Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 20, 2011

UN Organization Erases Holocaust from Palestinian Textbooks in Jordan

I think I’m reading this right, and that the Orwellian move is formally limited only to Jordan right now. But given how the precedent is framed, it won’t stay that way for long:

The UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] director of operations in Jordan on Thursday said the agency will commit to teaching the curricula of host countries, shelving plans to include the Holocaust in school textbooks… On Wednesday, UNRWA teachers in the country threatened to escalate measures by staging work stoppages and strikes if the relief agency continues with a plan to include the Holocaust in school textbooks.

The Union of Arab Workers at UNRWA put out a statement saying that the Holocaust shouldn’t be taught in any of UNRWA’s five areas of operation — Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and Syria — and that instead the space should be used to teach students about the Right of Return. That would ostensibly “enrich” sixth and seventh generation Palestinian children by telling them that some day they’ll be overrunning Israel, and it would make the lessons consistent with the rest of UNRWA’s war curriculum.

UNRWA in Gaza should be following shortly, in line with the Hamas government’s formal policy of denying the Holocaust:

Gaza government officials on Tuesday urged school children to leave classrooms if human rights lessons included information about the Holocaust. The Hamas-led government said it would do everything it could to prevent children being taught about the Holocaust in UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip… Gaza Education Minister Mahammad Ashquol said his ministry “will never allow teaching Holocaust to Gazan refugee camp children.”

At least this time UNRWA in Gaza will have a coherent precedent — “teaching the curricula of host countries” — when they use textbooks filled with anti-Israel incitement. Last time they had to blame their pro-war content on Israel’s blockade of Gaza, because it was preventing paper from getting into the Strip so how were they supposed to print new non-genocidal textbooks, after all?

This time their execrable pretexts for their execrable behavior won’t sound quite so moronic. Progress!

I think I’m reading this right, and that the Orwellian move is formally limited only to Jordan right now. But given how the precedent is framed, it won’t stay that way for long:

The UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] director of operations in Jordan on Thursday said the agency will commit to teaching the curricula of host countries, shelving plans to include the Holocaust in school textbooks… On Wednesday, UNRWA teachers in the country threatened to escalate measures by staging work stoppages and strikes if the relief agency continues with a plan to include the Holocaust in school textbooks.

The Union of Arab Workers at UNRWA put out a statement saying that the Holocaust shouldn’t be taught in any of UNRWA’s five areas of operation — Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and Syria — and that instead the space should be used to teach students about the Right of Return. That would ostensibly “enrich” sixth and seventh generation Palestinian children by telling them that some day they’ll be overrunning Israel, and it would make the lessons consistent with the rest of UNRWA’s war curriculum.

UNRWA in Gaza should be following shortly, in line with the Hamas government’s formal policy of denying the Holocaust:

Gaza government officials on Tuesday urged school children to leave classrooms if human rights lessons included information about the Holocaust. The Hamas-led government said it would do everything it could to prevent children being taught about the Holocaust in UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip… Gaza Education Minister Mahammad Ashquol said his ministry “will never allow teaching Holocaust to Gazan refugee camp children.”

At least this time UNRWA in Gaza will have a coherent precedent — “teaching the curricula of host countries” — when they use textbooks filled with anti-Israel incitement. Last time they had to blame their pro-war content on Israel’s blockade of Gaza, because it was preventing paper from getting into the Strip so how were they supposed to print new non-genocidal textbooks, after all?

This time their execrable pretexts for their execrable behavior won’t sound quite so moronic. Progress!

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White House Reaches Out to Arab League After Rebuff

The White House might be trying to recapture the Arab League’s support for military action in Libya, after the organization condemned the intervention today.

According to The Hill, Vice President Joe Biden placed calls to Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad of Kuwait today, in an attempt to gin up endorsements for the ongoing air strikes.

The White House said that Biden “discussed with both the prime minister and the emir their mutual support for the full implementation of the resolution and the need to protect the Libyan people.”

After the Arab League’s about-face on the no-fly zone, it’s not necessary for the White House to pander to it in this way. The Obama administration has maintained for weeks that a no-fly zone would inevitably entail an attack on Libya’s air force. The UN Security Council measure, which was supported by the Arab League, clearly spelled out that “all necessary measures” – including air and sea attacks – would be used against the Libyan military.

