It’s been a little over a year since Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo announced to the world that the United States was formally withdrawing from membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council. This was not seen as a good idea at the time and revisiting the situation a year later, conditions in the Middle East have only gotten worse. This was written June 19, 2018. NPR:
“I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments,” Haley told the media. “On the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”
The move comes as little surprise from an administration that frequently has lambasted the 47-member body for a gamut of perceived failures — particularly the dubious rights records of many of its member countries, as well as what Haley has repeatedly called the council’s “chronic bias against Israel.”
Nikki Haley chastising anybody for being part of a “hypocritical and self-serving organization” is comical, given her recent employment history. As to the council’s purported “chronic bias against Israel” that was an interesting, and foreboding, comment to make at that particular time. A lot of chatter has been heard recently about Trump starting a war in Iran and Israel seems to be on board for that, even though the consequences to itself could be catastrophic.
Reuter’s reports that “Israel is preparing for its possible military involvement in any escalation in the Gulf confrontation between Iran and the United States,” according to its foreign minister, in a statement made on Tuesday.
Israel has long threatened to take preemptive military action to deny Iran the means of making nuclear weapons. Tehran says it has no such designs. One of its senior lawmakers warned on Monday that Israel would be destroyed within “only half an hour” should the United States attack Iran.
Earlier on Tuesday, [foreign minister Israel] Katz predicted that what he described as the U.S.-led “economic war” on Iran would succeed despite the misgivings of other world powers.
“Iran has no chance in this war,” he told Israel’s Army Radio. “Therefore there is an opportunity there, through the tough economic pressure and the comprehensive sanctions, to prevent war, to achieve the objectives without war.”
The Israelis sure are banking a lot on Donald Trump’s ability to manipulate foreign powers economically, considering that he doesn’t even know how a tariff works. It goes without saying that son-in-law Jared Kushner’s attempts to bring peace to the Middle East amount to nothing more than lip service, which would be laughable if the stakes weren’t so high. Kushner has yet to come up with a single new concept or approach that hasn’t already been tried and failed in the past thirty plus years. During his recent economic development project meeting, which John Oliver characterized as a “rich boy’s wet dream” many of the concerned parties didn’t even show up to discuss the issue. The Palestinian Authority boycotted the Bahrain conference and some Arab states in attendance didn’t send their finance ministers, while others didn’t deem it prudent to invite Israeli government officials, according to the Washington Post.
So, here’s a brief sketch of where things stand in the Middle East: We have the unraveling of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal under Trump the past two and a half years; the recent downing of a U.S. drone, allegedly by Iran, and also Iran’s alleged role in blowing holes into oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, also recently. All this has escalated tensions and Trump’s air-strike-that-wasn’t last week certainly did it’s part to rachet up legitimate concerns of impending war.
Meanwhile, the Department of Defense is without a head, since Patrick Shanahan’s family scandal of his son bludgeoning his then-wife with a baseball bat and leaving her in the laundry room in a pool of blood was revealed a week ago, causing Shanahan to not seek Senate confirmation as Secretary of Defense.
Finally, there have been a couple of mystery occurrences in the news the past 24 hours and perhaps they are related to all this — not looking to foment conspiracy theory here, merely attempting to connect dots.
One occurrence is the fire aboard the Russian submarine which killed 14 sailors. The official story is that the submarine was a research vessel, but Vladimir Putin mentioned that among the dead were two “heroes of Russia” and seven “captains 1st rank,” which the BBC pointed out with characteristic understatement, “seems unusually senior for research work.”
Some media in Russia are citing sources saying they could have been on board a nuclear-powered submarine, possibly even the secretive AS-12. It is thought to be used for highly sensitive missions.
Mr Putin returned especially to the Kremlin from out of town to order his defence minister to oversee the investigation.
Lastly, there was the mysterious interrupted quest of Mike Pence Tuesday. Pence was in route to New Hampshire to speak on the opioid crisis when he was recalled to Washington on an unspecified emergency/issue. ABC News later reported that Pence went to the White House and spoke with Trump about the issue — which certainly makes it sound important. If Pence’s return was occasioned by a mere scheduling snafu or something equally mundane, what would Pence and Trump have discussed at the White House? Unfortunately, Pence’s office is in silent running mode and won’t say anything more about the matter. That only serves to keep everybody guessing and wondering.
In toto, confidence is not running high in a White House which has already logged in 10,000 lies and this background, coupled with the fact that at this particular moment, tensions in the Middle East are running hotter than they have been for quite some time, James Mattis is long gone and his replacement, Shanahan, washed out rather spectacularly, we can all be forgiven if we feel less than unshakable confidence that foreign affairs are in good hands, or that we are safe. They are not and we are not. Trump is even more clueless about foreign policy than he is about domestic. To all intents and purposes, the ship of state is rudderless and the titular captain doesn’t know how to sail, he just played a savvy sailor on TV — so where does this leave us, on the eve of celebrating our freedom and independence? Or maybe we should ask, how many flash points will it take, until something finally explodes? The withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council was not a good move in and of itself and at the time was said to merely underscore Trump’s ill advised isolationist and nationalist tendencies. Now, it looks like that assessment was correct and we are tipped even further towards conflict in the Middle East and away from peace.