For the past several years, President Obama has presided over a U.S. policy on Syria that has made the collective support of the international community a condition of American action. Every answer the President gives on the crisis in Syria includes working through the United Nations. So when the United Nations Security Council called an emergency meeting on Wednesday about the use of chemical weapons inside Syria, it was perplexing that the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the UN was nowhere to be found.
The woman charged with the protection of global human rights for the White House for the last four years was promoted Tuesday to represent the United States at the United Nations.
Despite leading an embarrassing policy of inaction — during which 80,000 plus Syrians were killed by violence created by their own government, thousands of Sudanese were ethnically-cleansed in Darfur, and hundreds of thousands were murdered and displaced in the Congo — President Obama announced Tuesday that he has selected Samantha Power, an academic and 2008 Obama presidential campaign aide, as his next nominee to represent the United States as ambassador to the United Nations. Continue reading
When President Obama arrives in Jerusalem for the first time as the United States President, he will undoubtedly brief Israeli officials on his three-week old proposal to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis. Ironically, the president’s new policy shift is still mostly unknown in the U.S. because it has been deliberately ignored by U.S. political reporters. Continue reading
Today, President Obama will be the first U.S. President to visit Burma. The unprecedented trip is a celebration for the second largest country in Southeast Asia. It’s also a remarkable achievement since Burma only recently held national elections in 2010 after holding the leader of the democratic opposition party, Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest for 21 years. Continue reading
Most reporters haven’t been following Ambassador Susan Rice’s performance at the United Nations since her appointment in January 2009. To many journalists, Rice’s misleading interviews on the five Sunday Shows the weekend after the 9/11/12 terrorist attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were one of the first times they had heard from her. To veteran foreign policy observers, Rice’s shameful performance that Sunday was one of many blunders over the last four years. Continue reading
Richard Grenell on CNN – Embassy Attacks Puts Spotlight on the UN – 9.17.12
One of the reasons the American public holds unelected government officials in such low esteem is that they are never held accountable for their failures. Presidents and cabinet officials could send a strong message of accountability if they held senior appointees responsible for their performance. President Barack Obama should use this weekend’s U.N. failure to show Americans and Arabs alike that it is unacceptable to stand idly by while 6,500 Syrians are killed by their government. Obama should ask for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice’s resignation and replace her with someone tougher and more effective. If she won’t voluntarily resign then she should be fired.
The case against Susan Rice has been building over the last few years. This weekend’s embarrassing failure on a Syria resolution was the latest and last straw. Her diplomatic failures and silence have given the United States a weak representation at the United Nations.
Next month marks the anniversary of the Syrian uprising. But Rice, as she has on many issues, has ignored Syria’s growing problems for too long. Rather than speaking out immediately when the violence started, she stayed silent. Rather than calling for action, she did nothing. Russia and China saw Rice’s passivity as a sign that Syrian President Assad’s removal wasn’t a priority. By the time Rice started pressuring Security Council members to confront the growing violence and death, it was too late. Once a draft resolution condemning Syria was introduced, Rice was too quick to negotiate changes that weakened it without insisting on a date for the Security Council to vote. Her constant agreement to changes seemed desperate. The frantic and late maneuvering left the United States at the mercy of Russia and China, who vetoed even the watered down measure.
On her post-veto media tour, however, Rice sought to blame Russia for not listening to the United States or other western governments rather than acknowledge her failed diplomatic skills – an ironic spin given that Rice and team Obama created this new Russian resolve when they naively and dramatically called for a re-set to our relationship with Russia. The reset Rice championed and spoke affectionately about has not only failed to deliver support for U.S. national security policies but it has also exposed the dangers of an inexperienced team’s strategy of personal diplomacy.
This continues Rice’s pattern of failing at her own stated goals. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Susan Rice talked very openly about restoring America’s leadership at the United Nations and often derided President George W. Bush for acting without U.N. backing. Rice cheerfully exclaimed that, unlike Bush, Barack Obama would engage in active diplomacy even with countries considered our enemies. Rice was very critical of the U.S.’ reputation at the U.N. and vowed to build better relationships with every country. In her current stump speech Rice claims that her goal has been accomplished, “We’ve repaired frayed relations with countries around the world. We’ve ended needless American isolation on a wide range of issues. And as a consequence, we’ve gotten strong cooperation on things that matter most to our national security interest.”
This past weekend shows just how disastrous Rice’s strategy has been.
