2-State Solution May Be Only Way to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict, but Israel Should Determine Borders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017: “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

After listening to very erudite analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics by Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies and co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America, I came to my own enlightenment. It came when Rosenblum, who is also a founding member of Americans for Peace Now, showed us a map of Israel with the Palestinian communities shown as brown clusters on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then he made this point: 80% of the 420,000 Jewish settlers in the so-called Occupied territory, the vast majority secular and not messianic Jews, live along a sliver of that territory that hugs the internationally recognized border of Israel.

Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies, co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU), and founding member of Americans for Peace Now, at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, for the longest time, the contention has been that even though the Arab states invaded Israel in 1967 en masse intending to drive the Israelis (Hebrews) into the sea and despite the fact Israel won the war for its very existence, that the Palestinians are entitled to 100% of the land that Israel occupied (forget the fact that Israel has already given back the entire Negev to Egypt in a “land for peace” deal, and has already uprooted its settlers to give back the Gaza Strip). The Palestinians insist on Israel being returned to its pre-1967 borders, including dividing once again the holy city of Jerusalem, which it intends to make its capital. And even after the rest of the occupied territory is given “back” to Palestinians, they are still demanding the right of return into the Jewish State. They want it all, despite being the aggressors.

I happen to support a two-state solution, convinced of the argument as expressed by former President Ehud Barak when he spoke in Great Neck, that Israel cannot swallow up the Palestinians and simultaneously remain secure and democratic – the demographics are such that unless Palestinians are not allowed full citizenship (and the ability to vote and be represented in the Knesset), the Jewish State would fairly quickly become majority Muslim.

But what I don’t understand is that the Arabs who sought in 1967 and still today seek to destroy Israel (despite any calculatedly tempered language) should have all the territory returned without bearing any consequence.

Israel should not apologize for taking the lead on drawing the new borders – it should dictate those borders according to its own self-interest, and that means a unified Jerusalem and a border that includes the vast majority of the settlers, and no right of return.

Israel should be a contiguous nation with defensible borders – not hollowed out with a Gaza strip from which thousands of rockets have rained down on Israel’s civilian communities and would continue to be an incubator for terror attacks. That is intolerable.  Israel should take back Gaza and allow the Palestinians to relocate to the new Palestinian state, or if they stay, become loyal citizens of Israel (yes I recognize the issue, but Israel already has Arab citizens). This would not be the same as ethnic cleansing, which is repugnant, because the Palestinians would not be thrown out. They would have the freedom to choose their citizenship, just as they chose to leave in the first place. Meanwhile, Jewish settlers would also have to be uprooted from the territory that abuts Jordan.

This is not to be confused with another sticking point, which oddly is rarely mentioned in terms of why the Israel-Palestine conflict has been intractable: the right of return. There should not be any right of return. In the first place, the Arabs who left, left because they thought they would be able to join the conquering army and throw out the Jews. In other instances, the land was purchased.

So, looking at the map that Rosenblum presented, carve out from that a Palestinian State. Let the Palestinians make their desert bloom as the Israelis did with sweat, innovation and invention.

Map of Israel and the Occupied Territories showing the concentration of Palestinian and Jewish settlements provided by Mark Rosenblum.

I heard all of this, and then went to the UN General Assembly and heard Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu basically say what Rosenblum said: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the larger Arab-Israel conflict – was the cornerstone, the touchstone about how to think about the Mideast, …the Israel-Palestinian conflict was the driver – if you don’t solve that problem, you don’t solve anything. Today, one has to think of Israel-Palestine in context of Mideast imploding with contagion.” And terrorism that has spilled over from the Mideast.

Netanyahu, put it another way:”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations. This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them.” This is because, he said, “Israel is THE innovation nation. THE place for cutting-edge technology and agriculture, in water, in cybersecurity, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles” and counterterrorism. Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. Now, you may not know this, but your governments do, and they’re working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly: ”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, Netanyahu had very little to say about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, except almost matter-of-factly, “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” Instead, he devoted a considerable portion of his remarks attacking Iran and a call to “fix or nix” the Iran nuclear agreement and rein in Iran’s terror activities.

But while Netanyahu seemed to breeze through the Israel-Palestinian conflict (the topic of a Security Council meeting on Sept. 25), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in his General Assembly address, went on a tirade about how dare the UN not enforce the 1967 borders, including making Jerusalem the Palestinian capital, how dare the good people of the world not boycott the settlements, how dare Britain not apologize for the Balfour Declaration, and not make reparations to the poor, poor Palestinians, and how could the UN not demand the right of return (with recompense) to Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine, meets with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres during the 72nd General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mind you, Netanyahu had only hours before called the United Nations “the epicenter of global anti-Semitism.” 

There is a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict: a two-state solution around practical borders that Israel gets to set. But there does not seem to be the ability to embrace it, as even Rosenblum, who has been working on the issue for 42 years, seemed to conclude:

“They will not by themselves have the will or capacity to pull themselves out of the mud and blood they are soaking in. Leaders on all sides -Netanyahu, Abbas, Trump – represent not the Three Musketeers but the Three Stooges. They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough.

Donald Trump addresses the 72nd General Assembly in NYC, one of the “Three Stooges”. “They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough,” says Mark Rosenblum. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The Israeli street and Arab street are stuck as to whether enemy or frenemy for eternity. Every morning, Mideast changes- yesterday frenemy is today ally, yesterday enemy is frenemy today.

“We have to find way of addition through subtraction,” said Rosenblum. “The real hope for a breakthrough toward Israel-Palestinian peace is coming from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Gulf States except Qatar. They treat Israel as an ally, a bulwark against Iran – that’s what the Trump generals are most interested in working on.”

Demonstration of Orthodox Jews who do not want to be conscripted into Israel’s army protest PM Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in NYC. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See also:

Netanyahu to UN General Assembly: ‘After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world’

Abbas in Hard-line Speech to General Assembly, Issues Demands for 2-State Solution

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Lessons Learned from Action Plan on Iran Nuclear Program Could Help De-escalate Korean Peninsula Tensions, Speakers Tell Security Council

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tells UN Security Council, “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may assume that nuclear weapons would assure regime survival, but instead, they would lead to isolationism and ignominy.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

United States Calls Pyongyang Non-proliferation ‘Case Study’, While Russian Federation Cites Fate of Former Iraqi, Libyan Leaders

(This account from the United Nations news bureau)

The de-escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula should flow from the lessons generated by the diplomacy that shaped the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, speakers in the Security Council said today.

During a ministerial-level briefing on the threat posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the best ways to halt the flow, speakers shared grave concerns about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests, many urging swift collective action.

Kairat Abdrakhmanov, Kazakhstan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program had placed that country on a nuclear-free path, adding that “we should, therefore, convincingly show Pyongyang the right ‘road map’.”

Workineh Gebeyehu Negewo, Ethiopia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, agreed, describing the Plan of Action as one of multilateralism’s most significant achievements and an important example of diplomacy at work.  It could guide the Council and the international community in exploring mechanisms to address the serious and imminent threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, adding that Pyongyang’s continuous provocative actions should not weaken Council unity.

Rex W. Tillerson, Secretary of State of the United States, described the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a case study in why nations should work towards non-proliferation.  The country had joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in the mid-1980s, but had never entered into full compliance, he said.  That situation offered lessons for Iran, which was on its way to developing its own nuclear weapons, he said.  Countries that had given up their nuclear arsenals had travelled on a positive trajectory, demonstrating that acquiring nuclear capability did not provide security.  Rather, it presented a path to isolation and scrutiny by the global community, he said.

Vassily A. Nebenzia (Russian Federation) questioned that notion, saying the use of non-proliferation mechanisms to exert pressure on non-popular regimes was well known.  He cited the fate of Saddam Hussein, who had no weapons of mass destruction, and Muammar Qadhafi, who had voluntarily renounced his own nuclear-weapons program.  While those facts did not justify Pyongyang’s weapons program, it would be short-sighted to ignore the reason behind it, he said.  Another reason for the tension in the region was the absence of any mechanism to provide security for all North-East Asian States, he said, adding that implementing the Russian-Chinese initiative would be a step in the right direction.

Wang Yi, China’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, underscored the importance of promoting the resumption of talks and dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea while exerting pressure through sanctions.  Emphasizing that countries must pursue sustainable security for all, and not just for themselves, he said pressure was necessary where appropriate if they violated rules.  However, sanctions were not the panacea, he stressed, cautioning that confrontation and sanctions would only lead to escalation.

Kang Kyung-Wha, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, underlined the need for the Council and the international community to stand together and send a unified message.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had conducted two nuclear tests and launched 24 ballistic missiles in the past year, she noted, warning that continuing such actions would deal a crippling blow to the international non-proliferation regime.

Tarō Kōno, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, voicing great concern about Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile launch over his country, warned that “no bright future awaits North Korea if it continues on its present path” and all Member States must fully and promptly implement the relevant resolutions.

Briefing the Council at the outset, Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that the same unity demonstrated in reining in weapons stockpiles and programs in Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria was needed to address Pyongyang’s provocative and dangerous nuclear and ballistic missile activities.  “The most effective approaches to non-proliferation must involve a mixture of active, robust and wise diplomacy, strong international cooperation and a strong commitment to fully implement the decisions of the Council,” she said.  “Addressing the threats and risks posed by weapons of mass destruction will also require new and creative efforts to complete unfinished business, including the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons.”

During the debate, speakers also discussed several non-proliferation initiatives, from Council resolution 1540 (2004), aimed at preventing non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and related materiel, to the signing of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons at Headquarters on 20 September.

Enrique Loedel, Uruguay’s Vice-Minister for Political Affairs, noted that permanent Security Council members supplied 75 per cent of the world’s weapons.  The goal of general and complete disarmament was far from being realized, as most recently seen in the marked absence of nuclear-weapon-States at the signing of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, he noted.

However, Mark Field, the United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, said his country’s Government did not believe that instrument was helpful.

Meanwhile, some ministers called for scrupulous adherence to existing instruments, with many agreeing that nuclear-weapon-free zones should blaze the trail towards ridding the world of such arms.

SAMEH HASSAN SHOKRY SELIM, Egypt’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the Middle East remained an example of the Security Council’s selective handling of threats to the non-proliferation regime.  It had failed to implement resolution 687 (1991), which contained an explicit recognition of the need to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, he said.

Also participating in the debate were ministers and other officials representing Ukraine, Sweden, Italy, France, Senegal and Bolivia.

The meeting began at 4:36 p.m. and ended at 7:01 p.m.

Briefing

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, recalled that in 1991, the Council had called upon Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction program, and had effectively normalized that country’s international non-proliferation obligations.  On Iran’s nuclear issue, direct engagement and a commitment to dialogue had resulted in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the Council had endorsed in resolution 2231 (2015).  As inspectors continued to verify its implementation, a sustained commitment by all remained essential for the historic agreement’s success, she said.

The Council had also taken timely action to ensure the removal of vulnerable chemical weapons stockpiles in Libya, she continued, noting also that, through successful engagement by the Russian Federation and the United States, Syria had eliminated its chemical weapon program.  Regrettably, evidence of chemical weapons use continued to appear in that country, she noted, emphasizing that those responsible must be held accountable.  The Council’s unity and action was essential in that regard.

Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said that country’s provocative and dangerous nuclear and ballistic missile activities continued, in defiance of the Council’s decisions and of the will of the international community, undermining global norms against nuclear proliferation and nuclear testing.  Following the Secretary-General’s repeated calls for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease further testing, comply with Council resolutions and resume dialogue on denuclearization, its steady escalation of those actions must be reversed immediately, she said, reiterating the need for Council unity in that regard.

Reminding members that resolution 1540 (2004) remained a pioneering achievement in cooperative action to prevent non-State actors from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and related materiel, she emphasized that maintaining its effectiveness would require keeping pace with global trends and emerging technologies that continuously lowered the threshold for the acquisition and use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material.  “The most effective approaches to non-proliferation must involve a mixture of active, robust and wise diplomacy, strong international cooperation and a strong commitment to fully implement the decisions of the Council,” she stressed.  “Addressing the threats and risks posed by weapons of mass destruction will also require new and creative efforts to complete unfinished business, including the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Statements

REX W. TILLERSON, Secretary of State of the United States, said members of the Security Council talked often about threats to global security, noting that the current nuclear proliferation issue had worldwide implications.  The positive trajectory of countries that had given up their nuclear weapons and the enormous responsibility of their stewardship meant that acquiring nuclear capability did not provide security but rather, presented a path to isolation and scrutiny by the global community.  The current nuclear Powers should commit to sound practices and robust non-proliferation efforts to keep such weapons out of the hands of others, including terrorists and non-State actors, he said.

Recalling that Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and South Africa had all weighed the risks and made the decision to give up their nuclear programs or weapons, he noted that Kazakhstan, in partnership with the United States, had opted to join the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear State.  Ukraine had made a similar choice after the Russian Federation’s incursion onto its territory.  The United States was the only nation to have used nuclear weapons in warfare and it bore a responsibility to reduce nuclear dangers, he said, recalling that potential human extinction had loomed during the Cuban missile crisis, when the predominant emotion had been fear.

He went on to note that the Republic of Korea had opted not to pursue nuclear weapons and had grown into one of the world’s great Powers.  By contrast, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may assume that nuclear weapons would assure regime survival, but instead, they would lead to isolationism and ignominy, he said.  Threats would not create safety for the regime but rather, would stiffen the resolve of the United States, he warned.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a case study in why nations should work towards non-proliferation.  It had joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the mid-1980s, but had never entered into full compliance, he recalled, saying the matter had lessons for Iran, which was on its way to developing its own nuclear weapons.  That country seemed keen to preserve for itself the right to resume such efforts in the future.

The Russian Federation and the United States shared the greatest responsibility to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, he affirmed.  The two had cooperated together well in drafting the text of what would become the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but in recent years, the Russian Federation had behaved in ways that weakened global norms, violating its own obligations and flouting the security assurances it had made at the end of the cold war.  Cooperation from China was essential if Pyongyang’s threats were to be brought under control, he continued.  If China desired to help rid that country of nuclear weapons, it was time to work with the rest of the international community.  Non-State actors, if given the chance, would seek death and destruction on a larger scale, he warned, pointing out that there was no scale larger than a nuclear attack.  The international community must work to secure nuclear technology and disrupt proliferation networks.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that deliberate non-compliance with sanctions resolutions undermined collective efforts for the maintenance of peace and stability.  There was need to develop concrete mechanisms that would dissuade nuclear-weapon-possessing States that regularly violated resolutions on weapons of mass destruction.  Concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he took note of the Council’s dilemma, whereby a military solution was not an option but launching a negotiation process was also not easy.  Condemning Pyongyang’s actions, he said the continued pressure of sanctions was a step in the right direction.  Kazakhstan called upon all parties to reduce tensions he said, urging consideration of the joint proposals by China and the Russian Federation.  The role of the Secretary-General as mediator could not be underestimated, he emphasized.