The Arab League wants it both ways. By calling on the UN to take action, it was able to finally compel the Obama administration to support military intervention in Libya. And now that Western forces have intervened, the organization can sit back and bemoan that it was clueless about what a no-fly zone actually entailed. By continuing to seek the Arab League’s approval, the White House is rewarding disloyalty and giving the organization more weight than it deserves.

The White House might be trying to recapture the Arab League’s support for military action in Libya, after the organization condemned the intervention today.

According to The Hill, Vice President Joe Biden placed calls to Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad of Kuwait today, in an attempt to gin up endorsements for the ongoing air strikes.

The White House said that Biden “discussed with both the prime minister and the emir their mutual support for the full implementation of the resolution and the need to protect the Libyan people.”

After the Arab League’s about-face on the no-fly zone, it’s not necessary for the White House to pander to it in this way. The Obama administration has maintained for weeks that a no-fly zone would inevitably entail an attack on Libya’s air force. The UN Security Council measure, which was supported by the Arab League, clearly spelled out that “all necessary measures” – including air and sea attacks – would be used against the Libyan military.

The Arab League wants it both ways. By calling on the UN to take action, it was able to finally compel the Obama administration to support military intervention in Libya. And now that Western forces have intervened, the organization can sit back and bemoan that it was clueless about what a no-fly zone actually entailed. By continuing to seek the Arab League’s approval, the White House is rewarding disloyalty and giving the organization more weight than it deserves.

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A Coalition Isn’t an Endgame

Liberal supporters of Barack Obama’s war in Libya argue that this is all vastly different from President Bush’s war in Iraq, because the former has been more successful in winning international sanction. (See, for instance, these articles by Peter Bergen and David Corn.) Unfortunately, as Abe has already pointed out, there are limits to how far our new-found supporters are willing to go–witness the weasely Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League, who is already starting to disassociate himself from actions taken in the Arab League’s name. (No doubt turning on the West will be good fodder for his campaign for Egypt’s presidency.)

The broader point is that international support at the beginning of an operation is less important than support at the end–and that depends not on how many UN resolutions you can win (we had quite a few in the case of Iraq, it is worth recalling) but how successful you are in achieving your war aims on the ground. Case in point: the war in Afghanistan which had as much international support as possible when it started in 2001 but has been fast declining in popularity, with allies pulling their forces out or about to, because it has dragged on so long and so indecisively. When it comes to Iraq, my firm belief is that if the war had gone as well as the Bush administration had expected–if our forces had found WMD stockpiles and if they had managed to quickly stabilize the situation and avoid a protracted insurgency–then there would have been widespread support for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein including across the Muslim world. The war became intensely unpopular, and a rallying point for jihadist forces, not because it lacked sufficient UN authorization (something that Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Muqtada al Sadr couldn’t have cared less about), but because it was incompetently conducted and led to a vacuum of authority that radicals could fill.

In Libya, what this means is that the Obama administration should tone down its boasting–which so far has proven false, anyway–about how other countries are taking the lead. Rather than rushing to put the U.S. in the background, they should be worrying about the endgame: how are we going to get Qaddafi out of power and what comes next? There is a real danger of a protracted stalemate followed by a precipitous collapse of the regime leading to a vacuum of authority which could be filled by tribal fighters and jihadists. To avert such an outcome we should be training the rebel armed forces and making plans to send in an international peacekeeping force to assist in the transition if and when Qaddafi is finally pushed out of power.

Liberal supporters of Barack Obama’s war in Libya argue that this is all vastly different from President Bush’s war in Iraq, because the former has been more successful in winning international sanction. (See, for instance, these articles by Peter Bergen and David Corn.) Unfortunately, as Abe has already pointed out, there are limits to how far our new-found supporters are willing to go–witness the weasely Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League, who is already starting to disassociate himself from actions taken in the Arab League’s name. (No doubt turning on the West will be good fodder for his campaign for Egypt’s presidency.)

The broader point is that international support at the beginning of an operation is less important than support at the end–and that depends not on how many UN resolutions you can win (we had quite a few in the case of Iraq, it is worth recalling) but how successful you are in achieving your war aims on the ground. Case in point: the war in Afghanistan which had as much international support as possible when it started in 2001 but has been fast declining in popularity, with allies pulling their forces out or about to, because it has dragged on so long and so indecisively. When it comes to Iraq, my firm belief is that if the war had gone as well as the Bush administration had expected–if our forces had found WMD stockpiles and if they had managed to quickly stabilize the situation and avoid a protracted insurgency–then there would have been widespread support for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein including across the Muslim world. The war became intensely unpopular, and a rallying point for jihadist forces, not because it lacked sufficient UN authorization (something that Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Muqtada al Sadr couldn’t have cared less about), but because it was incompetently conducted and led to a vacuum of authority that radicals could fill.

