The Corner

U.N. Follies (and Syrian Bravery)

I spotted a headline this morning: “France wants UN to condemn Syria after attacks.” (Article here.) Good luck with that. As I say in Impromptus today, the U.N.’s specialty is condemning Israel. Last year, the “world body” took 145 “human-rights actions” against Israel. (This according to the group called Eye on the UN.) Needless to say, that was the most actions taken against any country. In second place was Sudan — genocidal Sudan. They had a mere 50 actions.

I quote Solzhenitsyn in my column, as I so often do. The thing you have to remember, he said, is that the U.N. is not so much the united nations or united peoples as the united governments or regimes. And the body as a whole is only as good as its constituent parts.

Do you know which country is now taking over the Conference on Disarmament? Iran, you guess? No, no, my cynical friend: North Korea.

Often, when I’m in Europe, people will ask why Americans like me have so little respect for the U.N. Why don’t we accede to it, accept its legitimacy, even its primacy, as so many others do? I dole out little facts: such as that Sudan, Cuba, Syria, China, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and so on have all sat on the human-rights council. Such as that Iran sits on the women’s-rights committee. (Iran is a nation that stones girls to death for the crime of having been gang-raped.) Such as that North Korea chairs the disarmament conference.

And, you know? Usually, my questioners understand, a little. The U.N. is morally neutral. If you’re a rogue state, firing missiles at your neighbors, and they reach your point in the alphabet — you get to chair the disarmament conference. This month, the Netherlands. Soon after, North Korea. That’s how it works.

Back to Syria, before I close out. A madly brave singer named Ibrahim Kashush sang a protest song to a crowd in Hama. Needless to say, the dictatorship then killed him — slit his throat. One can imagine what they did to him first. According to this article, a group of his friends “vowed to continue their slain hero’s path and established a Facebook group where they pledged to ‘sing for freedom in Syria’s squares, even if the price is slaughter.’”

I can’t tell you how much I admire and marvel at these people.


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