Patterico's Pontifications

9/23/2009

President Obama at the UN (Updated)

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 4:13 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama spoke today at the United Nations — because why should diplomats and world leaders miss out on what Americans get to hear every week?

“Following a president criticized for making my-way-or-the-highway “requests” of allies, Obama didn’t demand so much as he chided and cajoled. It’s now an inextricably interconnected world, he said, so that each country’s problems become the others’ and hardly anything can be solved in one place without participation from elsewhere.

In the year 2009 — more than at any point in human history — the interests of nations and peoples are shared,” Obama said.”

Really? It seems like a typically polarized world to me. And I’m not sure even Obama believes his rhetoric since he followed that with a litany of chronic international challenges: to stand against nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran, to fulfill the promise of international law, and to get serious about peace the Middle East.

Obama also acknowledged America’s failures on global warming, one of the admissions Fidel Castro praised as “brave”:

“That admission of America’s past errors “was without a doubt a brave gesture,” Castro wrote in comments published by Cuban state-media Wednesday.

“It would only be fair to recognize that no other United States president would have had the courage to say what he said,” the former Cuban leader continued.”

But tomorrow’s headlines won’t all go to Obama in light of the speech by Libya’s Gaddafi. Gaddafi was marginalized during the Bush years but he is resurfacing during the reign of “our son Obama”:

“As it happens the UN General Assembly is currently being chaired by a Libyan diplomat, Ali Treki. He had insisted that all heads of state speak for no longer than 15 minutes. But he did not apply this to Gaddafi, who he introduced in neutral style as “king of kings and leader of the revolution.” The Libyan leader rambled on for some 96 minutes, reading off scraps of paper, and throwing the UN schedule into chaos.

Now clearly Gaddafi is going to get bad reviews in the morning papers here in the US. But I have to say that some of what he had to say made perfect sense. It is entirely true that the structure of the UN Security Council is anomalous and outdated (although it was perhaps a bit harsh to call it “the terror council”). Gaddafi’s analysis of why it is so hard to reform the council was also bang on the money – each time you suggest one country, you trigger a demand from the next one in the queue. (So if you suggest Germany, Italy jumps up and down.) And his proposed solution – a Security Council of regional organisations such as the EU, Asean, the African Union – sounded like an elegant way out. Gaddafi was even quite witty. I liked his comparison of the UN General Assembly to Speakers Corner in London; you can speak as much as you like, it is just that you will be ignored. It must be admitted that there were also some pretty eccentric statements. Obama could probably have done without being called “our son Obama” by the colonel. (Is he still a colonel?) It was an odd forum in which to call for a fresh inquiry into the Kennedy assassination. And I’m not sure how many people will agree that the H1N1 flu virus is a military weapon.

But that’s the thing. Many of Gaddafi’s statements, which will be scorned in the West, actually probably resonate in the developing world. His views on the Security Council are widely shared. President Lula of Brazil said something not too dissimilair [sic].”

The author of the last link sees Gaddafi’s speech as more evidence of the UN’s irrelevance, and even left-leaning organizations like the Brookings Institute recognize the United Nations is adrift and toothless when it comes to serious issues. International organizations should focus on common interests rather than engage in the fiction that member nations will act against their self-interests. Let liberals keep their UN as no more than a social club but, for real progress, an alliance of democratic nations or regional coalitions of democracies makes more sense in today’s world.

— DRJ

UPDATE: John Bolton said Obama “put Israel on the chopping block” when he declared “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”

40 Responses to “President Obama at the UN (Updated)”

  1. During the Bush Administration I remember reading an opinion piece in National Review in which the author argued that there were three different versions of the United Nations: the various agencies and committees (e.g., UNICEF or UNESCO), the general assembly, and the security council. This author proposed that the U.S. should completely ignore the first, pay minimal attention to the second, and concentrate its efforts on the third. Why do I suspect that Obama will invert that equation?

    JVW (370364)

  2. the fiction that member nations will act against their self-interests

    Generally true, but I think there is now one member nation as to which this may not be a fiction.

    Truman’s heir, vindicating the John Birch Society. God help us.

    Grigor (a24ff8)

  3. McCain on Qadhafi last month:

    “Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya – interesting meeting with an interesting man.”

    http://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain/status/3331878099

    Buddy (acaa40)

  4. (Is he still a colonel?)

    Proof of qaddaffi’s benevolence if you ask me. Were he a dictator, surely he’d have achieved the randk of four-star general by now.

