UN Brings U.S. a New Low in Iran Diplomacy
Every time you think it can't get worse....
It's quite bad enough that Iran is taking over the three-year chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement -- one of the largest voting blocs in the United Nations General Assembly -- and is right now hosting a summit for the occasion in Tehran.
It's even worse that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon decided to attend this summit, and is right now in Tehran, where he met Wednesday with terrorist-backing, pro-genocide rulers such as the putative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and big boss Ali Khamenei (he of the Iranian Islamic Revolution's modest title "Supreme Leader"). You can see a photo of the Khamenei encounter here, courtesy of Iran's Fars News Agency, in which Ban is leaning forward, head humbly lowered, presumably to catch every word of the enthroned ayatollah.
But on top of that display comes word that Ban, while touring the Tehran regime, has brought in tow a former U.S. assistant secretary of state, Jeffrey Feltman, who just last month moved to the UN to serve as under-secretary-general for political affairs. Actually, what delivered that news more powerfully than words was another photo, released by Iranian authorities and, appropriately enough, dubbed "Photo of the Day" by Foreign Policy. The photo gives a wider view of Ban's meeting with Khamenei, in which Khamenei sat authoritatively in a chair, and Ban sat humbly on a couch -- and there, sharing the couch right next to Ban, is the American, Jeffrey Feltman.
Feltman looks ill at ease, eyeing the photographer while Ban's attentions are all on Khamenei. There are plenty of reasons for Feltman to look uneasy. This is a diplomatic coup for Iran's regime, which tops the U.S. list of terrorist-sponsoring states, thumbs its nose at UN and U.S. sanctions, and continues to pursue nuclear weapons, coupled with threats to America and America's allies -- including the genocidal threat to annihilate Israel. Nonetheless, not only has the UN secretary-general gone to Iran to round out the guest list of Iran's pals in "non-alignment." He has also brought with him, under the UN banner, a former high-ranking U.S. diplomat, to help pay court to Khamenei.
Did Feltman have a choice? After all, he left his career with the U.S. government, and on July 2 joined the UN, where he now works for Ban. Though it's tacitly understood at the UN that the U.S. administration actually decides which American will fill the slot -- a double-edged arrangement in which the U.S. in theory has special influence over the UN's Department of Political Affairs, but by the same token is implicated in its doings. A question at a UN press briefing last week (which received no answer) suggested Feltman may have tried to warn Ban against going to Tehran -- but whatever went on behind the scenes, the result is now clear. Both Ban, and Feltman, made the trip.
Yes, Feltman did have a choice. On the simplest level, to take one classic UN dodge, he could have complained at the last minute of some phantom health problem or other -- a sudden need for a few days of vacation, or whatever -- and begged off the trip. And if, on principle, he's unwilling to fib for the sake of the free world, he could have taken things further and, also on principle, resigned.
As it is, Ban's pilgrimage to Tehran, with American former administration official in tow, is not going to discourage the malice and nuclear ventures of the Iranian regime; it is going to fuel the mix. The real message is that no matter how monstrous Iran's transgressions, the high-level petitioners will line up deferentially, shoulder-to-shoulder, on Khamenei's couch, the cherries on top of Khamenei's "Non-Aligned" confection, while the photographers snap publicity photos to enshrine the occasion. Perhaps, when Feltman returns from his UN jaunt to Tehran, he'd be willing to reconsider the effusive thanks he expressed to Ban upon taking the UN job -- video of that moment posted here, thanks to Matthew Lee of Inner-City Press. Among other things, Feltman upon joining the UN told Ban that he found it "humbling" to be in the presence of so much UN expertise. Just how humbling is becoming every more clear.