By Their Deeds Shall You Know Them: Canada's Fatuous Fatwa Against the UN
by C. L. Cook
On November 29th, 2012, Canada's representative to the United Nations, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird addressed a pre-emptive attack against that august body's General Assembly ratification of the Palestinian Authority (PA) application to upgrade its status, and be listed by the UN as a "nonmember observor state." Without irony, Baird blasted the PA attempt, saying:
“We do not believe that unilateral measures taken by one side can be justified by accusations of unilateralism directed at the other. That approach can only result in the steady erosion and collapse of the very foundations of a process which — while incomplete —holds the only realistic chance to bring about two peaceful, prosperous states living side-by-side as neighbours.”It's not the first time Baird has ascended the podium to blast the UN. October 1st of this year witnessed the minister excoriate the United Nations for its failure to, among other things: provide a green light to a Libya-styled military intervention in Syria, (actually nixed in the Security Council by China and Russia); anticipate and prevent genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda; being too self-centred; and, for its inability to curb "[t]he stubborn persistence of totalitarianism and despotism."
Baird's darkly comic October performance crescendoed as laughable tragedy with the invocation of his nation's support of the UN's first principle, Article 1 of its stated purposes:
"To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace."
In another time, a time before current prime minister, Stephen Harper imposed a regime change on the course and character of the country once regarded as a benign, if not always beneficial contributor to global affairs, Baird's pious grandstanding may have been acceptable, if not universally lauded; but today, when Canada's support for the very "stubborn persistence of totalitarianism and despotism" the minister decries manifests in military missions in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Haiti, and the West Bank it merely elicits derisive snorts from those in the know abroad, and sullen laments of acknowledgment from the sad citizenry aware at home of the dire and relentlessly dismal trajectory Baird and his colleagues have charted for the nation.
As though to emphasize the point, the minister took it, in the name of all Canadians, as his responsibility, after lecturing the General Assembly Thursday as to the danger posed to the peace a recognition of the battered and dispossessed Palestinian people would entail, to recall the country's senior diplomats in Israel, the West Bank, and most pointedly, from its UN missions in New York and Geneva. Not weeks following yet another unprovoked military assault against the cities, towns, and overall infrastructure of Gaza, an assault that at the latest count includes at least 162 killed, more than a third of those being children, and more than a thousand wounded, the minister enamoured of the first principles of peace and fairness finds it appropriate to condemn not those inflicting the suffering the failure of diplomacy allows, but attacking the victims of that failing he so vociferously claims to detest.
Facing a barrage of criticism both in Canada and abroad, Baird found himself backpedaling to defend the government's bizarre defenestration at the UN. In a statement after his department's announcement, Baird said:
"Yesterday’s unilateral action does nothing to further the Middle East peace process. It will not change the reality on the streets of the West Bank or Gaza. This unilateral step is an impediment to peace. We again call on the Palestinian Authority and Israel to return to negotiations without preconditions, for the good of their people."Appearing on state television, Baird attacked the PA's titular head, Mahmoud Abbas' presentation to the General Assembly, telling the CBC;
"He basically accused the Israelis of some pretty heinous crimes, ethnic cleansing." [...] "It was a combative speech, no tone of reconciliation. It was an opportunity for him to be magnanimous, to reach out to the Israeli government, and we're disappointed that he didn't take that opportunity."
While Baird may be disappointed in the lack of magnanimity, emphasizing instead the failure of Abbas to "reach out with a hand of reconciliation" to Israel, he made no mention of the eight day onslaught the people of Gaza had just endured, nor the continuing violence perpetrated against Palestinians in the West Bank and accelerated Israeli settlement construction there. (He also included a sly disinheriting of Palestinians from Jerusalem, unofficially recognizing talks between "Jerusalem and Ramallah"). These all being, incidentally, in contravention of multitude UN Resolutions, and Baird's favoured, Article 1.
Failing too to address these points was Baird's CBC interlocutor, Heather Hiscox.
Writing for the Palestine Chronicle, Canadian educator and commentator, Jim Miles deconstructs the many false, and myriad disingenuous half-truths contained within Baird's presentation to the General Assembly Thursday, noting:
"Baird ends his train of thought - a very singular track indeed - with more calls for negotiations and the two state outcome. Both ideas are highly arguable especially now if reference is made to any map that shows the highly non-contiguous nature of what little land is left that is still considered Palestinian. Israel controls all the land and has all the power, backed by the world’s sole superpower, hardly an arrangement under which fair negotiations could occur.
"The final argument is a full non-starter - “We call on both sides to return to the negotiating table without preconditions.”
"Amazing considering that he has just argued for seventy years of preconditions - all the UN Resolutions so proudly quoted in defence of negotiations, none of which has been fulfilled in any form vis a vis Jerusalem, refugees, occupation, and international and humanitarian war crimes against other states and people."
Through its constant support of Israeli and American aggression, Canada has stepped away from its once self-recognized role as a fair and free arbiter on the world stage, trading independence for slavish acquiescence to Power's demands. That the powers that be today are both totalitarian and despotic is acknowledged rightly by non-other than the hapless John Baird, but what the minister fails to see is his own, and the New Government of Canada's, reflection peering back at him through his damnation of the UN.
Baird assures, Canada's diplomats will return to their posts following consultations on what future direction the country will take in dealing with the region. How seriously they will be taken upon that return remains to be seen.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca, and produces the blog htp://GorillaRadioBlog.blogspot.com. He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com.