    Chris (a24890)

  5. […] always interesting DRJ has more at Patterico’s including Gaddafi’s rants and the general uselessness of the UN […]

    Gazzer’s Gabfest » Here’s how Barry spent his first day at the UN… (b98ad6)

  6. Well said, Sharon Robinson…

    Gazzer (22ecdc)

  7. The nuclear question re Iran could well be the UN’s Abyssinian Quagmire and death-blow.
    The various agencies of the UN create more problems than they ever could solve.

    AD - RtR/OS! (97af1e)

  8. the fiction that member nations will act against their self-interests

    Believers in the UN don’t accept that is what they’re trying to do, rather, they think that it is in everybody’s best interests to act in a certain way. And in believing that, they are quite naive… or ignorant… or both.

    There is another group of believers, comprising liberals in the US and elsewhere who wish to use the UN to push their countries to do things the public doesn’t want (‘how can we oppose X or Y if the UN is for it?‘).

    And unfortunately, and as the case on so many fronts, conservatives have yet to find a leader who is willing to stand up and declare that the UN has no clothes, that its member countries do not and will not share our ideals and values, that the money we pour into the UN can be better spent elsewhere, that the United States does not need the UN bureaucracy to assemble alliances of like-minded countries, and that we are quite capable of deciding for ourselves what, if anything, we want to do about global warming or treating detainees.

    For example, even though they are no conservatives, both Bushes couldn’t bring themselves to ignore the UN, both spent countless hours appealing for help from countries who would like nothing better than to see the US fail…

    steve sturm (3811cf)

  9. Lovely campaign speech by Obama today at the UN. The following comment isn’t original to me–I can’t take credit for it, but if bullshit were currency, Barack Obama could pay off the entire US national debt all by himself.

    MikeD (c83900)

  10. Let’s move the U.N. out of the U.S. to a nice spot more in keeping with the morals of its denizens, like Somalia, say. Either that, or send John Bolton back in to kick some corruptocrat butt.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  11. I like Bolton but exactly how did he kick corruptocrat butt? Can’t see that much changed from before he got there.

    steve sturm (3811cf)

  12. Buddy,

    I don’t know what McCain meant but it’s not always a compliment when people describe someone as interesting.

    DRJ (b008f8)

  13. Why was President Obama wasting his time spouting rhetoric and validating a corrupt and moribund organization like the UN, when there is still no plan in place for Afghanistan?

    I am continually questioning my president’s priorities.

    Dana (863a65)

  14. but it’s not always a compliment when people describe someone as interesting.

    Oh dear, more code??!

    Dana (863a65)

  15. Dana, I’ll bet you actually do know this fella’s priorities: his own self-aggrandizement.

    Eric Blair (0b61b2)

  16. The first third of the speech was standard hopeychangey stump speech. I quit counting the number of times he said “I” at 20. His bemusement at his foreign policy failures to date was palpable.

    JD (9d3477)

  17. Momar “The Wig” Quaddafi was hysterical.

    JD (9d3477)

  18. steve sturm #9,

    I see your point and I agree in part. There’s more hat than cattle at the UN but that doesn’t make it useless. The world can use social and benevolent organizations, but it doesn’t help when those organizations think they are also the world’s police.

    DRJ (b008f8)

  19. The world can use social and benevolent organizations

    DRJ: even granting your point, we don’t need a UN for that purpose… such groups could be formed whenever like-minded countries decided to do so. And in an age of modern communications, we don’t need a representative of each country (especially since UN ambassadors have no power and serve merely as a conduit of sorts back to the home country) loitering around NY pretending to be doing something important.

    steve sturm (3811cf)

  20. JD: you actually listened to him? You should have asked me, I could have given you the preview recap: ‘me, me, me, bad America, me, me, bad Israel, me, me’. would have saved yourself some minutes you’ll never get back.

    steve sturm (3811cf)

  21. The world can use social and benevolent organizations, but it doesn’t help when those organizations think they are also the world’s police.

    Except that this isn’t just a social and/or benevolent organization. It has an agenda to promote and the corruption has been made public. There are social benevolent organizations that do indeed benefit society but IMO, this is not one of those.

    Dana (863a65)

  22. I would start over without the UN if I could, but I can’t. I’d settle for seeing it become a charitable organization, preferably with strong oversight and transparency, instead of the world’s enforcer.

    DRJ (b008f8)

  23. DRJ, Sen. Helms worked hard to obtain that level of oversight and transparency and was ridiculed by the Left for his trouble.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  24. Steve – I turned it on in my office. I I I I me me me I me I me I me hope me change hope I change blah blah blah … I only nearly barfed three times. The wig wearing Quaddafi was mesmerizing.

