Missile strikes on Syria: punishment, prevention, and warning 4

“What did the missile strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons sites do for America?”

“Why should Americans expend blood and treasure for Syrians victimized by their own government?”

“America is not the world’s policeman.”

Such are the questions and protests that are coming from angry commentators, including many conservatives.

So was President Trump’s decision to act as he did right or wrong?

Claudia Rosett, for long a trusty reporter on the horror show called the United Nations, writes at PJ Media:

With air strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons facilities, carried out jointly with Britain and France, America has done the right thing.

Leading from in front, President Trump is finally redrawing the red line that President Obama erased in 2013. Whatever the threats and criticisms that will surely follow, the world will be safer for it. The vital message is that America is no longer the hamstrung giant of the Obama era. Tyrants such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and his patrons in Moscow and Tehran, have been served notice that it would be unwise to continue to assume that America will waffle, appease or simply retreat while they take upon themselves the shaping – to monstrous effect – of the 21st-century world order. This message is also likely to resonate in Beijing (which has reportedly been planning live-fire naval exercises next week in the Taiwan Strait) and Pyongyang (with its nuclear missile projects).

The immediate aim of the US-led air strikes was to end the chemical weapons attacks that Syria’s Assad regime has continued to inflict on its own people – despite Assad’s promises in 2013 to surrender his chemical weapons, and Russia’s promise to ensure Assad did so. On Friday, speaking at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Nikki Haley charged that by U.S. estimates, “Assad has used chemical weapons in the Syrian war at least 50 times” – some of these attacks within the past year, including the gas attack that killed dozens … in the Syrian city of Douma.

There’s room for debate about whether it is America’s responsibility, on humanitarian grounds, to stop such atrocities. But whatever your views on protecting children in a far-off land from the hideous effects of chemical weapons, there is a larger, strategic reason for trying to stop Assad. Syria, with its liberal use of chemical weapons, has been setting a horrific precedent – repeatedly violating the Chemical Weapons Convention to which Damascus acceded in 2013, and eroding the longstanding international taboo against chemical warfare. This is dangerous way beyond Syria. As Haley told the UN Security Council: “All nations and all people will be harmed if we allow Assad to normalize the use of chemical weapons.”

In theory, the United Nations was supposed to prevent this, ensuring in tandem with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that Assad would give up all his chemical weapons – with the specific oversight and guarantees of Russia, under a deal cut in 2013 by Obama and Putin. As I explained in an article earlier this week for The Hill, the UN has failed utterly, thanks to Putin’s cynical exploitation of the entire setup. Russia used the chemical weapons disarmament deal as a portal for its own military entry into Syria in support of Assad, and has since been using its veto on the UN Security Council, along with a torrent of Kremlin propaganda, to run diplomatic cover for Assad.

As many conservative commentators pointed out at the time, it was stupid (if not collusional) of Obama and his secretary of state John Kerry to hand over the responsibility for overseeing Syria’s WMD abandonment to Russia.

The upshot has been that if the US does not stop Assad’s use of chemical weapons, then nobody will.

Neither Britain nor France would have done it without the US.

The US could have done it on its own. British and French participation in the missile attack was useful for President Trump, though not necessary for the success of the operation. The huge majority of the missiles were American – 88 of the 105. Nine were French and 8 were British.

Prime Minister May allowed British forces to strike Syria along with US forces because she “owed” President Trump for his supporting her, when she hit back at Russia for the poisoning of two Russian expats in Britain by expelling Putin’s diplomats and closing a consulate. She asked President Trump to do the same, and he did. She was able to give the order for the strike on Syria by the RAF without consulting parliament because the MPs were still absent on their Easter break. She seized the moment, and now there’s an outcry in the Commons – as well as the country – about it.

As for President Macron, he seems to be fascinated by President Trump, wanting to follow him and yet also to direct him. Macron claimed that he had “convinced” Trump that he should keep the US military engaged in Syria – and then he retracted the claim.

Last April, after Assad used sarin gas in an attack that killed almost 100 people, Trump ordered a strike of 59 Tomahawk missiles on a Syrian airbase. Evidently, that was not enough to stop Assad’s chemical weapons spree.

At a Pentagon press briefing Friday evening held shortly after Trump’s public announcement of the strikes on Syria, Gen. Joseph Dunford listed three targets “struck and destroyed,” which he said were “specifically associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.” The last two on his list were chemical weapons storage facilities, one of which included “an important command post”. On these, I don’t know anything beyond the generic descriptions Dunford gave at the briefing.

But the first target on Dunford’s list had a very familiar ring. He described it as “a scientific research center located in the greater Damascus area”. He added: “This military facility was a Syrian center for the research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology.”

That sure sounds like the notorious Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, also known as the SSRC. In which case there can be no doubt that these air strikes were aimed at an incredibly high-value target, an outfit central to some of the worst depravities of Assad’s weapons programs, and – as it happens – a longtime client of North Korea and Iran. On the 99 percent probability that this was the research center to which Dunford referred, here’s some background:

For starters, I’d credit Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis with telling it exactly as it is, when he said at the same Pentagon press briefing Friday night, “We were very precise and proportionate. But at the same time, it was a heavy strike.”

The SSRC has been on the U.S. sanctions list for 13 years, first designated under the Bush administration in 2005, with periodic, horrifying updates under the Obama and Trump administrations, targeting its various fronts, procurement arms, officials and connections.

This is not just any old research center. According to the U.S. Treasury, it is “the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the missiles to deliver them”. …

On April 24, 2017, following Assad’s sarin gas attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, the Trump administration blacklisted 271 employees of the SSRC, stating that these individuals “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons since at least 2012”.  In other words, during the same time frame in which Russia (and former secretary of State John Kerry) were assuring us that 100 percent of the chemical weapons were gone from Syria, the Syrian regime’s SSRC was prolifically busy plowing ahead with Assad’s chemical weapons program.

We also have it on good authority that during roughly that same interval, the SSRC was ordering up shipments from North Korea. According to the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea sanctions, in a report dated March 5, 2018, their investigations into weapons and dual-use shipments to Syria from North Korea turned up more than 40 shipments between 2012 and 2017 “by entities designated by Member States as front companies for the Scientific Studies Research Centre of the Syrian Arab Republic.” Among these shipments were items “with utility in ballistic missile and chemical weapons programs”.

If the SSRC was indeed struck and destroyed, the likely benefits are enormous. That would deprive Assad of one of the most diabolical laboratories of his evil regime, quite likely providing a big setback to his chemical weapons program, with the two-fer that it might also have zapped his bioweapons program.

It would also send a useful message to everyone from the SSRC’s suppliers, such as Iran and North Korea, to such predatory dictators as Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Destroying the SSRC with air strikes ought to drive home, in a way that no amount of UN debate and no quantity of sanctions designations ever could, that these days the U.S. and its allies are serious about their red lines. 