Rice has been silent on important issues and ineffective when she does engage. She skipped Security Council meetings when Israel needed defending and even failed to show up for the emergency session on the Gaza Flotilla incident. Rice didn’t even show up for the first two emergency Security Council meetings on the unfolding Arab revolution last year. Rice stayed silent when Iran was elected to the U.N. women’s committee, she didn’t call out Libya when it was elected to the Human Rights Council, she was absent from the Haiti crisis meeting and was a no-show for the last open meeting scheduled before the planned U.N. vote to recognize Palestinian statehood. When she actually shows up, she is a miserable failure.
Take the crucial issue of Iran. Rice spent the last several years undermining and grumbling about the Bush Administration’s increasingly tough measures but has only been able to pass one resolution of her own – compared with the Bush team’s five. Rice’s one and only Iran resolution was 22 months ago. And it passed with just 12 votes of support – the least support we have ever seen for a Security Council sanctions resolution on Iran. In fact, Susan Rice lost more support with her one resolution than the previous five Iran resolutions combined.
In another example, Rice secretly negotiated with the Arabs on acceptable language for a possible U.N. resolution to condemn Israel’s settlement activity. Rice’s engagement sent a strong message that making a new policy, rather than encouraging the two sides to negotiate directly, may not garner an automatic U.S. veto. In February of 2011, the U.S. abruptly changed tactics on the Arabs and vetoed a U.N. resolution on Israeli settlements. The Palestinians were justifiably furious with Rice. After all, they had just spent weeks going back and forth with her on acceptable language to make Israeli settlement activity a violation of international law — something previous U.S. Administrations had bluntly and immediately threatened a veto over. Rice’s negotiations suggested the U.S. was open to change, when in fact it was not.
Whether the issue is Sudan, Egypt, North Korea or Rwanda, Rice has been either missing in action or unable to deliver a quick and effective resolution.
Firing Rice may serve Secretary of State Hillary Clinton too. Clinton’s team has always viewed Susan Rice with suspicion dating back to the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, when Rice went on MSNBC to slam Clinton’s ad claiming she was best equipped to take the national security emergency call at 3 a.m. “Clinton hasn’t had to answer the phone at three o’clock in the morning and yet she attacked Barack Obama for not being ready. They’re both not ready to have that 3 a.m. phone call,” Rice said. Secretary Clinton, one State Department diplomat told me, has tried to distance herself from Rice and her lackluster U.N. performance.
President Obama could show the Arab street that it is unacceptable for the United States government to sit idly by while the United Nations Security Council does nothing. What better way to show that things at the U.N. have to change than to fire the woman spearheading the failed U.S. efforts there. Rice’s last diplomatic initiative should be putting the United States’ reputation above her own.
You can’t blame the Palestinians for trying. Over the last few years, the Obama Administration has encouraged the Palestinians to make bold moves. While shifting U.S. policy away from Israel, President Obama clearly and definitively told the Palestinians to reject violence but plan for statehood. Within five months of taking office, Obama spoke in Cairo to a massive Muslim audience in what the White House billed as the President’s first major address on Israeli-Palestinian relations. Arab leaders were hopeful and sat waiting to see if the new President of the United States with a Muslim father would change the status quo. And Obama didn’t disappoint. In his speech, Obama made clear: “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” The President went on to celebrate the Muslim faith like no other U.S. leader had. Arab leaders believed their time for equality had come – and Obama was on their side.
In that June 2009 speech, Obama apologized for American military might, Guantanamo Bay, the Iraq war, colonialism and even what he called our “self-interested empire”. The Arab audience had found an American who understood them. After rebuking anti-Semitism and the tragedies of the Holocaust, Obama made an unusual comparison: “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” Obama had squarely placed Muslims and Christians on one side and against Israel. He went on to say, “The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” It was the early sign Arab leaders were looking for from the new President. They saw the President’s comparison between the Holocaust and the plight of the Palestinians as an indication that statehood and international acceptance would come. Israeli leaders saw the comparison as a sign that the U.S. President could make radical changes to venerable American-Israeli policies.
After the Cairo speech, the Obama team tried to assure the Israeli government that the President would not take sides. But soon thereafter, Administration officials did. Despite long-standing U.S. policy to encourage the parties to confront their issues at the bargaining table and to adamantly reject any outside influence making unilateral decisions, Obama himself called for an end to settlements and to start negotiations using the pre-1967 borders. The Israelis outright rejection of Obama’s pronouncements were also seen by the Palestinians that Obama was going to keep the pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obama’s Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice consistently skipped Security Council meetings when Israel needed defending and even failed to show up for the emergency session on the Gaza Flotilla incident. The Israelis felt abandoned and the Palestinians were optimistic that the U.S. was not going to protect Israel at all costs.
