With a UN Security Council resolution passed authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya, and the use of "any means necessary to protect civilians", NATO powers are getting ready to enforce the terms of the resolution. The conflict in Libya is about to enter a new phase.
When the United States abstained at the last minute on last week's Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, many were surprised, since Washington had made its support for the resolution clear. John Bolton was surprised, too, but in the other direction: if he had been there, the U.S. would have swung the pendulum all the way to a veto. What's interesting about Bolton's stance is not so much the reasoning behind his unthinking opposition to this particular resolution -- which he declines to provide in his Wall Street Journal op-ed today, instead simply labeling the measure "anti-Israel" as a matter of course -- but the worldview that shapes his convictions. In chastising the United States for not thumping its veto loudly upon the table, Bolton does not seem the least concerned that the resolution passed; what really irks him is what he sees as the United States' "weakness." In his black-and-white conception of Security Council dynamics, there are only two positions: strength and cowardice.
But abstaining comes with its own costs. A permanent member's abstention invariably reflects that it failed to achieve its objectives. It also signals timidity.Included are some ruminations about other countries' foreign policies that London, Paris, Moscow, and Beijing might be surprised to learn.
Britain and France avoid vetoes for fear that if they are seen to be too hard-edged, they will be harried off of the Security Council and replaced by one European Union seat. Russia and China are motivated by other pressures. Russia is cautious because its influence is waning. China's influence is increasing, but it feels the need to tread lightly.Nowhere does Bolton give any indication that countries might vote for a resolution because they support it, or vote against it because they oppose it. Everything is part of a hard-nosed political game, one with no room for compromise (or "surrender," as revealingly Bolton terms it in his book). The idea of abstaining from a vote out of a sense of not wanting to derail an entire peace process, then, finds no room in Bolton's schema. For what is peace in Gaza when there are important objectives like flaunting American power to accomplish? (image from flickr user graney under a Creative Commons license)
UN Foundation President Timothy E. Wirth issued a statement on the draft United Nations General Assembly resolution that condemns deniers of the Holocaust: "The United Nations Foundation welcomes the international effort to reaffirm the tragedy of the Holocaust. Neither the horror of the Holocaust nor the shining example set for international cooperation in response to it should ever be forgotten." Read Wirth's full statement here.
BBC News: "North Korea says it will not consider halting its nuclear program unless UN sanctions imposed after it tested a nuclear device in October are lifted. The condition was part of the North's tough opening statement as six-nation talks on the issue resumed in Beijing after a one-year suspension."
CNN: "Blaming the United States for instigating U.N. Security Council sanctions against it, North Korea on Tuesday called the resolution approved over the weekend a "declaration of war." North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency that the country wants "peace but is not afraid of war."
Washington Post: "The Israeli cabinet voted Sunday to accept a U.N.-declared cease-fire, even as Israeli military forces and Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon launched some of their most intense barrages of the war in anticipation of the Monday morning deadline. The Lebanese government and Hezbollah agreed to the cease-fire Saturday."
AP: "The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Friday that calls for an end to the war between Israel and Hezbollah, and authorizes 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers to help Lebanese troops take control of south Lebanon as Israel withdraws.... Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert endorsed the resolution late Friday, after a day of brinksmanship including a threat to expand the ground war."