Turning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, he stressed that the agreement had put Iran on a nuclear-free path.  “We should, therefore, convincingly show Pyongyang the right ‘road map’,” he said, pointing out that the Joint Plan had been realized while sanctions were in play.  Regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria, he stressed that the Council must be united in its approach.  Kazakhstan would continue to provide the Astana platform to facilitate a political solution, he said.  The country would also continue to support the cooperation mechanism spelled out in resolutions 1540 (2004), he added, noting that his country was an active participant in its work, as demonstrated by its allocation of $50,000 earlier this month.  The good of humanity must be placed above national interests so as to keep the world safe from weapons of mass destruction, he stressed.

SAMEH HASSAN SHOKRY SELIM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, said the total, verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons would depend largely on nuclear-weapon States fulfilling their obligations under article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  However, that goal remained hostage to misconceptions pertaining to strategic stability.  “It is time for us, members of the United Nations, to have an honest and inclusive discussion,” he said.  That discussion must question the argument that possession of nuclear weapons and reliance on nuclear deterrence contributed to international security and stability.  It was misleading to address non-proliferation while disregarding disarmament, or selectively tackling cases of non-compliance, while ignoring the universal nature of the Treaty.

He expressed full support for the Council’s quest for a peaceful solution to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear activities, supervision of Iran’s compliance and the establishment of credible facts on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  However, the Middle East continued to be an example of the Security Council’s selective manner in addressing threats to the non-proliferation regime, he continued, pointing out that the Council had failed to implement resolution 687 (1991), which contained explicit recognition of the aim to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.  Furthermore, there was frustration, particularly in the Arab countries, due to repeated failures in undertaking efforts to establish a zone free of nuclear weapons, as stated in the resolution on the Middle East during the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.  Moreover, the decision by three of the Treaty’s States parties to block consensus on the final document of the 2015 Review Conference was disappointing, he said, underlining that the enforcement of disarmament and non-proliferation commitments should be addressed in a more inclusive manner, with all Member States participating.

PAVLO KLIMKIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said that 50 years after the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s entry into force, the possible use of such arms remained a threat, with some States still aspiring to create their own capabilities.  In Syria, there had been blatant violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (OPCW), he noted.  Meanwhile, the risk of dangerous materials falling into the hands of non-State actors had grown.  “The mere fact that we have to discuss again how to enforce Security Council resolutions aimed at preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction clearly proves that the existing system of established norms and principles is eroded,” he said, adding that lack of real accountability for defiance only encouraged further breaches.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was the most appalling case, he continued.  Recalling his country’s history under the Soviet Union, he said the rulers had created a famine by selling grain for gold, while using slave labour camps to boost their military and test nuclear weapons on their own people.  To reverse the current trend, Council members should set differences aside and use every available tool to ensure full compliance with relevant decisions, he said.  To address rapid developments in science and technology, cooperation must be strengthened among all stakeholders.

Ukraine had voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arsenal because it believed in international principles, but “we were too naïve”, he noted.  Having confronted aggression by a nuclear-weapon State, with the Russian Federation violating international obligations and undermining the United Nations-based security system, Ukraine was convinced that the global non-proliferation regime would benefit immensely from enforceable security guarantees.  “Empty proclamations do not convince anyone anymore,” he said, stressing that the Council must spare no effort to prove that the non-proliferation system worked, otherwise the world map would be redrawn by newly emerged nuclear actors.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, called for universal and comprehensive implementation of existing sanctions regimes, in particular the non-proliferation-related sanctions imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The international community must all work together to implement those sanctions fully in order not to help that country’s illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs, she said.  Improved monitoring and targeted capacity-building were important measures requiring Council and diplomatic engagement.

Turning to Syria, she commended the OPCW and the Joint Investigative Mechanism on having fulfilled their mandate of investigating the use of chemical weapons in that country and identifying those responsible.  The Council must stand united to ensure accountability for the perpetrators, she emphasized.  In that context she underscored the importance of resolution 2231 (2015) and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy had described as “an historic achievement for the security of the region and of the whole world, and a success for multilateral diplomacy that has proven to work and deliver”.  It was vital that all parties continue to implement their commitments, she said, while stressing that implementing resolutions was just one side of the coin.  “We must also nurture and defend the existing multilateral instruments that we have established to curtail the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Unity is key.”

TARŌ KŌNO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, voiced great concern about Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile launch over his country, recalling that it had conducted its sixth nuclear test earlier in the month, which was on a far greater scale than previous tests.  Those actions not only posed grave challenges to the international non-proliferation regime and violated relevant Security Council resolutions, they also posed an unprecedented and imminent threat to peace and security in the region, including Japan.

“No bright future awaits North Korea if it continues on its present path,” he warned, urging Pyongyang to fully implement the related Council resolutions, including resolution 2374 (2017), and take concrete actions towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  It must return to compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty of Nuclear Weapons and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards agreement as soon as possible.  Denuclearizing the Peninsula would require the strongest possible international pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he emphasized, adding that current measures were insufficient.  All Member States must fully and promptly implement the relevant resolutions, he stressed.  “No State should be allowed to become a loophole in the North Korea sanctions regime.”

Turning to the non-proliferation of chemical weapons, he reminded Council members about the 1985 sarin gas attack in Japan, underlining that the use of such weapons was unacceptable under any circumstances.  He condemned the use of chemical weapons in the town of Khan-Shaykhun, in Syria, while voicing support for the nuclear deal with Iran, which, he noted, was contributing to the international non-proliferation regime and stability in the Middle East.  It was extremely important that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action be continuously and steadily implemented, he emphasized.  However, Iran’s ballistic missile launches were inconsistent with resolution 2231 (2015), he noted, urging that country to play a constructive role in the region.

ANGELINO ALFANO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, said non-proliferation should be defended as a guarantee of peace, security and stability.  He condemned Pyongyang’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan on 15 September, saying the Security Council must send a clear message to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that any further attempts would backfire.  Noting that Iran had moved in a positive direction on its own nuclear program, he said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had delivered gains for global security by imposing strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear program.

However, the deal was just the beginning, and it was important to ensure that Iran did not sway off the path of nuclear non-proliferation, he continued.  There had been no progress in Syria, but rather the repeated use of chemical weapons against innocent people.  Concerning sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he emphasized the importance of monitoring their implementation in order to get a precise picture of the country’s compliance.  It was also important to address weaknesses in the enforcement of the measures.  Sanctions should have an impact on the regime’s proliferation programs, he said, while stressing the need to avoid negative effects on the humanitarian situation.

WANG YI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said non-proliferation still faced challenges, with a few countries defying the international community and conducting tests.  Non-State actors may now have access to weapons of mass destruction, and non-proliferation was now a matter of international peace and security.  Emphasizing that countries must pursue sustainable security for all, and not just for themselves, he said it was necessary to exert pressure where appropriate if they violated rules.

However, sanctions were not the panacea, he continued, cautioning that confrontation and sanctions would only lead to escalation.  Rather, negotiations presented the way out.  Non-proliferation must be upheld as a customary international law that was crucial for security and order, having prevented more countries from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, he said.  In terms of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he underscored the importance of promoting the resumption of talks and dialogue while exercising sanctions.

JEAN-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE, Secretary of State Attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, described the non-proliferation picture as bleak.  With the barbaric use of toxic agents in Syria and Iraq, the world was witnessing the re-emergence of weapons thought to have been banished to the annals of history, he said.  Concerning the growing risk in the Korean Peninsula, the regime in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was pursuing military escalation and had provided evidence of its irresponsible attitude through its actions.

There was also an increasing risk of sensitive technology and goods being diverted, he said, adding that proliferation was no longer the exclusive domain of one type of actor.  The risk of non-State actors getting their hands on weapons of mass destruction was now a dangerous reality.  The case of Iran confirmed that a proactive attitude on the part of the international community worked, but it must respond to Iran’s stepped-up ballistic missile activity that was not compliant with the relevant Security Council resolution, he said.

MARK FIELD, Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific of the United Kingdom, said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was the gravest of international security concerns.  Shared rules and norms were designed to keep the world safe, and the Council had the responsibility to respond when such weapons were used, he said, adding that nations should implement measures imposed by the Council and go further when the situation required.

A system of sanctions had been developed against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, recalling that Secretary of State Tillerson had made it clear that regime change and accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula were not desirable.  Nor was it desirable to harm the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, who suffered deprivation and hardship.  That was why that nation should be pressed to respect the Council’s resolutions and change its reckless course, he said.

Turning to Iran, he said the multilateral system delivered results, noting Tehran had rolled back its nuclear program and that the IAEA had enjoyed unprecedented access.  The situation in Syria, however, posed serious proliferation challenges, he said, recalling that sarin gas had been used earlier this year, in clear violation of the prohibition of its use.  The Government of the United Kingdom did not believe that the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, opened for signature yesterday, was helpful.

ENRIQUE LOEDEL, Vice-Minister for Political Affairs of Uruguay, said the goal of achieving general and complete disarmament was far from being realized, and had most recently been seen in the marked absence of nuclear-weapon-States at the signing of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons on 20 September.  The only guarantee against the use or threat to use nuclear weapons was their prohibition and total elimination, he said, emphasizing that the Council must remain united on the Korean Peninsula issue.  Dialogue and negotiations must be the only viable solution.  Those using banned weapons must be held accountable, as in the case of chemical weapons use in Syria.  Noting that permanent Security Council members supplied 75 per cent of the world’s weapons, he urged all members to ensure compliance with all non-proliferation agreements.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) expressed concern about non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction, citing the use of chemical weapons in the Middle East and online threats as recent examples alongside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in contravention of international law.  Without real political will to end the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their spread would only grow, he warned.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a test after the Council had adopted a resolution to end such actions, he noted.  Stressing the need to pursue a peaceful and diplomatic settlement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, he said the lack of effective implementation measures had led Pyongyang to continue its program.  To change that, the Non-Proliferation Treaty must become universal, he said, adding that more must be done to strengthen cooperation in areas including border control and cybersecurity.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said he was surprised at the inclusion of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among today’s topics.  The meeting was a discussion of general principles, rather than fighting States deemed to be pariahs by certain Council members.  The concept note by the United States linked the situations of three countries that had nothing in common with each other, he noted.  He recalled that in 2004, the Russian Federation and the United States had reaffirmed the importance of erecting a legal framework for cooperation on non-proliferation matters, but the political landscape had subsequently changed and that concept had been sacrificed on the altar of geopolitical maneuvering, he recalled.

The use of non-proliferation mechanisms to exert pressure on non-popular regimes was well known, he said, citing the fate of Saddam Hussein, who had no weapons of mass destruction, and Muammar Qadhafi, who had voluntarily renounced his own nuclear-weapons program.  While those facts did not justify the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s weapons program, it would be short-sighted to ignore the reason behind it, he said.

Turning to Syria, he noted that Council resolution 2118 (2013) contained the obligation of neighbouring States to inform the Security Council of any attempt by non-State actors to obtain weapons of mass destruction.  Judging by the lack of reports, however, there was no problem, yet the Russian Federation’s attempts to raise that issue had been suppressed by its Western partners.  He emphasized that there had been repeated reports of Da’esh using toxic substances, which should have been investigated but instead had been disregarded.

He went on to underline that Iran was in full compliance with its obligations, adding that the United States leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action would be the worst signal to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The reason for the tension in the region was not only Pyongyang’s missile program, but also the absence of any mechanism to provide security for all North-East Asian States, he pointed out.  Implementing the Russian-Chinese initiative would be a step in the right direction.

SACHA LLORENTTY SOLIZ (Bolivia) said his country was a constitutionally peace-loving nation, which promoted cooperation with the world’s peoples with full respect for sovereignty.  Its Constitution prohibited the manufacture of chemical and nuclear weapons on Bolivian territory, and during its Security Council presidency, Bolivia had held debates on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors so as to avoid the political and humanitarian catastrophes that could arise from their use.  While resolution 1540 (2004) was a platform for assistance and cooperation among States to stop non-State actors from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, Bolivia did not agree with the use of that platform for purposes of coercion, he said.  Calling upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear program and comply with Security Council resolutions, he urged other parties to avoid fanning the flames of tension, curb their rhetoric and avoid the threat to use military force.  There could be no military solution to that crisis, he emphasized.

WORKINEH GEBEYEHU NEGEWO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia and Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity, citing Secretary-General António Guterres’ recent declaration that global anxieties about nuclear weapons were at their highest since the end of the cold war.  Most pressing was the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, emphasizing that political and diplomatic efforts must identify a negotiated solution.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was one of multilateralism’s most significant achievements and an important example of diplomacy at work, he said.  That lesson could guide the Council and the international community in exploring mechanisms to address the serious and imminent threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, whose continuing provocative actions should not weaken Council unity.

Turning to the broader threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of non-State actors, he emphasized the importance of scrupulous adherence to related multilateral agreements.  More must be done to ensure universal accession and full implementation of such agreements, he said, emphasizing that nuclear-weapon-free zones must remain central to the global and regional non-proliferation regime.  The Council, for its part, played a critical role in addressing weapons proliferation by using all available tools, including sanctions, he said.  “All of us should be able to fully implement Council measures for them to meet their intended objectives,” he added.

KANG KYUNG-WHA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had conducted two nuclear tests and launched 24 ballistic missiles in the past year.  In less than nine months this year, it had conducted another nuclear test and launched 19 ballistic missiles.  The most recent launch, on 3 September, was the most alarming of all as its explosive yield exceeded by far the sum of all five previous tests, she said, underlining that Pyongyang also claimed to have a hydrogen bomb that would be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.  Yet, even after the Security Council had responded with its strongest-ever resolution, Pyongyang had launched another ballistic missile that had flown 3,700km over Japan, she said.

Amid continuing nuclear tests and missile launches, the initial sense of urgency appeared to be “somewhat lost” and the adoption of new resolutions even seen as a ritual, she continued.  The leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was quoted as having said that his country was in the final stages of nuclear weaponization and that it would demonstrate that achievement to the world despite endless sanctions.  Warning that continuing such actions would deal a crippling blow to the international non-proliferation regimes, she declared:  “We may be rapidly approaching a point of no return.”

Calling for a renewed sense of urgency and full implementation of Security Council resolutions containing sanctions, she emphasized that the measures were not meant to destroy the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but to bring it back to the negotiation table for denuclearization.  Pyongyang appeared intent on taking advantage of the weakest link in the international community to defeat the resolutions, she cautioned, emphasizing that it was critical that the Council and the international community stand together and send a united message.  In close cooperation with the international community, the Republic of Korea would work to denuclearize the Democratic People’s Republic and restore permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, she said, urging Pyongyang to “come to the right side of history”.

Abbas in Hard-line Speech to General Assembly, Issues Demands for 2-State Solution

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine, meets with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres during the 72nd General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

In his speech to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 20, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the state of Palestine, railed against Israel, the United Nations, Great Britain and every nation that has commerce with Israel, and demonstrated why the Israel-Palestine issue is intractable. His notion of a two-state solution is for Israel, which beat back an invasion in 1967 intended to annihilate the Jewish state, to return to 1967 borders which means splitting Jerusalem which he wants as his capital and leaving Israel with undefendible borders, and allow the right of return for Palestinians who long ago left – which would demographically overrun Israel. These are the same sticking points that have prevented the solution for decades since Israel has agreed to swap land for peace – as when they completely exited the Gaza Strip, only to have thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli communities.

