a gun in the hands of a criminal and a gun in the hands of a policeman, there is a difference between nuclear weapons in the hands of mullahs and nuclear weapons in the hands of the United States. There is also a difference between Israeli nuclear weapons and Iranian ones. But he wants Israel to give up theirs also.

Always one to have faith in internationals processes and inspections, he is "optimistic" about an agreement with Iran on it's nuclear program. And he will no doubt remain optimistic up to the very day they explode their first bomb. At that point he will say that he is "disappointed."

The reason why we should oppose his nomination to another term is that he has been a failure. Ever since he was appointed to his job in 1997, we have seen

  • India and Pakistan test their bombs
  • The A. Q. Khan network sell their Pakistani nuclear technology to heavens knows how many buyers
  • North Korea has probably built 1 to 4 bombs
  • The Iranians inch ever closer to obtaining a bomb
  • Libya has renounced their nuclear program and allowed full access by inspectors
Oh wait, that last one was the result of scaring Ghadaffi silly by invading Iraq.

To be sure, not all of this can be pinned on Mr ElBaradei. Not all of these developments are exclusively his fault. But he is part of a system that is such a failure that they are bound to happen. And rather than reassess the mantra of "inspections", "international law", or heaven forbid, the holy United Nations, he wants to keep going merrily along in the same direction.

However, it does point up to the failure of the current international system of endless inspections and Security Council debate. It may have worked, sort of anyway, during the Cold War when both the Soviet Union and United States had a mutual interest in preventing proliferation. Between the two of us, our influence was substantial enough to prevent our respective "client states" from acquiring the bomb. With the end of the bipolar world, nations are much more on their own.

Technical development has also proceded to the point where the bomb is now within reach of any nation that is serious about obtaining one. All that it takes is time and determination.

As readers of this blog can guess, all of this points to the need for a new "new world order". As I've said many times before, the UN system is outdated and hopelessly broken. New institutions must be developed, and will be the subject of future posts.

For another take on Mr ElBaradei, check out this MSNBC editorial. Fareed Zakaria points out that ElBaradei was more correct on whether Iraq had an active nuclear program in 2003 than our CIA said it did.

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December 1, 2004

Our Greatest Threat

Every week the Homespun Bloggers poses a symposium question for it's members. Following is this week's question and my answer to it.

What, in your mind, represents the single greatest long-term threat to the United States of America, and what should be done about it?

The greatest threat that we face is becoming more involved in international institutions such as the United Nations, and signing onto treaties such as Kyoto and the International Criminal Court. The reason why these represent such a threat is twofold: One, they infringe on our sovereighty, and two, they place unacceptable limits on our ability to respond to security threats. What makes these a problem for us is that the other nations involved in these organizations and treaties use them specifically to further their anti-America agendas.

Terrorism is a threat, yes. But they cannot bring us down, nor is it long-term. A nuclear attack by terrorists on one or more of our cities will be devastating, to be sure. This, however, we can recover from, terrible though it would be. The United States is good at fighting wars, and with enough will power we can and will win the War on Terror.

Infringement on sovereignty is the death of a thousand cuts. There will be no one moment when we give up our rights. Rather, it will be like the ever growing burden of regulations eminating from some governement bureacracy like the EPA. I see it as a long-term threat because it slowly but surely trespasses on our liberties, both individual and as a nation.

The Threat Next Time

As things stand now, we are able to act as we see fit to defend our country. If we think that a nation or group threatens us, we will do what we need to do to end that threat.

But this may not be the case in the future. As long ago as 1990, during the run-up to the Gulf War, it made me uneasy when George H W Bush's insisted on getting proper Security Council resolutions before taking any action against Iraq. I worried "what if the other nations don't vote how we want them to?" Even though we got what we wanted, I worried that this was setting a bad example. I didn't know how right I was.

Over the past few years we have seen the dangerous precident set back in 1990 come back to haunt us.

We almost lost our ability to act independenty this time, while planning actions in the war on terror.

