As the recent documentary film “UN Me” proved, the line between satire and reality at the United Nations is razor thin. There is no shortage of outrageous examples of how tyrannical regimes have twisted the founding ideals of the UN into the corrupt talking shop that currently befouls international discourse. But there are times when the world body does something so outrageous that it must give pause to even its most zealous defenders. That level was reached last week when, as UN Watch reports, Iran was voted to a top arms control post at the UN Arms Trade Treaty conference being held in Geneva this month. UN Watch rightly condemned the selection and noted that it happened not long after the UN Security Council condemned Iran for illegally transferring guns and bombs to Syria, which is currently using them to massacre its own citizens.
The choice may, as UN Watch said, defy “logic, morality and common sense,” to elect Iran to a position where it will help monitor compliance with treaty regulations about arms transfers, but since when did the UN have anything to do any of those qualities? But while this will provide Ami Horowitz with fodder for a “UN Me” sequel, the consequences of actions of this sort are actually quite serious. The UN’s legitimization of the Islamist regime undermines the already faltering efforts of the Obama administration to use diplomacy and sanctions to force Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Those seeking to understand the obdurate refusal of Tehran to play by the rules Washington would like to lay down for them — a point amply illustrated by the position paper obtained by the Times of Israel that points to Iran’s plans for expanding rather than contracting its nuclear program — have to understand Iran’s ability to pose as a legitimate player in international affairs is at the heart of their defiance. The Iranians’ success in Geneva does not do as much to harden their hearts in the P5+1 talks as President Obama’s decision to grant blanket exemptions to Iran’s chief trade partners. But it is all part of a pattern of events that allows the ayatollahs to believe the international community will never hold them accountable for their nuclear transgressions.
The only way Iran can be brought to heel without force is if the sanctions and oil embargo were rigorously enforced and the Islamist leaders of Iran were isolated in the same way those of apartheid-era South Africa were treated. But so long as the ayatollahs are able to support themselves with oil revenue and can point out to their restive people that nobody really cares about their violations of human rights and arms dealing to terrorists and tyrants, why should we expect them to believe President Obama means business when he says he won’t allow Iran to go nuclear?
The UN may be a parody of sane international relations, but the fallout from this and other outrageous examples of how regimes like Iran are treated as responsible players is no joke.