But in perhaps the boldest U.S. move, Rice secretly negotiated with the Arabs on acceptable language for a possible UN resolution to condemn Israel’s settlement activity. Rice’s move sent a strong and new message that making policy, rather than just encouraging the two sides to negotiate directly, may not garner an automatic U.S. veto. The Arabs were focused and excited at their new found power. When the Israelis got wind of the scheme, they cried foul. Conservative lawmakers quickly joined forces with the Israeli government to force Obama to change his position. In February of 2011, the U.S. vetoed a UN resolution on Israeli settlements that Susan Rice had started negotiations on with the Arabs. The Palestinians were furious and rightly so. After all, they had just spent weeks with Rice going back and forth on acceptable language to make Israeli settlement activity a violation of international law. Rice’s rejection of the long-standing U.S. position of only encouraging direct negotiations led the Arabs to believe they were on a different path. Previous U.S. Administrations had bluntly threatened vetos on resolutions that made unilateral declarations but Obama’s team was clearly open to the idea.
Arab diplomats also point to Obama’s 2010 statement that he wanted to see Palestine a member of the UN by September 2011 as proof that he wants them to make bold moves. While Obama has sent the same lower level diplomats multiple times to the region to encourage direct negotiations, he hasn’t sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It’s no wonder the two sides haven’t spoken formally since September 2010. Instead, the Obama strategy has been to push the Israelis to accept Palestinian demands even though their unity government includes Hamas, a group the U.S. government classifies as a terrorist organization.
The Arabs have been waiting for Obama to make his move for quite some time. Before the beginning of the Obama Administration in January 2009, candidate Obama spoke of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict in simple terms. His belief that he could bring the opposing sides together to find a solution was based on the premise that he is a likeable guy and if he could just get the two sides to sit down together their issues would be secondary. The Arabs saw Obama’s characterization of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and his willingness to directly negotiate with Hugo Chavez his first year in office as promising. While Obama’s bold moves once prompted Hillary Clinton to call him “irresponsible and frankly naïve” during her primary race against him, the Palestinians believed he would be willing to push back on Netanyahu too.
So it’s no wonder Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas exclaimed Friday, “We are going to the Security Council.” Despite some media reports that the U.S. has been working hard to convince the Palestinians to drop their bid for statehood at the UN, the Administration’s late discussions with lower level diplomats signals something different. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice spent this past week in what seemed anything but frantic. She hosted a documentary film screening, tweeted about the International Day of Democracy and Friday spent the afternoon at a local New York City high school with Congressman Joe Crowley at what was billed as a “Back-to-School” event. She didn’t even mention Israel or Palestine.
It’s happened again – Susan Rice has skipped another UN meeting critical to U.S. interests. Today’s UN Security Council debate on the Middle East was the last open meeting scheduled before the planned UN vote to recognize Palestinian statehood. The Obama Administration has said it doesn’t think it’s a good idea for the Arabs to push for a General Assembly vote on the issue, but U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice obviously doesn’t translate that into working against the dress rehearsal. Does Rice think it’s none of America’s business if the UN recognizes a government that includes Hamas? Does Rice believe the UN should take up other statehood issues? Her silence
confuses our allies and sends the wrong signals to the UN.
While this isn’t the first time Rice has avoided controversial and difficult UN issues, she issued a long public statement yesterday on a separate subcommittee’s non-controversial work and today has tweeted multiple times about a UN youth conference. Rice also held a press conference last year with the Russian Ambassador and the UN Secretary-General to discuss texting while driving. While Rice feels compelled to speak up on safe driving and youth conferences, she failed to show up for the emergency UN meeting on the Gaza flotilla debate, she failed to condemn Libya when it was elected to the human rights commission, she failed to speak out against Iran’s election to the women’s committee and she failed to attend the first Security Council meeting to confront the Arab Spring issues. And that only scratches the surface. Whether it’s adding Haiti peacekeepers to the beleaguered peacekeeping force or keeping the pressure on North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs, Rice has failed to deliver
resolutions despite promises that the Obama team would lead the world.
Inside the Security Council today, the debate raged over the Arab’s planned UN vote on behalf of the Palestinians:
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN pointedly asked the Palestinian representative, “On behalf of whom will you present a resolution in September? Mr. Abbas or Hamas? Will it
be on behalf of both the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist organization, which advances a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews?”
Palestine’s Representative called out the international community for not doing enough and said failure was “…due to Israel’s relentless violations of the law and the failure to hold Israel accountable for its illegal actions.”
The Palestinian representative also appealed for assistance, “The Security Council convenes this open debate at a moment requiring serious reflection and candid deliberation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the international efforts to resolve it and resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole.”
