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Main | As we say goodbye to 2017, Nikki Haley stands up for the US and the UN's true ideals »
Wednesday
Jan032018

Nikki Haley Stands Up for the United Nation’s True Ideals

January 3, 2018

Americans have a love-hate relationship with the United Nations. They love its Charter, which guarantees the sovereignty of its member-states and holds out the hope of a more just and humane world. The Charter’s roots are in the Atlantic Charter, that policy formulated by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt over several days on HMS Prince of Wales and USS Augusta in Placentia Bay, Canada, and issued on August 14, 1941.

Those were dark days. America had not yet entered the war and most observers did not believe Britain could hold out against Hitler alone. But tyranny could not overcome the ideal central to the Atlantic Charter that "all people had a right to self-determination" and the resolve of the democracies. Britain did persevere, America entered the war, and the West was saved at the cost of much blood and treasure. Such is the backdrop for the UN—born with such promise at the war’s conclusion in 1945.

Every September world leaders descend on Manhattan for the UN General Assembly. Among them is a large cohort of dictators, tyrants, and appeasers who use the famous podium at Turtle Bay to lie to the world about their own actions and blast the United States and its allies. And, each year, the UN’s noble history, which began when the two great leaders of the English-speaking world met on their warships to plan a distant peace, recedes further from our memories.

From time to time, a diplomat comes along who rebukes the dictators and tyrants and their enablers in the diplomatic corps and UN bureaucracy with such force that for a moment the promise of the UN re-emerges.

But from time to time, a diplomat comes along who rebukes the dictators and tyrants and their enablers in the diplomatic corps and UN bureaucracy with such force that for a moment the promise of the UN re-emerges. America has been served by four such diplomats—two Democrats and two Republicans—Ambassadors Adlai Stevenson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and John Bolton. Each of them are remembered for a defining moment at the UN.  

Last week, with her defiant speech in defense of President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States is moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Nikki Haley joined this distinguished group. Given that we are today, again, a world in crisis, the speeches and work of her predecessor ambassadors at the UN are worthy of review.

On October 25, 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ambassador Stevenson called out the Soviet Union for having denied that it placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Facing down Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin in the Security Council chamber, he said, "We are here today and have been this week for one single reason—because the Soviet Union secretly introduced this menacing offensive military buildup into the island of Cuba while assuring the world that nothing was further from their thoughts."

Because of his reputation for toughness and his willingness to go head to head with the UN bureaucracy, [John] Bolton helped the UN save itself.

Early in the next decade, the UN General Assembly elevated anti-Semitism to a level not seen since World War II when it passed the now-repealed "Zionism is racism" resolution. On November 10, 1971, Ambassador Moynihan took to the podium to passionately condemn the resolution in a political speech for the ages. "The United States rises," he stated, "to declare before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act."

Twelve years later, on September 1, 1983, the Soviet Union committed mass murder when one of its Su-15 fighter-jets shot down Korean Air Flight 007 carrying 269 civilian passengers and crew between New York and Seoul. The Soviets attempted to cover up their crime but Ambassador Kirkpatrick exposed them in the Security Council:

"[N]one of these lies, half lies, and excuses can withstand examination. Straying off course is not recognized as a capital crime by civilized nations. And no nation has the sovereign right to shoot down any person or vehicle that may stray across its border in peacetime."

With President Trump’s backing, on December 21, from the UN’s trademark green marble podium, Ambassador Haley let the assembled delegates know that America finally had had enough.

When Ambassador Bolton landed at Turtle Bay in August 2005, the UN was mired in the Oil-for-Food and procurement scandals as well as the reports of widespread despicable sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers in the Congo. The American people were fed up with the UN and many wanted out. It fell to Bolton, whose critics ironically claimed he wanted to end U.S. involvement in the organization, to get the UN back on its feet through real reform.

While his work was not captured in a single speech, Bolton through painstaking diplomacy, prodded the General Assembly to clean up the UN resource management and budget process, improve oversight, and streamline management. He successfully tied the UN budget to progress on the reform agenda. Bolton's efforts also resulted in the creation of a UN Ethics Office and a strengthened Office of Internal Oversight Services. Because of his reputation for toughness and his willingness to go head to head with the UN bureaucracy, Bolton helped the UN save itself, even if many of the reform gains from that era were chipped away at during subsequent years.

Last month, on December 6, President Trump did something that his Democratic and Republican predecessors had promised to do in their campaigns for office but never did as president—he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv be moved there.

Some critics have called Haley a "bully" for announcing that the United States would "take names" on the Israel embassy vote. Others argue that she was ineffective because the resolution passed. They are wrong on both counts.

In response, the UN General Assembly passed a harsh resolution condemning the United States and Israel. With President Trump’s backing, on December 21, from the UN’s trademark green marble podium, Ambassador Haley let the assembled delegates know that America finally had had enough:

"To its shame, the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel... I’ve often wondered why, in the face of such hostility, Israel has chosen to remain a member of this body. And then I remember that Israel has chosen to remain in this institution because it’s important to stand up for yourself. Israel must stand up for its own survival as a nation; but it also stands up for the ideals of freedom and human dignity that the United Nations is supposed to be about."

She then put the UN on notice that the United States "will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit."

The burden is upon the United States to stand firm on behalf of the founding ideals of the UN, especially when such a stance is unpopular with the dictators, tyrants, and appeasers who use the UN for their own purposes.

Some critics, like former State Department official Nick Burns, have called Haley a "bully" for announcing that the United States would "take names" on the Israel embassy vote. Others argue that she was ineffective because the resolution passed. They are wrong on both counts. It is long past due that the United States reward its friends and shine a light on its adversaries’ conduct at the UN.

Moreover, as Stevenson, Moynihan, Kirkpatrick, and Bolton demonstrated in earlier eras, the burden is upon the United States to stand firm on behalf of the founding ideals of the UN, especially when such a stance is unpopular with the dictators, tyrants, and appeasers who use the UN for their own purposes. It is only through such steadfastness that the true hope of the UN can be maintained.

_______________________

Robert C. O’Brien is a Pacific Council member and a partner in the law firm of Larson O’Brien LLP.

A version of this article first appeared on Fox News.

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