Abbas gave a hard-line speech, stating that 24 years had passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords, an interim agreement that set a five-year period for ending the Israeli occupation.  Today, he asked what was left of that hope.  Israel continued to pursue its settlements, breaching all international conventions and resolutions on the question of Palestine.  The United Nations bore a legal, moral and humanitarian obligation to end the occupation and enable Palestinians to live in freedom in their independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital along the 4 June 1967 borders.  Doing so would deprive terrorist groups of a rallying cry that they exploited to promote their repugnant ideas.

He pressed Great Britain “to rectify the grave injustice inflicted on Palestinian people when issued Balfour Declaration, promising Jews a national homeland in Palestine – despite the fact that it was inhabited … … 97% of population were Palestinians…The British have not taken any steps to correct this historical injustice against our people – should apologize and provide us with compensation and recognize the state of Palestine.  Even worse, in November they want to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of this crime against our people – the silence from the international community as to the aggression of the Israel government has emboldened Israel – I remind you that Israel violated international resolutions since its establishment….”

“The two-State solution is today in jeopardy,” he said.  Palestine had called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation and prosecute Israeli officials involved in settlement activities, and would continue to pursue its accession to international conventions, protocols and organizations.  Palestine had upheld its responsibilities towards its people in the Gaza Strip, repeatedly affirming that “Gaza will not be the Palestinian State” and that “there can be no Palestinian State without Gaza”.  He expressed gratitude for the agreement reached in Cairo aimed at nullifying measures taken by Hamas following division of the area and formation of a government.

To save the two-State solution, he urged the United Nations to help end the Israeli occupation within a set timeframe and implement the Arab Peace Initiative.  It should work to end all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; ensure international protection of the land and people of the State of Palestine in line with resolutions 605 (1987), 672 (1990), 673 (1990) and 904 (1994); and demand that Israel commit to the 1967 borders as the basis for the two-State solution.  He similarly urged Member States that recognized Israel to proclaim that their recognition was based on the 1967 borders, and thus align themselves with international resolutions.

States should also end their involvement and support to the illegal Israeli colonial regime in the occupied State of Palestine, he said, pressing those that had not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so, in fulfillment of the principle of equality.  For its part, the Security Council should approve the State of Palestine’s application for full United Nations membership, while the broader international community should continue providing economic and financial support to Palestinians to achieve self-reliance, as well as support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Abbas Meets with Trump

Later, before a bilateral meeting with United States President Donald Trump, Abbas said this meeting “attests to your seriousness” to “achieve the deal of the century,” during this year or in the coming months. And we are very certain that “you Mr President are determined” to bring peace in the Middle East. And “this gives us the assurance and the confidence that we are on the verge of real peace” between the Palestinian and the Israelis, he said.

“We have met with our brave and active delegation” more than 20 times after January 20, Abbas said. “This is an indication of how serious you are” about peace in the Middle East.

“You will find utmost seriousness on our part to achieve peace,” President Abbas said because it is in the interest of Israel and Palestine.

“We can coexist peacefully together,” the President said. “Once again Mr. President, we count on you.”

Trump said he has been hearing about peace in the Middle East since the time he was a little boy. And for so many years “I have been hearing about” peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We are fighting very hard, we are trying very hard” to achieve this peace. “If we do it, it would be a great great legacy for everybody,” Trump said.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Netanyahu to UN General Assembly: ‘After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his address to the General Assembly Sept. 19, 2017, pointed to “a revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations,” heaped effusive praise on US President Donald Trump, but chided the United Nations as the “epicenter for anti-Semitism” in its resolutions. But he used a good portion of his address to follow Trump’s condemnation of the Iran nuclear agreement (which Trump has hinted he would de-certify). Netanyahu called to “fix or nix” the Iran nuclear agreement, heaping harsh attacks on Iran as a purveyor of terror in the region. Later, Iranian President Rouhani and Palestinian President Abbas hurled attacks back at Israel, a reminder of why the conflicts are so intractable. Here is a highlighted transcript of Netanyahu’s speech- Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations. This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them. Those countries now recognize what brilliant investors, like Warren Buffet, and great companies, like Google and Intel, what they’ve recognized and known for years: that Israel is THE innovation nation. THE place for cutting-edge technology and agriculture, in water, in cybersecurity, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles. You name it, we’ve got it.

Those countries now also recognize Israel’s exceptional capabilities in fighting terrorism. In recent years, Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. Now, you may not know this, but your governments do, and they’re working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe. I stood here last year on this podium, and I spoke about this profound change in Israel’s standing around the world. And just look at what has happened since, in one year.

Hundreds of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other leaders have visited Israel, many for the first time. Of these many visits, two were truly historic. In May, President Trump became the first American president to include Israel in his first visit abroad. President Trump stood at the Western Wall, at the foot of the Temple Mount, where the Jewish people – or rather the Jewish people’s temples stood for nearly 1,000 years, and when the president touched those ancient stones, he touched our hearts forever.

In July, Prime Minister Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. You may have seen ten pictures. We were on a beach in Hadera, we rode together in a Jeep outfitted with a portable desalination device that some thriving Israeli entrepreneur invented. We took off our shoes, waded into the Mediterranean, and drank seawater that had been purified only a few minutes earlier. We imagined the endless possibilities for India, for Israel, for all of humanity.

In the past year, Israel has hosted so many world leaders, and I had the honor of representing my country on six different continents. One year, six continents. I went to Africa, where I saw Israeli innovators increasing crop yields, turning air into water, fighting AIDS. I went to Asia, where we deepened our relations with China and with Singapore and expanded our cooperation with our Muslim friends in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. I went to Europe, where in London and Paris, Saloniki and Budapest, we enhanced our security and economic ties. I went to Australia, becoming the first Israeli prime minister to visit our great allies down under, and just last week, I went to South America, visiting Argentina and Colombia, and then I went on to Mexico, becoming, if you can believe it, the first Israeli prime minister ever to visit Latin America.

After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world.

(Applause)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

One year, six continents. Now, it’s true: I haven’t yet visited Antarctica, but one day, I hope to go there. I want to go there, too, because I heard that penguins are also enthusiastic supporters of Israel. Now, you laugh, but penguins have no difficulty recognizing that some things are black and white, are right and wrong, and unfortunately, when it comes to UN decisions about Israel, that simple recognition is too often absent.

It was absent last December when the Security Council passed an anti-Israel resolution that set back the cause of peace. It was absent last May when the World Health Organization adopted – you have to listen to this – the World Health Organization adopted a Syrian-sponsored resolution that criticized Israel for health conditions on the Golan Heights. As the great John McEnroe would say, you cannot be serious. I mean, this is preposterous. Syria has barrel-bombed, starved, gassed and murdered hundreds of thousands of its own citizens and wounded millions more, while Israel has provided life-saving medical care to thousands of Syrian victims of that very same carnage. Yet who does the World Health Organization? Israel.

So is there no limit to the UN’s absurdities when it comes to Israel? Well, apparently not. Because in July, UNESCO declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron a Palestinian World Heritage Site. That’s worse than fake news; that’s fake history. Mind you, it’s true that Abraham, the father of both Ishmael and Isaac, is buried there, but so, too, are Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca – Sarah’s a Jewish name, by the way – Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, who just happened to be patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. Well, you won’t read about that in the latest UNESCO report, but if you want to, you can read about it in a somewhat weightier publication. It’s called “the Bible.” I highly recommend it. I hear it even got four and a half out of five stars on Amazon. And it’s a great read. I read it every week.

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment to be serious. Despite the absurdities, despite the repetition of these farcical events, there is change, slowly but surely. There are signs of positive change, even at the United Nations.

Mr. Secretary-General, I very much appreciate your statement that denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism, pure and simple. Now that’s important because for too long, the epicenter of global anti-Semitism has been right here at the UN, and while it may take many years, I’m absolutely confident that the revolution in Israel’s ties with individual nations will ultimately be reflected here in this hall of nations.

I say that because there’s also a marked change in the positions of some of our key friends. Thanks to President Trump’s unequivocal support for Israel in this body, that positive change is gathering force. So thank you, President Trump. Thank you for supporting Israel at the UN, and thank you for your support, Ambassador Nikki Haley. Thank you for speaking the truth about Israel.

(Applause)

But ladies and gentlemen, here at the UN, we must also speak the truth about Iran, as President Trump did so powerfully this morning. Now, as you know, I’ve been ambassador to the UN, and I’m a long-serving Israeli prime minister, so I’ve listened to countless speeches in this hall, but I can say this: None were bolder, none were more courageous and forthright than the one delivered by President Trump today. President Trump rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran – he called it “an embarrassment.” Well, I couldn’t agree with him more. And here’s why: Iran vows to destroy my country. Every day, including by its chief of staff the other day.

Iran is conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East, and Iran is developing ballistic missiles to threaten the entire world.

Two years ago, I stood here and explained why the Iranian nuclear deal not only doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, but actually paves it. Because the restrictions placed on Iran’s nuclear program have what’s called “a sunset clause.” Now let me explain what that term means. It means that in a few years, those restrictions will be automatically removed, not by a change in Iran’s behavior, not by a lessening of its terror or its aggression: they’ll just be removed by a mere change in the calendar. And I warned that when that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons. That’s why I said two years ago that the greater danger is not that Iran will rush to a single bomb by breaking the deal, but that Iran will be able to build many bombs by keeping the deal.

Now, in the last few months, we’ve all seen how dangerous even a few nuclear weapons can be in the hands of a small rogue regime. Now imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian-Islamist empire with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth. I know there are those who still defend the dangerous deal with Iran, arguing that it will block Iran’s path to the bomb. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what they said about the nuclear deal with North Korea, and we all know how that turned out.

Unfortunately, if nothing changes, this deal will turn out exactly the same way. That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it. Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability. Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is a suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause. And beyond fixing this bad deal, we must also stop Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and roll back its growing aggression in the region.

I remember when we had these debates. As you know, I took a fairly active role in them – and many supporters of the deal naively believed that it would somehow moderate Iran. It would make it a responsible member, so they said, of the international community. Well, you know, I strongly disagreed. I warned that when the sanctions on Iran would be removed, Iran would behave like a hungry tiger unleashed, not joining the community of nations, but devouring nations one after the other. And that’s precisely what Iran is doing today.

From the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, from Tehran to Tartus, an Iranian curtain is descending across the Middle East. Iran spreads this curtain of tyranny and terror over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it pledges to extinguish the light of Israel. Today, I have a simple message to Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictator of Iran: The light of Israel will never be extinguished.

(Applause)

נצח ישראל לא ישקר.

(Applause)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions. We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria or in Lebanon for use against us. And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border. As long as Iran’s regime seeks the destruction of Israel, Iran will face no fiercer enemy than Israel.

But I also have a message today for the people of Iran: You are not our enemy. You are our friends. (Farsi: Shoma duste ma hesteed.) One day, my Iranian friends, you will be free from the evil regime that terrorizes you, hangs gays, jails journalists, tortures political prisoners and shoots innocent women like Neda Soltan, leaving her choking on her own blood on the streets of Tehran. I have not forgotten Neda. I’m sure you haven’t, too. And so, the people of Iran, when your day of liberation finally comes, the friendship between our two ancient peoples will surely flourish once again.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel knows that in confronting the Iranian regime, we are not alone. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in the Arab world who share our hopes for a brighter future. We’ve made peace with Jordan and Egypt, whose courageous president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi I met here last night. I appreciate President al-Sissi’s support for peace, and I hope to work closely with him and other leaders in the region to advance peace.

Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. Yesterday, President Trump and I discussed this, all of this, at great length. I appreciate President Trump’s leadership, his commitment to stand by Israel’s side, his commitment to advance a peaceful future for all. Together, we can seize the opportunities for peace, and together we can confront the great dangers of Iran.

The remarkable alliance between the United States and Israel has never been stronger, never been deeper. And Israel is deeply grateful for the support of the Trump administration, the American Congress and the American people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ladies and gentlemen, in this year of historic visits and historic anniversaries, Israel has so much to be grateful for. One hundred and twenty years ago, Theodore Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress to transform our tragic past into a brilliant future by establishing the Jewish state. One hundred years ago, the Balfour Declaration advanced Herzl’s vision by recognizing the right of the Jewish people to a national home in our ancestral homeland. Seventy years ago, the United Nations further advanced that vision by adopting a resolution supporting the establishment of a Jewish state. And 50 years ago, we reunited our eternal capital, Jerusalem, achieving a miraculous victory against those who sought to destroy our state.

Theodore Herzl was our modern Moses, and his dream has come true. We’ve returned to the Promised Land, revived our language, ingathered our exiles, and build a modern, thriving democracy. Tomorrow evening, Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of our new year. It’s a time of reflection, and we look back with wonder at the remarkable, the miraculous rebirth of our nation, and we look ahead with pride to the remarkable contributions Israel will continue to make to all nations.

You look around you, and you will see these contributions every day. In the food you eat, the water you drink, the medicines you take, the cars you drive, the cell phones you use, and in so many other ways that are transforming our world. You see it in the smile of an African mother in a remote village who, thanks to an Israeli innovation, no longer must walk eight hours a day to bring water to her children. You see it in the eyes of an Arab child who was flown to Israel to undergo a life-saving heart operation. And you see it in the faces of the people in earthquake-stricken Haiti and Nepal who were rescued from the rubble and given new life by Israeli doctors. As the prophet Isaiah said, (says in Hebrew first) “I’ve made you alight onto the nations, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Today, 27 hundred years after Isaiah spoke those prophetic words, Israel is becoming a rising power among the nations, and at long last, its light is shining across the continents, bringing hope and salvation to the ends of the earth.

Happy new year. Shanah tovah from Israel. Thank you.

Iran Exerts Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of the Israeli regime had made unfounded allegations against his country.  The nature of that regime was founded on aggression, occupation, suppression, violence and terror, he said, adding that in the information age, “weapons of mass deception” were becoming more useless day by day.  That representative could have explained why his regime had invaded all its neighbours, and even countries outside its region, waging 15 wars in its short lifetime.  Why did that regime continue to disrespect resolutions adopted by the Assembly, the Security Council and other United Nations bodies, he asked, and why was it a State sponsor of terrorism, including support for ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) with arms and other military assistance.  It was the world’s last apartheid regime and the warden of its biggest prison, arresting and jailing Palestinians and imposing an inhumane blockade on the Gaza Strip.  He went on to ask why that regime, the only nuclear weapons possessor in the Middle East, lectured the world on non-proliferation and Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.  The representative of the Israeli regime had hypocritically tried to abuse the Assembly by accusing others and stirring anxiety about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said.  It was a regime that favored conflict and war over diplomacy, he added.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

UN Security Council Reaffirms Primary Role of States in Preventing Conflict, Unanimously Adopting Resolution on Peacekeeping Reform

The UN Security Council votes unanimously, Sept. 21, 2017, to adopt a resolution to reform peacekeeping activities. Vice President Mike Pence, sitting next to UK Prime Minister Teresa May, voted on behalf of the US © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2378 (2017) to reform United Nations peacekeeping operations (such as the famed Blue Helmets), that the principle of the “primacy of politics” — including through mediation, ceasefire monitoring and assisting in the implementation of peace accords — should be the hallmark of the United Nations approach to resolving conflict.

