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Monthly Archives: May 2010

While the world is focused on bloodshed aboard a Turkish ferryboat manned by sympathizers of the terrorists of Hamas, the real crisis looms like Godzilla rising from the sea. In its latest report on Iran, the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, reports that Iran has now piled up enough fuel for two nuclear bombs.

Was this the reason the Security Council went into an emergency huddle on Monday? Was this the reason UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pronounced himself “shocked”? Was this the reason the European Union called for an inquiry and Turkey’s Prime Ministers Erdogan began clanging alarms about “state terrorism”? Nope. That was all about Israel trying to stop a planned provocation by what turned out to be knife and cudgel-wielding “peace activists” advertising ”aid” as a cover for trying to bust the Israeli blockade on the Hamas terrorists who rule Gaza (and who preside over a welfare enclave subsidized by U.S. and EU tax dollars, with the Israelis letting relief supplies in, while Iranian-backed Hamas and its Islamist pals target Israel with rockets and dedicate themselves to its destruction).

Whether in Washington, New York, Paris, Berlin, Jeddah, Cairo or beyond, anyone quietly depending on the Israelis to scotch Iran’s ambitions for nuclear hegemony over the oil fields of the Arabian Gulf might want to think twice before ganging up further on the Israelis. The real crises are still ahead, and they are not going to be confined to bloody propaganda stunts staged by fake “peace activists” cruising the Mediterranean.

Gaza Terror Flotilla

May 31st, 2010 - 12:50 pm

Gaza’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has got the bloody propaganda triumph he was preparing for when he told followers last week that whatever came of the Gaza “aid” flotilla, it would be a win for Hamas – whether the ships reached Gaza, or ended up in a showdown with the Israelis at sea.

At least 10 people, possibly more, are reported dead, after Israeli forces boarded one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, to stop it running the Israeli blockade on the terrorist enclave of Gaza. The ”peace activists” had advertised themselves (scroll down to point 8 in their “mission” statement) as adhering to “nonviolence and nonviolent resistance in word and deed at all times.” This turned out to be a brazen lie. Whatever the “aid” aboard the ship, the “peace activists” were waiting with knives and metal clubs, with which they attacked the Israelis. Though some of the details are still unclear, there are also reports that they made a grab for Israeli guns, and Real Clear Politics — which has posted IDF video footage – says they had firebombs ready as well. (Update: more details in IDF footage here).

Out of this came the headlines the organizers of this terror tour had been looking for. All the usual folks are shocked! shocked! that a deliberate provocation, staged with all sorts of planning by the faux-peace-pals of Hamas, turned into a violent showdown. Reuters reports that France is “profoundly shocked,” Europe “calls for inquiry,” and Turkey’s Iran-lovin’ Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is denouncing the Israelis for “state terrorism.” Washington “regrets loss of life” and is “examining circumstances” — though the basic circumstances here are no mystery whatsoever. They boil down to Israel being left by its craven Western allies to deal solo with the terrorism that boils out of Gaza, the support for that terrorism that flows from Syria and Iran, and the cheerleading — and apparently the helping hand — for this arrangement that emanates from the current Islamic leadership of Turkey.

The United Nations Security Council is of course being called into action. Who’s on that Council? Along with the U.S., the 15 members include China and Russia (both busy arming Iran), Brazil and Turkey (brokers of the recent joke uranium-swap deal that won’t stop the Iranian bomb), and Lebanon (home to the Iranian-fostered terrorist group Hezbollah, now rearming for its next assault on Israel). This is the crowd that has failed abysmally to contain the nuclear bomb projects of totalitarian North Korea and terror-sponsoring Iran. But in treating the self-choreographed mayhem of the Gaza flotilla as the world crisis of the hour, they have perhaps found a topic worthy of their talents.

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The Gaza Flotilla: Showboating for Hamas

May 29th, 2010 - 9:24 pm

What’s the latest fetish shared by all of the following?

Noam Chomsky, George Galloway, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), UNRWA and Code Pink.

Why of course! They are all cheerleaders for the flotilla of “peace activists” who have been steaming across the Mediterranean toward Gaza, nattering on about their dedication to non-violence, humanitarian aid and “freedom” — as in their grossly misnamed “freedom flotilla.”

Real freedom for Gaza would entail an end to local rule by the terrorists of Hamas, and an end to the endless violent attacks on Israel — which are the reason for the blockade that this flotilla proposes to break. But the “Free Gaza” crowd behind this stunt is apparently not bothered in the least that Gaza operates as a terrorist enclave, or that Hamas receives training and smuggled weapons from Iran. These folks are bothered — very bothered — that Israel does anything to defend itself.

