Herbert London: The U.S. In The U.N.
In 1922 Antonio Gramsci, one of the founders of the Italian Communist party, argued that the major impediment standing in the way of a Marxist revolution in Italy was nationalism. So he attempted to insert Italy in the firmament of the Communist International. Since that time there have been many activists who have campaigned for a One World government contending that nationalism is the catalyst for war. Foremost among those “strategists” was Saul Alinsky who maintained the belief that a pathway to socialism is only possible through deracinating national fervor.
Since President Obama acknowledges his debt to Alinsky, it is instructive that the deal with Iran is the full amplification of this international perspective. When Senator Obama was running for office in 2008 he made it clear that U.S. unilateralism was the factor that militated against global stability. He and his aides, Samantha Powers being a key example, believed we should channel American foreign policy through the United Nations. Rather than the dog that wags the tail, the U.S. would be like any other state; in fact, the president’s equivocal stance on American exceptionalism was a manifestation of this policy perspective.
The P5+1 negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program held in Vienna and Geneva suggest the U.S. interests in the Middle East are united in some fashion with Russia, China, Germany, France and England. But as events have evolved from the Chinese air perimeter in the South China Sea to the Russian invasion in eastern Ukraine, our national interests are not harmonious with theirs.
Yet for the first time in American history this government has willingly delegated the fate of our security to others. Here is my point.
For the sake of argument, assume the Congress disapproves of the president’s proposal and even manages to override a presidential veto. The fact is the proposal will have been approved by the Security Council even with congressional dissent. If at some point Congress votes for sanctions – the proverbial “snap back” – the U.S. would be isolated, without the support of either China or Russia. In other words, the decision regarding Iranian nuclear weapons has been internationalized.
Most significantly, while the U.S. has moved inexorably in this multilateral direction realizing an Obama quest, the Russians and Chinese ignore dictates from the UN. For example, United Nations condemnation of Russia when its missiles downed a Malaysian civilian air liner is now a distant memory. Where is the penalty? What is meant by the stigma of international disapproval?
One assumption of the Obama foreign policy team is that an era of global stability will emerge from the acquiescence of the U.S. to international norms. However, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the international stage and its substitution by multilateral influence has had the opposite effect. The world is destabilized from the Levant to the Far East. Believing, as Obama does, that Iran will assume a responsible role in the Middle East withholding its support for terrorism and the expansion of Shia influence, is like believing the leopard will give up its spots if meat is provided on a daily basis.
The accord with Iran is an expression of the politics of hope. In 159 pages the P5+1 express intention, not reality. There isn’t any mention of the previous uranium enrichment program which might serve as a baseline for future evaluations of cheating. Most significantly, there is conspicuous silence about Iranian terrorism from the Khobar Towers to the Jewish Center community bombing in Buenos Aires. In the politics of hope, these historical events simply vanish. Four Americans sitting in Iranian prisons are ostensibly non-persons. The Leopard will relieve itself of spots because we say so. Here is Orwellian double speak with a vengeance.
It is notable that the Obama influences from the past have been rewarded. The United States is ensconced in the United Nations, an organization that is a metaphorical tar baby. We are like any other nation now and the rejoicing in the White House has been greeted by lamentation from the remaining freedom loving people on the globe.
Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org
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