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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Let Turkey Pay for UNRWA

June 26th, 2010 - 11:11 am

More money! is the cry from Filippo Grandi, the commissioner-general of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA. Speaking in Beirut on Saturday, Grandi was lamenting what he described as the agency’s growing funding shortage.

Another way to describe it would be UNRWA’s ever-expanding budget, which in places like Gaza is spent on providing the staples of a welfare enclave, thus freeing up the ruling terrorists of Hamas to spend their pocket money on things like weapons to attack Israel — the state they are dedicated in their charter to destroying.

Grandi, in his remarks, was rattling the can for the European Union to make up an anticipated $100 million deficit in UNRWA’s budget — which last year soared to $1.2 billion — by some standards a whopping handout. Grandi thanked “generous” Arab donors, but apparently forgot to thank the U.S., which is the single biggest donor (an interesting situation, given the UNRWA beneficiaries who danced for joy and passed out candies when news broke of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America).

UNRWA was set up by the UN as a “temporary” agency more than 60 years ago, and today has a “refugee” clientele about five times the size of the original refugee population it was meant to serve, with more than 20,000 Palestinians on its payroll. This whole scene is one of the UN’s most astounding swamps of warped incentives, perverse payoffs, and ballooning budgets, dangerous to the Israelis and damaging to the Palestinians themselves — in looking at it I have thought more than once that the best move for all concerned would be to just dissolve UNRWA and turn over its entire budget to private missionaries trying to help North Korean refugees escape from China. That, folks, is a genuine, wrenching, refugee crisis, which the UN over many years has done virtually nothing to address.

But if the commissioner-general of UNRWA is determined to bring in more funds, here’s a thought. Let him direct his lamentations to Ankara, where the Turkish government has professed itself so deeply concerned about getting aid to the Palestinians that it was willing to bless a terror-linked flotilla that sailed from its shores in May — inspiration for the raft of flotilla plans with which friends of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, etc. are now proposing to try again to break that Israeli blockade meant to keep weapons out of Gaza (the real solution to Gaza’s troubles is to end terrorist rule in Gaza, but that’s not remotely what this flotilla gang is aiming for).

Recently I took a look at Turkey’s donations to UNRWA (Turkey’s Two-Faced Aid for Gaza ) and discovered that Turkey is one of the stingier donors. Relative to the size of the Turkish economy, its status in the G-20 and current seat on the Security Council, and UNRWA’s swollen budget, Ankara has chipped in nothing but small change for the UN relief efforts. Why should the EU or U.S. pay any more for UNRWA? (One might well ask, why should they pay at all?) What they get for their pains is a rising terrorist threat in the Middle East from Iran-backed Hamas, which rules the enclave where the world’s major democracies foot most of the bills for the welfare handouts. This is a result that Turkey’s current Islamic ruling party, the AKP, seems to want more of — at the very least, let them pay for it.

In case you missed it this week –  While America has been poring over the Rolling Stone article, and Iran has been bragging about 20% enriched uranium, the United Nations, in its own special way, has been making news with another Human Rights Moment.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council has just elected as a vice president the ambassador of — where else? — Cuba.

The Cuban News Agency is advertising this latest triumph as a vindication of “Cuba’s active and committed work as founding member of the UN Human Rights Council” and ”its leadership in favor of the noblest causes.”

Cuba can now help lead such newly seated  Human Rights Council members as the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – which the 192 member UN General Assembly recently elected to the Council with 155 votes. For those who remember last year’s Durban Review Conference. convened in Geneva under the auspices of this same Human Rights Council, it may start to sound like old home week. The Durban Review Preparatory Committee was chaired by Libya, and featured Cuba as rapporteur. Same players, different chairs, flanked as ever by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (which likes to speak on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference). This is the UN human rights flagship that President Barack Obama decided the U.S. should join last year, in order to improve it by working from within. Since then, the Council has approved the Goldstone Report on Gaza, seated Libya, and handed vice-presidential bragging rights to Cuba. Scary, I guess, to think what it would be like by now without all that U.S. engagement.