United States Vice President Mike Pence who gave remarks to the Council, held up his hand to vote in favor of the resolution. The US has been arguing in favor of reforming operations and finances of UN operations.

The Council noted that the prevention of conflict remained a primary responsibility of States, and actions undertaken within the framework of conflict prevention by the Organization should support and complement conflict-prevention roles of national Governments.  It also reaffirmed the duty of all States to settle international disputes by peaceful means, and recognized that the good offices of the Secretary-General could help resolve conflict.

The Council took note of the Secretary-General’s initiatives to pursue the structural reform of the Secretariat to reinforce the United Nations peace and security architecture.  It also underlined the importance of adequate implementation and follow up of peacekeeping reform in accordance with existing mandates and procedures.

The Council requested that the Secretary-General provide a comprehensive annual briefing to the 15-nation organ on reform of United Nations peacekeeping every 12 months to be followed by a debate.  It also underscored the need to enhance the efficiency of United Nations peacekeeping by improving mission planning and increasing the number of relevant pledges of capabilities.

By other terms, the Council reiterated that regional organizations have the responsibility to secure human, financial, logistical and other resources for their organizations, and recognized that ad hoc and unpredictable financing arrangements for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council and consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter may impact the effectiveness of those peace support operations.

The Council also requested that the Secretary-General, in coordination with the African Union, should present in his next Report on Strengthening the Partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on Issues of Peace and Security in Africa, including the Work of the United Nations Office to the African Union, a reporting framework that would establish clear, consistent and predictable reporting channels, including fiduciary and mandate delivery, between the Secretariat, the Commission and the two Councils, as well as standardized reporting requirements.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Council President for September, said the 15-nation organ should send a clear message of support for peacekeeping reform efforts.  Practical steps, such as forging new partnerships, were critical as the Organization could not deal with emerging challenges to peace alone.

Vice-President Michael R. Pence of the United States also called for fundamental reforms to peacekeeping, saying that, when a mission succeeded, its work should not be prolonged, and that those not fulfilling Council mandates should be closed. He spent much of his remarks re-stating points that President Donald Trump had made in his address to the General Assembly the day before.

US VP Mike Pence and UK Prime Minister Teresa May vote in the UN Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 to adopt a resolution to reform UN Peacekeeping activities © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Speaking about current world events, he noted the issues surrounding the terrorist attacks occurring in Europe as well as the ballistic missile deployments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He added that, if the United States was forced to defend itself and its allies, it would do so “with military power that is effective and overwhelming,” repeating the points Trump had made.

Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that his country believed settling conflicts must be through political processes, including using national dialogue.  “Blue Helmets” should only be deployed with the permission of the relevant State and, given the use of intelligence units in peacekeeping, how information was controlled and maintained must be closely examined.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko was largely ignored in his pleas for UN peacekeeping assistance to stave off Russian Federation’s aggression that had caused tens of thousands of casualties and the displacement of some 1.8 million people.  He reaffirmed his request to the Council to deploy a United Nations operation and obtain a withdrawal of all foreign personnel from his country to restore its sovereignty.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko gets no acknowledgement in the UN Security Council for his plea for UN peacekeeping assistance to stave off Russian Federation aggression © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia emphasized the benefits of reforms, pointing out that research proved that peacekeeping operations not only reduced the numbers of civilians killed, but were ultimately cost effective.  The United Nations peacekeeping budget was less than 0.5 per cent of global military spending, and that figure was shared among all 193 Member States.

Several delegations, including those of Sweden and the United Kingdom, stressed the importance of the inclusion of women in peacekeeping.  Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden said that 70 years of peacekeeping had shown that the full, equal and active participation of women was vital to its success.  Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom underscored the importance of including women in peacekeeping operations, as well as providing all troops with the equipment needed.

Tarō Kōno, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, also highlighted the importance of women in peacekeeping, as well as youth, given that those most affected by conflicts were women and children.  Japan had plans to host an outreach seminar to encourage the promotion of women to mission leadership positions.

 

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa underscored the progress made through the partnership of the African Union with the United Nations, noting the importance of predictable financing for the Union that was authorized by the Council.  The Union’s Peace Fund should also be reinvigorated to spur its work on mediation and preventative diplomacy.  Wang Yi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the Council should develop a way to finance African Union operations.

Speaking before the resolution’s adoption, Secretary-General António Guterres said that peacekeeping was a highly cost-effective instrument.  The United Nations was often the sole party to act in peace operations, addressing urgent situations while contributing to long-term solutions.  However, reform was needed and that would require the Organization make several critical shifts, the first being the recognition of the primacy of politics.  Peace operations should be deployed in support of active diplomatic efforts, rather than as a substitute, he said.  In addition, if the Organization was more effective at prevention, it could reduce the danger faced by colleagues in uniform.  Peace operations, he noted, should be prepared, with better mobility, equipment and intelligence.

UK Prime Minister Teresa May and US Vice President Mike Pence share a moment at the UN Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that the Council debate provided the chance to examine financing approaches and bolster the partnership with the United Nations.  The Union’s peace operations should be supported through United Nations assessed contributions, he said, noting that sustainable financing was essential for sustainable solutions.  For that reason, judicious decisions about individual missions such as Mali and the Central African Republic should be made to ensure a fair approach to financing.

José Ramos-Horta, Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, noted that the current Secretary-General had made a commitment to prevention, as well as the “surge of diplomacy”.  That had been reflected in his insistence on a system-wide commitment to that prevention.  The three peace and security reviews of peace operations all converged on that need for conflict prevention.  The United Nations should invest in its own capacities for prevention and mediation and those core functions should be funded through the Organization’s regular budget.  Furthermore, the Council’s decisions in mandating peace operations based on such planning and reviews should always reflect the primacy of politics, he said, hoping the Council would be stronger in its insistence upon and support for the political strategies that peace operations were deployed to pursue.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as other high-level officials from Senegal, Egypt, Ukraine, Italy, Kazakhstan, France, Uruguay, Indonesia, Nepal, Norway and Lithuania.  The representative of Bolivia also spoke.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 1:33 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, thanked Ethiopia for being at the frontline of some of the most challenging peacekeeping missions of the United Nations.  The Security Council was gathered today to fortify that flagship activity.  Fifty-five peacekeeping missions had successfully completed their mandates, while four were soon to close.  A smooth transition in those missions was crucial.  Peacekeeping, he noted, was a highly cost-effective instrument.  The United Nations was often the sole party to act in peace operations, addressing urgent situations while contributing to long-term solutions.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The United Nations must make several critical shifts, he said.  It must recognize the primacy of politics so that peace operations were deployed in support of active diplomatic efforts, and not as a substitute.  If the Organization did better on prevention, it could reduce the dangerous demands on colleagues in uniforms.  Peace operations should be properly prepared, with more mobility, better equipment, enhanced training and intelligence.  They should also embody United Nations values, and sexual exploitation and abuse must be stamped out.  Member States were now certifying, prior to deployment, that none of their personnel had a prior history of misconduct, and the Organization had just appointed its first victims’ rights advocate.  The partnership with the African Union, with African States assuming important responsibilities for their continent, was key, as was working with the European Union.

Peacekeeping forces were not supposed to perform counter-terrorism tasks, he said, and complementarity between United Nations and regional organizations was key.  Clarity of mandates and adequate funding was vital to peacekeeping work.  In the coming months, the implementation of reforms would move forward, as the Organization worked to adapt peacekeeping operations to meet old and new tests alike.

MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the debate provided an opportunity to examine financing approaches and bolster the partnership with the United Nations.  Given their unique position, African Union peace operations should be supported through United Nations-assessed contributions, he said, emphasizing that sustainable solutions required sustainable financing.  Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis resulting from joint analyses of each situation, he said, adding that “our institutional credibility is at stake”.  Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter highlighted the role of regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.

With that in mind, judicious decisions about missions must be made, he said, pointing to recent examples in Mali and the Central African Republic.  Taking such an approach to financing was “not a matter of charity, but of fairness”, he said, calling on the Security Council to make decisions that encouraged the notable progress of the African Union and its member States.   Reaffirming the importance of the strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations through a resolution on the principle of financing, he said “we must cut the red tape that hampers us from achieving the desired results”.

JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, said that his report’s recommendations had been well received by Member States.  The document included recommendations from people from many walks of life, from police officers who saw war up close to community leaders and activists who lived amid conflicts.  He acknowledged the extent to which former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had embraced the recommendations, and the consideration they had been given by the General Assembly and the Security Council.  But the essential shifts advocated by the Panel remained to be achieved.

The three peace and security reviews of peace operations, peacebuilding architecture and the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, converged on the crucial need for more effective conflict prevention and for working to sustain peace before, during and after conflict, he noted.  The current Secretary-General had made a strong commitment to prevention and the necessary “surge of diplomacy”, which was reflected in his insistence on an integrated system-wide commitment to prevention.  National leaders and stakeholders had the primary responsibility to prevent conflicts and engage in mediation, and the Organization should seek to support local and regional prevention and mediation partners.  The report emphasized that the United Nations should invest in its own capacities for prevention and mediation and in its capacity to help others.  Those core functions should be funded through the Organization’s regular budget.

Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had asked the Panel to review peace operations, not peacekeeping missions alone, he noted.  That should lead to a continuum of responses and smoother transitions between different phases of missions.  The proposals for restructuring the peace and security pillar that Secretary-General Guterres had now outlined met the Panel’s two most major concerns.  The management of both peacekeeping operations and large field-based special political missions by the same department would enable situation-specific responses tailored to context and smoother transitions as those contexts evolved. The single political-operational structure under regional Assistant Secretaries-General that would link the two reconfigured departments would not only overcome duplication and rivalry, but would also ensure that peace operations were designed and managed within their regional context and in closer consultation with the relevant regional organizations.

The Council had been concerned to see reviews of individual peace operations carried out, and the report recommended a review of long-standing missions to assess their effectiveness, he said.  The Panel addressed the shortcomings of the Secretariat’s policy, analysis and strategy development processes, and stressed the need for a core capacity for strategic analysis and assessment, including in the planning and review of peace operations.  The Secretary-General’s establishment of a Strategic Planning and Monitoring Unit in his Executive Office was precisely the reform required to ensure better planning and reviews.

The Council’s decisions in mandating peace operations based on such planning and reviews should always reflect the primacy of politics, he said, and he hoped the Council would be stronger in its insistence upon and support for the political strategies that peace operations were deployed to pursue.  Both the Brahimi and Panel reports emphasized that mandates and resources, expectations and capabilities must be in alignment if peace operations were not to be set up for failure.  The emphasis placed in the report on partnerships with regional organizations, particularly the African Union, was important, and he welcomed the Joint United Nation-African Union Framework for Enhancing Partnership on Peace and Security launched in April.

The Security Council then unanimously adopted resolution 2378 (2017).

Statements

HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Council President for September, said the resolution’s adoption held particular significance to his country.  As a troop-contributing country, Ethiopia took pride in participating in peacekeeping operations and believed that the Council had a key role in strengthening peacekeeping in authorizing deployment and reviewing operations.  Yet, as much as reform was important, the Council did not have a dedicated debate on the issue until now, at a critical time, during the opening of the General Assembly session when Heads of State were present.  For its part, the Council must send a clear message of support for the Secretary-General’s reform efforts.  Enhancing partnerships was a key area, as the United Nations could not handle new and emerging peace challenges alone, so forging such relationships was a sensible approach.  To do so, practical steps must be taken through, among other things, the sharing of burdens.  “There’s a great deficit here,” he said, emphasizing that African Union-led operations could and should be partly financed through United Nations-assessed contributions.  “This is not only fair and appropriate, but in the best interest of security.”

MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that, at a time when peacekeeping operations were being targeted and sometimes faced resistance from host countries, implementing the Secretary-General’s proposal could mean that peacekeeping efforts could enter a new phase.  Recent meetings with the United Nations and the African Union could help to advance progress in that regard.  Pointing at the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the most deadly operation on the continent, he said that, despite the presence of 10,000 “Blue Helmets”, “our soldiers are in a position of insecurity”.  Given that sometimes peace had to be “enforced”, it was essential that missions were adequately equipped and staffed.  Going forward, the Council must examine efforts to strengthen the triangular dialogue between itself, the troop-contributing countries and the host Government to foster a collective trust, with close attention paid to engaging effective mediators.

ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, recalling that his country was amongst the very first to contribute to peacekeeping missions, said that such operations should not be an alternative to preventive diplomacy and mediation.  A new strategic approach must include a comprehensive, pragmatic plan and the international community must prioritize efforts to resolve conflicts, rather than “managing” them, which resulted in a lack of political solutions.  Furthermore, peacekeeping operations must not substitute the role of Governments and host State institutions, nor must they become trusteeship mechanisms.  In regards to certain Member States attempting to monopolize the mandate formulation and in the absence of consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries, he called for the Council to support the establishment of an effective and institutionalized triangular consultative mechanism among stakeholders.  While the Security Council had the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, the role of regional organizations was vital, he stressed, highlighting that of the African Union and its successful partnership with the United Nations.  The potential role of the League of Arab States could also help establish peace and stability in the Arab region.

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al Sisi addresses the UN Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

PETRO POROSHENKO, President of Ukraine, said that the United Nations must be more proactive in strengthening peacekeeping considering the growing threats to international peace and security.  Previous reviews of the sector remained under-implemented in practice, but the possibility of success increased with the proactive role of the Secretary-General and a greater focus on the protection of civilians.  Due attention must also be given to proper funding and sufficient capabilities, including aviation assets and other modern technologies, in the effort to move from traditional peacekeeping to “smart” peacekeeping.  Commending efforts to eradicate sexual abuse by United Nations staff, he noted that Ukraine had signed the compact on the issue as part of its proud long-term partnership with the Organization’s peacekeeping efforts.  Unfortunately, he stated, his country was now in need of peacekeeping services because of the Russian Federation’s aggression that had caused tens of thousands of casualties and the displacement of some 1.8 million people.  He reaffirmed his request to the Council to deploy a United Nations operation and obtain a withdrawal of all foreign personnel from his country to restore its sovereignty.

MICHAEL R. PENCE, Vice-President of the United States, said that the most important mission of the United Nations was keeping the peace.  Citing President Donald Trump’s words the previous day, he reiterated that everyone should put their country first, as Americans would always put their nation first.  But “America first” did not mean the United States alone.  He reiterated the call for fundamental reforms to United Nations peacekeeping, noting that missions should support a political solution, have the consent of the host country and have an exit strategy.  When a mission succeeded, its work must not be prolonged, and when it failed to fulfill the mandates of the Council, it must be ended.

Turning to Europe, he said the Russian Federation sought to redraw international borders by force, and he also spoke of radical terrorism attacks that had taken place in Barcelona, Paris and London.

Addressing the issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the world had seen in the last few days that country’s regime deploy ballistic weapons, which threatened the world with “unthinkable loss of human life”.  The Council had adopted two resolutions applying sanctions against the regime.  The United States would bring its full range of power to bear on Pyongyang.  “All options are on the table,” he said, noting that, if the United States was forced to defend itself and its allies, it would do so “with military power that is effective and overwhelming”.

