Straight talk from the Saudis

  • Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Saudi Arabia didn’t just reject a recent invitation to serve a term on the United Nations’ Security Council. It denounced the body for double standards and ineffectiveness.

That snub — turning down what is supposed to be a high honor — apparently stunned many diplomats.

But the “honor” of being picked to serve as one of the four non-permanent Security Council members is itself part of the charade that the council has become.

The Security Council has long lacked any real ability to act decisively because of deep disagreements among its five permanent members, with the United States, Britain and France on one side and Russia and China on the other.

Nevertheless, unaware of the Saudi decision, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power prematurely issued a boilerplate statement congratulating the ambassadors of Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia on their selection as non-permanent members of the council.

Oops.

But just five weeks earlier, Ms. Power, in a speech to a liberal audience in Washington, defended President Barack Obama’s threat to take unilateral military action against Syria as necessary because the Security Council was “paralyzed.” And President Obama himself, in defending his threat to strike Syria without U.N. approval, has ridiculed resolutions “being proffered in the United Nations and the usual hocus pocus.”

What changed our president from outspoken critic of his predecessor for invading Iraq without U.N. authority into, at least temporarily, an advocate of unilateral military action?

Let the Saudis explain in an Oct. 18 statement from their foreign ministry:

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes that the manner, the mechanisms of action and double standards existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities towards preserving international peace and security as required, leading to the continued disruption of peace and security, the expansion of the injustices against the peoples, the violation of rights and the spread of conflicts and wars around the world.”

Citing the failure of the U.N. to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons, the statement went on: “Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people by chemical weapons, while the world stands idly, without applying deterrent sanctions against the Damascus regime, is also irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities.”

Disregard the Saudis’ continuing quarrel with Israel, and they couldn’t have said it better.

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