The Rosett Report

The Rosett Report

When President Obama nominated Caroline Kennedy in 2013 to serve as America’s ambassador to Japan, there were those who had their misgivings. On the celebrity social circuit, Kennedy knows her game — daughter of the lionized JFK, enthusiastic supporter of Obama, and guest earlier this month of the Obama family at their summer holiday enclave on Martha’s Vineyard.

But Kennedy came to her ambassador’s post with no foreign policy experience, no particular background in Japan or Asia generally, and apparently not much skill at running the $93.6 million-per-year operation that is the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

This embassy is one of America’s most important outposts, representing American interests to a strategically vital democratic ally and economic partner in an increasingly troubled region. Japan faces a militarizing, expansionist, and economically roiled China, an aggressively rearming Russia, and a nuclear-arming North Korea.

But almost two years into Kennedy’s ambassadorship, the U.S. Embassy in Japan is a mess.

We are learning this from the report “Inspection of Embassy Tokyo, Japan“, just released by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

To be fair, the report gives Kennedy good scores for ethics, noting that the Ambassador has “made clear” that “she wants all her activities to be conducted in accordance with U.S. government regulations.” Though it’s far from clear that this message has translated into practice. The report lists numerous problems of waste and mismanagement, including one that sounds especially intriguing in view of the controversy surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email practices. (Boldface is mine):

 OIG’s Office of Evaluations and Special Projects conducted a review and confirmed that senior embassy staff, including the Ambassador, used personal email accounts to send and receive messages containing official business. In addition, OIG identified instances where emails labeled Sensitive but Unclassified were sent from, or received by, personal email accounts.

There’s a lot more, including:

 ”Living Quarters Allowance Not in Compliance with the Foreign Affairs Manual”

“Actual lodging cost not properly justified”

“Premium Class Train Tavel Policy Does Not Comply With Department Regulation”

“Extra Travel Costs Inappropriately Approved for Using Indirect Routes”

“Employee Evaluation Reports do not Reflect Demonstrated Weakness”

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In less than a month, Congress will vote on the Iran nuclear deal. It’s a terrible deal, in all its sanctions-melting, cash-bestowing, arms-and-missile-embargo-lifting, nuclear-enrichment-approving and self-sunsetting capitulation to Iran.

It’s even worse for having been rushed by the Obama administration to the United Nations Security Council for approval on July 20th, just six days after it was announced, and one day after the Obama administration officially transmitted a copy to Congress. And it’s worse still for relying on secret side deals between Iran and the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency to handle inspections pertaining to Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons — the “possible military dimensions.”

And still it gets worse, the latest bombshell being the news this past week from the Associated Press that according to leaked information on one of these secret side deals, the IAEA has agreed to let Iran carry out its own sampling for inspections of its past nuclear weapons work at the Parchin military site. As an AP story sums it up, the agreement “will let the Iranians themselves look for signs of the very activity they deny — past work on nuclear weapons.”

There’s now a kerfuffle over whether the leaked document reproduced by the AP is the real McCoy, and even if it is, whether this arrangement is as appalling as it sounds (I’d say yes), or whether, as the IAEA contends, letting Iran do its own sampling is reasonable.

But here’s one bottom line that’s beyond dispute: Despite earlier promises to share the full deal with Congress, the Obama administration has been defending these secret side deals as entirely reasonable and reliable: nothing to see here, it’s all yesterday’s news, the IAEA will take care of things, just move along.

Not that Obama administration officials believe Iran’s claims to have done no work on nuclear weapons. This June, Secretary of State John Kerry told the press, “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.” But Kerry mentioned this in the course of arguing that there was no need to be “fixated” on obtaining an accounting from Iran. Nor did he provide any specifics of that “absolute knowledge.”

Actually, there are very good reasons for being fixated on a full and transparent accounting. These reasons go well beyond the technical needs of nuclear inspectors, who must know the past in order to establish a baseline.

A big question, which has not figured in the debate over these secret side deals — though it certainly should — is whether Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons was done in cahoots with any other countries. For instance, the rogue nuclear-proliferating tyranny of North Korea.

If Kerry and the rest of the Obama administration know of any such nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Iran, they have not officially shared this information with the public. Any such confirmation would be, in itself, a blockbuster piece of news — raising huge questions about Iran’s potential use of North Korea’s lively nuclear production and test facilities as a back shop for the Iranian nuclear weapons program that under this deal Tehran is supposed to be giving up.