Vice President Mike Pence called out Russia, again threatened North Korea with overwhelming military power, raised issue of terrorism and human rights in his remarks to the Security Council © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To keep peace, the United Nations needed to advance the cause of human rights, and it was no coincidence that some of the most dangerous regimes in the world were some of the worst abusers of human rights.  Some were current members of the Human Rights Council, such as Cuba and Venezuela.  He said that the Council also singled out Israel at every meeting, and had passed 70 resolutions condemning that State, while largely ignoring the largest human rights abusers.  The Council should be reformed.  Concluding, he drew notice to the “great tragedy involving Burma” that had shocked Americans and decent people, with 400,000 Rohingya people who had been forced to flee.  He called on the Council and the United Nations to take swift action to bring that crisis to an end.

STEFAN LÖFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden, honouring the memory of Zaida Catalán, a Swedish United Nations expert who had been killed on mission earlier in the year, called for the political will, courage and ability to adapt peacekeeping so that it remained relevant and adequately resourced to support political processes and solutions.  To achieve that goal, emerging threats must be addressed and the root causes of conflict, often transboundary and complex, must be tackled.  Stressing the need for stronger collaboration, he highlighted the African Union’s new partnership framework with the United Nations, which must be ensured sustainable and predictable financing, as well as clear cooperation on the ground.  The partnership between the European Union and the Organization could be further developed, as well as the trilateral relationship between all three bodies.  Peacekeeping should evolve based on evidence and lessons learned.  “Seventy years of peacekeeping has taught us about the need for the full, equal and active participation of women,” he said, emphasizing his country’s efforts towards that aim.  Noting that Sweden’s largest current force contribution was to MINUSMA, he underscored the need to work “smartly” and to pool resources.  Recalling Dag Hammarskjöld, who had also lost his life serving the United Nations, he urged national leaders and members of the Council to choose, invest in and deliver peace.

PAOLO GENTILONI, Prime Minister of Italy, said the “Sustaining Peace” agenda required a holistic approach, a notion that the Secretary-General’s proposals had pushed further.  Concrete actions must now effectively implement such an approach, he said, outlining Italy’s strategy.  As a troop-contributing country, Italy had provided assistance and training based on the principle of zero tolerance for sexual abuse and exploitation.  The Council had already acknowledged the role of regional organizations in providing local solutions to local problems, he said, noting the efforts of the Group of Five for the Sahel (Sahel G-5) joint force.  Highlighting other efforts, including initiatives to protect cultural heritage, he said budgetary and financial support were essential to ensuring success for long-term solutions.  Although not an easy task, it was the Council’s duty, as mentioned in the United Nations Charter.

THERESA MAY, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said the Council had a responsibility, and for peacekeepers to succeed, a political approach was needed to address conflict situations.  But, politics did not end with a peacekeeping mission on the ground, and the Council must be willing and capable to discharge its duty.  Given that the organ’s response to the situation in South Sudan was wanting, it should examine its own actions with a view to ensuring better planning and stronger performance by peacekeepers on the ground.  Effective mission planning depended on clear mandates built on a shared understanding of the situation.  More pledges were needed, but they must transform into troops on the ground, she said, emphasizing that, as peacekeeping was being reformed and adjusted, the right troops must be on hand for relevant deployment.  Underlining the importance of including women in peacekeeping operations, providing all troops with necessary equipment and implementing the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, she welcomed further discussions on the resolution, regarding, among other things, finding a creative solution for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  “Together we can deliver better peacekeeping and this resolution was an important step,” she said.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Teresa May addresses the Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WANG YI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said United Nations peacekeeping operations were facing new challenges and the principles of the United Nations Charter should form the cornerstone of reform efforts.  The pursuit of political settlements should remain central to peacekeeping initiatives, as enshrined in the Charter.  The reform should be supported by United Nations partners, fully leverage the role of regional and subregional organizations and help to foster a sustainable security environment on the ground.  In recent years, some African countries had faced security challenges and the international community must support those States to find solutions.  In addition, support for capacity-building must be strengthened, including establishing permanent and rapid-response forces.  Financial support must also be scaled up, he said, calling on the Council to come up with a method to finance African Union operations.  As a major troop-contributing country and financial contributor, China had dispatched thousands of personnel, formed an 8,000-strong standby force, provided training to numerous peacekeepers and deployed helicopters to areas in need.  Peace was hard to make and harder to keep, he said, pledging support for United Nations peacekeeping operations and the African Union.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, fully supported the new trajectory for peacekeeping, including structural changes as well as a strengthened emphasis on prevention.  Reforms must, he commented, uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity while recognizing the obligation of States to fulfil their responsibility for the protection of civilians.  He affirmed the importance of clear and achievable mandates that moved away from mere military arrangements, with more coherent programmes, new partnerships and cooperation between all organs of the United Nations system and other stakeholders.  Cooperation with regional partners should be strengthened and accountability by all United Nations staff must be ensured.  The latest technologies should be employed judiciously and in accordance with legal requirements.  The concerns of youth and the participation of women must be integrated into all endeavours.  Affirming his country’s commitment to peacekeeping as an emerging troop contributor, he stated that Kazakhstan would continue to increase preparedness training as it strove to become a regional centre for such activities.

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said that, in peacekeeping, results were needed to respond to crises, as were the means to do so, with the two-fold requirement being the Council’s unique responsibility.  Efforts must push for more effective peacekeeping and the recognition of when to end a mission.  In South Sudan, for instance, a civil war and humanitarian crisis was ongoing, while in Mali, the spread of terrorist groups made it the deadliest peacekeeping mission.  But, expectations in those and some other missions must be managed.  Efforts must be made to help States boost their capacity-building and security sector reform.  States must be engaged in their own security, as could be seen in initiatives undertaken by the Sahel G-5 States.  More broadly, tools must be developed to address emerging challenges such as terrorism and all parties must have coordinated and concerted responses to such threats.  The United Nations and the African Union were helping to provide meaningful responses to crises on the continent, he said, noting the importance of settling discussions on financing.  While some States were in disagreement over the financing of African Union missions, he said “that is the future”.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said peacekeeping needed to be tailored to the situation on the ground.  Amid reform efforts and the crafting of appropriate approaches, the Russian Federation believed settling conflicts must be through political processes, including using national dialogue.  The primary principle of peacekeepers must be respected and Blue Helmets should be deployed only with permission of the relevant State.  Mandates that included the use of force must thoroughly be calibrated to specific situations.  Given the recent trend of the Secretariat towards using intelligence units in peacekeeping, he said relevant conditions must be met and how information was controlled and maintained must be closely examined, as it would be inadmissible to loosely interpret guidelines in that regard.  A key factor in ensuring international peace and security was a genuine partnership, he said, welcoming the role of regional organizations.  Highlighting the important work done by the African Union, he said that only proactive efforts by Africans themselves would lead to success solutions to crises on their continent.  Support was needed to help African States to deal with situations such as the flood of weapons spilling from Libya into Mali and neighbouring States, and terrorist groups’ activities in Somalia and other countries.  Turning to another concern, he said a United Nations mission in south-eastern Ukraine could be an effective tool to implementing the Minsk agreements.

TARŌ KŌNO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, noted that his country had dispatched more than 12,500 personnel over the past 25 years to 27 missions, including Cambodia, Golan Heights, Timor-Leste and Haiti.  Recently, Japan’s engineering units had been deployed to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), repairing approximately 260 kilometres of road and developing 500,000 square meters of land.  In regards to the gap between field requirements and peacekeepers’ capability and equipment, his country had been a strong partner in developing the United Nations Project for African Rapid Deployment of Engineering Capabilities in Kenya since 2015.  He also stressed the importance of women in peacekeeping, as well as the human resource development of youth.  Those affected and hurt most from conflicts were women and children.  Women peacekeepers could provide appropriate support and address specific needs.  In that regard, Japan would be hosting an outreach seminar to promote more senior women to be appointed to mission leadership positions.

ENRIQUE LOEDEL, Vice-Minister for Political Affairs of Uruguay, said that, as a troop-contributing State, his country supported the reform process to boost efficiency and effectiveness in fulfilling mandates.  Peacekeeping was a critical and cost-effective tool, and while progress had been made in implementing the reports of the Panel and of the Secretary-General, the success of a peace operation largely depended on responsibility-sharing among stakeholders.  The Council must remain united when discussing policy strategies in engaging actors to ensure the success of lasting solutions.  While improvements had been made, they were not enough.  The Council was duty-bound to acquire the concerned State’s approval for missions.  Once a mission was launched, training was key to ensuring that the entire mandate could be fulfilled.  Underlining the Kigali Principles, he said civilian protection was a critical component of missions.  Budget and staff cuts should only be done with a thorough examination of the mandate, he said, emphasizing the role of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) in that regard.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) highlighted several reform recommendations, including the Secretary-General’s proposal for a focus on prevention and new ways of planning.  Dialogue, negotiation and the peaceful settlement of conflicts were essential tools, with approaches designed on a case‑by‑case basis that promoted national ownership of mandates.  To prevent conflicts, strengthening dialogue and strategizing with regional organization were critical, as could be seen in cases of cooperation with the United Nations and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.  Predictable and flexible financing for peacekeeping efforts was also essential, framed by clear mandates and adequately equipped, staffed and trained missions.  Regarding authorizing peace missions with the United Nations and the African Union, financing must be jointly discussed and undertaken as needed.  In response to his counterpart from the United States, he said certain issues that had been discussed in the General Assembly had been brought into the Security Council Chamber today, including the Human Rights Council.  The Non-Aligned Movement, representing two thirds of the Organization’s membership, had declared today their concerns about unilateral pressure, sanctions and the threat of or the use of force against sovereign States in contravention of the United Nations Charter.  Highlighting many issues of concern in that regard, he called on the United States to, among other things, end its decades-long blockade of Cuba and provide economic compensation.

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, noting significant advances in the peacekeeping partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, stressed the importance of predictable, flexible and sustainable financing for Union operations authorized by the Security Council.  As the United Nations had primary responsibility for international peace and security, it was obligated to provide assessed contributions for such support operations, he stressed.  The Council should explore implementation of each of the four financing model options that had been proposed in that vein on a case-by-case basis.  It should then apply lessons learned as the process proceeded.  In addition, he reiterated commitment to the revitalization of the African Union Peace Fund and support to the three windows of activity to be financed by it, with an emphasis on mediation and preventive diplomacy.  By way of conclusion, he affirmed shared responsibility for bringing about peace, stability and prosperity in line with the Union’s Agenda 2063 and its programme on Silencing the Guns by 2020.

KERSTI KALJULAID, President of Estonia, while calling for peacekeeping missions to have tangible target and exit strategies, urged that operations have built-in flexibility because of inevitable volatile circumstances.  Listening to those in the field, in particular mission commanders, and applying their suggestions, guaranteed automatic adaptions to the changes on the ground.  Partnership with regional organizations, host Governments and local communities was also essential to achieving sustainable peace.  As well, peacekeeping operations needed to be complemented with efforts to improve living conditions of affected populations, including the implementation of visible projects that created jobs and delivered basic social services in the post-conflict phase.  A thorough and broad understanding of conflicts and their root causes were core to sustainable peace, she said, lamenting that MINUSMA would be left without its intelligence unit, which provided decision makers on all levels a unique understanding of the matters at hand.  Research showed that peacekeeping reduced the number of civilians killed.  Such operations were cost-effective, she pointed out, adding that the United Nations peacekeeping budget was less than 0.5 per cent of global military spending and was shared among all 193 Member States.

JUSUF KALLA, Vice-President of Indonesia, supported reform of United Nations peacekeeping considering his country’s long-standing support to the endeavour.  For the effort to succeed, collective and strong political support was needed, he said.  Cooperation between all actors was crucial.  Guidelines must be translated into action.  Preventive diplomacy, mediation and peacebuilding must remain interlinked.  Reform, he stressed, must reflect the actual needs of peacekeepers on the ground, and training was critical.  His country stood ready to contribute in that area and to promote the role of women, he added, stating that the Indonesian Peacekeeping Centre had trained personnel from 30 countries in the past three years.  Describing the contributions of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he urged stronger United Nations engagement with regional organizations.  Indonesia was running for a seat on the Council for the period 2019‑2020 to help create a global ecosystem of peace and stability that encompassed synergy between the peace and development agendas and to strengthen the fight against violent extremism.

KRISHNA BAHADUR MAHARA, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, stressed that impartiality and accountability were core to the success of peacekeeping operations.  His country had participated in peacekeeping missions for over 60 years and was the sixth largest troop contributor, often deployed in the most difficult regions.  While the reform of peacekeeping was critical, such changes should be continuous and not a one-time event.  Political will and participation of all stakeholders was necessary to producing the result “we all want”.  Furthermore, capacity-building should be backed up with resources.  To implement the reforms being called for, the Secretary-General, Security Council, Secretariat and troop-contributing countries should be working together right from the planning page.  “Lets us all move and make peacekeeping successful”, he said, reaffirming Nepal’s commitment to those reforms.

ERNA SOLBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, speaking for the Group of Friends of the High-level Panel (Ethiopia and Republic of Korea), underscored that 65 million people had been displaced in recent times, the highest ever recorded.  The Panel was a milestone towards making peace operations more effective.  There were three areas in which the Security Council could engage.  First, the search for political solutions should guide all peace operations.  Differences must be overcome.  Only then could there be genuine engagement.  No outside engagement could substitute national and local leaders themselves.  Secondly, in regards to the rapid changes around the world, there needed to be a strong global peace led by the United Nations working with regional and subregional organizations, as recently illustrated by the recent African Union and United Nations framework.  She also emphasized there could be no lasting peace in the Sahel without G-5 forces being adequately resourced.  Lastly, she underscored the criticalness of effective delivery in the field, including active engagement with local communities, not the least, women.  Stating she was greatly encouraged by the Secretary-General’s commitment to overhaul management systems, she said that the international community could only go forward “by working together with what unites us rather than what divides us”.

LINAS ANTANAS LINKEVIČIUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that, as a troop-contributor, his country had a great interest in making United Nations peacekeeping more efficient and conformant with current needs.  Protection of civilians must remain a key priority and there must be zero tolerance of sexual abuse by the Organization’s personnel, as spelled out by the compact already signed by his country.  In addition, women’s equal participation in all peacemaking processes must be further strengthened, and the deployment of women’s protection advisers and other gender experts should be further expanded.  Safety and security of all United Nations personnel must remain a high priority, and should be enhanced by new technologies when applicable.  He called upon Member States to unite around the complete reform initiative of the Secretary-General and fully utilize the current momentum to make the necessary advances in United Nations peacekeeping.

Iran Warns that Pullback from Nuclear Agreement by ‘Rogue Newcomers’ Would Undermine Trust in US

 

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said, “it would be a pity if that agreement was destroyed by ‘rogue newcomers to the world of politics’.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

A day after the President of the United States characterized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that froze Iran’s nuclear weapons program as an “embarrassment” to the United States in an address to the Assembly, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran came back with a vigorous, if the more statesmanlike reply, saying it would be a pity if that agreement was destroyed by “rogue newcomers to the world of politics”.  Iran would not be the first country to violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he declared, adding that his country would nevertheless “respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party” but violating the commitments would destroy the credibility and undermine international confidence in any agreement the United States made.

“I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement,” he stated, “but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party. It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by ‘rogue’ newcomers to the world of politics: the world will have lost a great opportunity. But such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran’s course of progress and advancement. By violating its international commitments, the new US administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it, or accepting its word or promise.”