We got what we needed from the UN Security Council for Afghanistan and al Qaeda. But that was an easy one. We had been directly attacked, and needed to respond.

On Iraq, it was a struggle just to get the Security Council to approve 1441. Kofi Annan declared that if the Us and others were to go outside the (Security) Council and take military action, it would not be in conformity with the charter." Iraq flouted UN resolutions for years with little consequence

But what about the next time we believe there is a threat that requires military action? Unless we suffer a direct, obvious attack such as what occured on Sept 11 2001, it is problematical as to whether we can get the resulutions we need.

The Failure of the UN

While the United Nations may have originally served a useful purpose, any benefits to membership are now clearly outweighed by it's drawbacks.

The turn came in the late 1960's when the UN experienced a surge in membership due to many former colonies achieveing their nationhood. These new nations quickly discovered that they could dominate the UN General Assembly. In the words of one author, the assembly became "...a strident, antineocolonialist ideological talkfest."

As we all know, the latest insult is the Oil-for-Food scandal. This has mushroomed into what is probably the biggest financial scandal in history. Latest estimates are that Saddam and his cronies took $21 billion. This under the watch of the UN. The organization has proved utterly incapable of investigating itself on this matter, and it is uncertain as to whether the Volcker commission will get to the bottom of it, given that he lacks subpoena power.

The Security Council used to be useful but is no longer so. Jed Babbin points out that with the end of the cold war, "...the alliances upon which it was founded no longer exist, and the interests of the powers that have a veto over Security Council resolutions have diverged to the point that consensus and action cannot be achieved."

But perhaps the biggest problem with the UN is it's assumption of moral equivalency. All nations, whether murderous dictatorships or benign democracies, are treated equally. The one nation that comes under regular attack: Israel.

Article 51 of the UN charter may say that each nation has the right to self-defense, but this is increasingly being rendered irrelevant. Kofi Annan is hardly the only critic of the U.S. to say that our invasion of Iraq was "illegal" because it did not receive "proper" Security Council authorization.

The European Frankenstein

The Europeans are in the process of destroying the sovereignty of individual nations. The proposed EU constitution is to be superior to the laws of individual countries (Article 10) Member states agree to take no measure inconsistent with the objectives of the constitution (Article 5, Section 2). Foreign and defense policy will be defined by the EU, not individual nations (Article 11, Section 4). To be sure, the constitution has not actually been adopted, as objections to some of it's many provisions have been raised. But it seems clear that any changes will not alter it substantially.

And it all started so innocently, as the "Common Market" (European Common Community), in the late 1950's. What was originally an agreement designed to facilitiate commerce has evolved into a supra-national state.

It is not that I think that we are on the verge of joining this monstrosity. It is rather that is serves as an example of how our enemies wish to restrict our ability to act freely. This is how they will do it. They will try to tie us in knots by involving us in as many treaties and international institutions as possible.

Terrible Treaties

One of the best things George W Bush has done is to extricate the United States from several treaties that were designed to work against us.

His first step was to remove us from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. While important, this was a treaty negotiated with a single other country (the Soviet Union) and thus is not the direct subject of this writing. It is important in that it signals a new attitude towards treaties.

The Kyoto global warming treaty was more insidious. It's sponsors claimed that it's purpose was to end the threat of global warming. However, even a cursory inspection of it's provisions revealed that it would have the effect of destroying the US economy. This treaty was a sop to the environmental extremists, and was taken up by anti-American third-worlders in an attempt to gain economic and political advantage. Again, President Bush did the right thing when he "unsigned" the US.

Most dangerous of all is the International Criminal Court. Our soldiers and politicians could be hauled before a court with judges from countries such as Libya or Sudan. They could be accused of "enviromental crimes" or "crimes against humanity." The recent incident of the young Marine in Fallujah illustrates the dangers perfectly. Insurgent terrorists commit atrocity after atrocity, and violate every rule of war known to man, and who comes under the harsh criticism of the world's elites? The Marine, of course. President Bush wisely repudiated this treaty too, and has even negotiated immunity for US forces serving as UN peacekeepers.