The SSRC was struck. According to the caption to this picture in The Independent, this rubble is what’s left of “part” of it.

A gold for tyranny 20

Who is Kim Yo Jong ? “Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics”, declared a CNN.com headline. This princess of Pyongyang received a royal welcome from South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. He seated her in his VIP box, near Vice President Mike Pence, for the opening ceremony. He hosted her for lunch at the presidential Blue House, where she delivered him an invitation for a summit with Mr. Kim. The resulting Reuters headline: “North Korea heading for diplomacy gold medal at the Olympics.”

Yes, the traitorous Left-biased press reporters of the free world were (all too predictably) delighted with Kim Yo Jong, who smiled for them at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Claudia Rosett (a perceptive writer and the most reliable authority on the iniquitous United Nations), writing at the Wall Street Journal (February 13, 2018), makes “this princess of Pyongyang” better known for what she really is:

[Kim Yo Jong]  holds a key post in Pyongyang’s fearsome and brutal Propaganda and Agitation Department. …

Missing from most of the media coverage was any detail about Ms. Kim’s day job in Pyongyang. In North Korea this kid sister has served under Big Brother as a deputy director of the powerful and omnipresent Propaganda and Agitation Department. She has apparently racked up a record so stellar that last year the U.S. Treasury blacklisted her as a top North Korean official tied to “notorious abuses of human right”. Mr. Kim gave her an alternate seat on his politburo.

In blacklisting Ms. Kim, the Treasury specified that her department “controls all media in the country, which the government uses to control the public”. That’s an understatement. The Propaganda and Agitation Department’s mission is to control not only media but minds — to indoctrinate all North Koreans, at all levels, in the absolute supremacy of Kim Jong Un and his Workers’ Party. … That entails a pervasive normalization of evil. Any deviation is suppressed via imprisonment, torture and execution. … 

In a detailed report published last year by the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Robert Collins and Amanda Mortwedt Oh described the Propaganda and Agitation Department as playing “a key role in justifying Kim family rule through domestic and external propaganda.” They added that entire families may be punished if one member is suspected of dissent. The aim is to ensure the survival, glorification and total power of the Kim regime and its hereditary tyrant.

That’s the training and family tradition behind Ms. Kim’s visit to South Korea. Her delegation included plenty of backup, such as Choe Hwi, a vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department who has been blacklisted by the US [and even the UN] for human-rights abuses. The Treasury noted that Mr. Choe “has reportedly been responsible for maintaining ideological purity“.  Currently he is chairman of North Korea’s National Sports Guidance Committee.

Ms. Kim, with her freckles and enigmatic smile, is a trained and trusted royal brainwasher for a family regime whose court is built on totalitarian lies. Her admirers in the media ought to be impressed by the professionalism with which she snookered them.

Nothing to Envy,* a book by Barbara Demick about North Korea in the time of Kim Jong Un’s Father, Kim Jong Il, reveals that much of the population went hungry much of the time.

Here is a quotation, describing, as a common event, the death of a prisoner who has been worked and slowly starved to death. Prisoners are needed to work as slaves in the mines and other industries, so people are arrested on flimsy excuses:

[The prisoners were] mostly “economic criminals” who’d gotten in trouble at the border or the market. The actual thieves among them had stolen nothing more than food. One of them was a forty-year old rancher who had worked on a collective farm raising cattle. His crime was that he had failed to report the birth of a dead calf, instead taking the stillborn home to feed his wife and two young children. By the time Hyuck [who relates this story to the author] met him, he had served five years of a ten-year term. … The rancher was gentle and soft-spoken, but one of the senior guards took a strong dislike to him. His wife and children came twice to visit, but were not allowed in to see him or to send gifts of food, privileges allowed some of the more favored prisoners.

The rancher died of starvation. It happened quietly; he went to sleep and didn’t wake up. It was a common occurrence that somebody would die in the night. Often it was obvious in the close sleeping-quarters, because the dying man would evacuate his bladder and tiny bubbles would appear on his lips as fluid seeped out of the body.  

As in all collectivist systems, the community of North Korea is organized for slavery, want, and death.

A few more extracts from Nothing to Envy:

In North Korea …. all staples are grown on collective farms. The state confiscates the entire harvest and then gives a portion back to the farmer… [As famine intensified] the North Korean government offered a variety of explanations, from the patently absurd to the barely plausible. People were told … that the United States had instituted a blockade against North Korea that was keeping out food …

Enduring hunger became part of one’s patriotic duty. …

Chongjin was always prone to epidemics because its sewage system … spilled untreated feces into the streams where women often did the laundry. With the electricity blinking on and off, running water became unreliable. Usually electricity and water worked for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, People stored water in big vats at home, which turned into breeding grounds for bacteria. Nobody had soap. Typhoid is easily treated by antibiotics, which by 1994 were almost entirely unavailable. …

How do you tell a mother her child needs more food when there is nothing more to give? [A doctor] would write out a slip admitting the child to the hospital, knowing she had no cure for this condition. The hospital didn’t have any food either …

Over the years the hospital provided less and less. The furnace in the basement went out after it ran out of coal, so the hospital had no heat. When the running water went off, nobody could properly mop the floors. Even in the day it was so dark in the interior of the building that that doctors had to stand by windows to write up their reports. Patients brought their own food, their own blankets. Since bandages were scarce, they would cut up bedding to make them. The hospital was still able to manufacture intravenous fluid, but they didn’t have bottles for it. The patients had to bring their own …

[Many] victims of the North Korean famine … did not go passively to their deaths. When the public distribution system was cut off, they were forced to tap their deepest wells of creativity to feed themselves. They devised traps out of buckets and string to catch small animal in the field, draped nets over their balconies to snare sparrows. They educated themselves in the nutritive properties of plants. … They stripped the sweet inner bark of pine trees to grind into a fine powder that could be used in place of flour. They pounded acorns into a gelatinous paste that could be molded into cubes that practically melted in your mouth. …

If you got out to the mountains, you could maybe find dandelion or other weeds so tasty that people ate them even in good times. Occasionally, Mrs Song [one of the author’s informants] would find rotten cabbage leaves that had been discarded by a farmer. She would take the day’s pickings home and mix it with whatever food she had enough money to buy. Usually it was ground cornmeal – the cheap kind made from the husks and cobs. If she couldn’t afford that, she would buy a still cheaper powder made out of the ground inner bark of the pine, sometimes extended with a little sawdust.