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File this one under “UN Sleaze,” or perhaps under “UNRWA’s Use of Dead Infants to Defend and Abet Terrorists.” Though even that may be putting it too mildly.

In the run-up to next month’s annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the latest Israel-trashing report from the propaganda mills of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been released. This one’s a doozy, summed up by an UNRWA press release dated August 8 with the headline: “INFANT MORTALITY RATE RISES IN GAZA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FIFTY YEARS.”

This is the finding of an UNRWA-conducted study. In the opening sentence, the press release points a finger at — where else? — Israel, saying “the Agency’s Health Director says the blockade may be contributing to the trend.”

The UNRWA press release says that UNRWA carries out a survey of infant mortality rates across the region every five years. The most recent results, for 2013, were released last week. For decades, according to UNRWA’s surveys, the infant mortality rates in Gaza had been declining, but that has now reversed.

Since the last survey in 2008, the number of babies dying before the age of one has risen to 22.4 per 1,000 live births in 2013 from 20.2 in 2008. The UNRWA survey found an even worse trend for neonatal mortality — the number of babies dying before the age of four weeks. This rate, by UNRWA’s estimate, has risen to 20.3 per 1,000 live births from 12. According to the director of the UNRWA health program, Dr. Akihiro Seita, such a rise is “unprecedented.”

So, why might this be happening? The UNRWA press release quotes Dr. Seita musing:

It is hard to know the exact cause.

However, that does not stop Dr. Seita from speculating:

We are very concerned about the impact of the long-term blockade on health facilities, supplies of medicine and bringing equipment into Gaza.

The same message, complete with that same quote, is repeated in a press release put out on August 15 by the UN headquarters in New York.

What’s wrong with this picture? Was there, perhaps, some over-arching development, unmentioned by UNRWA, that shaped events in Gaza during the interval in question, 2008-2013?

Here’s a one-word answer, which does not appear anywhere in either the UN press releases or in the underlying UNRWA report: “Hamas.” Or, to put it in the all-caps style of the UNRWA press release, where it should have figured in the headline, but did not: “HAMAS.”

Yes, the Palestinian terrorist organization which since 2007 has ruled Gaza.

Assume that UNRWA’s infant mortality statistics for Gaza are remotely reliable: for decades — while UNRWA deplored Israel’s presence in Gaza — infant mortality rates in the enclave were declining. Then, in 2005, Israel withdrew.

In Gaza’s elections in 2006, Hamas won a legislative majority. In June 2007 in a bloody coup, Hamas evicted the rival Fatah forces of the Palestinian Authority. Since then, Gaza has been under the boot of Hamas.

Shortly after Hamas took complete control in Gaza, UNRWA conducted its 2008 survey.

At that stage, compared to surveys done some years earlier, the long-term trend was a significant decline in infant mortality. According to UNRWA’s numbers, infant mortality in the Gaza Strip had declined from 127 deaths per live births in 1960 to 82 in 1967, then to 33 in 1995, and to 20.2 in 2008. But after five years of Hamas control, UNRWA found that infant mortality rates were rising for the first time in a half-century.

Again, UNRWA made no mention at all of Hamas.

Surely, if UNRWA is genuinely concerned about infant mortality in Gaza, then honesty is needed in considering the real causes of these infant deaths, and in mentioning that the uptick has occurred under Hamas. But UNRWA appears less interested in the lives of these babies than in stitching together a report that is willfully oblivious to the derelictions and depravities of Hamas, and is instead larded with insinuations that can be used to damage Israel.

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It’s almost a month since the Iran nuclear talks brought forth the July 14th deal in Vienna — a.k.a. the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Since then a multitude of articles and congressional hearings have exposed major fatal flaws in this deal. Yet, so bad is this agreement that you can flip almost randomly to any page, and find yet more problems. It’s a multi-dimensional catastrophe. The more you examine it, the worse it gets.

For instance, you probably haven’t heard much about Annex III, Section D, which carries the benign-sounding heading of “Nuclear Safety, Safeguards and Security,” and elaborates in item 8 on how America and its partners will tutor Iran in “nuclear safety culture and best practices.” Why, what could be wrong with that?

Plenty, and I’ll get to it shortly. But for background, let us first home in on the inconvenient fact that Iran is still the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism — from its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, to its help and cover for al Qaeda, to its global networks with their long bloody trails through such places as Argentina and Bulgaria, to the thwarted plot in 2011 to blow up the Saudi ambassador to Washington in a popular Georgetown restaurant — collateral damage no object. During the nuclear talks last year, Israeli commandos boarded a freighter in the Red Sea, the Klos C, and seized an illicit  cargo of weapons that had been loaded in the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, and then hidden under bags of cement. For a further sampling of Iran’s enterprising support of terrorist networks and activities, here’s a link to the State Department’s latest report, finally released this June, after a record-setting delay.