The speeches today called for American leadership, participation and perspective. But Ambassador Rice didn’t attend the meeting. One Security Council diplomat
told me, “Ambassador Rice is seldom here and (Deputy) Ambassador (Rosemary) DiCarlo always has a good statement.”
Over the last few years, Rice has avoided tough negotiations and public feuds and has subsequently produced very few UN resolutions on America’s priority issues. She has consistently avoided the difficult issues where negotiations take patience, skill and aggressive advocacy. An absent U.S. Ambassador surely entices others to take full advantage of the void. One sure way to weaken the UN is to placate it, neglect it and marginalize it, as Rice has done these past years. The UN and the American people deserve better.
When Barack Obama was running for president he committed to leading the United Nations and other countries towards a common global goal. Obama believed that he could speak to allies and dictators directly and charm them into seeing the error of their ways. Since becoming President of the United States, Barack Obama has failed to convince the UN to follow his lead. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, a member of the President’s cabinet, has only been able to pass one resolution (compared to the Bush Administration’s five) on Iran’s illegal nuclear ambition despite the issue being the U.S.’ most important foreign policy goal. Rice also failed to convince Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon to support that one resolution despite 17 months of diplomacy.
Obama and Rice have been unsuccessful in their attempt to convince the Security Council to make progress on international problems they committed to deal with, issues like Sudan, North Korea and the Israeli-Palestinian issues. Recently, Obama and Rice failed to convince Russia, China, India, Germany and Brazil to support a no-fly zone over Libya. Despite all the talk of global unity, team Obama has been wildly ineffective at the UN and scored fewer victories than the Bush team they so heavily derided as unilateralists. This week, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called President Obama’s Libya policy “not very helpful” in an interview with the Financial Times. Most every main stream U.S. media outlet failed to report the former UN leader’s slight.
We learned from Annan this week that White House staffers have called upon him for advice and counsel on how to deal with foreign policy crises. So far, Obama staffers have failed to convince the former Secretary-General of the merits of their slow response to the Middle East revolutions. Samantha Powers, the liberal academic who made a career out of calling for more international intervention, has tried to convince Annan that there is no civil war in Libya and sought his advice and counsel on what to do next. Annan responded by criticizing the White House team’s approach. In speaking with the FT, Annan said:
“And, as I suspected, the rebels will not be ready to talk to Gaddafi. They want Nato to help remove him, and of course, I think eventually probably he will have to go, but you cannot put it upfront the way people are saying: Gaddafi must go. A future Libya without Gaddafi must be part of the negotiations and handled properly. It should be part of the agenda, and this mantra of Sarkozy, Cameron, Gaddafi is one… Obama saying Gaddafi must go. Putting it upfront like that…it’s not very helpful.”
In typical UN double-speak Annan goes on to say “on the other hand, I see their problem…But on the other hand, I think they were right…”
Annan also questions the benefits of liberating Iraq and fails to see any progress made from turning that dictatorship into a developing democracy:
“One of my biggest regrets was the fact that as an institution and an international community we could not stop the war in Iraq. That really was very difficult and very painful. Every fibre in my body felt it was wrong. I spoke to leaders, we spoke to people, we tried… we couldn’t stop it… and we see the results.”
Annan goes on to dismiss accusations that his son, Kojo, benefitted from the UN’s Oil for Food program and told a story how he thought U.S. Ambassador John Bolton was a bully for reminding the Security Council that “Uncle Sam isn’t going to like it (increased UN spending)”. Annan also outrageously links a Mexican Ambassador’s lack of support for the 18th Iraq draft resolution in 2003 with a car accident that killed him more than 18 months after he was recalled for inappropriate comments made about the United States.
Annan said, “On the question of Iraq, some governments showed incredible courage: the way even Mexico and Chile wouldn’t roll over for the US; but the ambassadors paid the price. Both of them were recalled fairly shortly, and in fact the Mexican one died in an accident soon after he got out.”
This week, two different religions were mocked and disrespected in the United States and the followers’ reactions couldn’t have been more different. While a lone preacher in Florida burned a copy of the Koran, a Broadway show opened in New York making fun of the Mormon faith with irreverent humor and sacrilegious musical numbers. Some Muslim followers in Afghanistan reacted to the burning by storming the UN compound and killing innocent international public servants. The Mormon Church reacted to the musical by pointing the public to the superficial nature of it and the supernatural power of their faith.