Judicial Tyranny

Our own courts have begun to buy into the idea that we should look to international law as a guide, even in instances when it does not directly apply. Justice Sandra Day O'Conner has several times extolled the role of international law (here, here, and here).

This may sound alarmist to some. After all, it will be said, Justice O'Conner was only saying that we need to look at other countries in cases where the US does not have much legal history, such as physician-assisted suicide. But the Netherlands, the country she suggests we look to, hardly is an example that we would want to follow.

More to the point, given the outrageous judicial activism that dominated much of the latter half of the twentieth century, we need to be more attuned than ever to what the counts are doing. Given that it is virtually impossible to remove a judge once installed, the damage a bad one can do is enormous.

Non-Answers

As Jed Babbin says, it a is fools errand to try and reform the United Nations. The General Assembly is powerless, and dominated by third-world kleptocrats. The Security Council is a relic of the balance of power that existed in 1945 (and barely even that, France only being on the council becuase we felt sorry for them). Any changes would require the approval of our enemies.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is often touted as an alternative to the UN. It is said that since we were allied with them for fifty years against a common enemy, we are already well used to working with each other. This, however, ignores several factors.

First is simply the fact that the enemy that the treaty was designed to stop has gone away. The assumption that "the allies" still have common interests is not supported by the history of these past few years.

Second, do we serve the interests of the treaty or does it serve us? It seems that the attitude of so many on these things is "the treaty exists, therefore it must be good." It's as if we serve the interests of the treaty, not the other way around. The point is that we need to move away from the attitude that just because something has existed for a period of time it must not be changed.

Third, NATO is limited geographically. If there is an emergency in the Pacific rim, say with China, NATO is useless. The Europeans have no ability any more to project power beyond a very limited range.

Lastly, there is nothing in the NATO charter to authorize offensive action against third parties. Those who continuously berate the US for "illegal actions" would do well to read it's charter. The NATO treaty only stipulates that "...an armed attack against one of more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all...."

That said, NATO is still useful and should not be disbanded. But it is not the answer.

In an ideal world we would form a membership of democracies that was not geographically limited. The advantage is that members would consist of legitimate governments, those chosen and approved of by their citizens. However, not all democracies share common goals, as recent discord between the US and France illustrates. When it comes to military action, reliance on the cooperation of other democracies is unwise.

Possible Solutions

More encouraging is the Proliferation Security Initiative. The PSI is an initiative announced by President Bush in May of 2003 to counter the spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The president saw that other options were not working, and in September of 2003 advised the UN that we would do the job independently of them.

Members of the PSI are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US. Members work together to interdict shipments of WMD or their delivery systems. While the Bush Administraton says that the PSI will "reinforce, not replace, other nonproliferation mechanisms," it seems that this is the wave of the future.

It would seem that this type of arrangement might be well suited for future challenges. Ad hoc arrangements of "like-minded" nations could be formed as needed. These could be based on regional needs as well as global ones.

The Council for a Community of Democracies may also provide a useful model. Although, as stated above, such organizations are not always well suited for military action, they can be quite useful in furthering our goals. And no goal is more important than the spread of democratic institutions and societies.

I can think of no one answer as an alternative to traditional international institutions. But in my mind they do represent an enormous danger and need to be replaced.

Lastly

Be sure and visit the Homespun Bloggers for other answers to this question. As of this writing, seven bloggers have responded with posts. I have deliberately not read their work yet, so as to see what I could come up with on my own, but once my piece is posted I'll read each one.

Update

Check out my post on my other blog site for more on this subject

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November 19, 2004

Good News about the UN

"What", you say, "good news about the UN?"

Well, sort of.

Annan To Get Historic Vote of No Confidence

UNITED NATIONS - UN employees were readying on Friday to make a historic vote of no confidence in scandal-plagued Secretary General Kofi Annan, sources say.