No talent in the kitchen could disguise the god-awful taste. She had to pound away and chop endlessly to get the grasses and the barks into a soft-enough pulp to be digestible. … All she could make was a porridge that was flavorless and textureless. … a porridge mad out of bean and corn stalks … was bitter and dry, and stuck in the throat like the twigs of a bird’s nest…

In the year after Kim Il Sung’s death the only animal product she consumed was frog … North Korea’s frog population would soon be wiped out by overhunting. …

The killer [starvation] has a natural progression. It goes first for the most vulnerable – children under five. They come down with a cold and it turns into pneumonia; diarrhea turns into dysentery. Before the parents even think about getting help, the child is dead. Next the killer turns to the aged … then makes its way through people in the prime of their lives. Men, because they have less body fat, usually perish before women. …

By 1998, an estimated 600,000 people had died as a result of the famine, as much as 10 percent of the population. … Exact figures would be nearly impossible to tally since North Korean hospitals could not report starvation as a cause of death. …

Between 1996 and 2005, North Korea would receive $2.4 billion worth of food aid, much of it from the United States … The relief was off-loaded into trucks by the military and driven away. Some food reached orphanages and kindergartens, but much of it ended up in military stockpiles or sold on the black market. …

By the end of 1998, the worst of the famine was over, not necessarily because anything had improved but … because there were fewer mouths to feed.

Kim Jong-Il had taken an even harder line against individual enterprise than his father. “In a socialist society, even the food problem should be solved in a socialist way. Telling people to solve the food problems on their own creates egotism among people,” he said in a December 1996 speech, one of the few in which he acknowledged the food crisis. … Food was not to be sold on the market. To sell rice or any other grain was strictly forbidden. [It was] considered illegal and immoral, a stab in the heart of Communist ideology. Any private endeavor fell under the rubric of “economic crime” …  In 1997, notices went up … warning that people who stole, hoarded, or sold grains were “stifling our style of socialism” and could be subject to execution. …

Then again, death was a virtual certainty for people who didn’t show some private initiative. A human being needs at least 500 calories per day on average to survive; a person subsisting on a diet of what could be foraged in the woods would not survive more than three months. …

Among the homeless population, a disproportionate number were children or teenagers. In some cases, their parents had gone off in search of jobs or food. But there was another, even stranger, explanation. Facing a food shortage, many North Koreans families conducted a brutal triage of their own households – they denied themselves and often elderly grandparents food in order to keep the younger generation alive. That strategy produced an unusual number of orphans, as the children were often the last ones left of entire families that had perished…

In the first years of the food shortage, the children at the train station survived by begging food, but before long there were simply too many of them and too few people with food to spare…

When begging failed, the children … formed themselves into gangs to steal together …

It was a dangerous life… There were strange stories going around about adults who … would drug children, kill them, and butcher them for meat. Behind the station near the railroad tracks were vendors who cooked soup and noodles over small burners, and it was said that the grey chunks of meat floating in the broth were human flesh. …

People … spoke of the large number of bodies scattered around the station and on the trains. At the station, employees from the cleaning staff regularly made rounds through the public areas, loading bodies onto a wooden handcart. Some days they removed as many as thirty bodies from the station.

Fox News reports that there have been changes for the better in North Korea since the time of Kim Jong Il. (He died in 2011 and was succeeded by his son, the present dictator, Kim Jong Un, who is threatening to nuke the US.) Conditions could hardly have changed for the worse!  According to the Fox report (derived from AP), one of the changes has been an improvement in living standards for at least some of the people.

Probably more out of pragmatic necessity than anything else, Kim Jong Un has allowed capitalist-style markets and entrepreneurialism to expand, invigorating the domestic economy and creating new revenue streams for the government, which profits by either taking a cut or by directly supporting such enterprises. Changes in farming policy that let individuals personally benefit from bigger harvests have boosted agricultural output. The relatively affluent capital of Pyongyang — home to the North’s most fortunate — has seen a significant increase in everything from taxis to coffee shops and streets stalls. But the rise of the “cash masters”, an empowered middle class more open to capitalist ideals, or just more determined to acquire material wealth, could prove to be a problem for Kim down the road.

He is unlikely to let them be a problem for him. More likely he will be a problem for them. One is reminded how Stalin allowed the Russian kulaks to “boost output” – and then he destroyed them.

 

*Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, Spiegel & Grau, New York, 2009

Posted under North Korea by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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Vile bodies 3

This month, December 2016, Amnesty International sponsored a rally in Brussels, where Muslim speakers celebrated the 9/11 attacks, denied the Holocaust, and demonized gays and Jews.

Amnesty International, founded in Britain in 1961 to help political prisoners wherever they may be, became long ago – close on forty years ago by our reckoning – an anti-humanitarian, terrorist-supporting, often communist-led, anti-West institution.

It is quite as bad, though much smaller in size and effect, as the United Nations with its many iniquitous sub-agencies.

Among our posts exposing the extreme turpitude of the UN, and especially of its Human Rights Council (UNHRC), are these: The UN curbs freedom of speech, June 20, 2008; America begs, August 26, 2010; Beyond outrageous, Sept 1, 2010; A contumelious farce, March 2, 2011.

And see the excellent articles by Claudia Rosett, a great authority on the appalling UN.

In September 2015, the Obama administration welcomed the appointment of Saudi Arabia – one of the most oppressive regimes in the world – to head  a United Nations Human Rights Council panel.

Why are these monstrous international organizations suffered to exist?

It is  a disgrace that the UN  – Evil HQ as we call it – stands on American soilIt would fade away if the United States stopped hosting it and providing about a quarter of its revenue. 

The UN must be destroyed!

The story-teller who threw the world into turmoil 3

Has there ever been a president of the United States – or of a middle school debating club – who knew as little, and cared as little to know anything, as President Barack Hussein Obama?

He employed an immature would-be novelist to make up stories about the world and international affairs, then acted on the fiction.

The result is that the Middle East is in flames, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions have been displaced, Europe is being overrun by Muslim “refugees”, and the savagely belligerent regime that rules the Islamic state of Iran is freely developing nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them – and getting more than a billion dollars from the United States to help them do it

We quote from an article at PJ Media by the excellent Claudia Rosett (who has revealed much about Evil’s HQ, the United Nations):

It’s a good bet that by now the entire foreign policy cosmos … has read the York Times Magazineprofile of Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru”. The reporter, David Samuels, had extraordinary access to the White House, multiple well-placed sources and in his 9,500 word piece he provides plenty of attribution, including quotes from Rhodes himself. We get a detailed look, behind the White House facade, at Rhodes, “master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign policy narratives,” complete with his contempt for Congress, the press and the public; his manipulation of the media; and a case study of his “narrative” of liesconcocted to grease a path for Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement – the unpopular, murky, amorphous and deeply dangerous Iran nuclear deal.