    JD (cbe522)

  25. “Let liberals keep their UN as no more than a social club”

    O.k. by me, as long as I don’t have to pay for it, and it isn’t polluting U.S. soil with its presence.

    ‘“That admission of America’s past errors “was without a doubt a brave gesture,” Castro wrote in comments published by Cuban state-media Wednesday.’

    Yeah, we made in error in the 1960s when we didn’t first pull out of the U.N., and then squash you like the insect that you are.

    Dave Surls (8cad06)

  26. I can remember thinking that Carter couldn’t be that bad. After all, he had “run a business.” That was in 1977 and, although I was embarrassed by Carter when I made my first trip to Britain, I was hopeful. Carter, at least, had some good ideas like human rights. He went at it like a high school boy but he was concerned. Obama is most comfortable in the company of dictators. I think that is significant. We should stay aware of that.

    Someone on another blog said Obama is as though Alger Hiss or Robert Leffingwell (from Advice and Consent) had been elected president. I think that is a serious insight.

    This man is weird.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  27. And here I thought the sole purpose of the U.N. was to pass resolutions condemning Israel and Zionism.

    Just kidding, of course. The whole point of the U.N. is to provide an excuse for the rich domestic benefactors of third-world dictators an opportunity to live in New York City without the hassle of paying parking tickets.

    The anti-Israeli resolutions are a perk.

    Ag80 (592691)

  28. “I only nearly barfed three times.”Comment by JD

    Only 3?

    Wasn’t this like the third day in a row we had a live news break to listen to him, and that after his monopolizing the Sunday TV bunch?

    I would suggest he get his own daily talk show, but we know he would not be satisfied with dominating only one channel. I think the phrase “ObamaFree TV” ought to be a good name for something.

    Seriously, it is getting hard to find appropriate adjectives for the behavior of President Obama. I hope the Cuban community in Florida gets full coverage of how Fidel sings the praise of our current President. I would imagine that could be a big republican voting block (not sure if it is already or not).

    MD in Philly (d4f9fa)

  29. MD:

    He already has a cable network — MSNBC — they could probably shoe-horn a time slot for him.

    Also, take this with a grain of salt because I get my information third- or fourth-hand, but I think the Cubans in Florida are a pretty safe GOP voting bloc. Or at least the older ones who actually escaped that criminal despot.

    Ag80 (592691)

  30. I updated the post with a Fox News link regarding Obama’s comments on Israel.

    DRJ (b008f8)

  31. That is where I started barfing, DRJ.

    JD (12ebb1)

  32. #22 Dana:

    but IMO, this is not one of those.

    I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this, but you have to quit stealing my opinion! 😉

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  33. UPDATE: John Bolton said Obama “put Israel on the chopping block” when he declared “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”

    Oh, dear. I think the UN is not the proper place to suddenly change US policy without telling anybody else first.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  34. So the guy currently playing the role of the President of the US melts the hearts of Castro and Gaddafi, while currying favors for Zelayo of Honduras?

    The phrase of “you can judge the character of a person by the company he keeps” can be modifed in this instance to “you can judge the character of a person by the dictators he either warms up to or warm up to him.”

    And I won’t even say anything about the way such a person warms up to someone like the pastor of a church in Chicago, otherwise known as Minister Goddamn America.

    Mark (411533)

  35. “I like Bolton but exactly how did he kick corruptocrat butt?”

    steve – Bolton scared the crap out if them, especially Kofing Anus. He called a spade a spade and wasn’t afraid of dispensing with the diplomatic niceties to call people out. The Democrats wouldn’t let Bush keep him in there long enough to make a real difference since he was an interim appointment.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  36. Obama also acknowledged America’s failures on global warming, one of the admissions Fidel Castro praised as “brave”:

    Yeah, maybe Bush, or Clinton, or Reagan, or Carter should have detonated thermonuclear weapons at the Nellis test site instead of simply dismantling them.

    When will Obama start setting off nukes to fight global warming?

    Michael Ejercito (833607)

  37. He also apparently said the U.N. should be moved to Beijing. On that, he and I are simpatico (to use a multi-cultural term).

    Dennis (773ea1)

  38. Sorry for the lack of clarity on that last statement. It was Ghaddafi that wanted the U.N. moved, not Obama.

    Dennis (773ea1)

  39. Zelaya thinks that the Israelis are bombarding him with radiation–there’s no nut-case dictator that Obama doesn’t like. Obama’s world view is: America and Israel bad–crazy dictators good.

    Rochf (ae9c58)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3354 secs.