The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the more than 50-year history of the United Nations, was set to approve a resolution withdrawing its support for the embattled Annan and UN management.

Annan has been in the line of fire over a high-profile series of scandals including controversy about a UN aid programme that investigators say allowed deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to embezzle billions of dollars.

But staffers said the trigger for the no-confidence measure was an announcement this week that Annan had pardoned the UN's top oversight official, who was facing allegations of favouritism and sexual harassment.
Hat tip to the HQ of the Rottweiler Empire

And it couldn't have happened to a more corrupt, er, nicer guy. Here's the latest on the Oil-for Food scandal that Annan is intent on ignoring

Until this week, his regime was estimated to have stolen approximately $10 billion. But on Monday, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations disclosed that Saddam and his cronies took more than $21 billion. The lion's share of the thievery (more than $17 billion) occured on the watch of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (1997-2003).

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November 13, 2004

A Perfect Knave

The Washington Times has named Kofi Annan their "Knave of the Week". It fits him perfectly.

Knaves: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, for a week of sympathizing with terrorists.

Where to begin with the secretary-general?

Well, for starters, Mr. Annan offered a rebuke to American and coalition allies, which at this point includes Iraqis, for taking the battle to militants in Fallujah this week. In a letter to Mr. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, Mr. Annan wrote, "I wish to share with you my increasing concern at the prospect of an escalation in violence, which I fear could be very disruptive for Iraq's political transition." There was more, but you get the idea. Mr. Allawi's reply will suffice as an appropriate rebuttal: "I was a little surprised by the lack of any mention in your letter of the atrocities which these groups have committed ... The same group who murdered so many of your staff in the bombing of the U.N. headquarters last year, has since murdered hundreds of innocent Iraqis and committed countless other atrocities."

Yet Mr. Annan has a soft spot for terrorists, as witnessed also this week by his mourning for late uber-terrorist Yasser Arafat. Gushing, Mr. Annan released a statement which reads in part: "President Arafat will always be remembered for having ... led the Palestinians to accept the principle of peaceful coexistence between Israel and a future Palestinian state. By signing the Oslo accords in 1993 he took a giant step towards the realization of this vision." In tribute to Mr. Arafat, Mr. Annan ordered the U.N. flags at half-staff on Thursday.

For the record, from the signing of the Oslo accords on Sept. 13, 1993, until September 2000, 256 Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed by Palestinian terrorist attacks. Since then, as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes, 1,032 people have been killed. Giving Mr. Annan the benefit of the doubt that "President" Arafat was such a promoter of peace, he was amazingly ineffective.

For honoring a mass murderer and dishonoring the true champions of peace, Mr. Annan is the Knave of the week.

But Kerry wanted us to "exhaust the remedies of the United Nations" . Further, that we had to earn their respect:
You don't help yourself with other nations when you turn away from the global warming treaty, for instance, or when you refuse to deal at length with the United Nations.

You have to earn that respect. And I think we have a lot of earning back to do.

Senator, you're right that respect has to be earned. And the United Nations has not earned it. I just thank heavens that he wasn't elected president.


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November 8, 2004

Kofi Annan the the Rescue

If anyone needed another reason why the UN is at best utterly useless, and at worst positively harmful, we have this story from today's LA Times:

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned leaders of the United States, Britain and Iraq that another full-scale assault on the rebel-held city of Fallouja would further alienate Iraqis and disrupt elections planned for January.
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was understandably "furious" when he read Annan's warning, sent in a letter to the Iraqi government. American and British officials are not at all happy either.

This is not the first time Annan has tried to undermine our efforts in Iraq. He has called our involvement there "illegal." He will only authorize the sending of 35 UN poll watchers for the upcoming elections. And he has refused to allocate resources to help in the prosecution of Saddam or any of his henchmen.

But Kerry wanted us to "exhaust the remedies of the United Nations." What remedies?