One of the much-discussed failings of the Iran nuclear deal is that it translates into a gusher of oil revenues for the Tehran regime, ergo a lot more money that can be lavished on Iran’s terror networks, terror mascots and terror reach. Iran gets the initial windfall of unfrozen oil revenues — anywhere from $50 billion to $100 billion or more, depending on whose arithmetic you prefer — followed by billions more at the margin as sanctions are lifted and Iran, freed of the inconvenience of having to smuggle and operate global webs of illicit front companies, enjoys access to world markets. Even before the arms embargo is lifted in five years under this deal, and the missile embargo is lifted in eight, Iran should have an easier time funding terror and smuggling weapons, as the sanctions come off its shipping fleets, air transport, banking and so forth.

Obama administration officials have been justifying these arrangements on grounds that their first priority — the blinkered aim of this deal — is to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is “exclusively peaceful.” On that premise, in this Iran deal, they propose to endow Iran with training in running a modern “exclusively peaceful” nuclear infrastructure.

Now let us return to the substance of the JCPOA — a.k.a. the Iran nuclear deal — Annex III, Section D, item 8, pages 4-5 of this annex.

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Thirteen years ago, Samantha Power made a name for herself with her Pulitzer prize-winning book, “‘A Problem from Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide.” In this book, she explored the history of America’s reluctance to intervene to stop or prevent genocides. Prescribing American intervention as justified on grounds both “moral” and in service of “enlightened self-interest,” Power asked how something so clear in retrospect as the need to stop genocide could “become so muddled at the time by rationalization, institutional constraints, and a lack of imagination.”

It appears that on Monday morning, Power herself is going to demonstrate exactly how such muddling takes place.

Power is now President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations. On Monday morning, the UN Security Council is scheduled to vote on a resolution endorsing the Iran nuclear deal announced July 14 in Vienna, and adopting the terms of this deal, including the lifting of UN sanctions on Iran, sunset clauses for the main restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities, and so forth.  This deal, a byzantine tome officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a gift to Iran’s terror-sponsoring tyranny, crammed with concessions offered up by Secretary of State John Kerry and lead negotiator Under Secretary Wendy Sherman, in their desperate quest to satisfy President Obama’s desire for an agreement with Tehran. Columnist Charles Krauthammer sums up some of the worst of it in his latest column: “Worse than we could have imagined.” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday warned yet again that this agreement “paves Iran’s way to arm itself with nuclear weapons within a decade, if Iran decides to honor the agreement, and before then if it decides to violate it, as it usually does.”

By law, Congress gets 60 days to review this deal. But Obama is not waiting for Congress before taking it to the UN Security Council.  Protests from Congress notwithstanding, the U.S. began circulating a draft UN resolution as soon as the deal was announced last week. When negotiator Wendy Sherman was asked at a press briefing last Thursday whether the administration might hold off on a UN resolution long enough to give Congress its promised say, Sherman dismissed the idea — putting the UN ahead of  the elected representatives of the American people.  Here’s how Sherman put it:

UNDER SECRETARY SHERMAN: Well, the way that the UN Security Council resolution is structured, there is an interim period of 60 to 90 days that I think will accommodate the congressional review. And it would have been a little difficult when all of the members of the P5+1 wanted to go to the United Nations to get an endorsement of this since it is a product of the United Nations process, for us to say, “Well, excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress.”

As the New York Sun responded, in a terrific editorial, why the blazes shouldn’t the UN wait on the U.S. Congress? It’s time Sherman got a reminder that she works for the U.S., not the UN.

As it is, the UN Security Council will vote on a resolution which its members have had a chance to read, but the Obama administration has not deigned to share the draft with the American public. Instead, for a window on what kind of Iran nuclear project our tax dollars will be bankrolling at the UN, we can be grateful to UN reporter Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press, who got hold of a leaked copy of the draft resolution, crammed in all its convoluted complexity with concessions to Iran,  which he has posted online.

