My 13-year-old son, who is far more interested in sports than politics, walked into the family room yesterday and said: “Dad, I saw on the news that the thing is starting when all the dictators come to America and give speeches about how bad we are.” His statement is one of the better descriptions of the United Nations General Assembly (the UNGA) that I have ever heard.
For those who do not regularly follow the opening of the UN, here are some of the things you can expect to see this week.
Iranian President Mohammad Ahmadinejad will claim that there are no human rights abuses in Iran (stoning is merely an ancient method of execution that the US is blowing up to create propaganda against Iran), that the American hikers are spies, that Iran is developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes and that he is definitely not anti-Semitic, all of which he told Christiane Amanpour on her Sunday program.
The one true thing he will say is that UN sanctions against Iran are “meaningless.” They are. He dismissed them as a “joke” to Amanpour. He is right. They will not delay or stop Iran’s march to obtaining a nuclear bomb. He may renew his call for “Israel to be wiped of the map.” If he does not, the press will hail the omission as a sign of Iranian moderation.
Israel will be castigated in speeches for everything from the fact it continues to build homes for its citizens in its own capital to its navy’s interception of the blockade-running “humanitarian” ships of the Gaza flotilla. Sadly, it will not be just the dictators who slam Israel, but far too many Western democracies will bash Israel to curry favor with the Assembly.
Few, if any, delegates will mention the thousands of Hamas rockets that have poured down on the Jewish State since its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Nor will anyone point out the irony that fellow UN member states have argued that Israel, a full member of the General Assembly, should cease to exist as a nation.
Over the next several days American, Japanese and European taxpayers will be badgered into pledging more money for the world’s poor. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already set up the “ask” by claiming in his report on the Millennium Summit goals this summer “that improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow, and some hard-won gains are being eroded by the climate, food and economic crises.”
Of course, China, the world’s second largest economy, with trillions in foreign reserves, will be asked for little and will volunteer even less. No one will complain. It would not matter if they did. The Chinese look out for their national interests only and are not swayed by UN guilt trips.
Further, little mention will be made of the fact that most of the world’s poor live in countries with abundant natural resources that are squandered daily by thugs and strongmen. These dictators are more interested in lining their pockets, pursuing failed ideologies, undermining their democratic neighbors or abusing the human rights of opposition parties than they are in alleviating the poverty of their people.
Again, there will be few complaints. To point out such unpleasant facts at the UN would be undiplomatic because such “leaders” will all be present in the Assembly Hall. A diplomat who scolds might bump into one of the tyrants at the shrimp platter, which could make the reception following the day’s session a bit awkward.