In Libya, what this means is that the Obama administration should tone down its boasting–which so far has proven false, anyway–about how other countries are taking the lead. Rather than rushing to put the U.S. in the background, they should be worrying about the endgame: how are we going to get Qaddafi out of power and what comes next? There is a real danger of a protracted stalemate followed by a precipitous collapse of the regime leading to a vacuum of authority which could be filled by tribal fighters and jihadists. To avert such an outcome we should be training the rebel armed forces and making plans to send in an international peacekeeping force to assist in the transition if and when Qaddafi is finally pushed out of power.

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Melanie Phillips Column Sparks Police Complaints Against the Spectator

This may come as a surprise to you if you’ve ever read the Guardian’s coverage of Israel, but there are apparently very strict rules that prohibit the British media from publishing racist or discriminatory articles. While that hasn’t seemed to curb the borderline anti-Semitism at the Guardian, a Muslim advocacy group has filed a police complaint against the Spectator for publishing an allegedly “offensive” column by Melanie Phillips:

A Melanie Phillips blog post on the Spectator website which referred to the “moral depravity” of Arab “savages” is being investigated by the Press Complaints Commission.

The online comment piece, headlined “Armchair barbarism”, focused on media coverage of the murder of five members of a Jewish family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar by Palestinian militants earlier this month.

While the Guardian and the Independent both claimed that there was an investigation against the publication, the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson writes that this is untrue. While two Muslim advocacy groups have filed complaints with the PCC and the Bedfordshire Police, the case hasn’t gone further than that.

Of course, the case doesn’t have to go further than that. The advocacy groups have already succeeded at portraying a fairly unobjectionable Spectator column as Islamophobic, thanks to the compliance of the British media. As Nelson points out, the scheme went something like this:

1) Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK, gets angry about what he reads on Melanie’s blog.
2) Complains to the PCC.
3) Complains to the police.
4) Phones up The Guardian and says “The PCC are investigating The Spectator!! Story!! Police too!!
5) The Guardian duly writes it all up, on its website.
6) The Independent follows up The Guardian.
7) An inverted pyramid of piffle is thus constructed.

A foolproof plan. And, as of now, there’s still no correction on the Guardian’s website.

This may come as a surprise to you if you’ve ever read the Guardian’s coverage of Israel, but there are apparently very strict rules that prohibit the British media from publishing racist or discriminatory articles. While that hasn’t seemed to curb the borderline anti-Semitism at the Guardian, a Muslim advocacy group has filed a police complaint against the Spectator for publishing an allegedly “offensive” column by Melanie Phillips:

A Melanie Phillips blog post on the Spectator website which referred to the “moral depravity” of Arab “savages” is being investigated by the Press Complaints Commission.

The online comment piece, headlined “Armchair barbarism”, focused on media coverage of the murder of five members of a Jewish family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar by Palestinian militants earlier this month.

While the Guardian and the Independent both claimed that there was an investigation against the publication, the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson writes that this is untrue. While two Muslim advocacy groups have filed complaints with the PCC and the Bedfordshire Police, the case hasn’t gone further than that.

Of course, the case doesn’t have to go further than that. The advocacy groups have already succeeded at portraying a fairly unobjectionable Spectator column as Islamophobic, thanks to the compliance of the British media. As Nelson points out, the scheme went something like this:

1) Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK, gets angry about what he reads on Melanie’s blog.
2) Complains to the PCC.
3) Complains to the police.
4) Phones up The Guardian and says “The PCC are investigating The Spectator!! Story!! Police too!!
5) The Guardian duly writes it all up, on its website.
6) The Independent follows up The Guardian.
7) An inverted pyramid of piffle is thus constructed.

A foolproof plan. And, as of now, there’s still no correction on the Guardian’s website.

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The Arab League Condemns the Help It Requested

The Arab League wanted our help. Until they got it.

The head of the Arab League has criticized international strikes on Libya, saying they caused civilian deaths.

The Arab League’s support for a no-fly zone last week helped overcome reluctance in the West for action in Libya. The U.N. authorized not only a no-fly zone but also “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

Amr Moussa says the military operations have gone beyond what the Arab League backed.