He continued, “The ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric, filled with ridiculously baseless allegations, that was uttered before this august body yesterday, was not only unfit to be heard at the United Nations – which was established to promote peace and respect between nations – but indeed contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror.”

“We were not deceived, nor did we cheat or deceive anyone,” he said, adding that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action could become a model for global interactions based on mutual constructive engagement.

US President Donald Trump said that he would reveal his decision on whether to recertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement next week.

In a statement that basically follows Trump’s own “sovereignty” doctrine, Rouhani declared, ”I wish to underscore here that the defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including our missiles, are solely defensive deterrents for the maintenance of regional peace and stability and the prevention of adventurist tendencies of irrational aspirants. We cannot forget that civilians in many of our cities became the targets of long-range missile attacks by Sad dam Hussein during his 8-year war of aggression against us. We will never allow our people to become victims of such catastrophic delusions again.”

He charged, “Instability and extremist violence have only been ex-acerbated in our region through the military interventions of extra-regional actors-the same powers that try to sell ever more of their deadly weapons to other states by accusing Iran of fomenting instability. I want to emphasize that foreign intervention and the imposition of alien wishes on the people of the region will only widen and deepen the crises in our region. The crises in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain do not have military solutions and can only be resolved through cessation of hostilities, and the acceptance of the will and wishes of the populaces.

“The Iranian nation is resolutely determined to build a free and advanced Iran and participate in the development of a secure and stable region based on ethics and respect for international law. In this endeavor, we welcome the participation and cooperation of all investors, intellectuals and innovators from across the globe. From this global podium, and as the representative of the people of Iran – who are world-famous for their hospitality – I invite all those who seek peace, security and progress through partnership and cooperation among nations to visit Iran and join us in building this future of hope.

“If we truly believe in our collective decision four years ago here in this General Assembly to make a WAVE – a World Against Violence and Extremism – we can turn the discourse of imposition, unilateralism, intimidation and war into the logic of dialogue, synergy and peace so that moderation can become the dominant voice across the globe.”

________

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Trump Stumps for War, America First Foreign Policy, in address to United Nations General Assembly

US President Donald Trump, in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly, lays out his “America First” foreign doctrine, threatening to annihilate North Korea, take action against Venezuela, end the Iran Nuclear agreement, overturn trade agreements © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

United Nations delegates to the 72nd General Assembly sat in stunned silence for most of Donald Trump’s speech in which he threatened to destroy North Korea, end the Iran nuclear agreement, renew sanctions on Cuba, threatened military action in Venezuela, and used trade agreements as ransom.

The speech, sounding more like a rehash of the dystopian vision he laid out in his Inaugural Address (“Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell”) and pitched more to his base than a world audience and sounding the themes more appropriate for his campaign rallies than the United Nations General Assembly, laid out the Trump doctrine: America First. Indeed, the only plaudits for the speech came from his Trump reelection committee: “President Trump’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly today was a fresh reminder of his America First principles that clearly comprise his foreign policy agenda.”

Trump came to a global body, founded out of the ashes of World War II which ended in a nuclear holocaust, to try to end war and violent conflict through peaceful discussion, cooperation and collaboration, but Trump was having none of it.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. “

He boasted of the US military might (a common theme), and spoke about the privilege of dying as a patriot, for love of country.

But he showed that his entire approach was about cash – chiding the UN for what it spends, suggesting that the US spends out of proportion (not to the size of the economy), threatening to upend trade pacts. “We are guided by outcomes, not ideology.”

The most often used word, “sovereignty” is the pillar for his America First doctrine – except that sovereignty is the justification for war, for invasion, for imperialism and exploitation. It is the very antithesis of the United Nations which depends upon countries coming to mutual consensus. It is why Trump never mentioned climate change – a top priority for this General Assembly – and the US was a no-show at the Climate conference convened by French President Macron.

“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.”

The speech began with boasting and self-congratulations, then veered to take pot-shots at Obama (the Iran nuclear agreement was embarrassing, he said), and ended with “God bless America.”

Here is the speech, highlighted and annotated.Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

TO THE 72ND SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

United Nations

New York, New York

 

 

10:04 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates:  Welcome to New York.  It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid.  The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

(What does that mean, “more determined than ever before?. No acknowledgement of climate change or the need for climate action, or reference to his plan to withdraw or renegotiate the Paris Climate Accord.)

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th.

(All about Trump – a subtle attack on Obama Administration and a boast from him, in a world organization).

The stock market is at an all-time high — a record.  Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever beforeCompanies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.  And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. 

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been.  For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly.  Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity.  Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value.  Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet.  Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity. 

 Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril.  It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future.  It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe.  Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free.  As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations.  The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past.  Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government.  But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties:  to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.  This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny.  And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

 In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.  This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example.  We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words.  They are:  “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history.  In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign.  I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

 (Famous words spoken by every other dictator)

 In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty.  Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.  (Applause.)

(Doesn’t this mean that if a country’s self-interest is in invading another country, like Ukraine, that’s okay? That a justification for war, if your country doesn’t have enough resources for its people, to just take it from someone else? Doesn’t it mean that a country doesn’t cooperate on climate, on alleviating disease and famine because it is n’t in self-interest?)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

 (Oh)

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies.  But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return.  As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

 (Everything is transactional; dollars and self-interest)

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

US delegation: US Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter.  Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall.  America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia.

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.

(Not true; and US did impose its concept of democracy and capitalism on everyone else, constrained only by the Soviet Union)

 Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope.  We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.  We are guided by outcomes, not ideology.  We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

(Transactional; cash on demand, not ideology or values.)

That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room.  It is a question we cannot escape or avoid.  We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face.  Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent.  We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures. We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.  We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.  And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.  They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

 If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.  When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.  It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later.  We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport.  We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. 

 It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.  No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.  The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.  That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for.  Let’s see how they do.

Japan’s delegation to the United Nations 72 General Assembly, listening to Trump’s speech; Japan is the only country to have suffered effects of the atomic bomb and now has been intimidated by North Korean missiles © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.  The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council.  Thank you to all involved.

But we must do much more.  It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

We face this decision not only in North Korea.  It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

 The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.  It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.  The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.  This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.  (Applause.)

The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.  Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.

(An attack on Obama)

© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.  It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained.  And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.  This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice.  Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror?  Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?

The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations.  We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

(A shout-out to Saudi Arabia, where he boasted of the big military armaments deal)

The Saudi Arabia delegation to the United Nations 72 General Assembly, listening to Trump’s speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology.  We must drive them out of our nations.  It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

(Can’t keep himself from using Trumpisms like “loser” terrorists, “beautiful”, “believe me” and “Rocket Man” for Kim Jong-un)

 Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan.  From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.

I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.  In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS.  In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined.

(Another opportunity for undeserved self-congratulations since these campaigns were underway since Obama)

We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.  The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assadincluding the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person.  No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread.  That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict.

The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort.

(Thanks to Obama and previous presidents; Republicans are cutting out foreign aid and shrinking the State Department and diplomacy by 30%, while spending $700 billion on military)

We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.  Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible.  This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.  We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

 (What does he mean? Where are the facts to justify statement? A report was squashed by White House because it found that immigrants produced a $63 billion net “profit” for the US treasury)

US President Donald Trump, in his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes.  The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa.  The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen. 

(Not if Trump and the Republican Congress can help it)

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

(All of which Trump and Republicans would cut out, not to mention denying funds to any international group that has anything to do with providing family planning- belated applause comes here)

Delegates at the United Nations 72 General Assembly, listening to Trump’s speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We also thank — (applause) — we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity.  Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.

 (Cash on demand, again)

 In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them.  For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

 The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more.  In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes.  The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

 (US has 5% of world’s population but generates 25% of global-warming carbon emissions, and accounts for 25% of global economy; contributions to the United Nations are largely based on economy).

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.  But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

Secretary-General António Guterres and Miroslav Lajčák (center), President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly listen as Trump delivers his speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.  In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.  Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.  My administration recently announced that we will not

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.  This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.  To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

Venezuela’s delegation listening to Trump’s speech © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing.  Their democratic institutions are being destroyed.  This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal.  That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.  I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable.  We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

(Threatens Venezuela; how does this not contradict his statements about sovereignty)

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today.  Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

 (Is he again using the threat of undermining trade deals to force cooperation with US policy?)

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis.  We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  (Applause.)  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.  Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.  Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.  All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.

(Call to respect sovereignty seems to contradict his equivocation of socialism with brutal dictatorship that must be eliminated)

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

 (Threatens trade deals. The worst of capitalism)

For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success.  But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared.  Others gamed the system and broke the rules.  And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again. 

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government:  the duty of our citizens.  This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.

 (Trump practices the Golden Rule: he who has he gold makes the rules.)

If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the “independent strength of its members.”  If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations — nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to  befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.

(Trump’s love affair with all things military. He loves the sacrifice that others make, that life-death control a Great Leader has over the population.)

US President Donald Trump addresses United Nations 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved.

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

(He comes to the UN, a body that works for peaceful resolution to conflicts, and all he talks about is war, nobility of dying for one’s country. Harbinger?)

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

 (What does he actually refer to here, when he boasts about spending $700 billion on military, extols the glories of dying for one’s country.)

We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats — we can’t do it.  We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one:  Are we still patriots?  Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures?  Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

 (This is a call to war)

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced.  The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation.  We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend.  From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

 Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

 History is asking us whether we are up to the task.  Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion.  We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

Our hope is a word and world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all:  a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.

This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world: We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the nations of the world.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END                10:46 A.M. EDT

UN Ambassador Haley: Trump at United Nations General Assembly will be a Show of Strength by the US

Donald Trump will deliver his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday morning. Ambassador Haley, who said she has seen his speech, said, “I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the U.S. being very strong in the end.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

People around the world are holding their collective breath as to what Donald Trump will do when he comes to the United Nations for the 72nd General Assembly. Will he be like a bull in a china shop, or will he stick to the speech written for him on the teleprompter? At a press briefing at the White House September 15, the National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley outlined what is supposed to happen, and the policies and positions Trump will proclaim. Here is a highlighted transcript – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Good afternoon, everyone.  I also want to begin by acknowledging the horrific attacks in Europe [London, England where an improvised explosive was set off in the underground during rush hour and in  Burgundy, France where a counterterrorism soldier was attacked].  The United States, of course, stands in solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom and France.  We will continue to work tirelessly with our partners to prevent attacks.  And, of course, the United States remains committed to defeating terrorist organizations, as well as their evil ideology.

The President has been unambiguous here, energizing our defeat-ISIS campaign, and calling on Muslim-majority nations to combat extremism and to end financing of terrorist organizations.  We will defend our people and our values against these cowardly attacks, and we will always stand with countries around the world to do the same.

Now, I want to turn to President Trump’s trip next week to attend the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.  The President’s consistent message across all of his engagements throughout the week will emphasize three goals common to all nations who will be gathered there:  First, to promote peace.  Second, to promote prosperity.  And third, to uphold sovereignty and accountability. 

A peaceful world depends on the contributions of all nations.  We must share responsibility for international security, while each country protects the security of its own people.

Prosperity is also a shared responsibility.  The President looks forward to furthering economic cooperation, investment opportunities, and new business ties with other governments and businesses across the world.  As always, this administration’s ironclad commitment to free, fair, and reciprocal trade and access to markets will be the bedrock of our economic talks.

Sovereignty and accountability are the essential foundations of peace and prosperity.  America respects the sovereignty of other countries, expects other nations to do the same, and urges all governments to be accountable to their citizens.  That accountability is broken down in places such as Venezuela and Syria.  And we also see, today, revisionist powers who are threatening the sovereignty in the greater Middle East, Eastern and Southern Europe, and in East Asia.

Now, let me quickly run through the President’s schedule.  On Monday, the President will join senior U.N. leadership and the leaders of more than 120 other nations to discuss reforming the institution.  The President will express support for Secretary General Guterres’s reform effortsThe United Nations, of course, holds tremendous potential to realize its founding ideals, but only if it’s run more efficiently and effectively.

That day, the President will also meet with the leaders of France and Israel, two of America’s closest allies.  While their conversations will be wide-ranging, we expect that Iran’s destabilizing behavior, including its violation of the sovereignty of nations across the Middle East, to be a major focus.

Monday evening, the President will host a working dinner with Latin American leaders.  He’s looking forward to discussing the crisis in Venezuela, as well as our increasingly strong economic ties, shared goals for elevating the prosperity of our peoples, and the extraordinary success of likeminded Latin American nations in recent decades.

The President’s Tuesday morning speech to the General Assembly will emphasize the need for states to promote peace and prosperity, while upholding sovereignty and accountability as indispensable foundations of international order.  He will urge all states to come together to address grave dangers that threaten us all.  If nations meet these challenges, immense opportunity lies before us. 

Later that day, the President will have lunch with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, meet with this year’s General Assembly President, Mr. Miroslav Lajčák of Slovakia, and meet with the Emir of Qatar.  In the evening, he will host a traditional diplomatic reception.

On Wednesday, the President will meet with the leaders of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the United Kingdom, and Egypt.  He will host a working luncheon with African leaders to discuss how the United States can help African nations develop their economies, address urgent challenges, and strengthen security relationships and economic relationships between our nations. 

Finally, on Thursday, the President will meet with the leaders of Turkey, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.  The latter two countries in particular have suffered direct and persistent attacks on their sovereignty in recent years.

He will also host a lunch with the leaders of South Korea and Japan.  As Kim Jong-un’s most recent missile launch demonstrates, North Korea remains one of the world’s most urgent and dangerous security problems.  It is vital that all nations work together to do our utmost to solve that problem.

With that, I’ll turn it over to Ambassador Haley.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Thank you very much.  And I will tell you that next week is not going to be short on topics.  I think, first of all, we can all say it is a new day at the U.N.  The U.N. has shifted over the past several months.  It’s not just about talking, it’s about action.

The members are starting to get used to act, whether it’s Security Council resolutions, whether it’s with U.N. reform, whether it’s with peacekeeping.  We’re starting to see a lot of changes at the U.N.  They are all anxious to see what the U.S. delegation looks like next week, and I think they will be heavily impressed with the fact that we have the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and many members of the National Security Council coming to really show the U.S. strength that we have in the world.

And I think — obviously this will be the first time that the President has addressed the General Assembly.  They are all very anxious to hear what he has to say.  And I think that he will make quite an impact in terms of all of the issues that we’re dealing with.

We have three events that will be extremely important.  First, the President will highlight the U.N. reform event.  It is very, very important.  We’ve got a massive reform package being led by the Secretary General that really streamlines not just the processes, but also the budget as it goes forward, and makes the U.N. much more effective.  We basically have the President headlining a U.N. reform effort, which would really support the Secretary General.  But the impressive part is, we asked other countries to sign on to their support of reform, and 120 countries have signed on and will be in attendance.  That’s a miraculous number.

The Vice President will be doing two very important briefings.  He’s going to do one on Human Rights Council.  Now more than ever, human rights matters.  We say all the time that if the government doesn’t take care of its people, bad things will happen.  And I think we’re seeing that in multiple places, and that’s all the reason why the Human Rights Council really needs to be effective.  We have offered reform.  I think the Vice President will go in and not only support the reform, but talk about why it’s needed and the areas that are really needing to be addressed when it comes to human rights.

