American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on the brink of handing President George W. Bush the worst diplomatic disaster of his presidency. She is poised to agree to UN resolutions that will tie the hands of both Israel and the United States in the war on terrorism and, in particular, inhibit future action on its number one state sponsor - Iran. The catastrophe is the brainchild of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has effectively turned the United Nations into the political wing of Hizbullah. Rice and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns are working furiously to satisfy a timetable dictated by Annan, not by the interests of the United States. How did the United Nations become the forum for producing peace between Israel and its neighbors, which have rejected the Jewish state's existence for the past six decades? In the past three weeks, a multi-headed hydra of UN actors has risen to defeat Israel on the political battlefield in an unprecedented disregard of the UN Charter's central tenet: the right of self-defense. Existing Security Council resolutions have for years required "the Government of Lebanon to fully extend and exercise its sole and effective authority throughout the south, [and] ensure a calm environment throughout the area, including along the Blue Line, and to exert control over the use of force on its territory and from it." A combination of Iranian aggression, Syrian support, and Lebanese impotence and malfeasance, has actively prevented the implementation of the existing resolutions. But how did the UN respond to the aggression against the UN member state of Israel, which was launched once again from Lebanese territory and which continues to the present hour? By accusing Israel of murder, mass genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the deliberate attack of children, and racism. UN actors have even denied that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization and analogized it to anti-Nazi resistance movements. In the last three weeks, we have heard: Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
Israel's "excessive use of force is to be condemned;" Israel has "torn the country to shreds... Israel's disproportionate use of force and collective punishment of the Lebanese people must stop."
Israel is "apparently" guilty of the murder of UN soldiers. The UNIFIL soldiers were killed by Israel after it responded to Hizbullah attacks on Israeli civilians. One of the soldiers had reported only days before he died that Hizbullah's nearby actions meant Israel's response "has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity." Yet without any investigation Annan immediately called it an "apparently deliberate targeting" - an accusation he has yet to retract.
Israel has "committed grave breaches of international humanitarian law" and "has caused, and is causing, death and suffering on a wholly unacceptable scale."
Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown:
Hizbullah, the Iranian-proxy currently fighting Israel, is not a terrorist organization. "It is not helpful to couch this war in the language of international terrorism," said Malloch Brown, claiming Hizbullah is "completely separate and different from al-Qaida."
Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator:
"The excessive and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forcesâ€¦must stop."
Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
In comments Arbour directed at Israel, she said: "the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable," suggesting that Israel was perpetrating "war crimes and crimes against humanity" for violating the "obligation to protect civilians during hostilities."
Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict:
In comments directed "even-handedly" to Israel and Hizbullah, Coomaraswamy "strongly condemned the repeated attacks on civilians, and especially on children, noting that callous disregard for the lives of children has permeated this conflict from its start."
Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF:
Veneman claimed Israel is engaged in "the continued targeting of civilians, particularly children."
Agha Shahi, Pakistani member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
"Would Israel have resorted to the bombing of civilian infrastructure if it were fighting a non-Arab force? It was a war between different ethnic groups, the Arabs and the Jews."
Jose Fransisco Calitzay, Guatemalan member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
Commenting on events in Lebanon, Calitzay said "mass genocide was the highest level of racism that could exist, and they had to prevent that from happening in the present case."
Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr, Egyptian member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:
Aboul-Nasr "objected to the designation of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. Hizbullah was not a terrorist organization; it was a resistance movement that was fighting foreign occupation, just as there had been during the Second World War."
IN SHORT, the UN - which to this day cannot define terrorism - did not come to the aid of a UN member under fire from one of the world's leading terrorist organizations. It came to the aid of the terrorist by attempting to prevent the member state from exercising its right to hit back.
The Geneva Conventions clearly state that combatants are prohibited from using civilians as human shields, but if they do so, the presence of civilians does not render the area immune from military operations.
