Rumors of the U.N.’s Benefits Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
10:01 AM, Dec 7, 2011 • By ANNE BAYEFSKY
Portraying President Obama’s U.N.-centered foreign policy as consistent with American values or pro-Israel has become increasingly difficult for administration officials. The result has been a steady stream of inaccurate accounts of goings-on at the organization.
On Friday, December 2, the Obama administration made another attempt to justify its decision to join the disreputable U.N. Human Rights Council. The Council had just followed a discussion on Syria with a resolution promising to appoint a human rights investigator – four months from now in March 2012 – and rejected calls to seek the involvement of the Security Council and the International Criminal Court. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice tried to praise the body’s toughness: “No nation has been the subject of more than one special session, let alone three, in such a short amount of time.”
In fact, while the Council held three special sessions on Syria between April and December 2011, it has held six special sessions on Israel and three of those occurred in a shorter amount of time, namely, between July and November 2006.
Rice continued: “I applaud the Council for holding its third special session on Syria since April, with a record 29 co-sponsors.” The state department press release claimed that 29 countries was “by far the largest number of co-sponsors for any special session since the Council was created.” In fact, five other Council special sessions had more co-sponsors, including a session on Israel and the infamous Goldstone operation that had 33.
These aren’t the only factual inaccuracies being thrown around to shore upU.S. support for the Council, a body known to be no friend of Israel’s.
Esther Brimmer, assistant secretary of the bureau of international organization affairs at the State Department, is frequently trotted out to sell the Obama administration’s U.N.-bond, and to cover-up the body’s anti-Israel results. In a speech on February 1, 2011 to the Brookings Institution, Brimmer said: “Since the United States joined the Human Rights Council, it has not held a single special session on Israel.”
Except that the U.S. took its seat on the Council on September 14, 2009. The Council held its sixth special session on Israel on October 15 and 16, 2009 – an unforgettable session in which it endorsed the notorious Goldstone Report. And 8 months later, in June 2010, the Council, with slightly modified lingo, held an “urgent debate” – the first and only one of its kind – to condemn Israel’s lawful effort to stop Turkish-backed terrorists from breaking the Gaza blockade.
Slip of the tongue by Brimmer? Here she is repeating the same false claim again on September 1, 2011 at the University of Nevada: “Though the Human Rights Council held five special sessions on Israel in the three years before the United States took our seat, there have been none – none – in almost two years.”
With unnerving regularity, key members of the Obama administration misstate the facts on what happens at the U.N. and, hence, draw unsubstantiated conclusions about America’s best interests.
Speaking of the Human Rights Council, Rice told a House Appropriations Subcommittee on April 6, 2011: “The results there were worse when America sat on the sidelines…Israel was relentlessly bashed…U.S. engagement and leadership are paying dividends.” In fact, just two weeks before her statement the Council concluded its March 2011 session by adopting more resolutions bashing Israel than at any other session in its history.
Brimmer told an audience at the University of Nevada on September 1, 2011: “I am pleased to report that the Human Rights Council has fundamentally changed over the past two years as a result of U.S. engagement.…[W]e have seen a dramatic improvement in that body’s effectiveness.”
Dramatic improvement? Canada, the country with the closest voting pattern to the U.S., was on the Council prior to U.S. membership for 11 sessions. When it came time for voting, Canada lost 88 percent of the time. Since the U.S. has been a member, there have been 7 regular sessions of the Council and 50 up or down votes. The Obama administration has lost 42 of them – 84 percent of the time.