UN Sideshows

Obama takes credit for leadership in Libya and sponsors of Islamic radicalism given anti-terror leadership roles.

As heads-of-state and top government leaders from most of the 193 member states gather for the United Nations General Assembly opening session this week, the UN hosted a series of side events Monday and Tuesday, including, most importantly, a High-Level Meeting on Libya and a High-Level Counter-Terrorism Symposium. Other side events included meetings on health, the environmental and sustainable development, and gender equality.

The most constructive side event to date was the High-Level Meeting on Libya, chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and attended by more than 50 heads of state or government. After the new flag of Libya was ceremoniously brought into the conference meeting room, the secretary general made his introductory remarks congratulating the Libyan people for "fighting courageously for your fundamental rights and freedoms" and pledging continued full UN support "in every way we can."

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the provisional Libyan government, president of the National Transition Council ("NTC"), then addressed the gathering. He said how the raising of the new Libyan flag at the United Nations was a "happy moment" that represented "the will of the Libyan freedom fighters and the first martyrs, who, as they were dying, urged their friends and colleagues to continue and not to surrender." Mr. Abdel-Jalil emphasized that the NTC was focused on bringing about favorable conditions for democracy, economic development, justice, security and reconciliation, for which the Libyan people would be looking to the UN for assistance. He later told reporters that he expected a new government to be announced within a week to ten days.

The unfurling of the new Libyan flag and the appearance of the head of Libya's new transitional government marked a fitting capstone to the heartfelt plea last February by the defecting Libyan UN ambassador, Abdurrahman Shalgam, to the United Nations Security Council to “save Libya” from dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s murderous regime.

President Barack Obama led the heads of state and government leaders in congratulating the Libyan rebels for their victory and commending the international effort that made the victory possible. In an obvious attempt to shore up his foreign policy credentials while facing severe backlash over his failed economic policies at home, Obama unabashedly credited his own leadership in forging the international consensus behind multilateral intervention against Col. Qaddafi's regime. Of course, the truth is that President Obama "led from behind," as his own advisors put it. France, the United Kingdom and the Arab League were the principal drivers for international action, and Obama only decided grudgingly to join the effort when a potential massacre of 10,000 civilians in the city of Benghazi was imminent.

By contrast, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who deserves much of the credit for truly taking a leadership role, delivered a concise speech that did not seek to take credit for the outcome.

"We know our history and we remembered its lessons," said President Sarkozy. He continued:

Today it is a free Libya that the whole world is addressing. It is up to the Libyans and no one else to decide what Libya’s future will be. We have said this as have our American and English friends, and all our coalition partners. We will stay to do the job as long as the Libyan revolutionaries need us.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was also one of the government leaders participating in the High-level Meeting on Libya, where he announced that Canada stands ready to support the new Libyan government through the UN-coordinated effort moving forward.

"Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gaddafi regime and provide them with humanitarian assistance,” said the Prime Minister. "Canada will continue to support the people of Libya, standing ready to promote effective governance and institutions, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development and prosperity, and respect for human rights."

Prime Minister Harper later told reporters that, like the United States, Canada does not support the Palestinians' bid for UN state membership.

The most farcical side event so far (likely to be eclipsed by the UN's Israel-bashing "anti-racism" Durban III conference on September 22nd), was the Secretary General's Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation. This all-day symposium, held on September 19th, displayed a pre-9/11 mind-set that viewed terrorism as a crime that had to be dealt with through the criminal justice system. Speakers criticized viewing the fight against terrorism as a war and lamented the sacrifice of civil liberties since 9/11. The speakers also avoided naming the elephant in the room as the source of much of the inspiration for global terrorism today --  Islamic extremism.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, for example, stressed the values of "liberty, privacy, opportunity and justice" in countering what he called "violent extremism."  He also emphasized "strengthening the capacity of civilian courts in dealing with terrorism," in an implied criticism of military tribunals, which even his boss, Barack Obama, has belatedly decided to embrace for terrorist suspects detained at Guantanamo.

What makes this symposium such a farcical exercise is that the United Nations has been unable to come to a consensus on the definition of "terrorism" after at least ten years of trying. In other words, the UN is intent on countering a phenomenon it cannot even define. The Islamists do not want groups like Hamas and Hezbollah to be defined as terrorists, for example, irrespective of how many innocent women and children they deliberately target for death. Instead, the Islamists want these murderers classified as heroic resistance fighters. For that reason, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has been able to block a consensus definition. Yet, as the head of the UN counter-terrorism task force told me, the UN believes that countering terrorism is too important to wait until there is an agreement on what activities and consequences terrorism include, no matter what the justification.

The opening remarks in the Symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation were delivered by Qatar's UN ambassador, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, who is serving as the president of the UN General Assembly. That is rather rich in irony, considering a State Department cable revealed by WikiLeaks last December labeled Qatar as the Middle East's "worst" participant in counterterrorism efforts. According to the cable, Qatari security was "hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals." It appears, for example, that Qatar has paid al-Qaeda millions of dollars each year so al-Qaeda would leave Qatar alone.

Even richer in irony was the announcement by Saudi Arabia's minister for foreign affairs, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, that Saudi Arabia -- the home of Islamist Wahhabi ideology that inspired the 9/11 terrorists (15 of whom were Saudi) and thousands of other Islamic jihadists -- will fund a new anti-terrorism center in New York. Saudi Arabia will contribute 10 million dollars over three years toward establishing and staffing the new center. While operating under UN auspices, Saudi Arabia will chair its advisory board for at least the first three years.

The Saudi government uses billions of dollars in oil revenues to promote Wahhabism in America and across the globe. David D. Aufhauser, a former Treasury Department general counsel, told a Senate committee in June 2004 that estimates of Saudi government spending went “north of $75 billion.” The money financed thousands of mosques, schools and Islamic centers, the employment of thousands of propagandists and the printing of millions of religious teaching tracts.

Just as the human rights violators running the UN Human Rights Council are subverting the very notion of human rights, Saudi Arabia funding and overseeing a new UN center on countering terrorism is like the fox guarding the chicken coop.