Rolling Stone’s piece on The Runaway General hit the web, and presto! before the print edition was even on the newsstands, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was ordered back to Washington for a sitdown with President Obama. If only Obama had been as eager to clear time on his calendar for McChrystal back in 2009. That’s when really getting to know the general — the man entrusted with winning the war in Afghanistan — should have been one of the top priorities of the new president.

I’m not suggesting that with earlier close acquaintance Obama might have spotted the seeds of McChrystal’s “enormous mistake” — as White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described it at press briefing Tuesday. I’m suggesting that better leadership from Obama himself would have averted this mess altogether. Whatever comes next for McChrystal, the biggest lesson here is one the commander-in-chief himself has yet to master.

It’s this simple: To win this war, America, and its generals, need to be led by someone who really wants to win the war. Someone who believes his country is great, and extraordinary, and deserves to win its wars. Someone who takes a direct and genuine interest in those he sends to the frontlines. Someone who makes a point of really getting to know the general he puts in charge. Someone, in sum, who does what’s needed to inspire loyalty and respect.

Has Obama done that? He put McChrystal in command last summer, and over the following 70 days talked with him exactly once — by videoconference (something it was left to Fox News to discover in late September). He left McChrystal dangling during an agonizingly drawn-out strategy review last fall. He showed strangely little regard for the internal conflicts he set in motion. As Eliot Cohen points out in the Wall Street Journal, Obama assembled a “dysfunctional team composed of Gen. McChrystal, Amb. Karl Eikenberry and Amb. Richard Holbrooke — three able men who as anyone who knew them would predict could not work effectively together.”

And though Obama dropped in on Afghanistan as part of his nine-day, eight-country world wonder tour during his 2008 election campaign, he did not visit there at all — not once – during his first full year in office. He found time to fly to Copenhagen, twice — first to lobby for a Chicago Olympics, then for the sham of a UN climate conference. He flew to Oslo to collect a Nobel Peace Prize. He found time to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, time for a “beer summit,” time for golf, time to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago, time to stick around Washington for the Christmas Eve push on a health care bill that the majority of Americans didn’t want, and time after that for a Christmas holiday at a beachfront estate in Hawaii (where, following the underwear bomber’s flaming arrival over Detroit, Obama “monitored” the situation, waiting three full days before saying anything in public about the man he then referred to as an “isolated extremist”).

It was not until March, 2010, that Obama finally found time to visit the troops in Afghanistan.

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It seems too incredible that after Turkey’s Iran-embracing terror-loving anti-American Israel-demonizing hijinks of recent times, the congressionally-created taxpayer-subsidized Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars would go ahead with its plans to bestow its Public Service Award on the chief strategist behind all this, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

But a press assistant at the Wilson Center confirmed this morning that it is true. The ceremonial dinner, honoring Davutoglu, along with a Turkish business tycoon, is scheduled for Thursday evening, at the Four Seasons, in Istanbul.

For more on what’s deeply troubling about this, see my post below, What Kind of Washington Fools Would Honor Turkey’s Foreign Minister?

Update (June 16th, 2010 10:20 am): A press assistant at the Wilson Center confirmed this morning that what I wrote below is correct. The ceremonial dinner, honoring Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, along with a Turkish business tycoon, is scheduled for Thursday evening, at the Four Seasons, in Istanbul.

What follows is my post originally written Wednesday night:

Turkey’s leaders have made a lot of news lately, and it’s been ugly: holding hands with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blessing the lead role of the terror-linked Turkish IHH foundation in last month’s Gaza terror flotilla, and voting last week against new sanctions on Iran in the United Nations Security Council.

So what’s a prestigious Washington foreign policy think tank to do? It looks like the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is about to bestow an award — yes, you read that right, an award – upon the chief strategist behind Turkey’s increasingly toxic foreign policy, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Unless it’s been called off since Tuesday afternoon — and there is no news of that so far — the Wilson Center plans to present Davutoglu with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service — yes, Public Service — at a dinner ceremony in Turkey this Thursday, June 17th.