Presumably Power will be the diplomat occupying the U.S. seat on the Security Council when this resolution is taken up for adoption (Kerry will be busy on Monday welcoming Cuba’s foreign minister to Washington, and it looks like Sherman will be busy further pressuring Congress). This is a resolution that represents an end-run around the U.S. Congress, to enshrine at the UN a deal that delivers Iran multiple pathways to nuclear weapons, and starts by delivering to Iran some $100 billion in unfrozen oil revenues followed by market access to earn hundreds of billions more, under the approving gaze of a UN not known for enforcing complex deals meant to contain rogue tyrannies. This is a windfall for Iran’s nuclear ventures, terrorist ventures and ambitions of “Death to Israel” — which those concerned about genocide would be wise to take seriously. Given the weapons, including ballistic missiles, that this deal by year eight would permit Iran, it might even be a good idea to for American envoys to take seriously Iran’s threats of “Death to America.”

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We are about to hear plenty of celebratory remarks about the “historic” Iran nuclear deal reached in Vienna.

For those inclined to celebrate, this is supposed to be the big payola, the grand finale of the diplomatic extravaganza that stretched on through half a dozen missed deadlines, across continents, with the American secretary of State finally parking himself for more than two solid weeks at the negotiating table in Vienna — determined to close a deal, whatever concessions that might take.

By President Obama’s calculus, this deal is supposed to mark the moment when the nuclear threat of Iran starts to seriously recede… a proposition akin to his claims in 2012 that the tide of war was receding.  Worse, actually, because we have here the makings of a nuclear arms race, not only in the Middle East, but likely to spill well beyond.

So, yes indeed, this deal is historic. It is historic in ways that, for instance, President Obama’s 2009 chairing of a United Nations Security Council meeting on freeing the world of nuclear weapons was not (does anyone even remember that UN summit? It was the first time an American  president had stooped to chair a meeting of the UN Security Council; it did absolutely nothing to stop nuclear proliferation).

This deal is an historic disaster. Not only does it legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, but it goes far to confer legitimacy on Iran’s regime — the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. For the U.S., it’s a variation of running up massive U.S. government debt, and leaving the next American president — as well as America’s people, and our allies — to face the real cost. Which in this case involves nuclear weapons.

Congress will now get its chance to weigh in. So will the UN Security Council. How those might mesh is a troubling question — we may soon learn more.

For the immediate big picture, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, gave a terrific speech on Monday on the Iran negotiations, addressing an organization called Christians United for Israel. He’s posted it, and it is worth reading in full. He makes a lot of vital points, including his observation that those most immediately endangered by Iran — Israel and America’s Arab allies — were not included at the bargaining table. (Russia and China were there, along with France, Britain, Germany and the U.S.).

There are so many flaws to this deal that even though Dermer lists them in brief, it’s a long list. I’ve culled out a few excerpts, on the next page (boldface mine, on an item that should be of particular interest even to the most tuned-out Americans) …

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At the Iran nuclear talks, one of the chief fixtures has been Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator, Javad Zarif. He’s the bearded fellow you’ve seen in the endless photo-ops of the murk-shrouded talks. He usually shows up flanked by dignitaries, in various permutations, of the six world powers, including the U.S., who in the current incarnation of the nuclear talks have been haggling with Iran over its nuclear program since cutting an interim deal in Nov. 2013. That was more than 19 months ago, which in terms of the amnesiac modern 24-hour news cycle means they have been talking since pretty much the beginning of recorded time. Zarif does a lot of the talking.

Zarif has kept up with his other chores by jetting back and forth between the nuclear talks, in venues such as Vienna and Geneva, and his appointments elsewhere — such as his pilgrimage early last year to the grave in Lebanon of the late Hezbollah terrorist mastermind Imad Mugniyah, or his chipper meeting in Tehran with an envoy of North Korea (you can read more about some of his travels, to Syria, Moscow, etc., here). Educated in the U.S., Zarif was based for many years in New York as one of Iran’s former ambassadors to the United Nations (where along with his activities at the UN, he secretly abused his diplomatic privileges by overseeing a sanctions-violating multi-million-dollar money-laundering operation in Manhattan for the Iranian government, per orders of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei).

Zarif speaks fluent English — as buttery smooth as Viennese chocolate, but wrapped around an astounding collection of demands and lies. Zarif peddles statements as warped, in their way, as the buffoonish fictions of Saddam Hussein’s old spokesman, Baghdad Bob. Except where Baghdad Bob was patently ridiculous, Zarif is far more dangerous. His statements come with slick packaging, the polished veneer of a regime that has been repeatedly discovered building illicit nuclear facilities and indisputably sponsors terrorism and harbors terrorists. His statements also come framed these days by the eager attentions of  U.S. top diplomats, who appear desperate to cajole Iran into a deal, whatever it takes.