Sure, and he’d like that with one and a half Splendas, hazelnut soy, cinnamon, no nutmeg, and a sprinkling of criticism toward Israel.  Which is why the U.S. should act on its own initiative. The no-fly zone and its attendant operations are worthwhile and morally sound all on their own. They didn’t become any more so because non-democratic governments gave them a temporary thumbs-up.

The Arab League wanted our help. Until they got it.

The head of the Arab League has criticized international strikes on Libya, saying they caused civilian deaths.

The Arab League’s support for a no-fly zone last week helped overcome reluctance in the West for action in Libya. The U.N. authorized not only a no-fly zone but also “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.

Amr Moussa says the military operations have gone beyond what the Arab League backed.

Sure, and he’d like that with one and a half Splendas, hazelnut soy, cinnamon, no nutmeg, and a sprinkling of criticism toward Israel.  Which is why the U.S. should act on its own initiative. The no-fly zone and its attendant operations are worthwhile and morally sound all on their own. They didn’t become any more so because non-democratic governments gave them a temporary thumbs-up.

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Obama Administration Goes Easy on Palestinian Authority’s Celebrating a Child-Murderer

I made the same point on Twitter but it’s worth asking again to a broader audience. On one side you have Israel taking a partial step in approving the construction of Jewish homes in the capital of the Jewish State. On the other side you have Palestinian Authority officials celebrating Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist who led the murder of 37 Israelis including 13 children.

Compare…

Clinton rebuked… Netanyahu… demanding that Israel take immediate steps to show it is interested in renewing efforts to achieve a Middle East peace agreement… Clinton called Netanyahu “to make clear the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship… [and that] this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests.”… Clinton appeared to link U.S. military support for Israel to the construction.

… and contrast:

The State Department called “disturbing” reports that Palestinian Authority officials attended the renaming of a square after a terrorist, saying it condemned such commemorations. “We are very disturbed by these reports and are seeking clarification from the Palestinian Authority,” a State Department official told JTA. “We condemn any commemoration of acts of terrorism and underscore that all parties have an obligation to end incitement.”

Assuming that State gets clarification from the Palestinians that they did indeed do what they did – a nicety our Israeli allies were not offered – will Abbas face the same fury from the White House? Will it be publicly announced that he is harming American interests? Will cuts in U.S. assistance get dangled in front of his face? Above all else, will he be instructed to make specific concessions to the Israelis lest President Obama escalate the diplomatic row into a full-blown breakdown?

The Israelis were not violating specific agreements with the United States when they got that treatment, while the Palestinian Authority is obligated to end incitement. So it would seem that what Abbas’s subordinates did was worse than what Netanyahu’s subordinates did. There are very few explanations short of personal antipathy for why the White House would be harsher with a stable democratic ally than with a terrorist-celebrating quasi-government. Certainly “objectively promoting American interests” doesn’t seem to be on the list.

Also that line about how “all parties have an obligation to end incitement,” as if the Israelis were also naming squares after terrorist child-murderers – kind of obnoxious.

I made the same point on Twitter but it’s worth asking again to a broader audience. On one side you have Israel taking a partial step in approving the construction of Jewish homes in the capital of the Jewish State. On the other side you have Palestinian Authority officials celebrating Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist who led the murder of 37 Israelis including 13 children.

Compare…

Clinton rebuked… Netanyahu… demanding that Israel take immediate steps to show it is interested in renewing efforts to achieve a Middle East peace agreement… Clinton called Netanyahu “to make clear the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship… [and that] this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests.”… Clinton appeared to link U.S. military support for Israel to the construction.

… and contrast:

The State Department called “disturbing” reports that Palestinian Authority officials attended the renaming of a square after a terrorist, saying it condemned such commemorations. “We are very disturbed by these reports and are seeking clarification from the Palestinian Authority,” a State Department official told JTA. “We condemn any commemoration of acts of terrorism and underscore that all parties have an obligation to end incitement.”

Assuming that State gets clarification from the Palestinians that they did indeed do what they did – a nicety our Israeli allies were not offered – will Abbas face the same fury from the White House? Will it be publicly announced that he is harming American interests? Will cuts in U.S. assistance get dangled in front of his face? Above all else, will he be instructed to make specific concessions to the Israelis lest President Obama escalate the diplomatic row into a full-blown breakdown?

