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Monthly Archives: November 2010

For almost three decades now, it has been a regular feature of almost every U.S. foreign policy showdown that Jimmy Carter will jet in, or at least pipe up  –  almost always in ways that advance the interests of whatever despot, rogue regime, or terror group happens to be grabbing headlines in its quest to harm America and America’s allies. Drawing on the gravitas of his former office, ignoring his own disastrous record (for which Americans voted him out after a single term that brought Iran’s Islamic revolution, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — progenitor of the rise of al-Qaeda & cohorts), Carter has made it his stock in post-presidential trade to extend a hand to everyone and everything from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, to the Hamas terrorists ruling Gaza, to the totalitarian regime of North Korea.

Thus did North Korea’s latest threats and attacks produce an op-ed in Wednesday’s Washington Post by Carter, “North Korea’s Consistent Message to the U.S.,” in which he reminded Americans that he had just visited North Korea this summer. Carter went there at the invitation of North Korea’s government, to obtain the release of an American, Aijalon Gomes, who had been imprisoned in North Korea and sentenced to eight years of hard labor for crossing illegally into the totalitarian state. But the grotesque brutality of North Korea’s system did not figure in Carter’s op-ed. Carter ignored such matters as North Korea’s prison labor camps, international criminal rackets such as counterfeiting U.S. currency, and a state system so rigid and controlling that under Kim Jong Il’s rule famine has killed more than one million North Koreans.

Instead, Carter informed his readers that “Pyongyang has sent a consistent message that during direct talks with the United States, it is ready to conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the ‘temporary’ cease-fire of 1953.” He urged that America respond to this offer, or else…

A small fraction of Carter’s claim is true. Pyongyang has indeed sent a consistent message to the U.S. But that message has consistently been the very opposite of any attempt to negotiate in good faith. If you look at deeds, not words (though even North Korea’s words veer often toward outrageous threats, such as “seas of fire” and war), Kim’s Pyongyang regime has sent a consistent message that it will cheat on any deal, violate any agreement, bully, threaten, extort, and — as Gordon Chang noted yesterday on PJ Media – kill people in the cause of sustaining itself in power. The vaunted Six-Party Talks deal in 2007 for denuclearization turned into a bonanza for Kim Jong Il, providing him with free fuel, food aid, and hard cash and leading to U.S. removal of North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Then, in late 2008, with Kim enjoying his new hoard of pay-offs, the whole deal collapsed over North Korea’s refusal to allow any real verification. While the first load of goodies was flowing to Pyongyang, in the summer of 2007, North Korea — even while promising to give up the development of nuclear weapons — was secretly helping Syria build a clandestine reactor on the Euphrates River, a plutonium factory in the Middle East. What ended that, in Sept. 2007, was not a gesture of North Korean good faith, but a strike by the Israeli Air Force.

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“Engagement” is such a windy word, as in: President Barack Obama’s policy of engagement at the United Nations Human Rights Council. It all sounds so abstract. What does that really mean?

Well, on Nov. 5, it became less abstract, when the Obama administration bellied up to the microphones in the chamber of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, to present America’s human rights record for review by the assembled eminences. Whatever amount of engagement the administration had engaged in, it did nothing to deter the likes of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, China and Libya from making use of their UN privileges to savage the United States. The UN makes video of these proceedings available for all the world to look in on. Despots can of course cull the contributions of their own envoys for broadcast back home — show-casing under UN auspices any propaganda that they and their chums wish to spread about America. And Americans, of course, can also look in on these videos, just in case they want to see what’s being done with the tax dollars spent on their behalf to help bankroll the UN and pay for the delegations the Obama administration sends to represent — and in this case, apologize for — America. But if you work for a living, at something other than following the UN… well, who has time to plod through hours of speechifying in some UN chamber in Geneva?

So, thank you to Anne Bayefsky, whose watchdog organization, www.eyeontheun.org , has put together a montage of top hits of the UN Human Rights Council’s Nov. 5 review of the United States. You can watch the entire compilation of highlights in just a couple of minutes, including the comments of Iran, North Korea, Cuba, China Libya, Qatar, Nicaragua, Egypt, etc. — trashing and vilifying America over human rights. The most interesting part of the show, however, is the U.S. delegation, telling this crowd what a pleasure and an honor it is for America to present itself for review, and thanking them for the experience. If you want to know what Obama’s policy of engagement at the UN really looks like, up close and graphic, this is a must-see video; your diplomats on the front lines, and your tax dollars at work. The U.S. presents itself for review by the UN Human Rights Council.

North Korea and the Audacity of Nuclear Extortion

November 22nd, 2010 - 12:07 am

If they gave prizes for the art of nuclear blackmail, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il would right now be hoisting his trophy for lifetime achievement. Call it the Plutonium-Uranium-Switcheroo Shakedown Award.

For 16 years, Kim has ruled his totalitarian state with the help of treasure and concessions extorted from the U.S. and pals via periodic bouts of haggling over deals for North Korea to end its development of nuclear weapons. It’s now almost two years since the six-party talks collapsed over North Korea’s refusal to allow verification that it was abjuring nukes. North Korea went on to conduct a second nuclear test plus assorted missile tests; continued its sanctions-busting weapons traffic with Iran; and sank a South Korean warship. With all that under Kim’s belt, it’s about time for North Korea to mosey back to the bargaining table and cash in again on promises to desist — as it did with the Agreed Framework nuclear freeze deal in 1994, as it did with the Six-Party Talks denuclearization deal in 2007. And now, having raked in the rewards of rogue production of plutonium, there’s one more chip that Pyongyang can bring to the bargaining table. Lo and behold! North Korea has just unveiled a fancy and apparently new facility for enriching uranium.