While burning the Koran is religiously intolerant and insensitive to our Muslim brothers and sisters, to suggest that it endangers American lives in and of itself is ridiculous. What endangers Americans’ lives is the over-reaction to the burning by extremists, not the act of free speech. The assumption that people will kill because of the burning of a book and therefore the book shouldn’t be burned justifies the over-reaction and makes it a rational answer. There should be a universal condemnation to the killings because it isn’t rational or acceptable. Radical followers of Islam killed innocent people in reaction to a radical follower of Christianity’s lighting a book on fire. I would characterize both radicals as not truly following the God they claim to be following. Islam and Christianity teach peace and acceptance not provocation and death.
To assume that people are going to be killed if a Koran is burned is a dangerous supposition. The patronizing reaction by many liberals and politicians to condemn the burning of the Koran on the same level as the UN killings – and many times in the same sentence – left an assumption that the reaction was a natural outcome of the action. President Barak Obama’s statement on the UN murders also wasn’t helpful in teaching religious tolerance. Obama elevated the Koran burning to an extreme offense and therefore gave comfort to an extreme reaction. “The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry,” said Obama. The White House’s use of the word extreme was inappropriate for this situation.
Compare American liberals’ reaction to the Koran burning with their gleeful embrace of Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s Broadway musical about the Mormon faith. A musical with a song called: “Fuck you, God” and described by the authors as an “atheist love letter to religion”. New York Magazine said, “What’s so uniquely winning about The Book of Mormon is its scruffy humanism, its eagerness to redeem its characters—even its smaller ones.” And Jon Stewart was left speechless after he said “it was so good, I almost don’t know what to say.” The reviews for the musical have been the best any modern Broadway show has ever seen. And very few liberals have condemned the defilement of the Mormon Church’s holy text as Obama has for the Koran. If we believe that desecrating a religion’s holy text endangers lives then so does the accolades and support for The Book of Mormon on Broadway. I, for one, don’t accept this premise.
For American Mormons, the Broadway show and its embrace by the mainstream and liberal media has been embarrassing and humiliating. But the even tempered official Mormon Church reaction should make everyone take a second look at the religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints issued a statement saying, “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” The actions of some Afghan Muslims who killed UN officials as a reaction to the burning of a Koran in Florida cannot be justified or even confused to be a rational response.
dana milbank may think its funny but to say that Bolton wanted to blow up the UN is ridiculous and terrorizing – not to mention completely inaccurate. responsible reporters shouldn’t joke about bombing the un. to be accurate, bolton said, “The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”. bolton was obviously commentating on a bloated bureaucracy and the need for efficiency. i”ll put dana (don’t let the name fool you , he’s a guy) down for advocating for a waste of u.s. tax dollars and using bomb jokes to be funny.
dana may think it’s just a joke but it’s actually lame and dull writing from a lame and dull writer. his bomb joke also furthers a lie that liberal pundits like to spread about bolton’s tough diplomacy skills. i could easily argue that bolton’s work engaging the UN and trying to fix its’ mess means that he cares more about it than susan rice does since she just attends parties and doesn’t actually use the UN to further U.S. interests.
i ask you, who cares more - someone who ignores a problem or someone who tries to fix it?
A U.N. snub is a badge of honor.
Life must be very good in Canada, or at least dull, judging by the domestic reaction to its failed bid last week for a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council. Listen to the yowls in the papers north of the border: “A nation reeling,” “humiliating defeat,” “a rebuke from the global community,” “tarnishes our reputation,” “a slap in the face.”
We say: Way to go. Canada seems to have annoyed a sufficient number of Third World dictators and liberally pious Westerners to come up short in a secret General Assembly ballot. The sins committed by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government include staunch support for Israel, skepticism about cap-and-trade global warming schemes, and long-standing commitment to the Afghan war. Americans would be so lucky to get a leader as steadfast on those issues as the Canadian Prime Minister.
The United Arab Emirates took credit for putting together a group of anti-Canadian Arab and Islamic states to stop the bid for the two-year rotating chair. The UAE also has a beef with Ottawa over landing rights for Emirates Airlines going into Canada.
The U.S. role here is also embarrassing—to the U.S. Richard Grenell, a former senior official at the U.S. Mission to the U.N., reported last week that America’s U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, refused to campaign on Canada’s behalf. Mr. Harper’s politics are not hers, and Liberal opposition leader and Obama political soulmate, Michael Ignatieff, declared last month that Canada under Mr. Harper didn’t deserve to get one of the 10 temporary seats.
The farcical nature of all this was made clear when the Canadians lost to Portugal, which—with all due respect to the memory of Vasco da Gama—is no global titan. This small and economically hobbled Iberian country will now hold one of two temporary spots reserved for Western bloc states. Germany was assured the other.