The second one he’s going to do is on peacekeeping.  And in the last several months, we have taken every peacekeeping mandate and changed it.  Basically, we have saved half a billion dollars in peacekeeping.  But before anyone thinks that’s a travesty, basically the way they handled peacekeeping in the past was, if there was a challenged area they would throw more troops at it.  But they didn’t see if the troops were trained or give them the equipment to do their job.  Now we’re going towards the political solution, making sure the troops are trained and armed, making sure that we’re more effective.  So it’s smarter and it cut half a billion, and in some cases we’re having to increase, and in some cases we’re having to decrease. 

So having the Vice President talk about the importance of the peacekeeping being effective is going to be very important.

And then, as I said, there are no shortage of issues, with North Korea being front and center.  Iran will be an issue.  Syria will certainly be talked about.  Terrorism efforts and how we counter that is a huge topic on what we’re dealing with.  And obviously the humanitarian issues that we face around the world.

So, with that, I think the General Assembly is going to be quite active next week, and I think the U.S. is going to be very strong next week.  And we look forward to a very good week.

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Gentleman in the center.

Q    Thank you, General.  My question is about North Korea, which is perhaps the biggest foreign policy challenge for President Trump right now.  About a month ago, the President issued a threat to North Korea; he warned of “fire and fury.”  And as you know, Ambassador, at the U.N. Security Council you’ve imposed tougher sanctions on North Korea.  Both of these efforts do not seem to be changing their behavior.  Is it time for the U.S. to change its approach to North Korea?  Is that something that you’re contemplating?  And, General, if you could weigh on this well.  I appreciate it.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think what was really important with North Korea was that we try and push through as many diplomatic options as we have.  If you look at the resolutions that have passed in the last month, the two of them, they cut 30 percent of the oil.  They banned all the laborers.  They banned 90 percent of the exports.  They banned joint ventures.  We’ve basically taken and, in the words of North Korea, we have strangled their economic situation at this point.  That’s going to take a little bit of time, but it has already started to take effect.

What we are seeing is they continue to be provocative, they continue to be reckless.  And at that point, there’s not a whole lot the Security Council is going to be able to do from here when you’ve cut 90 percent of the trade and 30 percent of the oil. 

So, having said that, I have no problem kicking it to General Mattis, because I think he has plenty of options.

Q    General, can you weigh on that too?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I’d just emphasize the point that Ambassador Haley made.  These sanctions are just now taking effect.  What’s really important is rigorous enforcement of those sanctions so that we can really let the economic actions and diplomacy progress as best we can.  But I think we ought to make clear what’s different about this approach is, is that we’re out of time, right?  As Ambassador Haley said before, we’ve been kicking the can down the road, and we’re out of road.

And so for those who have said and have been commenting about the lack of a military option, there is a military option.  Now, it’s not what we would prefer to do, so what we have to do is call on all nations, call on everyone to do everything we can to address this global problem short of war.

So that is implementing now these significant sanctions that have just now gone into place, and it is convincing everyone to do everything that they can and that it’s in their interest to do it.

What’s different, I think, about this approach to North Korea is worth noting.  First of all, there is consensus among all key nations that denuclearization of the Peninsula is the only acceptable objective. 

     The second thing is, this is not an issue between the United States and North Korea.  This is an issue between the world and North Korea.

And the third recognition is, there is a lot that we can about it together.  And so we need time, obviously, for any strategy to work.  It is a sound approach to a very difficult problem, and we’ll see if it succeeds.

Q    Ambassador Haley, a conference call preceded your briefing here.  Jonathan Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that next week’s UNGA will be as much the world taking measure of the United States as it is the U.S. speaking to the world.  He went on to say that the UNGA, because of its very quick meetings, is sort of like speed dating from hell, and that it’s a very sophisticated dance that neither Secretary of State Tillerson or the President have a particularly strong point on.  What would you say to people who are wondering how the U.S. will do at next week’s UNGA?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think there’s a lot of interest in how the U.S. is going to do, and they’re going to find out we are going to be solid, we’re going to be strong. 

If you look at all of the meetings that the national security team has, these are important meetings.  These aren’t just wasting time.  This is going to talk about terrorism; this is going to talk about the issues in North Korea; this is going to talk about the issue in Burma and what we’re dealing with there; Venezuela — all of these issues.  No one is going to grip and grin.  The United States is going to work.

And I think with all of the challenges around the world, I think the international community is going to see that.  This is a time to be serious, and it’s a time for us to talk out these challenges and make sure there’s action that follows it.

Q    One of the big questions from some of the people outside of this room and other countries is, in addition to what we do militarily is the humanitarian effort.  And we’ve been criticized for not being involved in the humanitarian effort too much, especially by the third world.  So when you go to New York, in addition to addressing the security measures, how are you going to address the criticism about the U.S. not leading humanitarian efforts?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  We actually have led humanitarian efforts and continue to.  Human rights, in general, is very important.  That’s something we’ve been loud on, which is the fact that you have to protect human rights. 

But the humanitarian side of what we’re seeing in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo; what we’re seeing with the Syrian refugees that are in Turkey and Jordan; the fact that we are trying to deal with Burma and find out ways that we can get humanitarian access in there.  Yemen is something that the United States has been working very closely with the Saudis on and the U.N. to try and make sure we get humanitarian access.

So we have been as active and vocal and leading the charge on humanitarian access in all of these areas, and we are making a difference.  I think just in Syria, we’ve had over $3 billion that we’ve given, in terms of helping that situation.  Venezuela, you saw what we did with the sanctions, but we’re making sure they get that.  Right now in Burma, we are taking that very seriously, and that’s of utmost importance that we get front and center on that one.

Q    I have a question first to General McMaster before I get to one on North Korea for you.  General, you mentioned the, obviously, terror incident overseas in London.  The President tweeted this morning that it was “sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard.”  You may have seen Prime Minister may say it was “not helpful for people to speculate.”  Did the President share information that he wasn’t supposed to?  And if not, why was he speculating?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I think what the President was communicating is that, obviously, all of our law enforcement efforts are focused on this terrorist threat for years.  Scotland Yard has been a leader, as our FBI has been a leader.

So I think if there was a terrorist attack here, God forbid, that we would say that they were in the sights of the FBI.  So I think he didn’t mean anything beyond that.

Q    I’m sorry, I’m not clear.  Meaning he was saying generally terrorists are a focus for Scotland Yard, or was he saying in this specific incident, Scotland Yard knew potentially this was coming?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I think he means generally that this kind of activity is what we’re trying to prevent.  And so these organizations that are responsible for it, whatever comes out of this investigation, that remains to be seen.  It is likely that law enforcement had been working on that problem set.

Q    And did that come up in the call with Prime Minister May?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I was not on that call this morning.

Q    Ambassador, to you, on North Korea.  Obviously there’s more U.N. Security Council action that could be taken.  Are you at all hopeful that there is any chance for a full oil embargo as this administration had wanted?  Or at what point — President Trump himself said this was a small step, the last U.N. Security Council vote.  I think disagreeing with you, but Secretary Tillerson agreed with him that it seemed to have been a small step.  So at what point does this administration take a bigger step and, for example, put tougher sanctions on China in order to put pressure on North Korea?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Well I think, first of all, let’s talk about what a big sanctions resolution this was.  The first one was a billion dollars.  The second one was $1.3 billion, not counting the 30 percent decrease in oil.  We did a 55 — and just imagine if this happened to the United States — a 55 percent reduction in diesel and oil.  Overall ban of natural gas, overall ban of any substitutes; overall ban of textiles; stopping the labor program, which we call as modern-day slavery; stopping all joint ventures so foreign investment goes in there.

We have cut off now 90 percent of trade going into North Korea, and they are saying that this was strangling.  So whether some believe it’s big or small, I think what the President is saying is this is just the beginning of what we can do.

So it’s going to be — by the time we get going on this, if we have to go further, this is going to look small compared to what we do.

But no, it was a massive sanctions bill, and I think the fact that we had a 15-0 record and you have China onboard and Russia onboard, I think that’s very important.  We’ve cut 30 percent of the oil.  Is there more you can do?  There’s always more you can do, but then you get into the humanitarian aspect of it, which is at what point are you going and actually hurting down to the people of North Korea.  But we will always explore all options that we have. 

Yes, in the red.

Q   Thank you, Ambassador.  You said that Syria is going to be on the agenda.  As you know, today Turkey, Russia, and Iran agreed to deploy 1,500 monitors in the Idlib province.  Does that leave the U.S. behind?  And what exactly the focus will be when you talk about Syria at the U.N. next week?

And, General, if I can, you said that the meeting between the President and Prime Minister Netanyahu will talk about Iran.  How much of the peace process with the Palestinians will take place in that meeting?  Thank you.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think the efforts in Syria have been remarkable — both Syria and Iraq.  To see how we have really bulldozed through ISIS in the way that we have shows how strong the U.S. had been in partnership with them, but I think we’re also looking at post-ISIS — what does that look like?  And I can tell you, Iran is not going to be in charge, and Iran is not going to have any sort of leadership in that situation to where they could do more harm.  

But Syria is always going to be a topic.  I think we continue to be strong in making sure there’s no chemical weapons and making sure that we’re looking at the humanitarian situation.  But the U.S. is a very strong partner in the resolution for Syria and will continue to be until we know that everything is stable.

Q    (Inaudible) that does not include the U.S.?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Well, I think we’re not going to be satisfied until we see a solid and stable Syria, and that is not with Assad in place.  But what we are going to do is continue to be very effective and be a part of that process so that we get to a resolution.

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Yeah, I’ll just say that, of course the President will talk about the prospects for lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, among a broad range of regional issues, with really all of the leaders he’s meeting during the week.

Q    Ambassador, two quick questions.  The first one is, the fact that president Putin and President Xi Jinping won’t be there, will it have an impact on the what the outcome of whatever you’ll discuss on Syria and North Korea?

And, General, you’ve been insisting a lot on the respect of sovereignty.  Wouldn’t an investment in a peacekeeping mission be part of getting involved and having a stronger impact on this?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I do think that it’s still going to be strong and have an impact because you’ve got two very strong foreign ministers from Russia and China that are going to be there.  And the idea that we’re going to be talking about Syria and North Korea, and Iran, and all of those other things, I think it will be serious discussions.

And I think the fact that President Xi and President Putin couldn’t be there is not going to change the effect of the talks that we have next week.

Q    Are you disappointed that they’re not going to show up?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  That’s their choice to not show up.

GENERAL MCMASTER:  I would just add on to say the U.N. General Assembly is not a substitute for bilateral relationships with any nations.  And as you know, the President has been working very closely, especially with President Xi, on this common problem and this world problem of North Korea.

So those discussions will continue, and it will continue in the context of multilateral engagements but also in context of our bilateral relationship with China.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Back in the back.

Q    Thank you, Madam Ambassador, General.  A question regarding etiquette.  In the past, Presidents have copiously avoided certain world leaders.  A decade ago, President Bush avoiding President Ahmadinejad when he was at the opening of the U.N.  Will the President speak to President Maduro at all when he is there?

GENERAL MCMASTER:  Yeah, I think it’s unlikely that he’ll speak with President Maduro.  As you know, the United States designated President Maduro after he victimized his own people, denied them their rights under his own constitution.  And I think as the President has made clear, he’s willing to talk at some point in the future, but it would have to be after rights are restored to the Venezuelan people.

Q    Thank you, Madam Ambassador.  Two questions.  One, what is the future of India and the United Nations membership and Security Council?  Because when Prime Minister Modi visited the White House he brought up this issue with President Trump.

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Well, I think that Security Council reform is still being talked about, and I know that it’s something that India wants.  Many other countries want it as well.  So we’ll have to wait and see.

Q    Do you have any indications right now that sanctions will work towards North Korea?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  You have to look at how much has been cut off.  They’ve already started to feel it, but they’re getting ready to feel 90 percent of their exports going away; 30 percent of their oil.  Imagine what that would do to the United States if it was there.

And if you look at what — I was looking at what North Korea was saying.  They said it was a full-scale economic blockade, suffocating its state and its people.  This is dramatic.  This is something — and not only is it dramatic, but you’re looking at — Peru has dropped ties.  Thailand has dropped ties.  We’re seeing so many just kind of get rid of either the ambassadors or the trade that they’re doing.  There is no way that North Korea doesn’t feel this.

Now, how they choose to respond, this is totally in their hands on how they respond.

One more question.  I’ll let you pick who gets the last question.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  Appreciate it.  So I was wondering — we talked a little bit about the President, the speech that he’ll deliver on Tuesday.  But I’m wondering if you could talk in any more detail now — and I’m sure we’ll get more detail later — will he be sending direct messages about Iran and North Korea in that speech?  Are there any more specific themes?

And also, Ambassador Haley, I wanted to ask you: On the question of U.N. funding, I know reform is probably an important part of this question, but as a candidate, President Trump was — then-candidate Trump was somewhat skeptical about the reach and the import of the U.N., the point of it long term.  As President I’m sure he’s learned more.  Is the U.S. committed both to fulfilling its financial obligations?  And where does it stand on terms of its voluntary funding for the U.N. going forward?  Would you talk a little bit about that?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  Right.  To start off with the speech that the President gives, I think you can see it for yourself.  I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the U.S. being very strong in the end.

Q    So it’s written, and you’ve seen it?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I have seen it, yes.  And then the second part of it is, the U.N. — when I originally spoke with the President, what I said is, we’ll see what we can make of it.  And that’s the thing is, we’re creating an opportunity.  We’re making the most of it.  We’re moving foreign policy.  We’re changing the way peacekeeping is done.  We’re really bringing up human rights.  And more importantly, what I appreciate is they stopped focusing on the commas and the periods, and we’re actually acting.  We’re actually seeing strong things happens. 

And so I think the President has always believed there’s great potential in the United Nations, but I think now the world is seeing it — that it is actually changing, and it’s actually becoming more effective.

Q    Will he firmly articulate his intention to continue traditional U.S. funding at full levels?

AMBASSADOR HALEY:  I think you’ll have to wait and see.  Thank you very much.

Q    Sarah, a follow-up on something that Ambassador Haley said.  She mentioned that she would feel comfortable kicking this issue to Secretary Mattis.  Should Americans be concerned about the possibility of war?  And how much time are you willing to give China to implement the resolutions in the U.N. Security Council agreement?

PRESS SECRETARY SARAH SANDERS:  As we’ve said many times before, we’re not going to broadcast, and I’m not going to lay out a timetable on what that would look like.  We’re continuing to keep all options on the table.  We’re going to push forward with a plan right now.

And again, as both General McMaster and Ambassador Haley stated, we are working on putting that pressure on North Korea to reach that ultimate goal of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.  That’s what we’re focused on.  We’re going to go keep pushing forward on that front.  But at the same time, we’re going to keep all our options on the table as we do that.

Q    What will the President say to the leaders that he meets next week who are eager for talks with North Korea?  I know that the President has opposed that.  How will he address that with the Europeans and others who are in favor of it?