Israeli soldiers and civilians are paying with their lives daily as a consequence of Israel's efforts to avoid disproportionate action - a dramatic exercise of restraint taken in order to reduce Lebanese civilian casualties.
But in the face of the UN's obvious predilection to subvert Israel's well-being and American foreign policy interests, to whom has Secretary Rice turned to save the day? The United Nations!
THE RESULT has been as predictable as it has been disastrous. The UN's verbal assault on Israel is coupled with a three-pronged political agenda. The UN seeks to: (1) protect Hizbullah from further Israeli attacks, (2) produce a political win for Hizbullah by giving them the territorial prize of the Shaba Farms, and (3) increase UN presence, oversight and control of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Every element of this agenda is satisfied in the current draft UN resolution and is part of the declared intention of a second resolution to follow (some of which may end up being incorporated in the first.)
The resolution calls for a "full cessation of hostilities" and "the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations." What offensive military operations? Has Israel been engaged in a single military operation offensive and not defensive in nature?
The resolution reintroduces the notion that Israel might occupy Lebanese territory, calling for action on "areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including in the Shaba farms area." Though the resolution doesn't mention the states who are party to the dispute, leaving some possibility that the territorial dispute is between Syria and Lebanon, Syria is not mentioned.
Given that the only states named in the resolution are Israel and Lebanon, either the presence of the Shaba Farms issue means Lebanese territory is occupied by Israel (contrary to explicit UN determinations in the past) or Syria's role in arming Hizbullah is now being rewarded by the UN.
The draft resolution on the current crisis says the Security Council "expresses its intentionâ€¦to authorize in a further resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter the deployment of a UN mandated international force toâ€¦contribute to the implementation of a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution."
It calls for renewed involvement of UNIFIL, the UN troops that stood and watched Hizbullah rearm and plan its deadly assault on a UN member state for the last six years.
Such an international force is to be authorized under the first-ever Chapter VII resolution - a legally binding resolution that can be implemented through sanctions or the use of force - in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In other words, Secretary Rice has approved of a UN-authorized and monitored force that has its sights set on Israel too, coupled with a claim that Israel is currently engaged in "offensive" operations.
THE VERY UN that accuses Israel of murder and heinous violations of international law is now to be charged with judging compliance with a legally binding instrument purporting to define the terms and conditions of Israel's self-defense. The original idea of a Chapter VII force to disarm Hizbullah was coupled with a serious NATO presence. The current draft is the worst of both worlds - a much-watered down force with considerable UN-control coupled with a Chapter VII mandate that could easily be turned on the UN's perpetual whipping boy - Israel.
In addition, the draft resolution:
fails to call in its operative section for the immediate release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers,
introduces the notion that settling the issue of all Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel - regardless of their crimes - will be the quid pro quo for the Israelis' release,
speaks of financial and humanitarian assistance only to the Lebanese people while ignoring restitution or aid for the one million Israelis in bomb shelters over the last three weeks and the 300,000 displaced
lends credibility to another manufactured grievance, the return by Israel of "remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon" - though Israel has already returned maps of old mines years ago, and no mention is made of Hizbullah providing the UN with maps of its newly-laid land mines,
enhances Kofi Annan's authority to judge Israel by extending an open-ended invitation to inform the Security Council continually about any action he believes "might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution"
fails to mention "Hizbullah" or terrorism even once, let alone stating that Hizbullah is directly responsible for the Lebanese civilian casualties it cynically promotes.
omits entirely any reference to Iran or Syria, as if the address of the arms suppliers and bosses of their Hizbullah proxies are too sensitive to include.
THERE WILL be only one sure result of this move - the empowerment of terrorists whose ultimate target is the United States, Israel and all democratic values. Secretary Rice's belief that there is a serious convergence between the United Nations agenda and American foreign policy needs in the age of terrorism is a profound error in judgment for which democratic societies everywhere will be forced to pay a heavy price.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, professor at Touro Law Center and editor of www.EYEontheUN.org.