As propaganda, this flotilla is clever stuff. It must be a hoot for the “peace activists,” now embarked on a springtime cruise of the Mediterranean, aiming for the thrill of an high-visibility encounter with the Israeli navy — while simultaneously relying on the skill of the Israelis in trying to thwart this stunt with minimal damage to all involved.

On the Huffington Post this is playing right now as an awesome display of the power of non-violence. That’s a bizarre interpretation of an exercise that Hamas — terrorists dedicated to the destruction of Israel — are waiting to welcome with open arms. This flotilla is not about freedom, not about aid, and not about non-violence. If it succeeds in any way — in what are evidently the twin goals of helping Hamas and harming Israel — it will be an awesome tribute to the power of propaganda. More on that in my column on Hamas Ahoy!.

No doubt there are some starry-eyed folks aboard those boats — launched from Algeria, Greece, Turkey and Ireland — who really believe they are on a voyage of high and humanitarian purpose. There is a long history of useful idiots who will sign on for this sort of terror tourism, uninterested in facts or realities (Remember P.J. O’Rourke’s brilliant tale of cruising down the Volga in Soviet days, with fellow travelers come to admire the paradise: Ship of Fools.)  But check out the list of endorsers, and ask yourself if you’d like these folks delivering diktats on your own security, or that of your country.

Fear not! It seems there is a secret plan to deal once and for all with the murderous totalitarians running the rogue regime of North Korea. The U.S. government, together with the United Nations, is going to bore them to death.

OK, just kidding. But as the sophisticates of the “international community” yak on about penalizing North Korea for the March 26th torpedoing and sinking of a South Korean war ship, the Cheonan, any sane person looking in on this scene might well wonder if this is all just some sort of tedious diplomatic spring ritual — long on diplo-talk, but short on any action that really matters. It’s now two months since North Korea with an unprovoked attack sank the Cheonan, drowning 46 members of the crew. Definitive evidence has been presented that a North Korean submarine committed this act of war. But if Kim Jong Il is tuning in to the remarks of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, what he heard her say on Monday, in response to a press question about whether the U.S. would support additional United Nations sanctions on North Korea, was: “We are obviously continuing to review and consult closely on these matters… .”

Hmm. Kim must be quaking in his elevator shoes.

Over at the UN, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has just interrupted his own la-la-land perorations about a world free of nuclear weapons to pronounce himself “confident” that in response to the sinking of the Cheonan, the Security Council will, with all its usual competence and integrity, take “measures appropriate to the gravity of the situation.” This would be the same Security Council which since 2006, with two sanctions resolutions against North Korea and three against Iran, has failed to stop either the North Korean or Iranian nuclear programs. For that matter, this is the same Ban Ki-Moon who prior to taking charge at the UN played a lively part as foreign minister of South Korea in the launch of that grand failure known as the Six-Party Talks — which dispensed all sorts of largesse to Kim, while spanning North Korea’s first nuclear test, in 2006, and serving as prelude to North Korea’s second nuclear test, in 2009.

Not that there’s been a complete lack of action in recent days. South Korea has announced it is cutting off all trade with North Korea — all trade, that is, except the trade that will not be halted, plus humanitarian aid (which has a long record of helping to sustain Kim Jong Il’s regime). Joshua Stanton on his One Free Korea blog has a good rundown of the loopholes.

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Hot tip for any reporters interested in newly disclosed documents on waste, fraud and abuse at the United Nations:

Just days after I queried the U.S. Mission to the UN about its commitment to UN transparency (Paging Ambassador Susan Rice), the Mission finally posted on its web site more than 130 previously secret UN internal audit reports. The UN, for all its endless promises about transparency and its ample enjoyment of other people’s money, does not release these reports to the public. It is only thanks to the U.S. that they are now seeing daylight at all — though it takes some trolling through the Mission’s web site to find them.

For anyone who cares about even minimal integrity in UN management and handling of taxpayer money, there’s a trove of bombshell material here. Together, the reports total hundreds of pages, but the typical report runs about 10-20 pages. They date from October, 2008 through August, 2009.

Here’s a link to the U.S. Mission’s web page on UN Oversight and Transparency with the main links, and here are direct links to the newly posted and until-now confidential internal audit reports from 2008 and 2009.

Pick your subject and dive in, whether it’s a summary of the “higher risks” due to “the lack of an appropriate structure” for the UN’s own Ethics Office, or a report on the dire derelictions of reporting and accountability dogging the plump trust funds of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Specifically set up to better coordinate aid, OCHA features in a Nov. 2008 audit report as handling trust funds with a throughput of hundreds of millions of dollars, but not bothering to produce any consolidated statement of cash flow. OCHA also had “little discernible linkage” between strategic planning and “the measurement and reporting of actual performance.”

