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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.


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).


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.

VP Pence Tells Club for Growth: ‘This is Our Moment’

Vice President Mike Pence at the opulent Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, tells the Club for Growth: “This is our moment.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Except for the cuts to the State Department which has some Republicans howling, the rest of Trump’s “America First” anti-American budget are the things the Conservatives have been fantasizing about but never had the guts to do because of the ramifications. Now they have someone who is putting himself out there who doesn’t bother considering the impacts on ordinary people. 

This is as much Ryan’s budget  as Trump’s, which likely will also enact massive tax cuts, paid for by slashing benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, further  exacerbating the inequality in wealth, political power and justice  in this country that strains the limits to what this Democracy can sustain. 

“This is our moment,” Vice President Mike Pence gleefully told the Club for Growth at the posh Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach. 

Here are highlights from his speech–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

For the first time in a decade, thanks to your hard work, we have a pro-growth House, we have a pro-growth Senate, and we have a pro-growth President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)  And President Donald Trump I believe has laid out an agenda that is renewing the American spirit in ways that we haven’t seen since the days of Ronald Reagan.

This is our moment.  This is the time. And my friends, this is our chance to prove that our answers are still the right answers for America.  (Applause.)

More freedom.  Lower taxes.  Less regulation and smaller government.  History will attest that when America builds on this foundation, we reach heights that once seemed unreachable.

And that is the foundation of this administration.  President Trump’s vision is to unleash growth in America like never before, and the good news is:  It’s already happening.

On Day One, President Trump went straight to work rolling back the reams of red tape.  He instructed every bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. to find two regulations to get rid of before imposing any new red tape on the American people and on American free enterprise.  (Applause.)

He’s already taken action to put the Keystone and Dakota pipelines on the path to approval, creating tens of thousands of American jobs and protecting our American energy future.  (Applause.)

And just this past Monday, President Trump set into motion a plan to reorganize the executive branch — and that includes identifying and eliminating federal agencies that, frankly, we just plain don’t need anymore.

It’s leadership like that — you can applaud that if you like.  (Applause.)   It’s leadership like this that’s getting government out of the way of the American people and of American job creators. 

Businesses are already reacting to President Trump’s vision and his renewed optimism and investment.  And they’re investing in America in ways that are lifting and creating jobs.

Last month alone the economy added 235,000 jobs.  Construction and manufacturing are booming once again.  Business leaders and American consumers haven’t been this confident in years — and by some measures, in more than a decade.

Folks, the era of slow growth is over; a new era of American growth has begun.  (Applause.)

You know and I know that economic growth begins with fiscal responsibility.  I see my friend Senator Pat Toomey over there.  We fought together in the House, shoulder to shoulder for fiscal restraint.  And I know how enthusiastic he and the other great conservatives like Senator Mike Lee and others in the room are that just two days ago, President Donald Trump released the most conservative budget since Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office.  (Applause.)

Our vision is simple.  We want a government that will keep Americans safe and that leaves us free to do what the American people do best.  That’s why our budget first and foremost gives our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources they need to complete their mission, protect our families, and come home safe to theirs.  We’re rebuilding the American military under this Trump budget.  (Applause.)

But also at the President’s direction, our budget offsets $54 billion in military spending with government spending cuts –a 31 percent cut at the E.P.A.  (Applause.)  Double-digit reductions in no fewer than 10 federal departments.  (Applause.)

And, folks, The Washington Post actually ran a headline this week saying, they quote, “historic contraction of the federal workforce.”  (Laughter.)  They meant it as a warning, we took it as a compliment.  (Applause.)

We’re going to end the waste, the fraud, the abuse in D.C and make sure that the American taxpayer gets the best bang for their buck.  I got to tell you this businessman who has become President of the United States believes in sharpened pencils.  And he’s been sharpening his pencils ever since the morning after Election Day.

