America’s UNESCO fiasco

Published on November 3, 2011   ·   No Comments

America’s debacle in Paris the other day has eclipsed all its ‘achievements’ during the past few months such as the killing of key terrorists and the ouster of the Gaddafi regime. The conferment of full UNESCO membership on Palestine has come as a diplomatic knuckle sandwich for the US-led western bloc on an aggressive campaign to shore up its international image and reassert its global dominance.

The kneejerk reaction of the US to the UNESCO fiasco was to strike back. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland threw up her arms in horror at the UNESCO vote. Calling it regrettable, she claimed it undermined ‘our shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East’. The Obama administration lost no time in cutting US funds to UNESCO to the tune of USD 60 million immediately. Citing a legal barrier to funding any UN agency which recognises Palestine as a full member, Washington has warned of a cascade effect should other UN outfits follow suit.

Its ignominious defeat in Paris is the least of America’s worries. Palestine’s resolute bid to attain nation status by mustering the support of UN members is a worrisome proposition for Washington, which seems to fear that the outcome of the UNESCO vote will not only boost the morale of Palestine’s friends but also serve to change world opinion in favour of the Palestinian cause. The US may be able to use its power of veto to help Israel defeat the Palestinian move at the Security Council level but such action is bound to cause Washington to incur a great deal of international opprobrium.

No sooner had Palestine won in Paris than its phone network in the West Bank and Gaza came under a massive attack by hackers. That act of cyber terrorism is believed to be part of a retaliatory attack. Those who are targeting Palestine in this dastardly manner are only doing it a big favour by generating sympathy for its cause across the globe.

While opposing Palestine’s statehood bid, the US is busy creating new states elsewhere. It was only a few moons ago that Sudan was cut in two at the behest of the US and other western powers which successfully manipulated the UN for that purpose. President Barack Obama, who has seen red over Palestine securing a seat at UNESCO, had no qualms about turning over Libya’s UN seat to the Transitional National Council, while its militiamen including al-Qaeda terrorists were resorting to savage terror in the name of a revolution. Today, even the pro-western human rights groups which kept mum during the Libyan war have had to highlight the TNC rebels’ heinous crimes like massacres, rape, looting and torture.

The US has taken upon itself the task of democratising the world. It is pontificating to other countries about the virtues of elections and the tolerance of dissent. But, it cannot stomach the outcome of the UNESCO vote!

Washington’s fund cut is sure to plunge UNESCO into dire financial straits at least in the short term as the US funds account for about 22 per cent of its annual budget. But, UNESCO certainly has the resilience to square up to such challenges and difficulties. In fact, it has proved it can do without US funds. It did not come crashing down when the US withdrew on President Ronald Regan’s watch in a huff. (America rejoined UNESCO during President George W. Bush’s tenure.)

Now that the US has stopped funding UNESCO and thrown down the gauntlet it is up to the powerful friends of Palestine to pick it up instead of bellowing anti-Israeli rhetoric tainted with venom, racism and threats. Whether the oil rich Arabs and others will turn their verbal backing for Palestine into much needed dollars for UNESCO to keep it afloat at this crucial juncture remains to be seen.

The Island Editorial November 2, 2011, 7:53 pm

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