Zarif is now in Vienna, where Secretary of State John Kerry has been parked since June 26, trying to entice Iran to close a nuclear  bargain. Having over-run three self-imposed deadlines since last July, the Iran nuclear talks are nearing a fourth deadline this Tuesday, July 7.  From the negotiators at Vienna’s Palais Coburg, there are hints that this time they might just clinch the deal.

And what kind of a deal might that turn out to be?

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While the Iran nuclear talks drag on in Vienna past the third missed deadline, spare a thought for the luxurious surroundings in which these talks are taking place.

The venue, where Iran’s chief negotiator Javad Zarif and sundry other negotiators have been bunking down during these talks, is the Palais Coburg, formerly a palace, now an ornate hotel, rich in beautifully restored old stonework, polished wood, plush furnishings, crystal chandeliers, golden bathroom fixtures, gourmet restaurants, and three tiers of magnificent front terraces. Here’s a view of the Palais, and here’s a rundown on the rooms and suites, which go for anywhere from about $660 to almost $3,000 per night. The Coburg Suite, at the high end of this scale, is a 1,299 square foot duplex, decorated in the Empire style, with kitchenette, terrace, jacuzzi, sauna, plump pillows and fresh flowers.

We are not told who is staying in which rooms. But we do know that Austria has been treating Iran’s envoy, Zarif, as an honored guest. When I inquired about the arrangements back in March, 2014 (early in the talks, when the deadline was supposed to be July 20, 2014), I was told that Tehran did not have to spring for a hotel bill  in Vienna. Austria was paying for Zarif’s accommodations at the Palais.

OK, but so what? Why should anyone care? There’s a long tradition of diplomats enjoying all sorts of luxuries, especially when they are engaged in high affairs of state. It’s part of the symbolism, meant to dignify the emissaries and the nations they represent. No one expects an Iran nuclear deal to be signed at a roadside motel accessorized with cheap towels, plastic flowers and soda-vending machines.

But if we may step outside the habitual mindset for a moment, a roadside motel would be a much more appropriate setting for these talks. At the very least, it might restore a touch of reality to a scene in which Iran’s envoys have acquired an aura of jet-set celebrity, framed in one photo-op after another by the movie-star trappings of upmarket Western Europe.

Come to think of it, maybe they should be holding these nuclear talks in a meeting room at Iran’s Evin Prison — a setting rather more rife with information about the real character of Iran’s regime. Not least, Evin is the prison where Iran has been holding as de facto hostages American citizens Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian and Saeed Abedin — in quarters and on rations considerably less pleasant than Zarif’s accommodations at the Palais Coburg.

I’m not suggesting that Iran imprison Secretary of State John Kerry and throw lead negotiator Wendy Sherman into the cell next to him, while Zarif drops by to bargain over Tehran’s nuclear program. But a neutral room on the Evin grounds might well be instructive, for a great many of those concerned — and for a world watching these negotiations — in ways that the meeting chambers of Vienna are not.

It will never happen. But sometimes it’s worth imagining things that will never happen. It’s a scene that deserves to be transposed onto those photos in which Iran’s Zarif, honored guest at the Palais, focus of attention by six world powers, sits sanitized and smiling under the crystal chandeliers of Vienna.

Sure, an Iran nuclear deal might work as envisioned by the White House — as long as it’s enforced by some power more functional than the crew that is concocting this deal in the first place.

If a deal finally emerges from the latest diplomatic hoopla in Vienna, maybe the Obama administration should farm out the monitoring and enforcement to an outfit that actually keeps its promises and meets its deadlines. Say, Federal Express. Or the Bombay lunchbox delivery system. As it is, the Iran nuclear deal reportedly taking shape is one that, instead of dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, would aim merely to keep Iran at least a year away from nuclear breakout.

This would require rapid detection of any cheating by Iran, swift confirmation of the problem, and decisive response — one timely and effective enough to stop Iran in its tracks.

In whose fantasies would it really work that way?

The negotiations themselves tell us plenty about the problem. Consistent features of the talks have been delays and missed deadlines, as Iran has wrangled, balked, equivocated, and contradicted in public what U.S. officials have described as “agreed upon” in private. More than 19 months have passed since an interim deal was struck in Geneva, the Nov. 24, 2013 Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) that set out terms for the talks. Under the JPOA, the time frame envisioned for the talks was six months. But it took a while to get things organized, so the talks actually began on Feb. 18, 2014, with a July 20, 2014 deadline for a final, comprehensive deal.