Canada, on the other hand, is a serious country. Under Mr. Harper’s leadership, Canada has avoided the worst of the global recession and emerged with a vibrant banking system and strong currency (now trading near parity to the U.S. dollar). The courage of its soldiers in Afghanistan, and in other missions, is testament to a nation that honors its commitments. Canadians should wear the U.N. snub as a badge of honor.
The United Nations General Assembly elected five new Security Council members this week. India, South Africa and Colombia ran in uncontested races from the Asian, African and Latin American regional groups and will begin serving on the Security Council in January. But the remaining races were contested, with Germany, Portugal and Canada competing for two seats from the Western European and Others group. With the European Union already represented by veto-wielding France and Great Britain on the Security Council, and either Portugal or Germany certain to win another seat for the EU, it was critical that America’s close ally Canada win a two-year term. The U.S. could use the help in pushing for UN reform and advocating pro-democracy policies. The current conservative government in Canada had been campaigning for months to sit on the UN’s most powerful committee with no public support from the Obama Administration. In fact, U.S. State Department insiders say that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice not only didn’t campaign for Canada’s election but instructed American diplomats to not get involved in the weeks leading up to the heated contest. With no public American support, Canada lost its bid to serve. That gives the EU more than 25% control of the body and a strong voting block to ensure EU priorities become global priorities. This was the second time a high profile ally could have used U.S. help yet Rice chose to stay silent.
Israel was left to defend itself against a full-out assault from the UN after it captured a flotilla aid ship headed to the Gaza Strip on May 31. Susan Rice never showed up for the marathon emergency UN meeting and left Israel without its most powerful friend. “It was a crucial moment for Israel and for the top American Ambassador to not even show up to the meeting where Israel was being attacked by hypocritical dictatorships was a powerful sign to others,” one current UN diplomat said.
While Rice is currently in Africa on an official UN trip and was unable to attend Tuesday’s actual vote, she could have had her team work to Canada’s benefit. Instead she instructed colleagues to steer clear, effectively abandoning Canada. By contrast, when Venezuela wanted a seat on the Security Council over U.S. objections in 2006, then-US Ambassador John Bolton aggressively campaigned for Guatemala instead. Bolton met with a plethora of UN diplomats and publicly pushed the UN to vote 48 times over 3 weeks until Venezuela finally gave up its campaign and was denied a seat. Rice’s actions also differ greatly from the words she used during the 2008 presidential campaign when she promised that the Obama Administration would “lead our friends and allies.”
Some conservatives in Canada believe that the Obama team worked with Canadian liberals to leave Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s conservative government hanging without vocal U.S. support. In the past, American ambassadors around the globe were instructed by Washington and led by the US Mission to the UN to work aggressively behind the scenes rallying capitals around the world to support certain countries in crucial Security Council elections. At other times, vocal American support was needed to highlight a priority U.S. issue. In Canada’s case, Rice chose to say nothing publicly and declined to lead a global campaign on behalf of our northern neighbor. Her silence also seemed politically coordinated when Canadian Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff criticized his own country’s policies on climate change and its staunch support for Israel – policies the Obama team disagrees with.
For Rice, this latest episode highlights her willingness to put partisan liberal policies above representing the American people at the UN. Ambassador Rice’s consistent silence when faced with difficult issues is exactly what America doesn’t need at the UN and our allies are beginning to take notice of her timidity.
President Barack Obama today told the United Nations General Assembly that America’s financial crisis was the reason their economies were suffering and promised to not rest until people around the globe prosper. “Two years ago this month, a financial crisis on Wall Street devastated American families on Main Street. The global economy suffered an enormous blow during the financial crisis, crippling markets and deferring the dreams of millions on every continent.” Obama also assured the 192 nations gathered for the opening of the 2010 UN meeting that he has had “no greater focus as president than rescuing our economy from potential catastrophe.” In taking credit for saving mankind from financial ruin with his administration’s actions, Obama went on to say, “The global economy has been pulled back from the brink of a depression, and is growing once more…We are exploring ways to expand trade and commerce among nations. But we cannot — and will not — rest until these seeds of progress grow into a broader prosperity, for all Americans, and for people around the globe,” In a stunning pledge for an American president, Obama told the UN diplomats that since Wall Street caused their problems, he would take responsibility for fixing their financial mess.
Surprisingly, Obama’s UN speech also seemed to make clear that his UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, was not following his instructions when she refused to call out Libya for their election to the Human Rights Council and Iran’s election to the UN Women’s Committee. Obama bluntly told the UN crowd that “Human rights have never gone unchallenged — not in any of our nations and not in our world”. The simple instruction was seen by some as a directive to Rice since she has consistently stayed silent when confronted with human rights violators winning coveted UN committee spots. Obama made clear that America and its’ Ambassadors should not sit quietly when freedoms are eroded, as Susan Rice has done on a number of occasions. Obama told the 192 nations gathered, “Do not stand idly by when dissidents everywhere are imprisoned and protesters are beaten. Because part of the price of our own freedom is standing up for the freedom of others.” The President’s language reads like an instruction to Ambassador Rice to start standing up to violators and a strong message to the diplomats in the room that her actions should not be interpreted as U.S. policy.