As we’ve all learned while watching Iran install thousands of centrifuges for uranium enrichment, this is another way of making fuel for nuclear bombs. North Korea is offering the throwaway rationale that this is all about peaceful use of nuclear power. The official line is that the enriched uranium will be used to power a light water reactor — now in the early stages of construction — which will be used to produce electricity. Setting aside the issue of whether even “peaceful” electricity is something that in North Korea would be channeled chiefly toward the military, there is still the question of whether anyone except maybe the most gullible of diplomats is meant to believe this is all about electricity. The peaceful-nuclear-power label would perhaps be credible were North Korea to invite, say, John Bolton and the entire staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency, plus any bloggers, photographers and Tea Party types who can afford the airfare, to come roam freely throughout North Korea, and visit at will everything from the prison labor camps to the Yongbyon nuclear complex. Which is another way of saying that this might be credible as a strictly peaceful program had the Kim dynasty already collapsed.

But it hasn’t. Instead, the aging Kim appears busy engineering a transition of power to his youngest son — Kim Jong Eun. Perhaps the new uranium enrichment plant is the kind of gift that any modern nuclear-loving rogue despot might wish to bequeath to his son and heir?

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Rangel Should Have Worked for the UN

November 16th, 2010 - 7:15 pm

Rep. Charles Rangel is having an unpleasant season, convicted on Tuesday by a House panel on 11 counts of ethics violations — including failure to properly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal financial assets.

Rangel would have done far better to work for the United Nations. For UN senior staff members, as long as they don’t get carried away and attempt an act of genuine transparency, it is virtually impossible to fail to properly disclose their personal financial assets to the public. That’s not because they are all paragons of disclosure. The reason they can hardly fail is that the UN has redefined the procedure of “public disclosure” to mean that UN officials do not need to disclose to the public anything whatsoever. This is the twisted product of the 2006 “reforms,” in which the Oil-for-Food-tainted UN promised greater transparency.

In the U.S. House, as the Rangel case reminds us, the requirements of disclosure involve enough detail so you can check out — with names and addresses attached — such information as, say, how much Rep. Nancy Pelosi says she made in rental income, or in Miscrosoft dividends. If you want to play around with this yourself,  just type in the name of your favorite representative in the search space on this web page for the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

But at the UN, UN senior officials — unlike Rep. Charlie Rangel and his colleagues — get a choice. Collectively, they are entrusted with handling billions of U.S. tax dollars (the U.S. chips in more than $6 billion per year, bankrolling roughly one-quarter of the UN’s system-wide budget), and they serve in high positions of global, public trust. But when it comes to disclosing their personal finances to the public, UN senior officials may, at their own discretion, opt out entirely and have the UN release zilch. Or — I’m not making this up — they can allow the release of a one-page form on which they check a box to disclose only that they don’t want to disclose anything (for instance, check out the 2009 “public disclosure” form of one of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s special envoys for climate change, Ricardo Lagos Escobar).

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… a delegation of “election observers” is led by the ambassador of North Korea.

I’m not kidding. Burma held “elections” this past Sunday, and tucked near the end of a news story on this process, in a piece carried by the Washington Post, is this priceless bit of informaton:

“A group of diplomats invited by the government to observe the process in the central city of Mandalay was led by the North Korean ambassador.”

As poll observers go, that’s a group that makes even Jimmy Carter look good. You can read a lot more detail about the sham of these “elections” in the story linked above. But if you want a memorable item that sums up not only what’s wrong in Burma, but how the old Axis of Evil is developing a whole new set of spokes, this cuts straight to the bottom line.

Time for a Tea Party at Turtle Bay

November 2nd, 2010 - 2:07 pm

Foreign policy was a side issue in Tuesday’s election. But with crises in the making, from Venezuela to Iran, and points between and beyond, the wider world will be muscling its way into the spotlight soon enough. Let’s hope the new Congress, whatever its configuration, will take a serious interest in at least trying to resume some oversight of how American tax dollars get spent at that international colosseum known as the United Nations. The issue is not solely the billions of dollars Washington pours annually into the UN — providing roughly one-quarter of a system-wide UN budget that now comes to well over $20 billion. The problem is also that along with the usual waste and fraud, the UN spends some of those American billions on activities hostile to U.S. values and interests.

Just this past week, as I noted in a post last weekend on the UN’s Tiananmen Travesty, the Chinese head of the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, presented an award to a Chinese former defense minister, Chi Haotian, who was operational commander of the troops who crushed the 1989 Tiananmen democratic uprising. Sha — UN credentials and all — delivered this award on behalf of the World Harmony Foundation, an outfit intriguingly listed by the UN itself in its accredited NGO database as having no available address or home country. Presumably that’s just UN sloppiness, given that the World Harmony Foundation on its own web site lists addresses in both Manhattan and Zhejiang, China.

Now comes word that the UN is now planning a Durban III conference for  next September in New York City. Anne Bayefsky has the details at the Weekly Standard. This Durban III would follow the UN’s Durban Review Conference held in 2009 in Geneva (with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of the main speakers), which followed the UN’s anti-Semitic Durban Conference of 2001 (which got so bad that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell ordered the U.S. delegation to walk out).

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