For those interested in the UN’s climate bureaucracy, check out the July, 2009 report on the slop of the UNFCCC Secretariat’s conference management, with its multi-year delays in accounting for funds. Or delve into the Dec., 2008 report on the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism, where the governance was found “not adequate to mitigate reputational and other risks,”  and the executive board “due to lack of time” had neglected to adopt any code of conduct whatsoever to address such corrosive problems as conflicts of interest.

Or, in the realms of UN peacekeeping, with its more than $8 billion annual budget, for which U.S. taxpayers alone fork out roughly $2 billion per year, check out the UN’s nearly $1 billion annual program for peacekeeping air operations. In an August, 2009 report, the UN’s own internal auditors noted that participation by senior management was “inadequate,” current staffing levels were “insufficient,” time of effective bidding on air charter services was “insufficient,” provisions in air charter agreements were “unclear” and some vendor registration was “improper.”

It takes a certain amount of determination to slog through the UN jargon, in which an executive summary of ”not adequate” is often code for outright abuse or screaming failure, if you slog on to the details of the report. But in these reports, which cover only a sampling of the UN’s sprawling global system, the problems roll on and on. In corners that rarely receive attention from the media, they range from poorly documented lump-sum handling of noncompetitively-sourced travel arrangements for the UN mission in East Timor (UNMIT), to the UN’s disregard of its own rules in choosing a director for the UN Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), headquartered in Japan.

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All you really need to know about the United Nations is that today, in the 192-member General Assembly, 155 member states – yes, 155 – voted in favor of giving Libya — yes, Libya — a seat on the Human Rights Council.

And something you need to know about the Obama administration is that just after the vote, President Barack Obama’s cabinet-rank ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, praised the recent trajectory of the Council as “progress.”

There are lots of nuances one could add, but if you remember only the two items above, that’s what it boils down to. A full exposition of this scene would be akin to an extremely tedious crawl through all nine levels of Dante’s hell. The equivocators, the cowards, the deceivers, betrayers… it’s all there, wrapped in the baby-blue flag.

Benny Avni has a good wrapup on the web site of the NY Sun, noting that in the new Libya-inclusive Human Rights Council, democracies hold only 40% of the seats, down from 49% last year (this would cover the period since the U.S. joined in 2009 — the period during which Rice says there has been “progress”). I have a column out on Forbes today, Paging Ambassador Susan Rice, which details more of the rot seeping out of the UN, as the U.S. abdicates its old role as a defender of freedom — and also skips out on such chores as trying to keep an eye on how the UN spends its fat dole of U.S. credibility and taxpayer dollars.

What’s to be done? Nothing is about to dislodge the UN, where Libya currently presides over the General Assembly, sits on the Security Council and has just won itself a seat as an arbiter of “human rights.” And Libya is only a piece of this scene, to which dictators and their bagmen ride in royal style, to be received as “Your Excellency,” handed their ballots in the “Parliament of Man,” and seated in gilded chambers (well, some of the chambers are gilded, or  tapestried; some are kitted out with a lot of flat screen TVs; and the Human Rights Council chamber in Geneva has a $23 million artwork ceiling). This is a place where Pakistan serves as compradore for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Iran peacocks on the stages and governing boards (sanctions notwithstanding), and Cuba –faithful mascot — gnaws the scraps of this gang and carries the water.

Yes, democracies send their envoys too. But if we have reached the point at which 155 out of 192 states cast their secret ballots for seating Libya on the Security Council, and the U.S. ambassador would even dream of using the word “progress” in the aftermath of such an event, any democracies still worth their salt would be well-advised to pack up and go start a new and more discriminating club of nations someplace else. Don’t hold your breath.

Libya on the United Nations Human Rights Council? That sounds nuts. But this is the UN. By Thursday evening, with the Obama administration apparently AWOL on this outrage, it may be a done deal.

The United Nations General Assembly is due to vote Thursday on the election of 14 new members to the 47-seat Human Rights Council. Libya is among the candidates with good chances of landing a seat. For a rundown on just how disgusting an “election” this is, check out Anne Bayefsky’s latest article on Fox: Human Rights Just a Joke at the UN — in which Bayefsky enumerates some of the failings of the Human Rights Council as a whole, as well as the abuses of some of the current candidates, including Malaysia, Mauritania, Uganda, Angola and Qatar, as well as Libya.