Obama also seemed to chastise Susan Rice when he spoke about America’s support for Israel. While Rice was roundly criticized for skipping the Emergency Security Council session on the Gaza flotilla crisis opting instead to stay on vacation in Washington, DC, Obama made clear to the UN diplomats that they should not confuse her actions with his Administration’s support for Israel. Obama said, “It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.” But Rice’s refusal to back Israel at one of the most critical moments the jewish state has faced at the UN was seen by Arabs as a sign that America’s support is not unconditional. I guess for Rice, unshakeable support doesn’t include a shuttle flight from Washington to New York during an emergency session lasting several days and was covered extensively by the international and domestic media. Rice, who is supposedly stationed in New York at the UN, has missed a plethora of important UN meetings and has been criticized for spending too much time in Washington so it wasn’t out of the ordinary for her to not be in New York at the time.
Rice’s refusal to defend Israel at the UN certainly hasn’t been the only time the Obama Administration and Israel have been at odds. And although President Obama has tried to repair the damage, the Israeli delegation to the UN today was not present for President Obama’s speech and the six chairs reserved for Israel could be seen empty on UN TV. Additionally, President Obama has no bilateral meetings scheduled with Israel during his visit this week. In years past, President Bush always met privately or formally with Israeli officials during the UN meetings so the Obama team’s snub to Israel is seen as another misstep in their Middle East peace efforts.
Today’s UN speech is also a clear sign that Obama is more interested in being President of the World than he is in being President of the United States.
*This piece was picked up by FoxNews.com: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/09/23/richard-grenell-obama-united-nations-speech-susan-rice-israel-washington-new/
When Barack Obama was campaigning to be president of the United States in 2008, he frequently promised Americans that he would lead the world. In fact, he and his team relentlessly pounded President George W. Bush for “going it alone” and alienating our friends and allies around the globe. His then-campaign foreign policy advisor and current U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice even joked about how, if elected, they would repair the damage and lead the UN in a way that the Bush team couldn’t. But after almost 2 years on the job, Rice and Obama haven’t been able to garner support from the UN to implement U.S. foreign policy priorities as they said they would. In fact, on Iran, North Korea, Sudan and UN reform, Obama and Rice haven’t produced the support Bush garnered. While Rice has touted her performance on one Iran sanctions resolution as unique progress at the UN, her final vote count on that one resolution got more NO votes than did Bush’s five Iran resolutions got in total. Unfortunately, Rice has also been painfully quiet when faced with resistance and hostility from the enemies of democracy and freedom. As President Obama goes back to the UN this week, there are 10 things he should do to more forcefully push for progress on U.S. priorities and more aggressively defend the U.S.:
1. Make clear that the Arizona law the UN attacked was written to stop illegal immigration, not prohibit legal immigration.
2. Call out the Human Rights Council for yet another disastrous year of Israel bashing and overlooking rights violators.
3. Nominate a U.S. Ambassador level person to tackle UN reform and UN budget waste, fraud, abuse and duplicity.
4. Ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to investigate the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to ascertain how erroneous scientific claims were added to official UN reports.
5. Make clear that the United States will not unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons and will not support restrictions on private firearm ownership.
6. Call for a total review of every UN peace-keeping operation and end those that aren’t making progress.
7. Ask the African Union to pressure Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to end the violence and intimidation of southern Sudan and allow international observers for January’s referendum.
8. Condemn any global airline tax that the UN is thinking of implementing to pay for climate change initiatives.
9. Make clear that his Administration will not become a signatory of the International Criminal Court until significant changes are made to satisfy Senate concerns and protect American personnel overseas.
10. Correct the record with the UN press corps that First Lady Michelle Obama doesn’t think that being first lady is “hell” but that she is actually very proud to represent the greatest country in the world.
These 10 proposals would go a far way in showing the UN that while the Obama Administration is interested in seeking a kinder, gentler world; it will not allow a further retreat of democracy and human rights just to get along with others.
Grenell: Obama’s Terrorism Approach ‘Scary’
Tuesday, 26 Jan 2010 03:43 PM Article Font Size
By: Dan Weil
Richard Grenell, former spokesman for the U.S. Representative to the United Nations calls President Obama’s approach to terrorism “scary.”
