Thursday, October 27, 2005

UN Troubles

A UN resolution, threatening sanctions on Syria if it fails to cooperate in the Lebanese assassination investigation, is coming under veto threat by China and Russia, as well as strong opposition from Algeria. The reasons were the usual: blah, blah, National Sovereignty, blah blah blah too harsh (when on earth has a UN sanction been too harsh?). Algeria's objections were a slight variation on theme, however:
Algeria's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah Baali, said that "we have serious problems with several parts" of the resolution, noting that it goes well beyond supporting Mehlis's investigation. He cited one provision that he said could be interpreted as requiring Syria to commit to halting support for Palestinian and Iraqi militants. "We understand the need to ensure full cooperation of Syria," he said. "We don't believe that the time has come to even threaten sanctions."

Horrors upon horrors! Syria will have to stop directly aiding terrorists? Say it ain't so! I cry for the awful burdens the international community is placing on this poor pariah state.

While we're on the subject of attacking Israel being a debatable subject in the UN (and moreover, a debate Israel tends to lose), what does everyone think about this call by Israel to expel Iran from the UN? If you recall, a short while ago Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel "must be wiped out from the map of the world." While such rhetoric (depressingly) is not a shift from hardline Iranian elements, it is the first time that a high-level elected official as issued such a direct call for Israel's destruction. Israeli response was swift:
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said "that a country which called for the destruction of another cannot be a member of the U.N.," according to a statement released by his office.

The statement quoted Sharon as saying, "Such a country, in possession of nuclear weapons, is a danger not only to Israel and the Middle East but to Europe as well."

Earlier, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres, a Nobel peace laureate, said, "Since 1945, the establishment of the United Nations, no head of state which is a member of the United Nations ever called for the destruction of another member of the United Nations, publicly and clearly, as the president of Iran did.

I think we have to treat Iran's statements as a serious threat. Iran is hotly pursuing nuclear weapons (which would give it the capability to quite literally "wipe Israel from the map"). We know it has no qualms about funding lower-level attacks on Israel (Iran is linked to as perhaps the most aggressive supporter of Palestinian Terrorist Groups). The $100,000,000 question is what would happen if they stepped it up and launched a first strike nuclear assault. How would the world respond? Obviously, if Israel had time it would launch its nukes right back--but I'm not sure how long it takes for a missile to travel from Tehran to Tel Aviv, and I don't know at what level of alert Israeli nukes are kept at. If Israel can't respond, would the world sanction a nuclear retaliation? I'm just not convinced they would. And if they wouldn't, the religious fanatics in charge view whatever response they'd inevitably incur as a reasonable price to pay?

Given this, I am inclined to support Israel's call for Iran's expulsion. The UN will never do it, of course, because this act comes at the cross-section of the two redlines the UN will never cross: a) supporting Israel and b) doing anything of substance. But if the US or (better still) the EU threw its support behind the call to expel Iran, maybe things would change. Maybe. Doubtfully.


Anonymous said...

To accuse Iran of "hotly pursuing nuclear weapons" is funny -- did you learn nothing from the Iraq fiasco? The IAEA inspectors have not found any weapons programs in Iran, and indeed its Israel that poses the nuclear threat to Iran. Get real. Enough of this israel=victim nonsense. Where was all this righteous indignation when the US and UK were arming Saddam to murder hundreds of thousands?

Isaac said...

Where was all this righteous indignation when the US and UK were arming Saddam to murder hundreds of thousands?

I suspect that our host was rather too young to have such strong opinions.

Anonymous said...

"and indeed its Israel that poses the nuclear threat to Iran."
You expose not only your ignorance on middle east issues but your moral bankrupsy and inversion of the facts.

hale said...

Well, I guess I am about to expose not only my ignorance on Middle East issues but also my moral bankruptsy and inversion of the facts.(smile) But here goes! I want to reply to certain statements in the original post.

"... what does everyone think about this call by Israel to expel Iran from the UN?"

I don't think we should do it. The UN can punish them without expelling them.

If we cut off all communication with them (as we did with North Korea at one point) then it will be difficult to enter into conversations with them when (and they might) change. We need to keep a line of communication always open. Remember that even at the height of the Cold War, there was always a RED PHONE connected to the head of the USSR, just for this purpose. And we definitely need to do the same with Iran.

"... one provision that he said could be interpreted as requiring Syria to commit to halting support for Palestinian and Iraqi militants."

Well, OK. We badly need for Syria to stop insurgents from entering or leaving Iraq, and we do need to get tough on this. In allowing those insurgents open passage to Iraq, Syria is aiding and abetting mass murder, and thus are equally guilty. We might as well take advantage of Mehlis' report to enforce this.

Poor lil' Lebanon has been under the gun for thirty years, and now the Syrians' military is out, but their terrorists (e.g. Hezbollah) and their armed Palestinians are still in Lebanon. We need to use Mehlis' report to
...force Palestinians in the Lebanese camps to disarm,
... force Syria to stop rearming the Palestinians and Hezbollah, and
... force Hezbollah to disarm or otherwise become neutralized.

This would give Lebanon leeway to recover peacefully and reduce the pressure on the north east border of Israel.

Notice that I have said very little about Israel - generally I feel they can handle their own military matters. But it would help Israel if Hezbollah (An Irani influenced and armed group) were kept neutralized.


Eva said...

..when on earth has a UN sanction been too harsh?

Actually, a dozen years of UN sanctions on Iraq left that country immeasurably devastated, undermined its infrastructure (hence the problems we encountered on invasion, oops, 'liberation'), arguably tightened Saddam's grip on power, and, well, killed a lot of people. And at the same time, they completely failed to deter Saddam from doing... well... anything.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I will arue that Iran only possesses the nuclear energy for the generating electricity. But I believe UN can settle the dispute between the two countries, Iran and Isreal.