The Israelis were not violating specific agreements with the United States when they got that treatment, while the Palestinian Authority is obligated to end incitement. So it would seem that what Abbas’s subordinates did was worse than what Netanyahu’s subordinates did. There are very few explanations short of personal antipathy for why the White House would be harsher with a stable democratic ally than with a terrorist-celebrating quasi-government. Certainly “objectively promoting American interests” doesn’t seem to be on the list.

Also that line about how “all parties have an obligation to end incitement,” as if the Israelis were also naming squares after terrorist child-murderers – kind of obnoxious.

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Tweedledee Ranks Law Schools

Lewis Carroll had nothing on the National Jurist, a magazine for law students. The cover story of the current issue is “How Rankings Are Destroying Law Schools.” But another article in the very same issue . . . (wait for it!) ranks law schools. This time it’s according to their student body “diversity. “

And what makes a law school “diverse”? It’s strictly according to what percentage of the student body is black, Hispanic, or Asian-American, with a boost for exceeding the percentage of those groups in the general population of the state in which the law school is located. The result is an absurdity.

Traditionally black schools, such as Howard University (No. 3), and schools in areas with very high minority populations, such as the University of Hawaii (No. 11), automatically rank very high, although their student bodies, in fact, are very un-diverse.

If there were a law school whose student body consisted entirely of left-handed gay black Baptist male stamp collectors from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, it would be the most diverse law school in the country under this formula.

As Tweedledee says in Through the Looking Glass, “Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

(H/T instapundit)

Lewis Carroll had nothing on the National Jurist, a magazine for law students. The cover story of the current issue is “How Rankings Are Destroying Law Schools.” But another article in the very same issue . . . (wait for it!) ranks law schools. This time it’s according to their student body “diversity. “

And what makes a law school “diverse”? It’s strictly according to what percentage of the student body is black, Hispanic, or Asian-American, with a boost for exceeding the percentage of those groups in the general population of the state in which the law school is located. The result is an absurdity.

Traditionally black schools, such as Howard University (No. 3), and schools in areas with very high minority populations, such as the University of Hawaii (No. 11), automatically rank very high, although their student bodies, in fact, are very un-diverse.

If there were a law school whose student body consisted entirely of left-handed gay black Baptist male stamp collectors from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, it would be the most diverse law school in the country under this formula.

As Tweedledee says in Through the Looking Glass, “Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

(H/T instapundit)

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UN Women’s Rights Commission Singles Out Israel for Condemnation, Ignores Iran

This is reaching the level of self-caricature. No sooner does Iran get a seat on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women than it uses it with tragicomic predictability:

[The] U.N. policy-making body dedicated to “gender equality and the advancement of women” adopted a resolution accusing Israel of holding back the advancement of Palestinian women, but it took no action on the emergency in Libya or the legally enshrined discrimination faced by women in Iran. The only country-specific resolution passed by the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at its recent session in New York was one condemning Israel over the Palestinian issue.

Iranian prison guards rape female dissidents before executing them, lest their victims go to heaven as virgins. Iranian men get to avail themselves of temporary marriages, de facto legalizing the institutionalized slavery and rape of prepubescent girls. Iranian women are consigned to the backs of buses, have to shroud their bodies from head to toe, and can’t wear anything bright or shiny.

That’s just what’s happening in a single CSW member state.

The greater hypocrisy is what was ignored globally so that the Commission could spend time demonizing Israel. It’s not necessary to belabor the second-class status that women are consigned to throughout the Muslim world, except maybe to note two things that diverge from the quotidian misery.

First, it’s worth noting what’s happening to women in ostensibly egalitarian Turkey, and for that Michael Rubin’s recent post is mandatory reading. Second, not calling out what’s happening to women in Egypt right now is simply unconscionable. A body charged with promoting women’s freedom can’t ignore when freedom in general comes at the expense of women’s physical security, even if horrific gender apartheid has been woven into Egyptian society for centuries. Nina Burleigh is instructive on that last part.

Turkey and Egypt have horrific records on women’s rights. Iran, a CSW member state, is worse than both of them. And yet again Israel got singled out for condemnation, because it’s the UN so why not?

This is reaching the level of self-caricature. No sooner does Iran get a seat on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women than it uses it with tragicomic predictability:

[The] U.N. policy-making body dedicated to “gender equality and the advancement of women” adopted a resolution accusing Israel of holding back the advancement of Palestinian women, but it took no action on the emergency in Libya or the legally enshrined discrimination faced by women in Iran. The only country-specific resolution passed by the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at its recent session in New York was one condemning Israel over the Palestinian issue.