Freighted with the far-reaching effects of a major treaty, the Iran deal was never submitted by Obama to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Framed as an agreement with Iran, it was never signed by Iran. Sold by the administration as a transparent deal, it is turning out to be a slush heap of secrets. The real blob in this drama is the rolling sludge of presidential over-reach, White House fictions and raw abuse of public trust that has brought us everything from the indigestible “Affordable Care Act” to the Benghazi “video” narrative, to the Iran deal.

Leading members of Congress are calling on President Obama to fire Rhodes “over accusations the White House intentionally misled lawmakers and the American public about the contents of last summer’s comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran”.

In a letter to Obama, Senators Mark Kirk, John Cornyn and John Barrasso cite Rhodes’s statement to the New York Times that the White House peddled a phony narrative to sell the Iran deal because he considered it “impossible” for elected lawmakers to have “a sober, reasoned public debate, after which the members of Congress reflect and take a vote’. They note, if Rhodes “had conducted himself this way in a typical place of business outside Washington, where American taxpayers work, he surely would have been already fired or asked to resign”.

So, why does Ben Rhodes still have his job?

The broad answer involves the moral vertigo of modern Washington, the Instagram attention span of too many members of a Twitter-driven press corps, and the self-abasements of a culture in which the old American spirit of individual responsibility and free enterprise has been devolving — with many a prompt from President You-Didn’t-Build-That —  into a selfie-snapping contest for “safe spaces” and “free stuff”.

In that context, dude, what difference does it make if Boy Wonder Ben Rhodes, speechwriter and “strategic communicator”, mind-melded with the president, carries on manufacturing and marketing the “narrative” that passes these days for foreign policy? Once you dispense with the baggage of reality, and its knock-on effects for those multitudes of lesser mortals who have never flown on Air Force One, what’s left is former White House staffer Tommy Vietor (“Dude, this was like two years ago”), buddy of Ben Rhodes, techno-chatting to one of Washington’s best reporters, Eli Lake (who knows plenty), that he’s sure most folks outside of Washington think the Rhodes profile was just a “fascinating profile of a brilliant guy with a really cool job”.

All these things matter. But there’s a far more direct answer to the question of why Rhodes still has his job.

Under the old rules of American politics, a top White House staffer getting caught betraying the public trust (and then gloating over it) would have been a firing offense. Not anymore. For this president, with his pen, phone and proclivity for executive diktat, the priority is not the rights of the American people, or their elected lawmakers in Congress, or fidelity to the truth. What matters is loyalty to Obama and his agenda – however radical that becomes, and whatever it might require in terms of lies, manipulation and disregard for democratic process.

The real story here is not Rhodes. It’s his boss. Rhodes is no rogue element on Obama’s staff. We’ve heard no protest from the White House over Rhodes’s statement in the Samuels profile that “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends”. 

What’s come out of the White House instead is an article by Rhodes on “How We Advocated for the Iran Deal”; now coupled with a rejection by the White House of an invitation from Congress for Rhodes to come testify on that very topic, at a hearing held earlier today. A prime distinction between these two poles is that Rhodes, when writing an article, controls the narrative from his keyboard (dispensing with assorted inconvenient truths on grounds that “I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to respond to those topics in the weeks and months to come”). In front of the likes of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, there’s the awkward chance that Rhodes might lose control of his narrative.

The White House argued that the invitation for Rhodes to testify “raises significant constitutional concerns rooted in the separation of powers”. That would be more persuasive had the president shown any such concern for the Constitution while ramming through the Iran deal. That was not solely a matter of peddling the Rhodes-Obama narrative. Obama also raced to get United Nations Security Council approval for the deal before Congress had a chance to delve into it. Recall Obama’s lead negotiator, Wendy Sherman, ridiculing the idea that the administration should take the position “Well, excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress”.  (Yes, Wendy, this being America, that is exactly how it should have worked).

The White House further argues that “the appearance of a senior presidential adviser before Congress threatens the independence and autonomy of the President, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel in the discharge of his constitutional duties”. Fine, if the White House is dealing with Congress and the public in good faith. But when the candid advice and counsel consists of concocting and packaging lies – excuse me, “narratives” – designed to neuter Congress and mislead the public, where does that take us? …

When an administration is caught deliberately spinning lies, when a White House official paid to uphold the public trust is exposed as deriding and manipulating that same public, the response needed for the healthy working of democracy is apology, contrition and a real remedy. If the official does not have conscience enough to resign, the president should do the honors, by firing him. Or her.

But nothing can undo the harm that the Rhodes-Obama twin-headed monster has done.

Under Obama, it has become standard procedure that such firings do not take place. Obama shrugs off the news, doubles down on the narrative and bulldozes ahead. Once the scandal is consigned to last week’s news cycle, for purposes of this administration it is down the Memory Hole. Obamacare, with its partisan vote, indecipherable text, soaring costs and disastrous web site rollout; an American economy choking under regulations; the disintegration of Libya, the vanishing red line in Syria, the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, the rise of ISIS, North Korea’s nuclear tests, Iran’s ballistic missile tests, China’s military buildup, Russia’s turf grabs  – the Obama narrative says it is all under control. Nothing much to see here, move along. Or, to quote Obama’s first secretary of State, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

In the resulting vacuum, absent ethical or responsible leadership at the very top, we’re left to amuse ourselves with the chatter of the echo chamber – home to the infinitely malleable narratives of Rhodes and his boss. Last Wednesday, seeking to mollify the reporters so roundly insulted by Rhodes, White House spokesman Josh Earnest and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough brought a box of donuts to the White House press corps, calling their visit “press appreciation day”. Earnest assured reporters that Rhodes would revise the contemptuous statements about the press, “given a chance”. Does that mean Rhodes will now disavow, in the White House inner chambers, that “candid advice and counsel” so prized by the president? …

We wouldn’t be at all surprised if the White House press corps was bought off with a box of donuts.

Why would Obama fire Rhodes? If nothing else comes clear from this saga, it is that Rhodes has served for years as one of the chief ideological bag men of Obama’s presidency. If, under their ministrations the possibilities of free and open discourse are vanishing in Washington, replaced by bully pulpit narratives bouncing around the echo chamber, wasn’t that the reason Obama gave Rhodes all that power in the first place?

Posted under Commentary, Iran, jihad, middle east, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Monday, May 23, 2016

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The miserable and predictable failure of planning and philanthropy 4

Seeking the “origins of poverty”  is like seeking the “origins of nakedness”. Absurd. Nakedness and poverty are the natural state of man. (Quiet, feminists, or leave the room!)

But man found a way to become well-supplied with what he needs and a lot of what he desires in addition – those delicious luxuries. The magic goes under the name of Capitalism. It is the only magic that works. The Invisible Hand stirs the cauldrons of human voracity and ingenuity, and the rest is noisy market traffic.

