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Resources updated between Monday, September 21, 2009 and Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in National Review Online.

On Wednesday, President Obama told the United Nations General Assembly that "if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards . . . then they must be held accountable. The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced." [Emphasis added].

A day later, the president chaired a session of the U.N. Security Council. He turned it into a summit of heads of state and chose the agenda. He insisted - in the words of the advance American "concept paper" - that "The Security Council Summit will focus on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly and not focus on any specific countries" [Emphasis added].

Obama pushed hard for the adoption of a new Security Council resolution, which was passed unanimously, and which never mentions Iran or North Korea. Upon pounding the gavel, the president proclaimed:

    The resolution we passed today will also strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT]. We have made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and the responsibility to respond to violations to this treaty. We've made it clear that the Security Council has both the authority and responsibility to determine and respond as necessary when violations of this treaty threaten international peace and security. That includes full compliance with Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea. Let me be clear: This is not about singling out individual nations. . . . [W]e must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise, and that treaties will be enforced.
However, speaking today in Pittsburgh, Obama admitted that
    yesterday in Vienna, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France presented detailed evidence to the IAEA demonstrating that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years. . . . The existence of this facility underscores Iran's continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions. . . . Iran's decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime. . . . [T]he size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program. Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow . . . [and is] threatening the stability and security of the region and the world.
In other words, when President Obama addressed the General Assembly and Security Council he already knew that Iran was ignoring international standards, and its latest violations endangered international peace and security more than ever before. And yet he deliberately refused to put Iran on the agenda of the Council summit - the same Council that he claimed bore responsibility for responding to such threats.

President Obama knew that if the magnitude of the Iranian threat were revealed yesterday, the emptiness of his resolution would have been embarrassingly obvious and his cover blown. In public, at the highest levels of the U.N, he heralded generalities as significant. In private, he was petitioning lower levels of the U.N. to act on startling specifics of the Iranian threat.

Why did the president not present this same evidence to the Security Council, the body with "the authority and the responsibility to respond"? Why did he not challenge world leaders to deal with the same Iranian threat that he privately was pressing upon U.N. bureaucrats?

There is only one possible answer: President Obama does not have the political will to do what it takes to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This article, by Robert Costa, originally appeared in National Review Online.

Frequent NRO contributor Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute and executive director of Human Rights Voices, gave us a call from the United Nations to relay her take on President Obama's speech. "The president played to his audience, which was largely an undemocratic one," says Bayefsky. "In that way, he succeeded."

Bayefsky notes that the president received a big round of applause for suggesting that Israel should return to 1967 borders, "without the slightest concern that Israel cannot return to indefensible borders - at least if there is to be any hope of real peace." Obama, she says, also made "a unilateral policy statement about what is supposed to be subject to bilateral negotiations, as if Israel were his vassal state. That made a terrific impression with the folks at the U.N., but it has nothing to do with a global agenda that advances international peace and security."

"President Obama also engaged in another round of moral equivalency," says Bayefsky, "which he made infamous in his Cairo speech. He compared those who live in terror in Israel with those who are still waiting for clean water and a state of their own in 'Palestine,' a statement which ignores history and the facts on the ground. The Palestinian people in Gaza, who elected a government sworn to Israel's destruction, do not have a country of their own because their elected representatives in Gaza have declared their permanent opposition to living side-by-side with any Jewish state. The President's continuing failure to recognize the difference between the victims of terror and the perpetrators bodes ill for any prospect for peace in the Middle East."

Bayefsky adds that one interesting feature of Obama's speech was the number of times that he apologized for America. "He essentially said to the world that 'I'm embarrassed at America's record' and that their hostility toward America prior to his ascendance to the country's highest office was correct."

"He also got a big round of applause when he pledged to stop torturing people," says Bayefsky. "The president set up a straw man - a false statement disputing this country's constant denunciation of torture - to make himself attractive to the outside world. Such words should diminish his credibility as commander-in-chief, a job which demands him to defend our highest principles unapologetically."

"President Obama had the audacity to speak at length about his commitment to standing with the oppressed. While he spoke inside the U.N., hundreds of protesters from Iran were outside refuting his words," says Bayefsky. "President Obama has offered an outstretched hand to the man who is responsible for the terrible fate of Iranian dissidents. Every Iranian demonstrator in New York today said loud and clear that they believe President Obama's policy on Iran to be an outrageous abandonment of democratic values."

President Obama, Bayefsky says, also said that he will no longer tolerate those on the wrong side of history. "It is becoming very plain that the president himself is on the wrong side of history. He stood before a crowd of largely undemocratic leaders and said he was on their side. Instead of leading, the president sounded confused and relativistic, claiming that there is no one form of democracy and that everybody quite reasonably has their own take on what democracy means. Everyone there knew that those words are exactly how the Cubans and Chinese speak in U.N. circles. The president's deliberate ambiguity on the nature of democracy was well-received at the U.N., but it did nothing to enhance America's moral stature and leadership capacity in the world today."

On a final note, Bayefsky says that on Iran, the president said that "if" the country chooses to ignore nuclear standards, then it would have a problem. "If? We already know exactly what Iran has been doing," she says. "Using the word 'if' suggests that President Obama is simply refusing to come to terms with the reality of Iran's nuclear program and that he has an extraordinary blind spot that isn't going away any time soon."

"This speech ought to send shockwaves through the United States and our European allies," concludes Bayefsky. "We have the weakest president in modern times ensconced in Washington, a man who will run away from saying what has to be said, if it doesn't appeal to an audience rife with demagogues."

September 23, 2009

September 22, 2009

September 21, 2009