There was no deal by that July deadline. So a new deadline was set, for Nov. 24, 2014. There was no deal by that deadline, so another deadline was set for June 30, 2015.

That’s today. And while we can’t rule out a surprise announcement of a done deal, the negotiators have been saying they have more work to do. They need more time.

And small wonder. In order to produce a deal that defers to Iran’s insistence on such dangerous absurdities as the “inalienable right” to enrich uranium, the U.S. and its P5+1 negotiating partners (Russia, China, France, the U.K., and Germany) have been haggling with the Iranians over an agreement with so many moving parts that it takes relays of technical experts working around the clock to keep track of what’s being agreed to.

Here’s how a senior U.S. administration official described the condition of the draft agreement on Monday in a background briefing to the press:

… a many, many page document, a main text and several annexes. It takes a long time, a lot of — huge amounts of detail, all of which has to be checked. And then our lawyers have to look at it all, for heaven’s sakes.

And that’s the easy part. For the nuclear inspectors of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S. officials are now talking about “managed access” to Iranian facilities.

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To the colossal compost heap of anti-Israel screeds churned out by the United Nations, we can now add the so-called Schabas Report on the 2014 summer war between Gaza and Israel.

Not that the eponymous William Schabas saw the production of this report right through to the end. Appointed last summer as chair of this UN inquiry, Schabas was forced to resign this past February when news emerged that he had served as a paid adviser to the Palestinian Authority. (This UN report notes that he resigned – but does not say why.)

Officially, this document is titled: “Report of the independent commission of inquiry established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-21/1.”

A more fitting title would be: “A UN Field Guide to Making the Most of Human Shields.”

Of course there’s more than that to this report, which runs 34 pages, accompanied by 200 pages of “detailed findings.” There is the UN’s usual moral equivalence between the democratic state of Israel — which withdrew from Gaza in 2005 hoping for peace — and the Hamas terrorists who then came to power in Gaza, devoted in practice to terrorizing Israel and dedicated in their charter to obliterating Israel entirely.

You can find a good rundown on the overall report from Anne Bayefsky writing for Fox News, and no doubt there will be more coverage when this report is formally presented next Monday for what the UN Human Rights Council is pleased to describe as “debate.” But let’s focus here on how this report deals with the Hamas tactic of using human shields.

So pervasive is this horrifying practice that even the UN’s investigators cannot quite manage to ignore it. So they make do, instead, with embarking on a series of bizarre locutions that effectively excuse it.

Step One, in paragraph 63 (page 16) of the main report, is to suggest uncertainty that any such thing might have happened (boldface mine):

Palestinian armed groups allegedly often operated from densely populated neighborhoods, including by firing rockets, mortars and other weapons from built-up areas. In addition, they were alleged to have frequently placed command control centers and firing positions in residential buildings and to have stockpiled weapons and located tunnel entrances in prima facie civilian buildings.

“Allegedly”? “Alleged”? The report goes on in this vein, beset by existential doubts.

Step Two, in paragraph 64, is to excuse this use of human shields just in case it really did happen:

The commission recognizes that the obligation to avoid locating military objectives within densely populated areas is not absolute. The small size of Gaza and its population density make it difficult for armed groups to comply with this requirement.


Beyond the technical point that even in densely populated Gaza there are open areas, this UN locution reduces the use of human shields to an accident of bad urban planning — as if the solution were to provide Hamas with more acceptable locations from which to launch its attacks.

The real problem is that instead of providing civilized government in Gaza, Hamas and its brethren “armed groups” devote themselves to firing rockets and mortars and digging attack tunnels into Israel. Those were the prolific bombardments and threats that triggered the 2014 conflict. And when Israel finally acted in its own defense, the horrifying use by Hamas of human shields provided the expected grist for propaganda aimed at damaging Israel, including this report.

But the UN investigators are not done with this topic.

Step Three: just in case the “alleged” use of human shields was not entirely a function of inconvenient geography, they slather on the kind of bureaucratic language that would have captivated George Orwell (boldface mine):

While the commission was unable to verify independently the specific incidents alleged by Israel, the frequency of Palestinian armed groups carrying out military operations in the immediate vicinity of civilian objects and specially protected objects suggests that such conduct could have been avoided on a number of occasions. In those instances, Palestinian armed groups may not have complied to the maximum extent feasible with their obligations.

Civilian “objects”?

The problem was not that Hamas and its fellow terrorists used “objects” as protection, but that these terrorists used other human beings as shields. And the grave abuse here was not that that Hamas “could have” avoided such conduct, but that it didn’t.

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