Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The UN’s Legacy of Appeasement

Joseph Klein

If Senator Barack Obama thinks that the lessons of World War II have nothing to teach him about the dangers of appeasing the enemies of democracy, he need only look at how the United Nations is making the world a more dangerous place today by coddling Islamic extremists. However, it does not look like Obama is opening his eyes to appeasement at the UN any more than he is willing to learn from history.

Obama has voiced unqualified support for the United Nations, even in its current dysfunctional state. He said that “as President, I will insist that Congress provide funds to pay our dues on time, in full, and without improper conditions.” Would Obama consider it an “improper condition” to demand a top to bottom reform of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, which even he has criticized for its obvious shortcomings, before contributing another dime to its perpetuation? The 56 member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has dominated the Human Rights Council’s agenda ever since its creation two years ago through the outsized representation of Islamic states and their authoritarian allies on the Council. This agenda has focused on targeting Israel for incessant and totally one-sided condemnations, shielding the worst human rights violators from any serious criticisms of their own records, coddling terrorists as ‘resistance fighters’ and redefining international law with anti-democratic tenets of Islamic law.

The OIC will have even more supporters for this anti-democratic agenda as a result of the latest election of Human Rights Council members held by the General Assembly on May 21, 2008. The percentage of Council members ranked fully free by Freedom House statistics has dropped from 49% to 46%.

Obama may believe that the election of Bahrain, an Islamic constitutional monarchy, to a new three year term on the Human Rights Council after a year’s absence will have a relatively moderating influence on the Council, paving the way for the United States itself to consider joining the Council for the first time. He may point to the fact that, although Bahrain’s human rights record falls way below any objective measure of human rights protection for its own people, Bahrain was still viewed as a much better alternative than Sri Lanka, which lost its bid for another term representing the Asian Regional Group on the Council by 13 votes.

However, looks are deceiving. Two non-governmental organizations from Geneva and the US-UN Watch and Freedom House released a joint report in which they stated that Bahrain and Sri Lanka (as well as Pakistan, which won another term) were not qualified to be elected.

Bahrain’s constitution, as in most other Muslim countries, states that Islam is the official religion and that Shari'a (Islamic law) is the principal source for legislation. That would be fine if Bahrain and its fellow Muslim countries were content to limit the application of Shari'a to their own countries. However, we know that, to the contrary, they want to use the Human Rights Council as the means for drawing an international red line that freedom of expression must not cross.

A UN General Assembly resolution endorsing a ban on "defamation of religion" was passed last year by a coalition of mostly authoritarian regimes led by the Islamic bloc, over the opposition of many democracies who believe that the best way to protect religion is by respecting each individual’s freedom of religion. Bahrain will provide yet another vote on the Human Rights Council in support of the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s campaign to champion a follow-up resolution that would put the UN on record in favor of criminalizing ‘defamation of religions’ as the primary concern of international human rights law.

Instead of viewing freedom of expression without interference from the government as a peaceful outlet to air differences of opinion and as an alternative to violence, the Islamist mindset is to view freedom of expression that leads to criticism of Islam as the cause of violence. Giving in to even more of this perversion of human rights, and continuing to subsidize it, would be a grave mistake. It would signal that we are willing to go along with the UN’s appeasement of a theocratic ideology at odds with freedom for the sake of fostering some sort of phony ‘understanding’ between the West and the Muslim world.

The UN is also being used to advance, as the basis for international law on terrorism, the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s definition of what constitutes illegal terrorist acts versus legitimate acts of ‘freedom fighters.’ Under this definition, the killing of innocent civilians by Hamas and Hezbollah would be characterized as permissible resistance to an ‘occupying’ power.

Thus it is not surprising that, under pressure from Qatar which represents the Arab countries’ interests on the Security Council, the UN has effectively legitimized the Hezbollah militants’ most recent putsch in Beirut and, by implication, Hezbollah itself. A statement issued on May 22, 2008 in the name of the Security Council president praised an agreement brokered by the Arab League under which Hezbollah would for the first time have veto power over all decisions by the Lebanese government. This terrorist organization will now have official status as running the ‘democratic’ Lebanese government, courtesy of the United Nations. The statement dropped any specific reference to prior Security Council resolutions demanding the disarmament of the Hezbollah militia. In the interests of consensus, even the Bush Administration went along with this charade, arguing disingenuously that a generalized reference in the statement to “all relevant resolutions” on Lebanon was sufficient to cover the disarmament obligation.

This action contains the seeds of appeasement, which probably would not have happened on John Bolton’s watch. One can only imagine what an Obama administration will do when confronted by Hezbollah’s or Hamas’s next set of demands, acting as the proxies for Iran and Syria.

Following through on his pledge to meet with any enemy leaders without preconditions, a President Obama may well decide to convene a meeting in which he will sit across the table from the leaders of Iran, Syria and their handpicked representatives of the terrorist organizations that they sponsor to negotiate a settlement of all differences. At such a meeting, Obama can ask the question like the one that got British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain into so much trouble when he believed Hitler’s reassuring answer and acted upon it in his fateful Munich meeting: “You say that the three million Sudeten Germans must be included in the Reich; would you be satisfied with that and is there nothing more that you want?”

The principles, values and institutions of liberal democracy are under attack today, as they were in the years leading up to World War II. At least it could be said that Chamberlain acted at a time when Hitler’s true evil designs had not yet fully manifested themselves. Chamberlain thought he was dealing with a rational adversary, not the megalomaniac madman that Hitler turned out to be. History has proven that he was tragically wrong, of course. Today there are no excuses for thinking that anything can be gained by sitting across the table from Ahmadinejad and his fellow Islamic extremists, under the auspices of the UN or otherwise, and asking them the equivalent of whether “there is nothing more that you want.” We know for sure that they will not be satisfied until Israel is destroyed and the West surrenders all of its democratic liberties to the supremacy of Islamic law.

The Islamic takeover at the United Nations is the canary in the coal mine. It is time that we express our disapproval of the appeasement of Islamic extremists at the UN by drawing our own red line over which the extremists may not cross. We can start by denying the UN the funds to carry on its reprehensible activities on our dime, no matter which party wins the White House this November. If that does not work, the only course is to finally recognize that the UN is following in the footsteps of the League of Nations and leave it to the tyrant regimes to play with. We can then form an effective counterbalancing alliance of democracies with which to confront the Islamic extremists from a position of moral clarity and strength.

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