This would be revolting enough were the Wilson Center an entirely private foundation. But American taxpayers are forking out for the institution hosting this stunt, whether they know it or not. The Wilson Center was created in 1968 by an act of Congress. As the Center itself details on its website, about one-third of its operating funds every year come from “the U.S. government,” a.k.a. American tax dollars (scroll down to the end of the page in this link).

The rest of the Wilson Center’s money comes from a mix of private and public sources. Top donors listed in the Center’s 2008-2009 annual report include George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the U.S. Agency for International Development (a government agency funded by U.S. tax dollars), the United Nations Development Program (which gets a big chunk of its funding from U.S. tax dollars), the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and such cosmopolitan outfits as the Fellowship Fund for Pakistan, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of Mexico, and a Brazilian business conglomerate, Grupo EBX (whose officers were perhaps pleased when Brazil’s President Lula won the Woodrow Wilson Public Service Award last year). For a full roster of the top donors, scroll down to page 57 in this link to the Wilson Center’s annual report.

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Please, No More “Arc of History”

June 12th, 2010 - 7:22 pm

When Barack Obama finally piped up last year about the massive protests following the rigged June 12 presidential election in Iran, he quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” An eloquent line, but, as Obama used it, grossly misplaced.

King, when he talked about an arc of history, was not sitting around waiting for that arc to bend. He was fully committed to a great struggle for equality, and urging his followers to keep going. Obama, when he brought up the long arc, was at pains to tell the world he had no interest in getting involved with the protesters who were dying in the streets of Iran. He described their calls for freedom, and the brutal response of the Iranian regime, as “not something that has to do with the outside world.” Obama contented himself with ”bearing witness” – or at least tuning in on TV — while he waited for the demonstrations to simmer down, so he could resume extending his hand to the mullahs. That was the context in which he brought up “the arc of the moral universe,” assuring us all that he and the “international community” believed the arc would bend “toward justice.”

It was a strange choice of phrase from the president who rode to office on slogans not about any long arcs of anything, but “this is our moment,” “now is our time.” Apparently that was fine for things like 2,000 pages of ObamaCare legislation. But in Obama’s worldview, when Iranians rose up to challenge the Tehran regime that has bedeviled America since the days of Jimmy Carter, it was not their moment, and not their time.

And now, here we are, a year after the ”re-election” of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked those demonstrations calling for justice. Whatever the final shape of history’s arc, right now it is bending toward an Iranian nuclear bomb, and a rising Iranian-centered axis of trouble that extends not only to Syria, Venezuela and North Korea, but to Turkey and Brazil (with China and Russia arranging for their cut of the action). And what of the Iranian demonstrators who braved the beatings and bullets in the streets? After a year of terror, arrests and executions, there were still reports of sporadic demonstrations on Saturday, here and there in Iran. Try to imagine how much courage that must take. But the huge protests of last year have been smothered, thwarted, silenced. Obama talks about the increasing “isolation” of Iran’s regime, but — as I argue in a column on Iran’s Arc of Injustice – those who are genuinely suffering from isolation are not Iran’s rulers, but Iran’s dissidents.

And, from the White House, here it comes again: the arc of history, this time not from the lips of Obama himself, but from one of his “human rights advisors,” reading a presidential statement (which may explain why either the AFP or the advisor bungled the phrase, and referred this time not to the “arc” but to the “arch” of history).

Here’s the quote, from the AFP story: “The courage of the Iranian people stands as an example to us and it challenges us to continue our efforts to bend the arch of history in the direction of justice.”

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At least that’s my rough count of the time elapsed for the meeting at which the United Nations Security Council just passed its fourth sanctions resolution against Iran’s rogue nuclear projects.