But beyond the budget, we’re going to keep slashing all the job-killing regulations and rein in unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.  I want to commend the members of Congress for sending those congressional review act bills.  We’re going to keep rolling back regulation every chance we get so that this economy can’t be crippled by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. sitting behind the comfort of their metal desks.  (Applause.)

We’ve heard from businesses large and small, all across America that red tape is strangling their ability to create jobs, and to grow and thrive.  That’s why we’re working to get government off their back.

We’re going to keep working with the Congress to repeal the last-minute mandates rushed through by the last administration.  And, frankly, we’re taking a hard look at every regulation on the books — including, as President Trump said on Wednesday, the CAFE rule that is holding back the American automotive industry will now no longer stand in the way of economic prosperity and growth.  (Applause.)

We’re making sure federal agencies fast-track projects and permits and don’t slow-walk them.  And we’re going to roll back Dodd-Frank so that American businesses have access to the best financial system in the world.  (Applause.)

And with this Cabinet — and how about this Cabinet? (Applause.)   With this Cabinet, President Trump has picked men and women who know that bureaucrats don’t create jobs, businesses do.

The bottom line is that our agenda of more freedom and less regulation is going to usher in growth and opportunity and prosperity in this country like never before.  And it’s the vision that the Club for Growth has been about advancing since the very beginning of this organization.

If you still have any doubt, there’s also something else I want you to know.  We’re going to have the biggest tax reform and reduction in a generation in America before this year is out.  (Applause.)

Under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.  It’s going to be pro-growth, pro-savings, and pro-hardworking Americans keeping more of their hard-earned dollar.

We’re going to simplify the tax code working with members of the House and Senate who are gathered here, and we’re going to have lower rates across the board.

We’re going to make American businesses competitive again by slashing one of the highest corporate rates in the developed world and letting American companies bring the money back from overseas so they can invest in American and create American jobs with a lower business rate.  (Applause.)

And not only that, and I promise to you working with members of Congress, we’re going to repeal hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes when we repeal and replace Obamacare.  (Applause.)

My friends, the Obamacare nightmare is about to end.  Now, I don’t have to remind people here at the Club for Growth why this failed law has to go.  You all have seen the headlines, and you know the facts.  You’ve lived them in many places all over the country — skyrocketing premiums, unaffordable deductibles, mandates, higher taxes.  The truth is the American people can’t afford Obamacare, and it’s time we no longer ask them to put up with it.  (Applause.)

In his joint address to Congress two weeks ago, the President outlined his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.  And we’re working with members of Congress to advance that plan.

Make no mistake about it:  Our plan is pro-growth and pro-freedom.  It ends Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates by eliminating their penalties by the time the whole plan is unfurled.  It repeals the taxes I just mentioned right out of the gate.  It expands health savings accounts.  It enacts the biggest reform in Medicaid since the creation of that program in 1965.

These are the kind of solutions that conservatives like us have been talking about for years. And they’re now within our reach.  And let me be blunt:  We need your help to get this plan passed.  The House is set to vote next week on the beginning of this process.  It’s called the American Health Care Act, and it is a crucial step towards fulfilling our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that actually works.

Now I know that there have been concerns expressed with the bill as it currently stands.  And just know that the President and I are and our entire administration are listening.   We’re working with members of Congress to improve the bill and to make this bill even better than it already is..


And we’re working with every single [Republican] member of Congress — the Republican Study Committee, the Freedom Caucus, the Senate Steering Committee, and all the lawmakers here tonight, just to name a few.   Thanks to their input, we’ve actually added a number of great amendments just in the last 24 hours.

Beginning with, we’re going to stop more states from expanding Medicaid by ceasing the expansion for states that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare immediately.  (Applause.)

Because of the voices of conservatives in Congress, we’re going to be amending the Ho bill to give states the option for a Medicaid in a block grant in its entirety so states can reform Medicaid in the way that they see fit.  (Applause.)

