Politics & Policy

Whitewashing the U.N.

Our ambassador takes the side of a failed international body.

While attention was focused on a possible government shutdown last week, another event on Capitol Hill slipped by virtually unnoticed. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared before both a House Appropriations subcommittee and the Foreign Affairs Committee — and her testimony indicated that America is now perched on a foreign-relations precipice at least as dangerous as the looming economic abyss.

Rice’s oral and written testimony offers the most detailed defense yet of the central foreign-policy plank of the Obama administration, known as “engagement.” In short, the Obama doctrine has outfitted American interests with U.N.-made cement shoes. Rice’s apologia, therefore, hands Republican presidential hopefuls a cornucopia of opportunities to articulate a plan to reverse President Obama’s abdication of leadership and responsibility to the United Nations.

Rice’s case had two prongs. The first was a series of unsubstantiated claims of “dramatic” success. The second placed the democratic state of Israel in Obama’s crosshairs, regardless of anything else that has taken, is taking, or will take place across the democratically challenged Arab and Muslim world.

Ultimately, according to Rice, “the United Nations is so important to our national security . . . [that] when we meet our financial obligations to the U.N., we make Americans safer,” and “the U.N. promotes universal values Americans hold dear.” Both of these assertions are demonstrably false.

Rice boasted that “the U.N. helps halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons” and that “strong and sustained U.N. action makes crystal clear to governments that defy their international nuclear obligations that they will face isolation and significant consequences.” In fact, U.N. action on Iran has amounted to a two-decades-long cover-up by the International Atomic Energy Agency and its former chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, followed by years of dithering over feeble U.N. resolutions. The only thing crystal clear is that subcontracting American national security to the U.N. has made the Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons inevitable, barring direct non-U.N. intervention in the very near future.

On terrorism, Rice contended that “the U.N. helps isolate terrorists.” In fact, to this day the United Nations has no definition of terrorism because Arab and Islamic states believe murdering Israelis, American “occupiers,” or anyone else standing in the way of their idea of “self-determination” doesn’t count. The United Nations Security Council currently has the representative of a terrorist organization as a full member, namely, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon. The U.N.’s central Counter-Terrorism Committee, created as its response to 9/11, has never named a single terrorist, terrorist organization, or state sponsor of terrorism. And this week, a U.N. General Assembly committee charged back in 1996 with drafting a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention reconvened to keep blathering about what the U.N. itself describes as “the long-stalled draft text.”

On human rights, Rice claimed: “While no U.N. body can expect to have only countries with perfect records on it, we are focused on keeping the most egregious and disruptive human-rights abusers off the [Human Rights] Council, as we did last year when Iran sought a seat. . . . We succeeded in getting Iran to withdraw its candidacy last year.” What Rice means by “not perfect” Council members are at least a dozen states that Freedom House places in the lowest echelons of its freedom scale — including Angola, China, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. And the only reason Iran withdrew its candidacy for the U.N.’s top human-rights body was that the Obama administration agreed not to make a fuss about giving Iran a seat on the U.N.’s top women’s-rights body, where it is now firmly ensconced.

Rice’s peacekeeping apologetics ought to be an embarrassment to any self-respecting liberal. According to Rice: “One rape is one too many. But . . . we must remain mindful that the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] is a country the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River.” Gang rapes are systematically carried out in the DRC and impunity for the rapists is standard practice. Victims include baby boys and women over 100 years of age. In the summer of 2010, for example, U.N. peacekeepers stationed just 20 miles away, despite having been specifically warned of imminent violence in a particular town, did nothing to stop 240 rapes over a four-day period. And yet Rice whined: “Some 20,000 peacekeepers with only a couple dozen helicopters cannot be everywhere they may be needed all the time.”

Over and over again, Rice spoke about the administration’s “pushing” this and that policy, failing to mention that the U.N. majority was busy pushing in the other direction. Rice declared: “The United States has pushed for a serious review of the Human Rights Council.” But all the significant recommendations made by the U.S. — 39 over a five-month review period — were rejected outright on March 25, 2011, by the Council.

Rice boasted: “We pushed to ensure that countries can no longer claim an international sanction for blasphemy laws.” But on April 4, 2011, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a mass e-mail across the U.N. system requesting “input for a report by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly” on “combating defamation of religions.”

And Rice crowed: “We will continue to push for strong action by the Council and the General Assembly to hold the Iranian government accountable for future violations.” That must be a relief to the Iranian democracy-seekers that the Obama administration has left to rot following past violations.

The biggest “engagement” sham of all was her excuse for throwing Israel to the U.N. wolf pack. In Rice’s words: “The results there [at the Human Rights Council] were worse when America sat on the sidelines. . . . Israel was relentlessly bashed. . . . U.S. engagement and leadership are paying dividends.” In fact, at its March session with the Obama administration squarely in the middle of it all, the Council adopted more resolutions bashing Israel than at any other session in its history.

Rice’s written submission contained a section called “singling out Israel” that was intended to be about the U.N., rather than the Obama administration. But she herself said the following: “Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate, undermines Israel’s security, and corrodes hopes for peace and stability in the region.”

This inflammatory statement comes just a few weeks after Palestinian terrorists decapitated a three-month old Jewish baby (and murdered four other members of her family) for the crime of existing on a plot of land whose legal ownership is undecided and subject to negotiation. Until President Obama came into office, a rule prohibiting Jews from living on any Palestinian-claimed land was not American policy. But after Obama’s 2010 General Assembly speech naming an artificial 2011 deadline for the creation of a Palestinian state, Palestinians have been emboldened to use the U.N. to make apartheid-Palestine a fait accompli.

It is time for someone, whether it be members of Congress or a Republican presidential contender, to save America from President Obama’s U.N.

— Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and the editor of www.EYEontheUN.org.

Editor’s Note: This article has been amended since its original posting.

Anne Bayefsky — Professor A.F. Bayefsky, B.A., M.A., LL.B., M.Litt. (Oxon.), is a Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada, and a Barrister and Solicitor, Ontario Bar. She is also an Adjunct Professor at ...


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