Iranian prison guards rape female dissidents before executing them, lest their victims go to heaven as virgins. Iranian men get to avail themselves of temporary marriages, de facto legalizing the institutionalized slavery and rape of prepubescent girls. Iranian women are consigned to the backs of buses, have to shroud their bodies from head to toe, and can’t wear anything bright or shiny.

That’s just what’s happening in a single CSW member state.

The greater hypocrisy is what was ignored globally so that the Commission could spend time demonizing Israel. It’s not necessary to belabor the second-class status that women are consigned to throughout the Muslim world, except maybe to note two things that diverge from the quotidian misery.

First, it’s worth noting what’s happening to women in ostensibly egalitarian Turkey, and for that Michael Rubin’s recent post is mandatory reading. Second, not calling out what’s happening to women in Egypt right now is simply unconscionable. A body charged with promoting women’s freedom can’t ignore when freedom in general comes at the expense of women’s physical security, even if horrific gender apartheid has been woven into Egyptian society for centuries. Nina Burleigh is instructive on that last part.

Turkey and Egypt have horrific records on women’s rights. Iran, a CSW member state, is worse than both of them. And yet again Israel got singled out for condemnation, because it’s the UN so why not?

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U.S. Popularity Suffers “Big Losses in Every Region,” While MSM Focuses on Bush

Another year of dithering and fumbling has somewhat tarnished The One’s halo:

The list of countries where approval of U.S. leadership dropped substantially in 2010 is nearly four times longer than the list of countries with sizable gains. It also represents every major global region and includes major nations. Notably, U.S. leadership lost significant ground in three Arab countries — United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Algeria — but the relatively low approval ratings are still higher in Egypt and Algeria than during the Bush administration.

Every write-up I saw was careful to note that last caveat, where Gallup emphasized that Obama’s America is still more popular than the second half of the second term of Bush’s America. AFP, for example, put it in the lede and then repeated it so many times that Bush’s name appeared more in the article than Obama’s name.

The punchline, of course, is that even this argument is a red herring. Popularity is a component of global influence but it’s not the definition. Exerting our power is a tradeoff between doing what we need to do when it’s unpopular and following the international consensus when it’s popular.

Bush’s America was feeling the fallout from mobilizing mostly Western allies to invade mostly Muslim countries – the price of leading coalitions of the willing while most of the world remained unwilling. Obama doesn’t have that excuse.

What Obama has is the promise of buying global popularity with American deference. The president – along with Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and their media and academic enablers – insisted that subordinating ourselves to the Lilliputians at the United Nations would create robust alliances. Listening to the Arab Street was supposed to quiet its clamor. Resetting relations with rivals, as in banana republics where each new regime repudiates and apologizes for the last, was supposed to create long-lasting dialogues.

Instead we have a situation where we’re ceding the global stage without the promised payoff of even a pat on the back. Maybe another Cairo Speech will fix things.

Another year of dithering and fumbling has somewhat tarnished The One’s halo:

The list of countries where approval of U.S. leadership dropped substantially in 2010 is nearly four times longer than the list of countries with sizable gains. It also represents every major global region and includes major nations. Notably, U.S. leadership lost significant ground in three Arab countries — United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Algeria — but the relatively low approval ratings are still higher in Egypt and Algeria than during the Bush administration.

Every write-up I saw was careful to note that last caveat, where Gallup emphasized that Obama’s America is still more popular than the second half of the second term of Bush’s America. AFP, for example, put it in the lede and then repeated it so many times that Bush’s name appeared more in the article than Obama’s name.

The punchline, of course, is that even this argument is a red herring. Popularity is a component of global influence but it’s not the definition. Exerting our power is a tradeoff between doing what we need to do when it’s unpopular and following the international consensus when it’s popular.

Bush’s America was feeling the fallout from mobilizing mostly Western allies to invade mostly Muslim countries – the price of leading coalitions of the willing while most of the world remained unwilling. Obama doesn’t have that excuse.

What Obama has is the promise of buying global popularity with American deference. The president – along with Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and their media and academic enablers – insisted that subordinating ourselves to the Lilliputians at the United Nations would create robust alliances. Listening to the Arab Street was supposed to quiet its clamor. Resetting relations with rivals, as in banana republics where each new regime repudiates and apologizes for the last, was supposed to create long-lasting dialogues.