And thanks to the leadership and the collaboration of many of the great conservatives in this room, we’re going to have an amendment to allow states to include a work requirement for able-bodied adults on Medicaid so we can ensure the program is there for people who actually need it. [So if you’ve lost your job, were laid off, your company goes bankrupt, you are doomed.] (Applause.)

Folks, I meant it when I said we’re listening.  And the President is going to continue to engage members of Congress in ways that we can improve this legislation.  We had a meeting just yesterday in the Oval Office, and I was pleased that the leadership of the Republican Study Committee endorsed the bill that’s moving through the House, and we’re grateful for their support.

And while we’re having a vigorous debate, the good news is that Republicans are in complete agreement, and we have complete consensus that Obamacare must go.  (Applause.)

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are only courting right-wing conservatives on policies that impact all Americans’ lives © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We’ll continue to advance the President’s agenda, and how we work that out is going to be the result of the legislative process and administrative action.  But President Trump’s vision is very simple:  a national health-care marketplace and state-based Medicaid reform; allowing the American people to purchase health insurance across state lines the way you buy life insurance, the way you buy car insurance, and allowing states the freedom and flexibility to redesign Medicaid around the unique needs of their own people is a pathway toward a more prosperous future and better healthcare for the American people.  (Applause.)

And it’s important to remember that our healthcare plan doesn’t begin and end with the bill that’s moving through the Congress today.  I wanted to make it clear to all of you this is only one part of the President’s three-part strategy.  The other two tracks are just as important in restoring free-market principles to American health care.

At this very moment, our administration is evaluating every possible administrative action to get government out of the way and allow for state-based innovation and reform.

The name of the game is to seize the opportunity to change the regulations, and we’ve got a great team with Dr. Tom Price and Seema Verma heading up HHS and the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services to do it.

Just this past week, they both sent a letter to every single one of America’s governors saying, “a new era for federal and state Medicaid partnership” has begun — and so it has.  (Applause.) 

Under Dr. Tom Price’s leadership with Seema Verma at his side running Medicaid, we’re going to give our states the freedom and flexibility they need with Medicaid to implement the kind of reforms that will do the most good for the most vulnerable — state-based solutions, not one-size-fits-all federal solutions.  And remember that truthfully it is about improving Medicaide[sic]….


And we’re going to continue to partner with the Congress to pass other important healthcare reforms, including we’re going to pass medical malpractice reform at last.  (Applause.)  We’re going to allow businesses around America to participate in association health plans, and as I mentioned before, we’re going to give Americans the freedom to buy health insurance across state lines — an idea whose time has come.

Not before too long I expect we’re going to see that little lizard and Flo on television selling health insurance just the way they sell car insurance and sell life insurance.  (Laughter and applause.) 

Our three-part strategy, once enacted, we truly believe will create a dynamic national health-insurance marketplace, which is the key to making affordable, high-quality coverage accessible for every American.

Now we can’t lose sight of what’s at stake in the coming weeks. This is a momentous time.  We literally have an opportunity to begin to accomplish what everyone in this room has fought so hard to achieve for so long.  And President Trump and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you — the men and women in public life who are here, and those of you who are patrons and supporters that are present.

And know this:  When we repeal and replace Obamacare, we will also make room for even more tax relief for working families, small businesses, and family farms when we take up tax reform this spring.  (Applause.)

But health care isn’t the only place where we need your partnership.  The same goes for the rest of our pro-growth, pro-freedom agenda. 

Quite frankly, we’re counting on you.  And we know you’ll be there.  You’ve already demonstrated — many of you for many years here at Club for Growth — your dedication to the principles that we all share.  

I look around this room and I see true patriots — men and women who love this country and have been willing to devote your time and your talent and your treasure to the country’s future without any regard to whether you’d ever be acknowledged or ever get credit for it.  Those great candidates that you’ve supported over the years, and that now people the hallways of the House and the Senate serving the American people.  The debt this country owes to the men and women in this organization and throughout the conservative movement can only be repaid by keeping faith with the ideals and the principles that you have sought to advance….