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October 20, 2004

What Oil-for-Food Scandal?

Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, finds it "inconceivable" that Russia, France or China might have been influenced in Security Council debates by Saddam Hussein's Oil for Food business and bribes. "These are very serious and important governments," Mr. Annan told Britain's ITV News Sunday. "You are not dealing with banana republics."
You just can't make this stuff up.

And Mr. Kerry wants us to get a permission slip from this organization before we use military force. Unless he's in the Senate and it's 1991. Or maybe unless he's speaking before a veterans group.

Quote from editorial by Claudia Rosett in the Opinion Journal.

Hat tip Jane at Armies of Liberation.

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October 13, 2004

The Harmful UN

I used to describe the United Nations as "Useless", as in "The Useless UN". Although the titles rhymed and sounded nice, a more apt description is of that organization is harmful. This story in yesterday's paper sent me over the edge

U.S. officials are accusing the U.N. refugee agency of a "whitewash" for failing to act against three employees accused of failing to prevent the sexual exploitation of Bhutanese women and children in Nepal two years ago.

Representatives of several other countries including Canada, Norway and Australia joined in criticizing the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees for failing to act against the three supervisors despite a recommendation of disciplinary action from the agency's inspector general.

And John Kerry wants us to put more trust in this organization. From the first debate Kerry lectured us that
You don't help yourself with other nations when you turn away from the global warming treaty, for instance, or when you refuse to deal at length with the United Nations.
Would this be that same organization that is credibly accused of whitewashing the abuse of Bhutanese women and children? Or maybe the one that refuses to deal with the horrors unfolding in Sudan?

We will recall some years ago the knashing of teeth over the failure of the failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda, where some 800,000 Tutsi's were slaughtered. "Never again", we said, would we let such a tragedy occur. While the numbers killed in Sudan are not those of Rwanda, the situation is only different in scale, not in kind. Nobel Peace Prise laurete and UN Secretary General Kofi Annon told us that The silence that had greeted genocides in the past must be replaced by a global clamour" President Clinton said that "The international community must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy,"

Where is the clamor over the massacres in the Sudan? Is the "international community", of which Senator Kerry makes so much, living up to their responsibilities this time round?

Hardly.

Since early 2003, some 50,000 Sudanese have been killed, and another 1.5 million turned into refugees, according to a Fox News Series on the crisis. Secretary of State Powell has labeled the situation "genocide". The Janjaweed, a shadowy militia, has committed most of the atrocities. Although the government claims that it is an independant army that it cannot control, most observers think otherwise. Even Kofi Annon has admitted that the government of the Sudan is doing nothing to alleviate the crisis.

So how has the UN responded?

The Security Council has passed a resolution "to consider" sanctions if the government there does not act to end the killing. China and Pakistan, who have long opposed any action at all against Sudan, abstained from even that vote. Even the threat of sanctions was too much for them. China, you see, has major oil interests in the country.

There are some peacekeepers from the African Union around Darfor, but they don't appear to be doing much. And given the nature of most African governments, we shouldn't expect much from them.

The Bottom Line

This is how the UN is not merely "useless", but is positively harmful: By working through this organization, we ignore other, possibly more productive methods. We are wasting time while thousands die. We dither about, negotiating with dictators who really see nothing wrong with what's happening in Sudan. Just as many in the world who opposed our invasion of Iraq were different from Saddam in degree, not in kind, China, and to a lesser extent Pakistan, are not exactly concerned about human rights, except where the Palestinians are concerned.

As I have said before, we need to explore alternate organizations of "like minded" nations if we are ever to effectively deal with situations like the Sudan or Rwanda. This is something that I am going to study over the next few months, and if any readers have suggestions, please leave them in the comments section. I am not suggesting that we become a "global policeman", but something other than the UN is needed.

So once again the world dithers while thousands die. The next time you hear someone talk about how we need to work with "international institutions" or the "international community", ask them what it's doing about Sudan.