Instead we have a situation where we’re ceding the global stage without the promised payoff of even a pat on the back. Maybe another Cairo Speech will fix things.

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Thank You, Warren Christopher

Warren Christopher came from the humblest of beginnings. Born in 1925 in North Dakota, in a small prairie town settled by European immigrants around 1900, he watched his father and mother struggle there during the Depression. In Chances of a Lifetime, he wrote that he learned “the look and sound of dignity and stoicism in the face of adversity,” and the “human scenes I witnessed in the flat, dry North Dakota plains while at my father’s side may account more than anything else for the tilt of my social and political concerns in the direction of the unfortunate.”

His intelligence was intimidating. He graduated at age 19 from USC magna cum laude, served in World War II, and went to Stanford Law School, where he became the first president of the Stanford Law Review. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, joined the premier Los Angeles law firm, and eventually became its managing partner. He periodically left for public service: deputy attorney general under Johnson; deputy secretary of state under Carter; secretary of state under Clinton. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. Read More

Warren Christopher came from the humblest of beginnings. Born in 1925 in North Dakota, in a small prairie town settled by European immigrants around 1900, he watched his father and mother struggle there during the Depression. In Chances of a Lifetime, he wrote that he learned “the look and sound of dignity and stoicism in the face of adversity,” and the “human scenes I witnessed in the flat, dry North Dakota plains while at my father’s side may account more than anything else for the tilt of my social and political concerns in the direction of the unfortunate.”

His intelligence was intimidating. He graduated at age 19 from USC magna cum laude, served in World War II, and went to Stanford Law School, where he became the first president of the Stanford Law Review. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, joined the premier Los Angeles law firm, and eventually became its managing partner. He periodically left for public service: deputy attorney general under Johnson; deputy secretary of state under Carter; secretary of state under Clinton. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.

Here is a small but telling example of his integrity and intensity: he appointed the first Jewish ambassador to Israel, rejecting the traditional State view that it would be a “conflict of interest” for a Jew to serve in that position. He made 24 trips to Syria pursuing a Syrian-Israeli deal.

It was his conviction that the more you listened, the more people trusted you. He aspired, he said, to the standard of Shakespeare’s statesman, who could “hold his tongue in ten different languages.” Someone once asked how he managed to be so unflappable, and he replied he did not feel that way at all – he felt like a duck on water, calm on the surface but paddling furiously underneath to stay afloat.

His most famous public moment was leading the negotiations for the release of the 52 Americans held hostage by Iran, which he wrote about privately later. He was proud he had offered Iran no apology, no ransom, and no return of the Shah or the Shah’s assets, and he did not know until the last moment whether the negotiations would succeed. Iran’s acceptance came at 7 a.m. on his final day, and his recollection included a characteristic gesture of appreciation for the efforts of others:

I straightened my tie and went down to sign before a hundred cameras – in clothes I had not taken off for 48 hours. Our teams stood behind us, and one of the aides standing behind us fell asleep on his feet, teetered, and was caught by a colleague. I signed with a pen borrowed from Assistant Secretary Harold Saunders as a reflection of my esteem for his 14-1/2 months of dedication to the release of the hostages.

A few months later, he offered some thoughts on human rights in a commencement address at Bates College that are worth reading in light of what happened over the succeeding 30 years and is happening today:

Human rights is not a means to comfort our enemies by harassing our friends. Rather it is a strategy to identify America with the cause of human freedom, and to advance it wherever and however we can. … [F]or all of its complications, a human rights policy is one of profound importance to our long term interest in the world. It is not secondary to containing the Soviet Union, but essential to it.

Open political systems have a great practical advantage. They can absorb and reflect popular aspirations. In closed systems, grievances are likely to find expression in other ways – in radical politics and violent acts. … Unquestionably, communism and terrorism are enemies of order. But we deceive ourselves if we think human misery is not as great an enemy, for its gives the others places to flourish.

He began his life profoundly affected by the human misery he observed, and it guided him in his public service, together with a vision of the United States as exceptional — something he recognized in the story of his own life. At the conclusion of his Bates address he said:

The United States, unlike other nations, is not identified by common ethnic traits or cultural traditions. Instead, the United States, uniquely, is organized around an idea – principally a reverence for the inherent worth and the dignity of each human being.