The clock is ticking toward the Iranian nuclear bomb. But, with a brilliant symbolic flair, the Security Council got down to business more than an hour late. During the wait, the UN webcast cameras caught delegates and their aides milling around the chamber, chatting, smoothing their hair and talking on cell phones. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice kissed assorted envoys on both cheeks, and then, as time dragged on, ended up at one point apparently staring off into space — before going into a huddle near the entrance. Delegates here and there sat down, and then, impatience unrequited, stood up again. Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee strolled around, one of the crowd, meeting and greeting.

Finally, an hour and 11 minutes into the live feed, Mexico’s ambassador – who is chairing the Security Council this month – banged the gavel. Brazil and Turkey gave statements in which they regretted that the Council had not embraced their sham proposal last month for a specious uranium swap, which they are now trying to enter into history as the ”Tehran Declaration.” Turkey assured everyone of “the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program” — give or take a few nagging problems that Turkey would like to see dealt with exclusively through dialogue.

The 15 members voted 12 to 2 to approve the resolution, with Turkey and Brazil voting against. Lebanon abstained, but its ambassador seized the occasion to slam Israel and pine publicly for a nuclear-free world — in which, as advertised by the Hezbollah-infested government of Lebanon, Iran would be deterred by dialogue alone. The other members spoke their pieces, with Rice repeating the Obama mantra that “rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” (But what? So far, words have not meant anything that has stopped either the North Korean or the Iranian nuclear programs). For reasons that perhaps only UN diplomats are equipped to understand, everyone had kind words for Turkey and Brazil over their quisling attempts to abet Iran.

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And Now, Ahmadinejad Goes to Istanbul

June 6th, 2010 - 6:32 pm

Yes, on Monday Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to touch down in Turkey.  Seems like the Turkish and Iranian governments just can’t get enough of each other these days. This visit follows the Turkish-led furor of the past week over the Gaza Flotilla, complete with its terror-linked Turkish ”peace activists,” dispatched with the blessings of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a setup for a showdown meant to vilify Israel, no matter how it played out. That followed the sham uranium-swap deal in which the President Lula of Brazil and Erdogan & team of Turkey popped up arm-in-arm with Ahmadinejad in Tehran on May 17th, announcing a bargain that would effectively buy more time for the Iranian nuclear program, without doing anything to stop Tehran’s bomb projects.

And now, Ahmadinejad goes to Istanbul. The ostensible reason for his trip is a three-day summit of the CICA, or Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. What?! You’ve never heard of it? THE CICA is a forum first proposed to the United Nations in 1992, by President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. It has 20 member states, including Israel, Iran, Russia, China, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. And its summit these next three days has all the makings of yet another round of beating up on Israel, while serving to further distract attention from the approaching June 12 anniversary of last year’s rigged presidential election in Iran, and the ensuing protests and Iranian government crackdown, with its bloody shootings, beatings, arrests, torture and deaths.

At this CICA summit, Kazakhstan will be handing off the presidency of the forum to Turkey — providing Erdogan with yet another platform to grandstand as a rising power-broker of that multipolar world which President Barack Obama is seeking for us all. Reuters reports that though Syria is not a member, Syria’s dictator (a.k.a. President) Bashar Assad “is attending as a guest.” A Turkish pro-government newspaper, Today’s Zaman, reports on its English-language online edition that “the agenda of the meeting in Turkey is expected to cover discussions over nuclear weapons.”

Anyone care to bet that this discussion of nuclear weapons  – a la United Nations Nonproliferation Treaty Review — will somehow manage to detour around the nuclear bomb projects of Iran’s terror-based tyranny, and instead focus on disarming democratic Israel?

According to Reuters, Israel is sending a consular official to the CICA summit. Sounds like body armor would hardly be enough.

The CICA shindig — Ahmadinejad, Assad, Erdogan et al – will be followed by, or, as Reuters puts it, “the diplomatic momentum will continue” with, a meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday of Arab League foreign ministers, coming to take part in the Turkish-Arab Cooperation forum.

This is the New Order now taking shape in the places where Obama has been at such pains to apologize for and ratchet down American leadership. Anyone feeling safer now?