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September 20, 2004

UN "Oil for Food Scandal" Fraud

Fox News had a special presentation on the UN "Oil for Food" scandal Sunday night. If you missed it you'll want to read up on it. However, I have to warn you, it will set your teeth on edge.

The scam is too complicated for me to go into here, as I simply do not have the time to spell it all out. Other bloggers have written extensively on it so I urge you to make use of the links on this page.

Fox News has the first part in a series of articles on the scandal on their web site here. The Heritage Foundation has some excellent articles on it also, see here and here.

When Senator John McCain said at the Republican National Convention that the "status quo" with regards to the sanctions placed against Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War were falling apart, he wasn't kidding. The "Oil for Food" scandal is just one more example of how that was so. As he said, the sanctions were falling apart, and don't let anyone tell you differently.

Update

As a result of my post I received a new paper from the Heritage Foundation on the scandal. It was just published today so contains the most up-to-date information available.

The paper centers on whether the commission headed by Paul Volker to investigate the scandal will do its job properlyUnfortunately, the answer seems to be no, according the the study by the Heritage Foundation.

The commission, or Independent Inquiry Committee into the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program,” as it is officially called, is headed by Paul Volker, onetime Federal Reserve Chairman.

Money quote from the Heritage Foundation Report:

The Volcker Commission’s refusal to share documentation with congressional investigators demonstrates not only breathtaking arrogance but also complete disrespect for Congress and the American public that helps fund the Commission through the United Nations. If it is to be treated seriously and respected as something other than an elaborate but costly whitewash exercise, the Commission will need to implement major changes, both in its operations and in its approach. Above all, transparency and accountability will be needed if the Independent Commission is to avoid becoming yet another example of mutual back scratching at the U.N.

Ouch

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July 31, 2004

The Useless UN

As if we needed more proof that the UN is an utterly useless organization when it comes to protecting human rights and enforcing security, we have the case of the Sudan.

For some time now the Sudanese government has been engaged in a campaign of genocide in their own country. The Muslim government in the north has been systematically murdering Christians and Animists in the south. The government in the north gets away with it because most of those committing the murders are "militias", not regular army troops. The government claims that they just can't control these militias. Right.

And of course let's not forget about the slavery that exists in that country. To this day.

Sounds like an easy one for the UN, right? Should be a no-brainer to at least immediately impose sanctions, right? After all, the atrocities have been well-documented. We've even got satellite photos showing villages where mass murders have been committed. Evidence is not a problem.

But here's how the UN operates:

The U.N. Security Council adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution yesterday that gave Sudan 30 days to disarm Arab militias blamed for killing thousands in the Darfur region or else face diplomatic and economic punishment. Sudan rejected the resolution.
I'm sure the Sudan is frightened.

But everyone on the Security Council went along, right?

The resolution was adopted with 13 votes, with China and Pakistan abstaining despite U.S. efforts to overcome objections by deleting the word "sanctions" from the text.
Why?
China said it abstained because it believed the Sudanese government has been cooperating with efforts to end the violence and would continue to do so.
Cooperating? They've been cooperating in killing their own citizens, that's what they've been doing. Of course, coming from a communist totalitarian country that has murdered millions of it's own, such a statement is not really surprising.

This is what you get, folks, when you depend on the UN. They will do nothing about the Sudan. If we continue down this path look for nothing to improve. These people cannot even impose sanctions, let along real action.

What we should be doing is gathering (heck we should have done this two years ago) a group of "like minded" nations to take care of situations like these. Trust me, a few bombs on key government installations in Khartoum would change the right minds real fast. Blockade their ports and they'll come around. No I'm not advocating full-scale military action everytime there's a humanitarian crisis, or against every government that does "bad things" to their citizens. But we promised that we would not let another Rwanda occur, and if we mean what we say, we cann't depend on the UN.

Update

Check out this site for more articles and information on the Sudan.

Thank you to Jane at Armies of Liberation for finding it.

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