We owe him a great debt of gratitude for a model of selfless service, emanating from small-town values and a large appreciation of his country, lived through an extraordinary career in which he worked until the last few weeks of his 86th year.

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“Responsibility To Protect,” Not Remotely New

Nothing’s better than when the UN shoehorns “new security and human rights norms” into Chapter VII resolutions:

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also said on Thursday that the justification for the use of force was based on humanitarian grounds, and referred to the principle known as Responsibility to Protect (R2P), “a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

R2P isn’t really a new idea, and it’s not even particularly new to the United Nations. It just hasn’t been used this way before. In the past it’s been applied mainly to African contexts, as an argument for why humanitarian concerns justified intervention. It was more or less formalized by the UN in a 2006 resolution, and then Ban pushed it again in a 2009 report called Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. In 2009, we also saw the creation of the International Coalition For The Responsibility To Protect, a group of NGO’s brought together to extend and institutionalize R2P.

Some might be suspicious of the ICRtoP because its funding comes from organizations that provide backing for Israel-demonizing NGO’s. The coalition’s government donors include the governments of Sweden and Britain (NGO Monitor writeups here and here) and it gets part of its foundation money from the Oak Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (NGO Monitor shoutouts here and here). But that would be mere guilt by donor association. Here is a less ambiguous sample of ICRtoP thinking from 2009, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza:

The recent escalation of violence in Gaza has raised serious questions about the use of the Responsibility to Protect to urge international action to protect civilians in the conflict. The Responsibility to Protect has been referred to, notably by Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but also others who claim that crimes committed in Gaza by Israeli forces have reached the threshold of R2P crimes.

This is part and parcel of the statements that the ICRtoP has been publishing since it was established in the immediate aftermath of Cast Lead. They published a petition absurdly insisting that “the rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not… amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence.” They passed along Richard Falk’s “Israelis could be charged with war crimes” lawfare spin on the Goldstone Report. They reprinted other articles accusing Israelis of war crimes here and here and here and here and here. All of this was under the umbrella of “evaluating” whether R2P should be brought to bear against Israel’s self-defense campaigns.

The Responsibility To Protect, in other words, is an international norm that has been incubated with eyes on Israel at least since Cast Lead. Now it’s being used as the basis for UN resolutions backed by French warplanes and American Tomahawks. How did that get in there?

Nothing’s better than when the UN shoehorns “new security and human rights norms” into Chapter VII resolutions:

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also said on Thursday that the justification for the use of force was based on humanitarian grounds, and referred to the principle known as Responsibility to Protect (R2P), “a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

R2P isn’t really a new idea, and it’s not even particularly new to the United Nations. It just hasn’t been used this way before. In the past it’s been applied mainly to African contexts, as an argument for why humanitarian concerns justified intervention. It was more or less formalized by the UN in a 2006 resolution, and then Ban pushed it again in a 2009 report called Implementing the Responsibility to Protect. In 2009, we also saw the creation of the International Coalition For The Responsibility To Protect, a group of NGO’s brought together to extend and institutionalize R2P.

Some might be suspicious of the ICRtoP because its funding comes from organizations that provide backing for Israel-demonizing NGO’s. The coalition’s government donors include the governments of Sweden and Britain (NGO Monitor writeups here and here) and it gets part of its foundation money from the Oak Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (NGO Monitor shoutouts here and here). But that would be mere guilt by donor association. Here is a less ambiguous sample of ICRtoP thinking from 2009, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza:

The recent escalation of violence in Gaza has raised serious questions about the use of the Responsibility to Protect to urge international action to protect civilians in the conflict. The Responsibility to Protect has been referred to, notably by Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but also others who claim that crimes committed in Gaza by Israeli forces have reached the threshold of R2P crimes.

This is part and parcel of the statements that the ICRtoP has been publishing since it was established in the immediate aftermath of Cast Lead. They published a petition absurdly insisting that “the rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not… amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence.” They passed along Richard Falk’s “Israelis could be charged with war crimes” lawfare spin on the Goldstone Report. They reprinted other articles accusing Israelis of war crimes here and here and here and here and here. All of this was under the umbrella of “evaluating” whether R2P should be brought to bear against Israel’s self-defense campaigns.

The Responsibility To Protect, in other words, is an international norm that has been incubated with eyes on Israel at least since Cast Lead. Now it’s being used as the basis for UN resolutions backed by French warplanes and American Tomahawks. How did that get in there?

Read Less




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