The reason that we’re here with a pro-growth President and a pro-growth Congress on the cusp of repealing the failed policies of Obamacare is because, on the cusp of transformational tax reform, on the cusp of a whole range of reforms that will enliven this country’s economy and open doors of opportunities for millions of Americans is that year after year, all of you in this room and conservatives around America never gave up.  And I’m just here to say thanks, and to tell you to press on.

My friends, this is our moment.  Now is the time.  This is our rendezvous with destiny.  And I know we’ll meet the challenge.  It will come together.  We’ll give all of our energy, our enthusiasm, our courage, and our conviction, our passion, and our prayers.  And in that, I’m confident — I’m confident we’ll make the most of the opportunity before us.  And under President Trump’s leadership, I know we’ll get this economy moving again.  Under his leadership, I know we’ll restore opportunity and prosperity for all our people.  We’ll make the best healthcare system in the world even better with free-market principles, more jobs, higher incomes, better healthcare in a safer and more prosperous America.

In a word, my friends, with your help, and with God’s help, we’ll make America great again.  

Thank you very much.  Thanks for having me back and God bless you and God bless the United State of America.   (Applause.)

White House Only ‘Listening’ to Conservatives on Repeal of Obamacare

Donald Trump and Mike Pence are only courting right-wing conservatives on policies that impact all Americans’ lives, including health care and women’s reproductive health.

The only ones the Trump/Pence/Ryan/McConnell Administration care about, speak to are the ultra-rightwing conservatives.  This from the White House, Friday, March 10:


Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price assembled dozens of conservative leaders today at the White House to discuss the multi-faceted effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Vice President and the Secretary highlighted the work being accomplished through legislative and regulatory efforts to end Obamacare’s government takeover of healthcare and provide market-based reforms that will lower costs and provide more choice to Americans. They also invited conservative groups to continue offering their ideas for improving healthcare in America and agreed to keep communication channels open as the President and Congress work to fulfill the promise of repealing and replacing the flawed Obamacare law.

The following individuals participated:

Thomas Binion, Heritage Foundation
Melissa Ortiz, Able Americans
Mia Heck, ALEC
Jason Pye, FreedomWorks
Brian McManus
Matthew Schlapp, American Conservative Union
Nan Swift, National Taxpayers Union
Richard Manning, Americans for Limited Government
Grace Turner, Galen Institute
Kenneth Cuccinelli, Senate Conservatives Fund
Jennifer Butler, State Policy Network
Daniel Schneider, American Conservative Union
John McKechnie, ABA Health Savings Account (HSA) Council
Stephen Keen, National Federation of Independent Business
Lisa Nelson, ALEC
Jennifer Hatten, ABA Health Savings Account (HSA) Council
David Bozell, ForAmerica
Phil Kerpen, American Commitment
Peter Sepp, National Taxpayers Union
Timothy Chapman, Heritage Action
Bradley Close, National Federation of Independent Business
Kent Lassmam, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Jennifer Martin, Tea Party Patriots
Shonda Kalra, Tea Party Patriots
Amanda Moorhead, National Federation of Independent Business
Bill Pascoe, Tea Party Patriots
Christopher Jacobs, Texas Public Policy Foundation
Adam Brandon, FreedomWorks
Michael Cannon, CATO
Bob Carlstrom, Association of Mature American Citizens
Andy Roth, Club for Growth
Heather Curry, CATO

RNC Rocky Horror Show in Cleveland

Donald J. Trump makes brief appearance on the first night of the Republican National Convention to introduce his wife, Melania Trump © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Donald J. Trump makes brief appearance on the first night of the Republican National Convention to introduce his wife, Melania Trump © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I write this column as the Republican National Convention that will coronate Donald Trump as its nominee for President, gets underway in Cleveland, Ohio. Tonight’s theme is “Keep America Safe.” To present this theme, he has on the program his wife and former NYC Mayor Rudolph Guiliani.