“Here’s a guy who clearly wants to be the most popular guy in the room,” Grenell, who served President George W. Bush, told Newsmax.TV’s Kathleen Walter. “He doesn’t want to make tough decisions that anger people.”
The former diplomat criticized Obama for treating accused terrorists as civilians.
“Scott Brown, the winner of the Massachusetts senate race said it best when he said, I don’t want to give them a bunch of lawyers. I want to give these terrorists a fight. I think that’s how most Americans view this situation.”
Grenell is particularly upset that the Christmas day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was read his rights after being taken from the plane.
“Someone said to this guy who just tried to blow up a plane, ‘You have the right to remain silent,’” Grenell noted.
“I would have said you don’t have the right to remain silent. I want to go over here, and I want to knock you around mentally until you start spilling some information.”
“It’s important to find out who sent and financed Abdulmutallab, so that we can stop future threats, Grenell points out.
Discussing the situation in Haiti, he stresses that the United States must stay involved for the long term.
“We can do anything we want when we set our minds to it,” Grenell said. “We are clearly focused on Haiti right now. I think the Haitian people will benefit from that.”
The U.N. will be of no help, having failed miserably in its 17 years there, he says.
“Right now we’re just dealing in Haiti on an emergency basis. We’re going to have to quickly switch into development and operational issues.” Our government will have to weather criticism that we’re too involved with another country, Grenell says.
“If we want to change that country for the better, we’re going to have to look for some economic development. It’s a long, expensive, messy road. But in the end I think Americans will want that to happen in Haiti.”
See Video: Click on link at the top of this entry.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Some advice for Ambassador Rice
From 2001 to 2008 I spent my days (and many nights) speaking for the United States at the United Nations. I was the longest serving American spokesman in history and it gave me a unique perspective on the United Nations and its relationship with its largest funder – the American taxpayer. The reality of how the U.N. works is not what some people on the right and the left would have you believe. As Susan Rice begins her tenure representing America at the U.N., she will find an institution in great need of change.
We all want the U.N. to live up to its original intent and be the place where the world comes together to solve international problems. Currently, however, too many members like the status quo too much to want to make any changes. While the United States, Japan and a handful of others are pressing to reform how money is appropriated and spent, others – including South Africa, Egypt and China are more interested in adding new programs and studies (that benefit their own economies or employ their own bureaucrats) with little regard for who pays the bill.
The biggest loser is the American taxpayer who is already spending more than $1 billion every year on U.N. dues, peacekeeping and contributions to U.N. agencies and yet has one vote among the 192 others to do anything about it.
The U.N.’s effort to support the fight against terrorism is a particular study in chaos. Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, the U.N. committed to fight terrorism and freeze the assets of terrorists. Committees were established and reports demanded of every country as to what was being done to stop the flow of terrorists within their border. Since then, after millions of dollars spent on committee structures and salaries, reports have either been shelved, not used or not even given to the U.N. As Security Council resolutions go unimplemented with no consequences for those who ignore them, more must be done to hold countries accountable. Former U.S. Ambassador John Danforth famously asked, “Can’t we agree that shooting children in the back is terrorism?” To no avail.
After eight frustrating years, I still have hope for the U.N. I also know that it will take a lot of sustained fortitude to fix these problems. Here are my recommendations for the New U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Ms. Rice:
1. Make reforming the U.N. budget process your No. 1 priority.
2. Don’t agree to any increase in U.S. taxpayer dollars spent at the U.N. until we see actual reforms.
3. The current committees designed for fighting terrorism are not working and must be changed by demanding more of members, not less.
4. Global warming, AIDS education and funding, smarter humanitarian assistance, and the protection of children are all noble causes that will greatly benefit from reforming the U.N. budget.
5. The best run agencies at the U.N. are the ones like UNICEF and the World Food Program where contributions are voluntary, not obligatory, and the top management are responsible to and held accountable by a board.
6. Fight hard for Japan to get a permanent seat on the Security Council, as it is one of our greatest allies.
7. The Human Rights Council will not be a legitimate agency until human rights abusers are denied membership.
8. You should get up every day and ask yourself “How do I make America stronger?” not “How do I make the U.N. stronger?”
9. If you are popular with other ambassadors it is probably because they like the fact that you aren’t asking them to do anything.
10. You should ignore the far right conservatives who think the U.N. doesn’t do anything good and the far left liberals who think the U.N. bestows legitimacy and therefore must first approve American ideas.
These reforms will go a long way toward showing Americans that the ideals of the U.N. can become reality and that the money we give to the U.N. to alleviate poverty and despair is worth the investment.
Richard Grenell served as director of communications for four U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations from 2001-2008.