Bravo yet again to Nikki Haley, America’s new ambassador to the United Nations. Speaking at an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Haley called out Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, saying:
The United States will not hesitate to stand against the forces of terrorism, and that includes standing against the states that sponsor it, in particular the Islamic Republic of Iran.
This follows Haley’s refreshingly direct comments last week to the press — aptly praised by the New York Sun under the headline “Haley’s Comet” — in which Haley denounced the UN’s obsessive attacks on the democratic state of Israel. In those remarks, Haley lambasted the UN’s “double standards” as “breathtaking,” and threw in a mention of Iran as “the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror.” Here’s an excerpt:
Incredibly, the UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches from North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors. And it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us.
With such remarks, Haley is bringing to the UN a voice of truth, decency, and plain old common sense that is a desperately needed departure from the usual diplomatic doubletalk. Credit her also for blocking the ploy by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to name as his special envoy to Libya a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which is not a UN member state. The PA has been maneuvering for decades to obtain that status without keeping its promises to negotiate in good faith a lasting peace with Israel.
Haley is salvaging for the U.S. a role of integrity that, under President Barack Obama and his successive UN ambassadors, was all too often lamentably absent (recall Ambassador Susan Rice leading from behind on Libya, and Ambassador Samantha Power, who this past December abstained from vetoing Resolution 2334, with which the Security Council savaged Israel).
Both Haley and President Trump — who chose her — deserve credit for Haley’s stellar performance so far at the UN. On a number of vital issues not only has Haley hit the ground running, but in contrast to her predecessors of the past eight years, she has been heading in the right direction.
All that said, a warning is in order. This is the UN we are talking about — a mountain of unaccountable bureaucracy and moral sludge, where even for the best and brightest the job of trying to bring about any kind of genuine reform is like trying to clear a mudslide with a teaspoon.
Haley’s latest denunciation of Iran’s terror-sponsoring ways came in the context of a proposal by Guterres to create within the UN secretariat a new office devoted to combating terrorism. Like most reform proposals that originate within the UN itself, the thrust here — unfortunately — is to try to improve a rotten UN system by creating yet more of it.
Guterres is urging that to head this proposed new counterterrorism office, the UN — which is already rife with scores of senior officials — should create a post for yet another under-secretary-general. The idea, basically, is to consolidate an array of UN counterterrorism initiatives under a counterterrorism czar. In theory (I stress, in theory, not necessarily in practice), this would consolidate and streamline UN counterterrorism efforts, leading to better results.
Haley, amid her otherwise sterling remarks at Wednesday’s informal consultations of the General Assembly, was endorsing this proposal, urging that the UN expand its counterterrorism assistance to member states, and saying:
The United States supports the Secretary-General’s proposals to reform the UN’s counterterrorism architecture. These changes can start with the appointment of an Under-Secretary-General to oversee and coordinate the numerous entities whose work with the UN relates to counterterrorism. This new Under-Secretary-General will need to set clear priorities to implement the UN’s Global Counterterrorism Strategy.
That sounds good, but it almost certainly won’t work.
The basic flaw in the UN’s counterterrorism “architecture” is not lack of a yet another office, headed by yet another under-secretary-general. We’ve been here before, with proposals to streamline, consolidate, fortify, mobilize, and better manage UN counterterrorism efforts. Please see, for instance (if you can make any sense out of it), the UN web page on the CTITF 2005 coordination framework, which was supposed to solve the problems that the proposed new architecture is now supposed to solve. (The record suggests that terrorists, worldwide, are unimpressed.)
The basic failing here is built into the design of the UN itself, which welcomes as members not only freedom-loving democratic states, but also states that sponsor terrorism, or at least don’t mind terrorism as long as it is directed at others (especially if they can profit by abetting such activities as sanctions-violating arms smuggling). Typically, such UN member states strive to stymie or subvert UN offices and initiatives that are meant to help clean up the world. Thus does the UN Human Rights Council end up stacked with human-rights violators. Thus does the misogynist regime of Iran secure for itself a seat on the governing board of the UN’s agency for Women.