The Donald had just named his VP pick: Indiana Governor Mike Pence, cheering disgruntled Tea Party right-wingers who distrusted Trump’s bonafides as a rabid regressive.

The problem many GOPers have with Trump (and what led to an opening gavel protest) isn’t his racism, misogyny, his adoration for despicable despots like Putin, Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Un, or even his deceit, his cheating of veterans, small businessowners, investors and failures as a businessman (Trump’s supposed advantage) – it is that Trump isn’t dependably anti-civil rights and anti-human rights – that is, not sufficiently and dependably a Christian conservative, that he can’t be counted on to strip women of their reproductive freedom, or to deny LGBT their rights and dignity. What is more, he has had the audacity to break with the Corporatists who own the Republican party in challenging trade agreements and the TPP.

But in picking Indiana Governor Mike Pence (over the bullying criminal Chris Christie or Newt Gingrich), they have a calmer, more politically astute, more solidly and dependably anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-gay autocrat who has already proved his bonafides by shutting down the government in order to extort the repeal of Obamacare.

According to Pence, Trump’s main attribute is that he has tapped into the frustration of Americans “like no other since Reagan.” Add to that “fear” and “anger” and you have the complete package. But while Trump has been able to corral the so-called “angry [white] voter by casting himself as the anti-establishment, outside-Washington guy (all non-National electeds do that), a businessman, not a politician, he tapped in Pence the poster boy for why voters feel so angry and frustrated, alienated and cynical over the dysfunction of government. When 66% of Americans say the country is on the “wrong track” for a sizeable proportion of the “wrong trackers,”  it’s not because of what Obama has done, but what Republicans have obstructed.

RNC_071816_42e2 (c) Karen Rubin-Mike PencePence, who spent six terms in Congress and was a central figure in the Tea Party, supported the government shut down, holding the entire nation hostage to Tea Party extortion to repeal Obamacare. The Tea Party would rather destroy the US economy, see people lose their jobs, homes, retirement, rather than support a woman’s right to choose or every Americans’ right to life-saving health care. He is part and parcel of the ruling elite responsible for stagnant wages, massive college debt, who voted for the Iraq War that contributed to the rise of ISIS (the list goes on and on).

Pence may be more reserved, more dignified, dare I say, more presidential in his demeanor that his boss, The Don, but his policies and rabid ideology are more venal.

The difference is that while Trump sounds like a bumbling, stumbling fool when he attempts to express any idea beyond bombastic sloganeering – and there are people who dismiss his most radical ideas saying “he doesn’t really mean it”, Pence not only speaks in controlled complete sentences, is effective at using political dodges, but has a record.

He is particularly abominable on Women’s Reproductive Rights. In his 12 years in the House of Representatives, Pence cosponsored legislation that would make abortion illegal nationwide in almost all cases and ban some of the most common forms of contraception; in 2006. He led the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, even bringing the federal government to the brink of a shutdown. He voted for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, a law to give separate legal status to an embryo or a fetus and voted to impose a new, impossibly complex national patchwork of parental-notification mandates on doctors and young women. In 2011, he co-sponsored a bill that allowed hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion on a woman who needed one to live and co-sponsored a federal personhood amendment, the “Life At Conception” Act.

He shut down the only HIV testing center in Scott County, Indiana — in the name of preventing HIV/AIDS. That county later experienced what the press called “an exploding HIV outbreak.”

Last year, Pence proudly signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” essentially making it legal for businesses in Indiana to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and families.

He supports voucherizing Medicare, raising the eligibility age and privatizing Social Security.

He thinks climate change is a hoax.  “Global warming is a myth. The global warming treaty is a disaster. There, I said it.”

An advocate for gun rights, Pence voted to loosen restrictions on guns purchased across state lines; voted to keep victims from holding firearm manufacturers financially responsible for crimes committed at gunpoint; allowed guns to be brought onto school property; and at the NRA’s 2016 Leadership Forum, championed looser conceal carry regulations.

