US Congress condemns UN

The United States House of Representatives has voted to condemn the Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements by 342-80 and was critical of the Obama administration for not vetoing the resolution.

Bizarrely they also said that the US should oppose and veto any future resolutions “that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel”. That a country can take a non-negotiable position regardless of the merits of any future resolution, and can veto everything, is a fundamental weakness of the UN – and of the US.

The US seems to be threatening the UN’s existence unless it becomes US compliant.

Politico: House condemns U.N. over Israel settlement vote

The House voted overwhelmingly to rebuke the United Nations for passing a resolution that condemned Israeli settlement construction, a bipartisan slap that also targets the Obama administration while signaling a rocky road ahead for U.S.-U.N. relations under soon-to-be-President Donald Trump.

The U.N. Security Council voted 14-0 to condemn Israeli settlements on Dec. 23, despite vigorous opposition from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Trump, both of whom demanded that the United States exercise its veto.

The House measure, which passed 342-80 on Thursday, is likely to be followed by a similar, largely symbolic non-binding resolution in the Senate.

And there is talk in the US of throwing their money out of the UN cot case.

Some U.S. lawmakers already are saying they want to go further in the coming months by stripping the United Nations of U.S. funding.

So they will only support the UN if they get their own way? This is pathetic, especially of a super power that should support the principal of UN votes on international issues regardless of them getting what they want.

Perhaps the UN should be based somewhere other than the US.

“The United States Government should oppose and veto future United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel,” the House measure states. It also demands that the U.N. repeal or fundamentally alter the measure it passed.

It is ridiculous to state a position on any future resolutions involving Israel. As the US has veto power this is basically trying to say that the UN shouldn’t deal with any issue involving Israel.

And demanding that the UN should repeal a resolution that passed 14-0 is just plain nuts.

If the US tries a counter resolution once Donald Trump takes over it is unlikely to succeed as it would need a reversal of a majority of countries in the Security Council (the membership has changed since 1 January) and would need agreement of all of the other four permanent members. That’s unlikely to happen.

Trump’s decision to weigh in came at the behest of the Israelis, and it was unusual in the sense that during presidential transition periods the incoming commander-in-chief typically defers to the sitting president on policy decisions.

But Trump has been trying to meddle early on a number of issues, it seems to be his way. The UN may be at serious risk of becoming more dysfunctional with the US under Trump’s presidency.

That there were several dozen Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, who voted against the resolution will be seen as a victory in some corners, including among left-leaning Jewish activists who took comfort in the fact that rival resolutions with softer language had also been proposed.

A minor victory if any.

Nonetheless, that so many Democrats and Republicans joined to condemn the U.N. resolution once again underscored the depth of the bipartisan support for the Israeli government in Congress.

And that underscores the impotence of the UN on Middle East issues. Entrenched side taking means little of value will ever be done.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who chairs a key appropriations subcommittee, has vowed to “suspend or significantly reduce” that America’s contribution to the United Nations, which amounts to about 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget.

If the US doesn’t get what it wants it won’t continue it’s support.

If the US pulls it’s support it should also lose it’s permanent member status.

And if the US won’t support the fundamental principals of how the UN works – democratically albeit flawed due to the extraordinary voting power of the permanent members – then the UN should consider relocating out of the US.

“I think we have to participate in the United Nations, but I’m very disappointed in our lack of our exercising our rights at the United Nations, or exercising them properly,” said GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, adding that he is interested to hear the details of Graham’s proposal and is “inclined to be supportive.”

So their grizzles should be directed at themselves, the United States, rather than directing their petulance at the UN that operated as it is designed to do.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, meanwhile, said “there are certain elements of the U.N. we want to keep.”

They want to keep the bits that allow the US to get it’s own way, and eliminate the bits that don’t do what the US wants? This is pathetic posturing. The world is bigger than the US, and the UN should be too.

The US-UN relationship is likely to deteriorate.

Trump has expressed skepticism about the nature and role of the United Nations over the years, in line with his suspicion of multilateral organizations more broadly.

The president-elect spoke Wednesday morning on the phone with the new U.N. secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, according to transition officials who did not give details of the conversation. Guterres previously led the U.N. agency that helps refugees and has been a passionate advocate for that cause; Trump has insisted the U.S. should not accept any Syrian refugees, putting him at odds with U.N. priorities.

It looks like Trump wants the UN to be a compliant arm of US power and decisions and preference, but he isn’t president-elect of the world.

Trump could munt the UN – without the US it would be meaningless, but it can’t bullied into compliance with US wishes either. Russia and China at least would resist this.

The US under Trump can’t dominate the UN and dominate the world and at the same time  withdraw from it’s UN responsibilities and withdraw from international trade agreements.

There could be a fundamental conflict in Trump’s aims.