Obama’s “New Direction” at UN Got Us Nothing

Obama’s “New Direction” at UN Got Us Nothing

September 23rd, 2010

Patrick Goodenough, CNSNews.com

As President Obama prepares to address the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday, the administration is emphasizing the fruits of Obama’s “new era of engagement” with the world body, but many of the touted achievements are open to challenge.

In a press briefing and accompanying statement Monday, the White House underlined progress in a range of areas, from the work of the U.N.’s Geneva-based Human Rights Council, to rallying support for an Iran sanctions resolution in the Security Council, to pushing for an efficiently-run U.N.

The accomplishments were presented as the result of Obama reversing his predecessor’s unconstructive approach.

“This year’s visit to the U.N. General Assembly comes as we have successfully and dramatically changed our course at the United Nations,” U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice told the conference call briefing.

“We’ve ended needless American isolation,” she continued. “We’ve worked to repair what were some badly frayed relationships and scrapped outdated positions. And in the process, we’ve built a strong basis for cooperation that advances our security.”

Iran, North Korea

Both the briefing and statement stressed the importance of U.S. leadership in getting the Security Council to impose sanctions on North Korea (resolution 1874 in June 2009) and on Iran (resolution 1929 in June 2010).

While the resolutions did toughen existing sanctions against the regimes, both were watered down at the insistence of permanent Security Council members China and Russia.

The Iran resolution eventually was passed after six months of negotiations during which administration officials pledged that sanctions would be “crippling.”

Monday’s White House statement described the resolution as “the toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government.”

Crucially, however, the resolution did not target gasoline shipments, widely viewed as Tehran’s Achilles heel as it imports up to 40 percent of its gasoline needs.

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