He’s been a consistent opponent of comprehensive immigration reform; in 2010, he opposed a pathway to citizenship; in 2009, he supported revoking birthright citizenship for children of immigrants; and in 2006, advanced an immigration proposal to deport millions of immigrant families.

All of these policies have been codified in the most regressive GOP platform ever proposed. 

Supports Trump’s Call to Expand Torture

In Congress, Pence derived those who opposed torture by saying that it was a “somewhat absurd thought that you could move people who have masterminded the death of 3,000 Americans by Oprah Winfrey methods.”

In his first interview after being named Trump’s VP, he told Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes,”  (www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-trump-pence-republican-ticket ), he doubled down to make it clear he agreed with Trump’s policy to expand the use of torture, saying, “What I’m OK with– what I’m OK with is protecting the American people. …what I can tell you is enhanced information gleaned information that saved American lives and, I was informed, prevented incoming terrorist attacks on this country from being successful. The American people expect the president of the United States to be prepared to support action to protect the people of this nation, and I know Donald Trump will.”

RNC_071816_57e2 (c) Karen Rubin-Donald TrumpBut getting back to the theme of the RNC’s first night, making America Safe (again), restoring law and order – there is nothing that Trump or Pence have proposed that would actually accomplish that, or that either one have a clue – beyond the force of Trump’s strongman personality.

We got a taste of that during Lesley Stahl’s interview with Trump/Pence on “60 Minutes” (www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-trump-pence-republican-ticket/):

Pointing to the Nice terror attack, the Dallas and Baton Route police shootings – the world “spinning apart” (in Trump’s words), Stahl asks, “Are you ready for this world that we are facing today?”

Trump replies, “We’re both ready. I’ve no doubt. We need toughness. We need strength. Obama’s weak, Hillary’s weak. And part of it is that, a big part of it. We need law and order. We need strong borders.”

But when pressed about what that would actually mean – does he propose sending more American troops into the fight? How would “strength” have prevented the Nice terror attack, or the failed coup in Turkey?

“Well, as a president, I’m going to be– you know, they’ve been an ally and I stay with our allies. They have been an ally. But that was a quick coup. I was actually surprised to see how well it was handled. And you know who really handled it? The people. So, I mean, we can say what we want, but the people handled it. When they surrounded the army tanks and without the people, you would’ve never had it. The military would’ve taken over.” (No comment about how Turkey President Erdogan is using the coup to cement anti-democratic, autocratic control or how he is pushing to make Turkey an Islamic, not a secular, state.)

To which Pence chimes in, “But I truly do believe that the larger issue here is declining American power in the world. I truly do believe that history teaches that weakness arouses evil and whether it be the horrific attack in France, the inspired attacks here in the United States, the instability in Turkey that led to a coup. I think that is all a result of a foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that has led from behind and that has sent an inexact, unclear message about American resolve. One of the reasons why I said yes in a heartbeat to run with this man, is because he embodies American strength, and I know that he will provide that kind of broad-shouldered American strength on the global stage as well.”

Melania Trump in her widely anticipated speech to the Republican National Convention, manages to lift whole sections from Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Melania Trump in her widely anticipated speech to the Republican National Convention, manages to lift whole sections from Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Since “Keeping America Safe” is the essence, really, of the Trump hate-filled campaign, it is really curious how the evening’s speakers did not cast an iota of detail how Trump/Pence would actually accomplish that, short of throwing around wounding sound bites. Indeed, most of the night was devoted to accusing Hillary Clinton of various crimes (Benghazi), but all the accusations were based on outright lies. And even Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention (the part she intended about Donald’s values and trustworthiness), rather than reveal anything real about her husband’s qualities to be president, or shed any light on the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features


News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. For editorial feature and photo information, email editor@news-photos-features.com. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin