Stephen Daisley

America has sometimes stood proudest at the UN when it has stood alone

America has sometimes stood proudest at the UN when it has stood alone
Text settings

Outvoted on a resolution on Israel, on the wrong side of international opinion, the United States ambassador responded with an intemperate address to the UN General Assembly.

America’s diplomat told the countries assembled:

'The United States rises to declare before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act… A great evil has been loosed upon the world. The abomination of anti-Semitism… has been given the appearance of international sanction. The General Assembly today grants symbolic amnesty — and more — to the murderers of the six million European Jews. Evil enough in itself, but more ominous by far is the realisation that now presses upon us — the realisation that if there were no General Assembly, this could never have happened.’

It was a speech of uncommon belligerence. The United States was putting the world’s deliberative body on notice that it intended to disregard its deliberations. America’s representative was accusing the United Nations not only of anti-Semitism but of giving quarter to the architects of the Nazi Holocaust. The United States had isolated itself further and undermined relations with dozens of countries.

None of this happened yesterday. The angry words were spoken by Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1975 after the United Nations passed Resolution 3379 and declared Zionism to be ‘a form of racism’. Four decades later Nikki Haley, a follower in Moynihan’s footsteps, stepped out of his shadow and issued the UN a rebuke just as fierce. She could not match Moynihan for oratorical poise but her words were clear and forceful. The United Nations had voted to condemn America for acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and committing to relocating the US embassy there.

Haley warned:

'The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit. America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.’

As with Moynihan, Haley has been chided for her disrespect and bombast. As with Moynihan, she has been accused of isolating America in the world. But Haley is guilty of altogether more vulgarity because she pointed out that the United States was being lectured like a naughty child by countries that regularly line up for pocket money from Washington:

'The United States is by far the single largest contributor to the United Nations and its agencies. We do this, in part, in order to advance our values and our interests. When that happens, our participation in the UN produces great good for the world. Together we feed, clothe, and educate desperate people. We nurture and sustain fragile peace in conflict areas throughout the world. And we hold outlaw regimes accountable. We do this because it represents who we are. It is our American way. But we’ll be honest with you. When we make generous contributions to the UN, we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognised and respected. When a nation is singled out for attack in this organisation, that nation is disrespected. What’s more, that nation is asked to pay for the “privilege” of being disrespected.’

That fair affronted the little darlings. US contributions to the UN are a taxpayer-funded job creation scheme for anti-Americans. How dare Nikki Haley threaten to turn the tap off. And so they lined up – the human rights violators, the cowards of western Europe, and all the lesser nations of the world – to preach and posture, living symbols of the degradation of a once noble ideals.

Yesterday was not the first time America has been more or less on its own at Turtle Bay. Whether Moynihan on Zionism-is-racism or Jeane Kirkpatrick exposing the Soviet Union's downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007, America has sometimes stood proudest at the UN when it has stood alone.