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Fun and Games at the United Nations

Photo by BOMBMAN | CC BY 2.0

This has been quite a week for the United States at the United Nations. First, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution that basically sought to nullify the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Fourteen ‘yes’ votes and one ‘no’, being cast by the U.S. Like the cheese in the old nursery rhyme, the U.S. stands alone.

Then on December 21, the General Assembly voted on what was, in essence, the same resolution. But in the General Assembly, the U.S. has no veto power.

The outcome of this vote, however, wasn’t surprising: 128 nations voting in favor of justice, human rights and international law, nine voting against, and 35 abstaining. Canada is in the latter group, doing a precarious balancing act in trying not to displease Trump (Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have now taken the role of the Yankee Poodle, which previously belonged to then British Prime Minister Tony Blair a decade ago), and also not alienating the heads of several Arab nations that could scuttle Canada’s quest to gain a seat on the Security Council. Unconditional support for Israel during the Stephen Harper years prevented Canada from gaining that coveted spot at that time.

But the lack of a veto didn’t mean that the mighty U.S. wouldn’t try everything in its power to prevent passage of the resolution. First, the embarrassing and incompetent U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, sent a letter to Assembly members, saying that the U.S. would be closely watching their vote, and any opposition would be taken personally by Trump.  Then, to attempt to tighten the screws, Trump himself threatened to withhold financial assistance from any country that dared to oppose it at the U.N. Blackmail and intimidation are now the rule of the day in U.S. ‘diplomatic’ circles.

The vote doesn’t change anything on the ground, but it serves to highlight and emphasize the U.S.’s growing isolation from the global community, and the contempt that much of the world has for the U.S. and its extremely unpopular president. Only nine countries stood with the U.S., and these included such ‘powerhouses’ as Nauru (population 13, 049), Palau (population 21,503), and the Marshall Islands (population 53,066)

During her rant, Haley said that the U.S. is a major financial sponsor of the U.N. and expects a good return on its investment. She seems completely oblivious to such concepts as philanthropy, the giving to a good cause without any expectation of a return. The United Nations is such a cause. It’s website says this:

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, such as peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production, and more.

These are all issues that the global community should address, and the U.N., despite its many imperfections, is a means by which to do so. One nation doesn’t ‘invest’ in it, looking for a ‘return’, as if finding a promising stock, purchasing shares and hoping to make a handsome profit. It is more akin to contributing to the American Cancer Society, Heart Association or Diabetes Foundation. Individuals give money to those organizations, with the hope and expectation that by doing so, some suffering will be alleviated. This writer contributes to the Heart Association. He, himself, does not have heart problems; his parents lived long lives without ever experiencing such problems; his siblings and son don’t have them. Yet he is aware that many people die of heart disease, and he hopes that his small contributions will help to reduce those numbers. The money he gives does not benefit him directly.

Similarly, nations are part of, and financially sustain, the United Nations, with the hope that it will assist in alleviating suffering around the world. Even those nations that are criticized by the U.N. and its various component parts should realize that they are contributing funds for the greater good of humanity.

But not the U.S., and certainly not Trump. Haley, like an investment counselor watching to assure that her client’s stocks are in an upward trajectory, demands an adequate return. The U.N. cannot criticize the U.S. when it violates international law, and supports other nations in such violations. What about all the money the U.S. gives it? The U.N., in return, should grant the U.S. a pass on such things as human rights violations and defying international law.

Trump upped the ante by actually threatening to stop financial aid to countries that voted for this resolution. Afghanistan is a nation to which the U.S. gives billions, as it systematically works to destroy it. This is one of the 128 countries that defied the U.S. on Thursday at the U.N. It is unlikely that the U.S. will reduce the amount of aid it gives Afghanistan.

Egypt is another such country. Its leaders support Israel, and assist in the brutal oppression of the Palestinians, so Trump’s threat seems empty there, too.

Let Haley take her list to her Big Orange Boss; he will rant and rave, and ‘Tweet’ out endless threats and criticisms, all to the effect of further alienating the U.S.

But what is any of that? His rabid, right-wing, racist base is eating this all up; its members hate the U.N., believe the U.S. is the infallible judge, jury and executioner of the entire planet, believe that all Muslims are terrorists and that God is a real estate agent who is apparently getting a fine commission on his sale of Palestine to Jews from New York. Who needs the rest of the world?

The mighty U.S. will take on any problem, overthrow any democratically-elected government if it appears to lean too far to the left, support the most unspeakable human rights violations if the lobbyists from the countries committing them continue signing campaign checks, all the while proclaiming that it is a beacon of peace and freedom around the world.

Domestically, the U.S. police force will continue to murder unarmed Blacks, as the judiciary slaps the wrists of corporate criminals. The very people who still, incredibly, support Trump, will see their taxes increase as their medical care opportunities evaporate.

But their hero can proclaim that he is a Washington outsider, not attending to the political correctness of the D.C. establishment, defying international law, fomenting racial difficulties, and further making the U.S. a global pariah.

This is the U.S. and the world, as 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency, draws to a close. What the new year will bring is anyone’s guess.

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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