The community organizers of the world don’t like it. It is chaotic, unpredictable, messy, uncontrollable. And some get more than others in their pursuit of sustenance and pleasure.

The community organizers think that’s immoral, wrong, unfair. So they want to abolish the market. They believe that wealth lies in or on the ground and can be dug up or cut down and distributed equally. They visualize wealth as a “pie” – a fixed amount. They know by gut feeling that poverty is caused by some people grabbing too much of it. Therefore, they hold, the rich are rich because the poor are poor, and the poor are poor because the rich are rich. Their solution to poverty is to slice up “the pie” and hand out the slices.

It would be an orderly procedure, totally under their control. Like handing out the bowls of thin gruel in Oliver Twist’s orphanage. And if you complain, they won’t hand you your slice or bowl – so there!

The UN wants to be the slicer and giver to the world. It had a plan to make the poor, wherever they are in the world (except any they don’t like), not-poor. Or anyway a bit less poor. Central planning on a grand scale would do the trick, the UN intelligentsia imagined.

But they have found – to their chagrin – that central planning does not work.  

Claudia Rosett, the go-to writer for reliable news of Evil Central aka the UN, writes:

At the United Nations, America’s new ambassador, Samantha Power, reported for duty on Monday. In remarks just before presenting her credentials, Power listed some of the top items on her UN to-do list, including working together “to alleviate global poverty.”

Let’s hope Power takes a look at a new study of UN development efforts, which the UN has declined to release — though it was done by one of the UN’s own staffers, Howard Steven Friedman, a statistician with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Friedman took a look at the results of the UN’s centerpiece development scheme, the UN Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs.

Launched with great fanfare by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, the MDGs were supposed to speed the the world toward an array of specific development targets set by the UN for the year 2015, including reducing disease and hunger, and halving [the number of people in] extreme poverty.

The UN, on its MDG web site, boasts that these UN targets “have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.”

But UN-galvanized efforts do not necessarily translate into the promised results. Friedman’s bombshell finding is that the Millennium Development Goals have made virtually no difference in the pace of development.

So, small wonder that the UN chose not to release his study — claiming, among other objections, that Friedman’s report does not count because he did it while on sabbatical. … [!]

Fortunately, Friedman’s study was published independently … You can find it here, both the abstract and the full report. Unlike the UN public relations machine, Friedman took the sensible tack of looking not just at the years since the program began, but at the longer-term overall trajectory of the development indicators involved, from 1992-2008 — starting eight years before the UN kicked off its global MDGs, through the eighth year of the program. He found that “the data show clearly that the activities following the MDG Declaration did not provide an acceleration in most of the development goals.” …

But broadly speaking, Friedman is highlighting data and questions that ought to be the subject of rapt attention and genuine debate at a UN that advertises itself as dedicated to helping the poor — and solicits billions of taxpayer dollars in the name of that cause. The MDGs have become one of the UN’s justifications for its ever-growing appetite for money. Meanwhile. the most highly visible and consistent beneficiaries of the UN Millennium Development Goals are not the poor. The clear beneficiaries are the first-class passengers on the UN gravy train — UN officials themselves, along with the constellations of well-paid consultants and jet-set conference-goers. The MDGs began with a huge New York summit for the signing of the Millennial Declaration, which Annan has since described as one of the highlights of his UN career. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has carried on in similar vein, touting and lauding the MDGs, and urging that member states pour resources into this UN campaign. The UN has held not only the initial 2000 Millennium Summit, but an MDG 2005 summit, a 2008 “High-Level Event,” a 2010 summit, countless conferences around the globe, and with the original MDG deadline of 2015 now getting near, there are plans afoot for a program of post-2015 MDGs.

The deeper problem here is that the MDGs, for all their lofty aims, amount in many ways to simply a UN-repackaged version of central planning. While we can all agree that it is profoundly desirable to end poverty, the real avenue to that goal is not a set of bureaucratically defined targets, but decent government, protecting a framework of law that leaves individuals free to choose for themselves the tradeoffs with which they try to improve their lives. At a UN where the majority of the 193 member states are not free market democracies, that’s a goal much harder to promote than a set of slickly packaged MDGs. But if the aim is to make a difference, that’s what needs galvanizing. Something the U.S. ambassador could usefully contribute would be to call attention to Friedman’s study, and ask the assembled worthies, in public, why on earth the UN would have the arrogance to consider such damning findings irrelevant.

We doubt Samantha Power will take that good advice.

On the harm that philanthropy does, especially government-to-government aid, Jerry Bowyer writes at Townhall:

Peter Greer of Hope International describes the ways in which government to government aid can be even more harmful [than private philanthropy]. The timing is lamentably good as the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has managed to get himself ‘re-elected’ to another term as President and his first policy act is to appropriate property from white owned businesses to give to black citizens. …

Jerry: “What about government aid? Are the problems associated with that similar to, greater than, or less than the problems that you’re talking about when it comes to private philanthropy?”

Peter: “There are certainly a lot of similarities, but … [it] actually might be even worse. … By pouring in billions of dollars of aid, and by having it … go through corrupt governments, [it] might prop them up, might actually make it more difficult for development to occur. … [The] places that have received the largest amount of aid — they’re actually experiencing economic stagnation, and oftentimes decline, and part of that is because aid can sabotage the democratic process. …  When I was in Zimbabwe, this was when Robert Mugabe was having one of his “elections” … [and] he was using the international food aid to reward those places that voted for him and to punish those places that had not voted for him. So, the message was pretty clear: If you want any of the maize, if you want any of the food aid, you vote for me. …”

Power (pun intended) is the name of the game.

 

P.S. The UN must be destroyed.

UN Force in Lebanon teaches baking and knitting 0

instead of doing its job, defined by the UN as keeping southern Lebanon free of Hizbollah, and preventing that huge terrorist organization from re-arming.

The hobby lessons are paid for in large part by US tax payers.

This is from PJ Media, by Claudia Rosett – the most reliable authority on all things UN:

The news is full of reports that Israeli air strikes have targeted Iranian-supplied missiles in Syria, which Israeli officials believe were intended for Hezbollah — Iran’s satellite terrorist organization in Lebanon. Midway through a New York Times story on this development comes a reminder that:

“Hezbollah is now believed to have more missiles and fighters than it had before its 2006 battle with Israel, when Hezbollah missiles forced a third of Israel’s population into shelters and hit as far south as Haifa.”

“More missiles” may be putting it modestly. In 2011, Israeli authorities said that Hezbollah had rearmed to the extent of amassing more than three times the weapons it had prior to the 2006 war. Supplementing their allegations with detailed maps, Israeli officials charged that Hezbollah had created a network across southern Lebanon of almost 1,000 rocket and missile facilities, including 550 bunkers and 100 weapons storage units.

All of which raises the question of what’s going on with the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon). UNIFIL was beefed up, at significant cost, after the 2006 war, with the professed aim of ensuring that Hezbollah would not rearm. As spelled out in 2006 in UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was supposed to secure peace, UNIFIL’s mandate included helping Lebanon’s armed forces ensure that southern Lebanon, bordering on Israel, would be — to quote from the UNIFIL web site — “an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in the area.”  …

Obviously … that mandate for ensuring an area free of Hezbollah munitions has not worked out. …

UNIFIL remains in southern Lebanon, on an annual budget now totaling almost $550 million (more than 27% of that funded by U.S. taxpayers), with more than 11,000 peacekeeping troops. …

“So,” Claudia Rosett asks rhetorically, “what is UNIFIL doing?” And she tells us:

Well, they are embodying diversity, with troops from 38 countries. They have put out a 2013 calendar featuring “Women of UNIFIL.” And according to UNIFIL’s web site, they have been providing quite an array of services to the local community:

UNIFIL contingents provide free medical, dental, veterinary and such other assistance to the local population.” Beyond that. they have been providing training programs for the locals, “in such fields as computers, languages, bread making, knitting, yoga, taekwondo and so on.”

So, while UNIFIL has proved unable to stop Hezbollah from amplifying its previous military facilities into a warren of hundreds of bunkers stuffed with thousand of rockets and missiles, UNIFIL has been toiling away to provide everything from computer instruction to free medical care to yoga, knitting, and taekwondo lessons to the local population that hosts these Hezbollah weapons facilities. Should we really call this peacekeeping? Sounds more like free services for Hezbollah.

The UN must be destroyed.

*

What is Israel doing about the massive arming of Hezbollah?

The following paragraph is a digest of quotations from this article, and was first posted on our TAC Facebook page:

[Yesterday, May 5, 2013] Israel conducted a second round of strikes in three days on advanced weapons including Iranian F-110 weapons bound for Hizballah in transit at Damascus international airport. Syrian TV reported only an attack on the Jamraya military research center just north of Damascus. This was the same facility which Israeli planes attacked in January. Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said that the strike on Syria overnight represented a “declaration of war” by Israel. Russian and Iranian media earlier predicted full-scale Middle East hostilities involving Israel erupting in the coming hours, in the wake of Israel’s renewed strikes against Iranian missiles bound for Hizballah and other targets around Damascus. Russian sources reported rumors that President Bashar Assad was on the point of declaring war on Israel. Russia Today claimed that an Israeli rocket strike caused heavy Syrian casualties – according to rumors, at least 300 members of the Syrian Army’s 501st Unit dead and hundreds filling four Damascus hospitals. If this is confirmed, then the unit which operates the chemical weapon facility at the Barzeh district north of Damascus at the foot of Mt. Qassioun was hit. Israel’s security cabinet holds emergency session.

Why the UN must be destroyed 19

The UN must be destroyed because (to put it very mildly, coolly, and objectively):

  • It does no good to anyone
  • It does much harm to many
  • It is unreformable
  • It was a colossal mistake of wishful thinking from its beginning
  • It is kept going only because it is a gravy train for its bureaucrats and diplomats at enormous expense to tax-payers, especially Americans

A documentary film made recently by Ami Horowitz and Matt Groff, UN Me, exposes the worst incidences of its uselessness and corruption, violent and cruel actions, and refusals to do what it purportedly came into existence to do.

The following extracts are from an excellent article on the film by Bruce Bawer at Front Page. (It is well worth reading in full.)

UN Me begins by according us a few brief glimpses of the sheer sloth that characterizes the whole shebang. Old UN hands describe the short working days, long lunches, and frequent midday naps that characterize the everyday life of many of its functionaries. Wandering the halls of UN headquarters in New York shortly after 5 PM on a weekday, Horowitz … encounters a virtual ghost town: almost everybody has long since cleared out for the day. This institutional torpor is, he makes clear, emblematic of the whole worldwide enterprise. …

Horowitz reminds us that countries like Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and China have sat on the UN Human Rights Commission – and, later, on the Human Rights Council that was meant to be an improvement on that comically corrupt agency.

In 2010, Iran was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

At one point in the film, Horowitz asks Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and director of the UN’s 2009 anti-racism conference in Geneva, why Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of all people, was named keynote speaker at that event. That question, she replies in a small voice, is “not for me to answer.” (No, you don’t get far at the UN by providing honest answers to reasonable questions like that one.)

Horowitz informs us that Article 6 of the UN Charter actually “calls for the expulsion of any nation that consistently violates the principles of the charter.” Yet no member country has ever been expelled under Article 6. Shashi Tharoor, UN information chief, cheerfully explains that it’s best to have everybody “under the same tent.” …

The  film covers some of the more egregious scandals involving UN peacekeeping …  anecdotes about peacekeepers in various countries who, in their interactions with the people they were there to protect, acted like thugs, got rich trafficking drugs, spent their time whoring, and sexually abused minors. Peacekeepers in the Congo committed literally thousands of rapes. At least one ran a pedophilia ring.

We’re shown video of UN bureaucrats solemnly vowing that errant peacekeepers will be caught and punished. But in fact almost no UN peacekeeper has ever been held accountable for anything.

In Côte d’Ivoire, peacekeepers actually fired on peaceful, unarmed protestors.

They were standing together, men women and children, singing happily when UN sharp shooters fired on them. One of the few times the “peacekeepers”  have actually used their arms.

But was anyone punished? No; that’s just not the UN way. When Horowitz, in a sit-down interview with Abou Moussa, head of the UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire, asks about the episode, Moussa gets up and leaves.

The film moves on to the absurdity that is the International Atomic Energy Agency – which, tasked with preventing nuclear-arms proliferation, has actually helped North Korea, Iran, India, and Pakistan to acquire nuclear technology, purportedly for peaceful purposes. Since, as the film notes, the IAEA can only perform inspections in countries that invite it to do so, it spends more than 80% of its $380 million annual budget inspecting facilities in – believe it or not – Germany, Japan, and Canada. …

Iran carries on towards making nuclear weapons. The UN and its agencies can do nothing about it, nor would if they could. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is one of the most honored, ecstatically applauded gasbags in the UN General Assembly, he who has homosexuals hanged and women stoned to death. Ahmadinejad is the perfect personification of the spirit of the United Nations Organization.  

Then there’s terrorism. After 9/11, the UN passed Resolution 1373, which was supposedly designed to fight terrorism. It would appear to be as toothless a measure as was ever ratified by a deliberative body. Horowitz interviews Javier Ruperez, whose title is – get this – Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council. Asked what the committee actually does to fight terrorism, Ruperez speaks blandly of the production of reports. Member countries, you see, are asked to file reports indicating whether or not they’re aiding terrorists. The directorate, or committee, or whatever it is also sends inspectors for, oh, a week or so to various countries to find out whether anything fishy is going on there. None of this, of course, actually accomplishes anything. Asked whether the UN has official lists of terrorist groups and of countries that support terror, Ruperez says no: “This is not the practice of the UN.” …

Another question: how does the UN define terrorism? This, Ruperez declares, is still a “pending matter.” …

The UN will not define terrorism because the General Assembly is dominated by terrorism-sponsoring states.

Next up: the Oil for Food scandal – which, as Claudia Rosett, the top-notch UN expert and eloquent UN critic, tells Horowitz, was absolutely “designed to produce corruption.” Allegedly, the objective of the program was to provide food, medical supplies, and so forth to the Iraqi people in exchange for oil; in reality, a bunch of UN big shots, up to and including Security Council representatives … lined their pockets with kickbacks. But, again, the UN did nothing – it was, as Rosett says, “the biggest scam in the history of human relief,” but nobody was fired or jailed. As always, the UN proved that nothing could be more alien to its institutional culture than the idea of accountability.

The Rwanda genocide gets its own sad chapter in UN Me. The head of the UN peacekeepers in that country, General Romeo Dallaire, actually wanted to do the right thing. But when he asked Kofi Annan, then in charge of all UN peacekeeping forces, for authority to take relatively modest action to prevent a looming genocide, Annan said no. Why? Because it was more important to protect the UN’s “image of impartiality” than to protect people from genocide. UN forces were even ordered to withdraw from a school where they were the only thing standing between Tutsi refugees – many of them children and old people – and Hutus with machetes. Result: a brutal massacre for which – yet again – no UN personnel were punished.

Live footage of what happened there is one of the most heart-rending scenes in the film.

While this nightmare was unfolding in Rwanda, Boutros-Boutros Ghali, then secretary-general of the UN, was on a European tour, which he refused to cancel in order to deal with Rwanda.

He had urgently to attend a string of universities bestowing honorary degrees on him for being such a benefactor of mankind.

When he did return to New York, he denied that Tutsi were being exterminated. …  Horowitz and Groff even got Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on camera smoothly asserting that in the wake of the Rwanda genocide, it’s best not to “allocate the blame to one actor or the other.”

Horowitz also interviews Jody Williams, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was invited by the UN to examine the situation in Darfur and who ended up livid at the UN’s palpable discomfort with her undiplomatic conclusions and its failure to act on her urgent recommendations. …

At film’s end, Horowitz and Graff pose a simple question: what, given all these unpleasant facts, does the UN stand for? The answer, alas, is clear. It stands for itself – period. Like many other pointless bureaucracies, it is about perpetuating its own existence and enhancing its own image – and about seeking to squelch the truth about its fecklessness, incompetence, and absolute lack of a moral compass. It’s also … about providing hack politicians from around the world with yet another career steppingstone, once they’ve risen to the top of the ladder in their own crummy little countries and finished emptying their own citizens’ pockets.

Please watch the film!

Conspiracy 1

Yet again, the UN is conspiring against the world.

Claudia Rosett writes:

The United Nations hasn’t stopped the carnage in Syria, hasn’t stopped Iran’s race for nuclear weapons, and so far hasn’t even managed to produce financial disclosure forms for its top officials that actually disclose anything about their finances. (For instance, here’s the UN “disclosure” form for the head of the UN Environment Program, Achim Steiner.)

Please read the disclosure form. All by itself it provides an insight into everyday practices at the United Nations.

But that’s no bar to the UN proposing to plan the future of the planet. While the headlines focus on upheaval in the Middle East, financial crisis in Europe, an election year politics in the U.S., the UN has been planning its grand summit-level Rio+20 Conference, scheduled for June 20-22 in Brazil. This will mark the 20th anniversary of the Rio Earth Summit, which helped spade the ground for climate hysteria, the Kyoto treaty, and the quack vilification of the world’s most productive economies. This round, the UN plans to make even more “sustainable” the things the UN-ocracy would like to see sustained — paramount among them, the UN itself.

As is the way of such UN confabs, the Rio+20 Conference already has a “Dedicated Secretariat,” headed by China’s Sha Zukang, the UN Under-Secretary-General who made news in 2010 for his drunken rant during a UN retreat at an Austrian ski resort — in which Sha declared he had never liked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and he didn’t like Americans either. Also in 2010, Sha served as ceremonial presenter of a “World Harmony Award” to the former Chinese military chief who was operational commander during the 1989 crushing of the Tiananmen Square uprising. 

Now … Ban Ki-Moon, Sha Zukang and another two dozen or more of the UN’s top Rio+20 planners held a closed-door retreat last October, at a Long Island mansion, where they discussed how Rio+20 could help them reshape the world. The proceedings were meant to be secret (apparently, UN top managers prefer that the world not know the details until their world reshaping is already well underway). …

The minutes include the usual mind-numbing welter of UN buzz words: “sustainable…implementing… institutional framework… integration, implementation and coherence…” etc. …

Thanks in substantial part to U.S. tax dollars that subsidize most of its system, the UN has the ability and resources to stage these mega-conferences, whether the U.S. contributes directly or not.

These conferences produce secretariats that become permanent fixtures, and spin off other conferences, commissions, programs — which in turn become frameworks and funders of global lobbying efforts in which an organized few can trample the interests of a disorganized many.

At what cost to humanity does this “sustain” and continually expand the UN, and its ever-swelling ambitions?

As it is, we have a huddle of UN officials — none of them chosen by any process that a normal democracy would recognize as elections — bankrolled in substantial part by U.S. tax dollars, and protected by UN immunities, meeting in luxurious secrecy on Long Island to plan the reshaping of the world.

The UN must be destroyed.

The unchanging climate of corruption at the UN 1

Now we have the UN pitching plans — again — for taxes on world commerce that would pluck scores of billions directly from the private sector every year, and send this lucre through the skimmers of the UN system, to be reallocated as the UN might prefer.

In a PJ Media article, Claudia Rosett – by far the most illuminating and reliable authority on the UN and its iniquitieswrites:

Never mind where you might stand on the question of global warming, global cooling, climate change or plain old weather. If there’s one constant to this entire climate debate, it is that in the name of “climate,” the United Nations wishes to regulate and tax the economy of the planet — stripping resources from the most productive economies to hand them out as assorted UN bureaucrats deem fit. 

This is an agenda for global central planning — which, at the extreme, is what the Soviet Union envisioned as the radiant future of mankind, at least until the USSR itself collapsed as a basket case of monstrously misallocated resources, pervaded by the nightmare repression required to enforce such a system. Nonetheless, at the UN this agenda keeps coming up, year after year, at one climate conference after another.

