United Nations Archives

How I Learned to Love (the Iranian) Bomb

Are you comfortable with the idea of Iran with a nuclear bomb? Hope you’re getting really comfy. All the stern UN resolutions and severely worded reports have done precisely nothing.

Iran will be able to develop enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb and there is little that can be done to prevent it, an internal European Union document has concluded.

In an admission of the international community’s failure to hold back Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the document – compiled by the staff of Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief – says the atomic programme has been delayed only by technical limitations rather than diplomatic pressure. “Attempts to engage the Iranian administration in a negotiating process have not so far succeeded,” it states.

Imagine that; trying to negotiate with radicals has failed. Who would’ve thought? The result has been that indeed Iran is going to have nuclear materials.

The downbeat conclusions of the “reflection paper” – seen by the Financial Times – are certain to be seized on by advocates of military action, who fear that Iran will be able to produce enough fissile material for a bomb over the next two to three years. Tehran insists its purposes are purely peaceful.

“At some stage we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons programme,” says the paper, dated February 7 and circulated to the EU’s 27 national governments ahead of a foreign ministers meeting yesterday.

“In practice…the Iranians have pursued their programme at their own pace, the limiting factor being technical difficulties rather than resolutions by the UN or the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The problems with Iran will not be resolved through economic sanctions alone.”

If those sanctions had been in place earlier and would’ve been stronger, then maybe–maybe–they would have had more effect. But everyone’s afraid of making the mullahs mad at us. “If we push too hard, it may increase tensions and drive them away from us.” Well guess what; they’re going their own way anyway, and all the UN resolutions you can muster won’t change that.

Not to mention that it’s hard to imagine sanctions working when our “allies” like France and Russia were enriching Saddam during the Oil-for-Food program. With friends like these….

The admission is a blow to hopes that a deal with Iran can be reached and comes at a sensitive time, when tensions between the US and Tehran are rising. Its implication that sanctions will prove ineffective will also be unwelcome to EU diplomats. Only yesterday the bloc agreed on how to apply United Nations sanctions on Tehran, overcoming a dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar.

So the diplomatic elite will dither and produce more reports and redundant findings that confirm, once again, that you can’t negotiate in good faith with radicals. In the meantime, some say that the military option should be completely off the table, which I’m sure Tehran is very comforted to hear.

What the solution is at this point, I have no idea. I do know, however, that the world, in recent decades, has looked down at the US for its solutions but always lays the world’s problems at the feet of the US and scolds us for not doing more long after the world has failed to really do anything. What has Europe really done about the Iran problem? What has the UN done about the North Korean problem? Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. When will the world wake up to the fact that negotiating with dictators and radicals is an insane proposition, for everyone?

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Robert VerBruggen at Blogger News Network takes a closer look at the UN climate report.

First of all, the scientists are 90 percent humans cause warming to what degree? I don’t think anyone has said that natural fluctuations don’t affect climate at all. If emissions cause 1 percent of warming, that’s not that helpful for solving the problem. Even if you’re 100 percent certain.

Indeed, that’s a key question. If all our efforts and our billions of dollars won’t make a dent, is it really worth the effort? Robert looks into the report for the answer.

To answer the question I read the report itself (OK, the policymaker summary, sue me). Soon after claiming a 90 percent chance that humans have caused more warming than cooling (page 3), the report claims that “most” of the warming is “very likely” (90-95 percent) to have been human-caused.

So of the warming that is happening, the UN panel says that >50% is caused by humans. Except that they’re less sure when they’re dealing with actual data than when they’re doing their predictions of the future.

Finally, take a look at the chart on page 7 of the report, where the researchers look at various trends — whether they occurred, whether human activity caused them and whether they’ll continue in the future. Somehow, the first two columns have “likely” and “very likely” popping up a lot, but the future predictions have two “virtually certains.” In every single category, the scientists are equally or more certain about the future than the past.

Tell me how is it, exactly, that the panel is better at predicting the future than at analyzing established data? For example, it’s “very likely” that there were fewer and warmer cold days in the late 20th century, and “likely” human activity contributed to it, but “virtually certain” this will continue in the future.

Good question. In the coming days, I expect more folks will be taking a closer look at this. If we really are causing most of the global warming–if we broke it–we should fix it. And in the meantime, there are so many simple things we can do to reduce our energy requirements (florescent bulbs, telecommuting, etc.) that there’s no real reason to ignore this.

At the same time, in the current not-so-scientific climate where people are being cowed into silence by man-made-global-warming proponents, you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit wary of any report from scientists who are in lockstep agreement on the issue.

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Will Sanctions Work…This Time?

Will sanctions really work this time? Unlike those in Iraq, in which our “allies” made deals under the table, it looks like even China is going along with the UN resolution against North Korea; not just in word but, so far, in deed. That was one of the big questions before the vote; would China go along. The big question after the vote is whether or not this is a smokescreen; playing nice here and there to mask backroom deals.

Another big question is whether or not the sanctions will have the desired effect on North Korea. Both questions will require that we be vigilante in making sure they are fully in force, and also not kid ourselves that they just need more time when it becomes apparent they’re not working.

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The Press Starts to Wake Up

A couple of good posts by Meryl Yourish on how the media is finally coming around. A little.

Detractors of the UN (including myself) have long known that it descends into self-parody far too often, and on important matters. One of the most egregious examples has been the UN’s Human Rights Council that is populated, and sometimes chaired, by representatives of countries with the worst human records. Meryl notes that the Washington Post is even panning it now.

Also, the Associated Press has finally come to the conclusion that many of us already arrived at; Hamas isn’t going to be moderating anytime soon. This is not news to us, but it is news that the news thinks it’s news.

We can only hope there’s a trend emerging.

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The Calm Before the (Next) Storm

Ah, the wonders of a UN resolution. The peacekeeping troops are there, and they’re doing…what, exactly?

One month after a United Nations Security Council resolution ended a 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, members of the international force sent to help keep the peace say their mission is defined more by what they cannot do than by what they can.

They say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example, they say they can not stop it. They cannot do any of this, they say, because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese Army.

The job of the United Nations force, and commanders in the field repeat this like a mantra, is to respect Lebanese sovereignty by supporting the Lebanese Army. They will only do what the Lebanese authorities ask.

And many in the Lebanese Army support the aims of Hezbollah, so you’re not going to see much on that front.

The Security Council resolution, known as 1701, was seen at the time as the best way to halt the war, partly by giving Israel assurances that Lebanon’s southern border would be policed by a robust international force to prevent Hezbollah militants from attacking. When the resolution was approved, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of its principal architects, said the force’s deployment would help “protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area.”

But the resolution’s diplomatic language skirted a fundamental question: what kind of policing power would be given to the international force? The resolution leaves open the possibility that the Lebanese Army would grant such policing power, but the force’s commanders say that so far, at least, that has not happened.

The UN backs up its toothless resolutions with toothless “peacekeepers” that let Hezbollah rearm in broad daylight. Is this what they meant in the resolution by “disarming” them? They’ve kicked the problem down the road and pretend they’ve solved it.

In the meantime, it appears that the world body’s outrage is all spent, or at least it’s selective. When Israel fought back, the UN acted (well, for loose interpretations of the word “act”). When Palestinians lob rockets into Israel, the UN yawns.
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A Darling of the Left Makes Them Proud

Hugo Chavez, a man embraced by Cindy Sheehan and Harry Belafonte, and who gives free PR to Noam Chomsky, spoke before the United Nations yesterday. His words, both then and later, ought to give pause to those who make common cause with him. They also ought to give pause to those who vote for people who have made common cause with Chavez.

“The devil came here yesterday,” Chavez said, gesturing to where Bush had stood during his speech on Tuesday. “He came here talking as if he were the owner of the world.” He later said he was referring to President Bush when he spoke of the devil.

Chavez said it still smelled like sulfur. Well, as James Taranto notes, he who smelt it….

Chavez then made the sign of the cross and appeared to pray for a moment. Where is the American Left on this? If Bush had some something like this, even in jest, they would be outraged over it. Either they would decry his outward religiosity, or complain that he was using it to make a joke. As far as I know, though, this little demonstration has passed without serious comment by Chavez supporters here.

Rep. Charlie Rangel did come out against Chavez’s remarks in general when he said,

You don’t come into my country, you don’t come into my congressional district, and you don’t condemn my president. If there’s any criticism of President Bush, it should be restricted to Americans – whether we voted for him or not.

That was great of him to say, and I’m glad to hear this come from across the aisle. I don’t think Rangel would have said he was a “supporter” of Chavez before this.

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Bring In the Backup

The President of the United States couldn’t get the UN to recognize the problem in Darfur, or do anything about it. Perhaps an actor can.

It’s been said that Hollywood’s hottest marriage is the one between actors and Africa. That’ll be true Thursday when Oscar winner George Clooney is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in Darfur. That’s right, not some small media conference, but the actual Security Council. Hosted by John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the briefing is organized by The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity (EWF), which recently established a Darfur Commission of Nobel Laureates. Clooney visited Darfuri refugees last April to use his celebrity clout to raise awareness of the plight of refugees in the war-torn region, considered the 3rd biggest humanitarian crisis in the history of the UN. According to the Oscar-winning actor, the US, the UN and the world’s policies on Sudan is failing. “If we turn our heads and look away and hope that it will disappear then they will-all of them, an entire generation of people. And we will only have history left to judge us,” Clooney has said about the tragedy.

Hey, don’t blame the US, George. We’ve been trying to get the UN to recognize genocide when it sees it. And you wouldn’t want us doing anything unilaterally, would you? That is “why they hate us”, isn’t it?

All kidding aside, it’s good to see Clooney working with John Bolton and trying to get the UN–paragon of virtue that it is–to wake up and smell the Kofi coffee. It’s sad that it has to come to this (and sadder yet if this is the main reason things start happening), but it’s better than nothing.

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Just Another Day in Paradise, UN-style

Don Sensing continues to list the foolishness (to be overly nice about it) perpetrated by the United Nations, including

  • Allowing Syria to have a significant role in the setting of the Israel/Hezbollah terms.

  • Allowing those doing the killing in Darfur to decide if they want UN oversight.
  • Allowing North Korea to starve more of its people while Annan fiddled.

And yet, there are those who still believe that the UN is simply in need of fixing, rather than scaling it way back or doing away with the idea. How, exactly, has the UN helped those in Rwanda, Darfur, N. Korea or the many other places where the are or aren’t?

Has the UN done good? Yes, you can name places and even programs where they’ve made things better. But more often than not, their monumental failures overshadow those successes. Typically, they prevent action and allow murderers to buy time to ply their craft while this august body deliberates, studies and flies diplomats around the world, culminating in a harshly worded piece of paper.

And Chavez quakes in his boots. Or not.

The main problem I see with the UN is that it has the liberal tendency to avoid passing value judgements, and instead assigns moral equivalence in even the least gray areas. Thus, it lacks clarity, instead painting everything with an overly broad brush, and allowing those who do understand the nature of evil–because they’re practicing it–to continue on, playing the UN for patsies.

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