So much for the UN Human Rights Council, which was set up in 2006 to remedy the rot of its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights (chaired in 2003 by Libya). The Council has already discredited itself with such grotesqueries as last year’s Durban Review Conference (for which Libya chaired the preparatory committee), the Goldstone Report on Gaza and the push by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (which has taken a special interest in the Human Rights Council) to gag free speech in the name of fighting blasphemy.

But should Libya win this seat, there are wider implications — involving the General Assembly which is about to hold this “election.” Candidates for seats on the Human Rights Council are invited to submit pledges of their commitments to human rights — and after an odd delay, Libya’s note verbale — as UN diplo-lingo has it — has finally been posted on the UN web site. Any UN member state voting for Libya is presumably signing onto the garbage extreme contained in this note verbale plus its annex, which Libya wishes to have circulated as a document of the General Assembly.

The UN link to the note itself is a bit dicey — like a number of things on the UN website, one must sometimes fiddle around to pull up the document. So here’s the direct link, and if that doesn’t work, here’s a pdf version of the Libya Human Rights Note Verbale , pulled from the site.

Highlights include Libya’s statement that “the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is among the countries that fulfill their obligations regarding respect for human rights and the rule of law.”

Libya brags that it “chaired the Human Rights Commission in 2003″ — which in theory is not strictly accurate, because the chair of the commission was supposed to set aside national affiliation, and serve only the interests of the Council, not those of Libyan tyrant Muammar Qaddafi. But in practice, it was Libya’s regime that chaired the Commission, and Libya’s choice of phrasing here, while probably a slip of the pen, is about as close as this document ever gets to anything resembling the truth. (Libya neglects to mention that its chairing of the Commission in 2003 was so embarrassing, even for the UN, that the Commission was dissolved in the 2006 Potemkin reform that produced the current Human Rights Council).

Libya goes on to say: “More than ever, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has paid great attention to human rights over the past 30 years.” No doubt. Libya’s regime has worked hard for decades to ensure consistent violations of human rights. An effort on that scale must have required plenty of attention.

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Whatever the Farsi term might be for chutzpah, Iran’s despots put on a staggering display of such stuff this past week. Apparently it wasn’t enough for Tehran that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to New York to provide the opening burlesque on Monday of the United Nations nonproliferation review conference, followed by Ahmadinejad’s usual whirl of interviews and press conferencing in the heart of the Great Satan. On top of that, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki lingered to host a dinner at the plush Manhattan residence of Iran’s ambassador to the UN. And not just any old dinner. This was a dinner for the 15 members of the UN Security Council.

Whoa — let’s hit “pause,”  and consider for a moment what that means. With this dinner, Iran designed a gathering that amounted to a shadow version of the UN Security Council — plus Iran itself, in the presiding seat. The members of the Security Council did not have to come. But, with the apparent (and quiet) exceptions of Nigeria and Gabon, they came.

None of them should have come. Iran is in flagrant violation of a series of binding UN sanctions meant to stop its race toward the nuclear bomb. Iran has deceived the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, scoffed at UN Security Council requests, demands and deadlines. And, P.S., according to the U.S. State Department, Iran is the world’s “most active state sponsor of terrorism.” (Terrorism is something the UN has not yet managed to officially define, but it is also something one might hope the Security Council would be against).

But, hey, why should the UN Security Council let Iran’s global terrorist networks and sanctions-violating nuclear program get in the way of a free meal in New York? Apparently forgetting President Barack Obama’s claim that Iran is finding itself increasingly “isolated,” the Obama State Department sent an envoy to Iran’s Manhattan dinner party. So did at least a dozen other members of the Security Council (Inner-City Press reports that Uganda came late, Mexico left early, and Gabon and Nigeria didn’t show up). President Barack Obama’s administration, which sent the number two envoy from the U.S. Mission, saw this Iranian banquet as “an opportunity for Iran to speak to its international obligations” — as one unnamed official told the Washington Post.

Who scripts this U.S. diplo-babble? Iran has been speaking loud and clear to its “international obligations,” and the gist of what Iran’s despots have been saying, and doing, is too rude to print in this space.

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There are plenty of tyrants who speak at the UN without their utterances making world headlines, and without the U.S. deigning to respond. Yet every time Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad jets to NY to take the podium, he’s the center of attention — as he is yet again for delivering a speech Monday, at the opening of the UN’s nonproliferation review conference, in which he presented himself as opposed to all nuclear weapons.

This is because:

A) Ahmadinejad is a speaker with fascinating opinions on ”the ideal society.”

B) Everyone is curious to see whether he will wear a zippered windbreaker or a lounge suit.

C) Iran is making nuclear weapons.

D) See C, above

E) See D and C, above

F) See C,D and E above… you get the idea.