Friday, September 28, 2012

The UN speeches

I watched Pres. Obama's speech at the 67th annual UN General Assembly meeting in NY with some astonishment.  It was like a teacher speaking to some errant pupils.  He acknowleged that violence is wrong, and that killing Amb. Christopher Stevens was a mistake (after all he was  friend of the Arabs), but there was none of the real emotion that one should express when wronged.  He was not furious or enraged.  He referred to American's first amendement principle of freedom of speech, but only in passing.  And of course, he stressed that the so-called anti-Muslim video was wrong and that the United States had nothing to do with it.  But, in the minds of devout and extremist Muslims it makes no difference.  They still plan to attack the USA and nothing that Obama said will change that.  Well, maybe nothing can be said to change that, but I and many others would have preferred a more strident warning, you attack our Embassy and kill our Ambassador and we will hunt you down and kill you and all connected to you!  That might make them think twice.
In relation to Iran, Obama was more explicit than in his UN speech last year, when he warned Iran (and N. Korea) that if they continue their nuclear programs "the time was not unlimited."  This year he stated that the US "will do what it must" to prevent a nuclear Iran.  But, that still left some "wiggle room" for Iran, after all it is not an explicit threat of military action and Iran doesn't respond to subtlety.  Pres. Ahmedinejad in his last speech at the UN (he retires next year) was less bloodthirsty that previously, he toned it down a bit, but he claimed that Iran was under threat from "uncivilized Zionists."  He called for peace and justice and then claimed that the Western powers were in the service of "the devil."
Pres. Morsi of Egypt spoke for the first time at the UN.  He said that he was the first civilian elected President of Egypt and he intends to do things differently.  He intends to steer an independent course for Egypt and also that Egypt will lead a resurgence in Arab affairs.  He stated that Pres Assad of Syria must be replaced and that Syria will be a friendly country to Egypt and he is against any foreign military intervention in Syria (I suppose he is hoping that the Muslim Brotherhood will take over in Syria).  By contrast the representative of Qatar called for military intervention to topple Assad.  In his list of issues Morsi listed Palestine first, then Syria and ignored Iran.
In his speech at the UN Pres. Abbas of the PA gave a laundry list of indictments against Israel.  He pulled no punches trying to justify why he is taking the unilateral step to have Palestine recognized at the UN as a "non-member state."  He accused Israel of carrying out "ethnic-cleansing", and "war, occupation and settlement colonization."  If anyone looked for any peaceful intentions on the part of the Palestinians they would have been sorely disappointed.  He accused Israel of planning another catastrophe (nakba) for the Palestinians, and he rejected the Oslo Accords that established the PA as a "failure" and stated that Israel has undermined the "two-state solution."  He offered no olive branch to Israel, and he ignored the fact that Israel has recently provided large sums of tax payments to the PA, that have saved it from imminent bankruptcy, while the leadership skims millions of dollars from the foreign aid that props it up. 
PM Netanyahu in his speech focussed on Iran and the threat of Iran developing a nuclear bomb.  With a little show and tell he sought to instil a sense of imminent danger into the proceedings.  He pointed out that 10 years of diplomacy have not stopped Iran and 3 years of sanctions, although effective economically, have not stopped Iran in pursuing its nuclear program.  Time is runnign out and according to his diagram, Iran is already past the 70% stage in enriching enough uranium for a bomb (U-235) and will be at the 90% stage in about 6 months (based on IAEA data).  That is where the "red line" must be drawn, Iran cannot be allowed to pass that red line or we will all be in imminent danger. From that point, once they have that much enriched uranium it will be almost impossible to stop further progress towards Iran producing bombs (to read or see Netanyahu's speech go to  All in all a dire prediction, it seems either we will have war in 6 months to a year or the US must take steps to really threaten Iran to stop its progress in getting the bomb. This is putting pressure on Pres. Obama, but so far he does not seem to be taking the threat from Iran that seriously, leaving Israel to take the lead.


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