SANDERS:  I’m certainly not going to get ahead of any conversations that the President is going to have.  As always, we’ll provide readouts and background of those conversations.  But I think the President will be very clear that putting extreme pressure on North Korea is very important.

______

© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

United Nations 72nd General Assembly to Tackle Immigration, Nuclear Weapons Ban, Climate Change, Terrorism, Inequality

Miroslav Lajčák (center), President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, opens the session saying this will be a year of many firsts. He is flanked by Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly opened the 72nd Session declaring that priorities for the body was to come up with a global framework to address immigration, a treaty banning nuclear weapons, and further implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Miroslav Lajčák, a career diplomat from Slovakia, in his first address as President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, said his tenure would be a “year of firsts” – the negotiation of the first intergovernmental compact on migration and the signing of the first agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons – and called upon Member States to come together to help people striving for peace and a decent life.

Apart from being a year of “firsts”, he said, it would also a year of follow-up on maintaining the momentum in implementing and financing the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring continued work on the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, banging the gavel at the official opening, says priorities include devising a global framework to address migration, a treaty banning nuclear weapons, and further implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Commitments from yesterday must become actions now,” he told the assembly. He added that the United Nations must be allowed to work “in a way as never before. The UN today is very different from [when it was established] in 1945 – reforming, evolving.

The work of the United Nations could often be complex, he said, but emphasized that the organization was created, first and foremost, for the people.

“The UN was created for people,” Lajčák told the assembled diplomats. “The people who need the UN the most are not sitting in this hall today. They are not involved in the negotiation of resolutions. They do not take the floor at high-level events. It is one of the tasks of the General Assembly to make sure that their voices can still be heard.”

Priorities for UN action, he said, are different “region by region, person to person. If you live where there are rising sea levels, climate change is your priority; if you are in fear of terrorism, counterterrorism is your priority, if you are suffering because of your beliefs, then human rights are your priority. I want to work to represent all of these viewpoints,” he said, saying he would seek “balance.”

Opening of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In his opening remarks in which he welcomed the President of the General Assembly, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the serious threats facing the world, “from the nuclear peril to global terrorism, from inequality to cybercrime.  Hurricanes and floods around the world remind us that extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and severe, due to climate change,” as well as the challenges posed by “irregular migration.”

“No country can meet these tests alone.  But, if we work together, we can chart a safer, more stable course.  And that is why the General Assembly meeting is so important,” he stated.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, outlining challenges including the nuclear peril, cybercrime, terrorism, climate change, inequality, declared “No country can meet these tests alone. But, if we work together, we can chart a safer, more stable course. And that is why the General Assembly meeting is so important.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“People around the world are rightly demanding change and looking for governments and institutions to deliver,” he said. “We all agree that the United Nations must do even more to adapt and deliver. That is the aim of the reform proposals that this Assembly will consider.”

He added that one key change within and beyond the UN must be the empowerment of women and girls around the world, and highlighted his own roadmap for achieving gender parity.

He called for more female candidates to fill vacancies within the Organization, because gender parity would improve outcomes at the United Nations.

At a press availability immediately following the official opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly, Lajčák answered a skeptical reporter’s question about immigration assertively: “It is not true there is no global framework,” he said. “We are in reactive mode. We need to respond globally – global governance….because in reality, immigration is here to stay.”

And in an earlier interview with UN News, Lajčák said, “The most important thing for me is to understand that what we do here is meant to improve the lives of people on this plane. We are not here because of ourselves and we are not here because of fighting over the text of resolutions. But these resolutions serve concrete purposes. So, let us not forget for a minute that we have to focus on people, on their lives and on their concerns. Second, to be representative, as we are or wish to be, we have to be open, we have to communicate with our partners, with the young generations, with media, with civic activists, and NGOs, and with the business community, so that we are really reflecting the hopes, needs and expectations of the world’s public.”

Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at a press availability about migration: “We need to respond globally – global governance….because in reality, immigration is here to stay.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

Despite a campaign to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons such as were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki going back to the very beginning of the United Nations the General Assembly, the UN this year for the first time is taking up an agreement to prohibit the possession, development, testing, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

On July 7, 2017, 122 nations agreed (one voted against) – notably, the nine nations including the United States that already have nuclear weapons boycotted the proceedings. On September 20, a formal treaty will be presented for signature by the nations. . Fifty countries must sign and ratify the treaty for it to enter into force.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents the total repudiation of nuclear deterrence by most of the states that don’t possess or rely on nuclear weapons,” United for Peace and Justice, UFPJ, stated. “But the US and the eight other nuclear-armed states boycotted the negotiations, along with Japan, Australia, South Korea and all but one of the 28 NATO member states (The Netherlands) – all countries under the US nuclear umbrella. In a joint statement following the vote, the US, France and the United Kingdom declared: “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to [the Treaty].” Meanwhile, nuclear tensions have risen to levels not seen for decades.

“While the Ban Treaty negotiations were taking place in the United Nations, two floors up in the same building, in an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the United States was threatening military action against North Korea, in response to its July 4 missile test.

“We must keep both realities – the promise of the Ban Treaty and growing dangers of nuclear war – fully in mind as we develop strategies to accomplish the urgent goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

From its founding, in 1945, the United Nations has called for a ban on nuclear weapons; but this year for the first time, the UN is taking up an agreement to prohibit the possession, development, testing, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has once against declared September 26 an International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

“Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations.  It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. After general and complete disarmament first came onto the General Assembly’s agenda in 1959, nuclear disarmament has remained the most important and urgent objective of the United Nations in this field.  Since 1975, it has been a prominent theme of the review conferences of States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1978, the General Assembly’s first Special Session on disarmament reaffirmed that effective measures for nuclear disarmament have the highest priority. And it has been supported by every United Nations Secretary-General,” the UN stated.

“Yet today, some 15,000 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. More than half of the world’s population still lives in countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. As of 2016, while there have been major reductions in deployed nuclear weapons since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear warhead has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty, bilateral or multilateral, and no nuclear disarmament negotiations are underway.  Meanwhile, the doctrine of nuclear deterrence persists as an element in the security policies of all possessor states and their nuclear allies. This is so—despite growing concerns worldwide over the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of even a single nuclear weapon, let alone a regional or global nuclear war.

“These facts provide the foundation for the General Assembly’s designation of 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This Day provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority. It also provides an opportunity to educate the public—and their leaders—about the real benefits of eliminating such weapons, and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them. Commemorating this Day at the United Nations is especially important, given its universal membership and its long experience in grappling with nuclear disarmament issues. It is the right place to address one of humanity’s greatest challenges, achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Climate Disasters Should Force Re-think of Trump (‘Cheater-in-Chief’) Tax Plan

How will the nation fund the recovery from the increasingly devastating climate disasters? The lates record-breaking climate catastrophes, Harvey and Irma, should cause re-thinking of the investment in climate action and Trump’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthiest © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Hurricane Harvey had just devastated Texas, the worst natural disaster up until two weeks later when the entire state of Florida was about to be destroyed by Hurricane Irma, as whole Caribbean island nations as well as the US territory of Puerto Rico had their infrastructure utterly decimated. And Hurricane Jose was on Irma’s tail. Meanwhile, Los Angeles and Oregon were being consumed by record wildfires. Congress had authorized $15 billion toward Hurricane Harvey relief and to replenish the nearly depleted funds of FEMA.

Indeed, in North Dakota on September 6, as Hurricane Irma was barreling toward Florida, Trump, the Tax-Cheat-in-Chief, gave an incoherent speech touting his tax plan that began with his incredulity in discovering that North Dakota was undergoing a massive drought.

“I just said to the governor, I didn’t know you had droughts this far north.  Guess what?  You have them.  But we’re working hard on it and it’ll disappear.  It will all go away,” Trump said.

Accuweather is projecting the cost of Harvey and Irma alone at $290 billion, or 1.5% of total GDP, which would erase the growth of the economy through year-end, according to Dr. Joel N. Myers, president and chairman.

That’s also more than one-fourth of the $1 trillion that Trump proposed for a 10-year infrastructure plan. Where will the money come from? And if all infrastructure spending has to be directed to Texas and Florida, where does that leave the rest of the country? Not to mention the $1 billion Trump is demanding as down payment on a $70 billion border wall.

Does this get you thinking that Trump and his administration, especially EPA Administrator and shill for the oil industry Scott Pruitt, should rethink their self-serving notion of climate change denial (self-serving because it is used to fuel their argument that they can overturn environmental regulations on the massively profitable fossil fuel industry)? Of course not.

But it should also cause them to rethink their totally corrupt plan for tax reform which is intended to starve the federal government of funds, balloon the budget deficit and national debt, all to shift more of wealth to the already fabulously wealthy. Especially when so many people have lost their businesses and jobs, which will certainly impact tax revenues.

Let’s just consider for a moment what taxes are supposed to be for. And yes, a considerable amount goes to pay for interest on bonds, but bonds are what are used to pay for infrastructure – they represent an investment in the future. And as we are considering how to replace the destroyed and decimated infrastructure, why not build back with sustainability in mind.

Just as in his speech declaring his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement (forged with US leadership and signed by 195 countries), Trump, who took a $900 million tax deduction on his failed Atlantic City casino and probably has never paid 40% tax in his life,lies to rationalize his tax plan, beginning with the lie that the US is the highest taxed nation in the world (not true) and that workers wages will increase if only shareholders and CEOs and the wealthiest 1% could keep an even greater percentage of their money (history shows the opposite).  (See New York Times, The False Promises in President Trump’s Tax Plan)

Remember: the wealthiest people used to be taxed at 90% – that was after World War II when the nation had to rebuild its treasury. We were able to afford the GI Bill which probably did more to create a middle class than anything since the New Deal. Now the wealthiest pay something between 35 to 40% – except that they don’t.

Trump (and Ryan) want to give a $170,000 annual windfall to the wealthiest Americans, while crumbs ($700) to the middle class who will lose the only tax deductions they can use.  $170,000 times four years worth mean in terms of free money (from tax-paying schnooks) is a lot of dough to invest in politicians and policy with a spectacular return: policies like enabling Big Pharma Sharks to hike up life-saving drugs by 5000%; Oil Barons to make sure incentives for wind and solar energy don’t help these industries develop into competitors; real estate developers who can delight in the tax advantages that let them take a $900 million deduction and build without interfering regulations on lands that are needed to soak up flood waters and health insurance companies to raise premiums to pad profits.

Now this nation is looking at more than $290 billion just to recover from the climate disasters which are becoming more and more frequent, hitting the high density developed urban centers.

If taxes for those who have the means to pay don’t cover the cost, who does? Ryan and the Republicans love to talk about “sacrifice” but the only ones they demand sacrifices from are not the wealthiest or the corporations, but Social Security and Medicare recipients, struggling middle class kids who need to take out loans to pay for college. Their concept is to take money out of the consumer economy, which starts a downward unvirtuous cycle of economic contraction. How do we know?” Because we have seen this movie before: the Bush tax cuts. Meanwhile, median income has risen to its highest levels in 1999 (under Bill Clinton) and 2016 (under Barack Obama) and their tax-and-spending plans.

The Trump/Ryan tax “plan” requires a federal budget that slashes spending for infrastructure, for research and development, for education, for environmental protection (and of course, eradicating any mention of climate change), even slashing spending for diplomacy and foreign aid. It depends on slashing Medicaid and subsidies to keep health insurance affordable (that’s why they are so desperate to repeal Obamacare).

It slashes the tax rate for corporations which already do not pay the nominal 35% rate. Many highly profitable corporations – including General Electric, Pepco Holdings, PG&E Corp., Priceline and Duke Energy – paid nothing into federal coffers from 2008-2015 yet benefit from all the services the government provides including roads, public safety, an educated workforce, mass transit, a military to defend their shipping.

To get to a tax cut without obscenely increasing the national debt, the Republicans say they will get rid of “loopholes” like the mortgage credit and property taxes – that would only complete the decimation of the Middle Class and destroy any semblance of an American Dream. What would make more sense, if they really cared to “reform” the tax code and stop the income distribution from middle class to the already fabulous rich, is to take away the mortgage tax credits on 2nd, 3rd homes and such, and take away the many special deductions that real estate developers like Trump has benefited from, as well as the loopholes that let hedge fund managers shield all but a fraction of their income from taxes that wage-earners pay.

Indeed, the policies that Trump are proposing – specifically, eliminating the tax deduction for state and local property taxes – would hurt blue-states that tend to have higher state and local taxes because they tend to have higher property taxes but provide more services and get less in federal payments than they send to the government, while red-states that have low state and local taxes (and crappy schools and health care) get more from the federal government (paid for by blue states) than they send.

And what about Puerto Rico. which already was in economic disaster – having defaulted on $70 billion in debt – and basically written off by the US government. It’s infrastructure is now totally destroyed. How will it be rebuilt? Here’s what I imagine:  Trump is so transactional, I can see a foreign country (China?) with big bucks and an interest in having a foothold in the Western Hemisphere buying Puerto Rico from the US. After all, what is $100 billion or $200 billion to put the island right?

Of course Trump’s tax “reform” plan – sketched out as if on the back of an envelope without any analysis – is really all about tax cuts to the wealthiest and to corporations. As Hillary Clinton said during a debate (which she won): “trickle down economics on steroids” from the guy who took a $900 million deduction for a failed real estate deal, which taxpayers – normal working stiffs – wind up paying for.

Those who have actually analyzed the plan have said that the wealthiest people – who have done astronomically well for decades, while middle class Americans have scarcely had a salary increase in 40 years, so that the gap between rich and poor has reached Grand Canyon proportions – would get a tax windfall of $170,000 a year, while middle class families would get something like $700. Where do the 1 percenters put that extra money which they scarcely need? Well, they invest in buying politicians and influencing policy, of course.

Tax “reform” figures into the Trump obsession with repealing Obamacare and leaving 32 million people without health insurance. It figures into the administration’s dismissal of the Gateway Tunnel project so important to the New York region’s infrastructure and economy.

But now, Trump’s Republican states are being whacked with climate catastrophes, and the money has to come from somewhere.

And let’s also be reminded that the growth in the economy – first, saving the nation from plunging into another Great Depression, and now rebounding to the highest median income, lowest unemployment rate ever and highest rate of health insurance coverage while reducing the poverty rate – happened because of Obama Administration policies and would have been even more effective in terms of raising wages and living standards if the Trump Administration did not steamroll back policies, like overtime pay, parental leave, and federal minimum wage and obstruct infrastructure development and the transition to clean, renewable energy.

People remark that the devastation in their neighborhoods from these massive climate disasters is like a bomb went off. Well, in wartime, taxes are raised – that’s how the rate on the wealthiest hit 90%, to pay off the World War II debt. This is wartime. This nation has to rebuild, and sustainably, responsibly. We need to invest in 21st and 22nd century technologies, to keep the United States a global leader. Otherwise, we will cede our leverage to China which has basically embraced the American model of spreading its political ideology (nominally, “Democracy”) through capitalism (nominally “free market” as opposed to centralized control) and is literally buying up influence over Africa and Asia.

Of course, Trump’s tax plan is Paul Ryan’s tax plan (Trump never actually had a plan), and the Republicans are content to let Trump destroy the nation and end the social safety net including Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and possibly embroil us in World War III, until they can get jam through the tax plan they have coveted since Reagan.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin