When the United States Stands Alone

US
President Donald Trump addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, N.Y., September 24, 2019. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

There’s going to be a lot of talk about the U.N. over the next couple of weeks. The 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly will kick off with speeches by President Trump and other world leaders next week. And the U.N. Human Rights Council is currently meeting in Geneva, as China works to bring international human-rights mechanisms under its control, and as it and other authoritarian powers seek election to the body (if history is any guide, they’ll be successful).

The usual suspects are already spinning up the narrative that the United States stands alone at the U.N. Last week, the United States and Israel were the only countries to vote against a General Assembly resolution on the global coronavirus response. Some have seized upon that vote to paint the United States as a bad faith actor that stands alone in the world.

An assistant editor of a website notorious for laundering Chinese and Russian state media talking points wrote on Twitter, “The US empire and its little brother-in-crime Israel are the world’s biggest rogue regimes.” Unsurprisingly, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying agrees, tweeting this morning: “The US stands in opposition to the international community. Its objection to the UN resolution calling for solidarity and cooperation against COVID19 only isolates itself.”

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In addition to the General Assembly vote, Hua highlighted two other recent U.N. votes: The U.S. attempt to re-impose U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran that had been lifted by the 2015 nuclear agreement, and a Chinese-authored U.N. Human Rights Council resolution approved in June of 2020. Here, as it often does, the Chinese Communist Party is simply lying. It’s worth looking at what actually happened.

Hua’s tweet claims that the U.S. was the only country to vote against the UNHRC resolution in June — but the Trump administration had already left the council two years before that. The picture Hua shared was from a vote in 2018. And no wonder: Though a Chinese resolution promoting disturbing language on human rights still passed in June, 16 countries voted against it. It’d be better if the resolution hadn’t passed at all, but this episode demonstrates that the U.S.’s concerns are shared by at least some UNHRC members.

As for the Iran sanctions vote, it’s true that only the United States and the Dominican Republic supported the measure. Once U.N. sanctions are lifted in October, Iran will regain the ability to buy conventional arms. Only the United States has sought to avert this grave outcome. China and Russia eagerly await their chance to sell arms to this U.S. adversary, and, meanwhile, France and the United Kingdom are preoccupied with preserving the Iran deal, which they see as a higher priority than preventing arms shipments to Tehran.

On its face, the U.S. vote against a General Assembly resolution on the global coronavirus response sounds inexplicable. But beneath the resolution’s innocuous-sounding language on international cooperation to combat the pandemic lies a political agenda that was successfully adopted by the assembly. While the initial draft would have been more acceptable to Washington, the one that eventually passed excluded references to human-rights defenders that appeared in the first draft. And thanks to a last minute amendment proposed by Cuba, a new clause urges states to lift their economic sanctions, a non-starter for any country that seeks to punish the many crimes committed by authoritarian regimes. In this light, it’s surprising that other democracies with similar sanctions authorities supported the resolution.

The main thread running through these incidents supposedly marking the United States’ isolation at U.N. bodies is its refusal to back down in the face of authoritarian attempts to coopt international organizations. What’s inexplicable isn’t that the U.S. stands apart from the international community; it’s that too few countries have supported its efforts.

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8 Comments

  1. The United Nations are united against America. Americans have freedoms that populations around the globe only dream about. They can only dream about them because they are impossible to have. They don’t have freedom of speech, travel or possessions as guaranteed in the USA. They cannot protest or even question what their government is doing. People are raped, murdered or simply disappeared. Where is their justice system? Leaders of such Political Power join together to destroy the last remaining freedoms that are left and that is the USA. Not all people around the world suffer to the same degree of course, but still they cannot be totally free. It is apparent that the United Nation countries would rather destroy America than fix their own peoples problem. None of those governments want to admit it is following the wrong path and making its people suffer. “Long Live America”…

    1. Standing with God has not been a popular idea but it is the only one that makes sense. And He has shown time and time again that He is with us. We just need to stay strong and not let anyone interfere with the freedoms we have. Even the ones here in our own country who are trying to change our country into a socialist nightmare. We need to keep fighting against that.

  2. The United Nations are nothing but a bunch of Leeches that have been living off of the American taxpayers since it began. Their mere presence in this country is a significant liability in addition to the expense of providing security. It is not only the financial expense but our nation continues to pay with the blood of our youth while they rest comfortably under the blanket of protection which we provide.

  3. The UN was created with a 3 fatal flaws.

    Allowing dictatorships and fascist muslim states in the UN.
    Allowing communists states in the UN.
    Allowing Russia and China to have veto power.

    All free countries should withdraw and stop all funding at once to the UN and reform under NATO, with several minor changes.

    Deport all muslims from the west, citizens or not.
    Replace Turkey with Israel.

  4. here lies the underlining truth to all the comments and all of the talk…….. (silence)…… the United Nations is a significant and symbolic precedent of a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT or New World Order…….. America stands not alone, BUT, in the way. America is just merely a petulant nuisance that must be obliterated into dust. a memory that should be forgotten within due time of tyrannical reign over the sheep. We are not People according to the United Nation’s mandates, We are subjects that must be put in check to enforce a better understanding of Our place on this planet. talking will only go so far……. fighters, challengers, contenders , resisters and overall rebels didn’t talk about freedom or talk Their way to freedom. We the People, have an obligation, not only to Ourselves, but of the fate of Our children and Their future that We maintain Our stance against the Totalitarians, Authoritarians and the Tyrannical Minions who are desperately throwing everything including all kinds of sinks at U.S. to make an example to the REST. when the time arrives to talk no more, will any of You rise and battle for Your lives?? because much sooner than later, it’s going to come to just that, the fight for Our lives.

    sincerely,
    a Veteran of two wars

    P.S. as long as CORRUPTION is the ruling factor on this planet, and not the Laws in it.
    the Lunacy shall continue,
    the LUNATIC shall exist!!!

  5. The idea of the United States standing alone is not a new one but it continues to be a bad one. Our most successful foreign affairs ventures have been those taken in concert with a group of allies.

    We are not invincible, but we can attain close to it with our usual group of allies. Our number 1 adversary still has over 2000 high powered nukes that either are or can be aimed at us. Our fearless leader has a man crush on Putin, Chief Comrade of the Party and let’s him do as he wishes.

    Trump’s foreign policy is to allow such leaders to get away with thumbing their noses at us and ending up with the bird. He has allowed them overflight of our major cities by war planes without prior notice.

    Those who object to spending money on keeping supplies and personnel in foreign countries where dangers of war or future pandemics are high should keep in mind that it’s better to send troops there and fight or add to efforts to contain a viral outbreak there. We now seem intent on withdrawing from all these postures that have been carefully developed and the relationships we developed over the past 70 plus years.

    If we continue to toss long allied relationships and look to be friendly with our enemies, then we better look to our new found friend’s actions and statements before we throw open the Oval Office door. After 45 or so years eye balling the Russians around the world and over the walls of Berlin, the old USSR crumbled.

    It was the wild west for a number of years and then came Putin an old Comrade from the KGB sliding up the tree until he gets to the top of the tree. His past screams Comrade Assassin and he has continued that part of his repertoire.

    Trump and Putin having private phone calls is a dangerous practice.

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