The proclamations of emergency have varied, but always, in the middle of it, there is the UN, proposing to serve as planner and traffic cop for global commerce — a role that entails the UN aiming to redirect resources and collecting a cut to cover the administrative enterprises of its own neo-colonial empire of agencies, organizations, intergovernmental outfits, programs and special envoys. Somehow that already includes a need for climate conferees to travel great distances at other people’s expense

Right now, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, they’re at it again, conferring for a fortnight. There, they are trying to design a “Green Climate Fund,” hoping to impose some form of global taxes that would bring in some $100 billion per year, to be redistributed to countries the UN decides are most at risk from change in climate. Reports have been emerging that the UN is eyeing a “carbon” tax on shipping, or international financial transactions, or cross-border aviation. Of course, this would raise the cost of commerce for everyone, so there is a further proposal, reports AFP, to use some of the money to compensate developing countries, at the expense of the most productive countries, for the higher costs. Such an arrangement would presumably require yet more intervention from the UN, since someone would have to decide which countries should be compensated, and to what extent — presumably a changing scene, as economic shifts occur — and of course there would be a need for more international bureaucrats to administer such a scheme. It’s also a good bet that more UN bureaucrats would also devote some of their time to coming up with yet more global tax schemes. The possibilities are staggering.

As a recipe for corruption of monumental scope, this is brilliant.It would open money spigots on a scale the UN to date has only dreamt of. …

The UN is a collective, encased in immunity, prone to horrific waste and abuse, and likewise prone to endless promises of reform and transparency which never quite work out — because there is no mechanism to hold the UN to account, or require that its officials comply with their promises. Even the U.S., which contributes 22% of the UN’s core budget, pours billions into the UN system, and periodically tries to clean the place up, has scant luck. In the 193-member General Assembly, the U.S. casts only one vote. The General Assembly budget process is one in which the U.S. provides the biggest share of the money, and a majority of other states out-vote the U.S. in deciding how it will be spent.

The UN must not be allowed to tax us. The UN must not be allowed to become the world’s Kremlin. The UN must be destroyed.

A non-state called “Palestine” joins UNESCO 11

A non-entity called “Palestine” has been admitted as a member of UNESCO.

The US promptly stopped funding the UN agency, as it was bound to do by law. But with what degree of reluctance in the minds of Obama and his foreign affairs appointees?

Claudia Rosett, always the best commentator on the nefarious goings-on of the UN and its agencies, wrote this at Canada Free Press:

If the U.S. has one big lever right now within the many organizations of the United Nations system, it is the threat to cut the money with which U.S. taxpayers pay the biggest share of the U.N.’s bills. Yet despite a U.S. threat to cut funding, the assembly of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted Monday to grant full membership to the Palestinian Authority. What happened?

The answer may be that the U.N. has little reason to take U.S. threats seriously. That might sound odd, since UNESCO’s decision to seat the Palestinians has indeed choked off U.S. funding for the Paris-based organization. At least for now.

Under U.S. law, the U.S. must deny funding to any part of the U.N. system that grants membership to the Palestinians — at least until they achieve viable statehood by way of negotiating in good faith with Israel. On Monday, following the UNESCO vote, a State Department spokeswoman confirmed that a $60 million U.S. payment for UNESCO, planned for this month, will not be made. Overall, U.S. dues account for 22% of UNESCO’s budget, plus the U.S. throws in millions in voluntary contributions on top. A U.S. cutoff should mean that UNESCO will lose about $80 million per year.

But while money talks, so do U.S. diplomats. For the U.S., the UNESCO vote was a debacle, with the assembled states voting 107 to 14 in favor of admitting the Palestinians, and 52 states abstaining. That would have been the moment for the U.S. ambassador to read UNESCO’s assembly the riot act and announce that the U.S. was pulling out, as it did in 1984, under President Ronald Reagan; returning only in 2003, under President George W. Bush.

Instead, the U.S. diplomatic message to UNESCO has been one of apology, regrets and fawning statements of support for a U.N. body that has just slapped the U.S. in the chops. U.S officials have even been hinting that they are looking for some kind of workaround, to get the money flowing again.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland described UNESCO’s admission of “Palestine” as “regrettable” and premature.” But she went on to say the U.S. “will maintain its membership and commitment to UNESCO.” Most telling, she added that the administration would “consult with Congress to ensure that U.S. interests and influence are preserved.”

Why might the administration now wish to consult with Congress? Congress appropriates the money that the U.S. gives to the U.N., and Congress has the power, should it choose, to change the laws now cutting off funds for UNESCO, and for any other U.N. organizations the Palestinians might now seek to join.

In Paris, America’s ambassador to UNESCO, David Killion, had even sweeter words for UNESCO. … Sounding more like an envoy of UNESCO than of the U.S., Killion …  came close to issuing an outright apology: “We sincerely regret that the strenuous and well-intentioned efforts of many delegations to avoid this result fell short.” [And he]  concluded by hinting that UNESCO might not suffer quite as much as expected: “We pledge to continue our efforts to find ways to support and strengthen the important work of this vital organization.”

As for the “strenuous efforts” of the U.S. administration to head off UNESCO’s admission of the Palestinians, American moves in the run up to the Oct. 31 vote included topping up UNESCO’s coffers. On Oct. 18, with the vote already looming, and the Palestinians fielding a clear majority at the impending assembly, the U.S. tipped $1.77 million in voluntary, extra-budgetary funding into UNESCO’s till. …

And, as UNESCO’s delegates prepared on Monday to cast their votes, U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter addressed the assembly. She did not bother to mention that Palestinian TV, schools and summer camps still indoctrinate Palestinian children in hatred of Israel, nor did she note that the Palestinian Authority’s logo shows a map on which Israel has been obliterated. She was there to tell the delegates that … “This General Conference is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment, because the world needs a strong UNESCO.”

Does it? A truth that seems lost on the current U.S. administration is that UNESCO’s assembly of member states, with its jubilant nose-thumbing vote against American policy and interests, is no anomaly. It is a pretty accurate reflection of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which is substantially mirrored in voting and governing bodies throughout the U.N. system.

Right now the U.S. is also shelling out more than $400 million for a $1.9 billion renovation of the U.N.’s headquarters in Manhattan, kitting out U.N. delegates and staff with state of the art equipment and comforts. All this translates into a lavish entitlement system, in which U.N. member states, and the U.N. organizations they largely control, are accustomed to using one hand to poke America in the eye, while holding out the other hand for more U.S. tax dollars.

With UNESCO membership a done deal, the Palestinians are shopping for other U.N. organizations to join. A UNESCO seat confers automatic access to a number of other U.N.-affiliated organizations, including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva and the U.N. Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna. Palestinian officials have also been floating mentions of applying to the World Health Oragnization (WHO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Bank and beyond. …

The UN must be destroyed.

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