Tag Archives: U.N.

UN offers hope amid peril


By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The United Nations has offered the world a bad news/good news report on the state of Earth’s changing climate.

I’ll go with the bad news first: Climate change is here, it is now and the state of our planet’s climate is not well.

Now for the good news: It  is not too late to fix it.

The U.N. monitors these things for all 8 billion of us Earthlings. I mean, we need to know the state of the only habitable planet known to humankind. The report comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It says in part, according to Wired: “We’ve known for decades that the world is warming, but this report tells us that recent changes in the climate are widespread, rapid, and intensifying—unprecedented in thousands of years,” said Ko Barrett, IPCC vice chair and senior adviser for climate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at a press conference Sunday announcing the report. “The bottom line is that unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C—or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit—will be beyond reach.”

I get it. I hope you do, too. Here is a glimmer of hope from the IPCC. We have it within our power to slow the rate of increase in the worldwide temperature, which could forestall a global environmental catastrophe. President Biden has said he wants to cut carbon emissions by half over the next couple of decades. He has appointed former Secretary of State John Kerry as the nation’s international climate diplomat.

There once was a theory that we had passed the point of no return on climate change. That theory has changed somewhat. Environmentalists suggest now that it we can do more.

Climate change is not the “hoax” that too many deniers have called it. The wildfires out west, the flooding in the east, the rising sea levels, the diminishing polar ice caps, the deforestation that continues in the Third World all provide all the proof I need that we need to get busy.

The UN Climate Report: All Is Not Well—but All Is Not Lost (msn.com)

Time is not our friend, ladies and gentlemen.

WHO gets cut off

This decision makes about as little sense as Donald Trump declaring that the coronavirus pandemic is “under control.”

Trump has terminated this nation’s relationship with the World Health Organization. Think of this for a moment.

The planet is locked in a struggle against a killer viral infection. WHO stands as a worldwide clearinghouse for valuable medical information and assistance to nations seeking help in fighting diseases just like COVID-19.

What does Trump do? He cuts off WHO. He said this week he intends to spend the estimated $450 million annually we spend on WHO on other health-related organizations. Which ones? Which of them will get the money? What will they do with it?

Trump is angry with WHO because the United Nations-sponsored agency covered up — he says — for China when the pandemic first broke. He’s angry with China … after giving China credit for its alleged “transparency” in fighting the disease. He’s always been angry with the U.N., preferring to rely on that idiotic “America first” pledge he made while running for president in 2016.

I need to point out how Trump has farmed out so much of his private business employment to non-Americans, but I digress.

Now the WHO is seeking to fight the pandemic without the financial support of the nation that (a) provides more money by far than any other nation to the agency and (b) has recorded more infections and death — also by far — than any other nation on Earth.

Does that make sense? I didn’t think so.

Trump continues his rampage

Donald J. Trump is having a busy week, indeed.

The president has taken direct aim at (a) the Affordable Care Act, (b) the Iran nuclear deal and (c) the United Nations. To what end? To show the world he’s putting “America first” and that he doesn’t care what the rest of the nation that didn’t vote for him thinks about the policies he is dismantling.

* Trump this week declared his intention to discontinue the subsidies the government pays to reduce health insurance premiums for Americans who need them to purchase insurance under the ACA. He’s seeking to destroy former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, no matter how many millions of Americans he hurts along the way.

* The president has decided against recertifying the Iran nuclear pact that Obama’s foreign policy team negotiated with five other nations. It seeks to demand that Iran quit developing nuclear weapons. International analysts say Iran is complying with the deal; Trump says the Iranians aren’t complying. Hmm. Who do you believe, the experts or a pathological liar?

* Trump has decided to pull the United States out of UNESCO, a UN-affiliated organization dedicated to developing world peace through collaborative educational, scientific and cultural reforms. That sound pretty nefarious, right? He cites an alleged “anti-Israel bias” in the UN. So, he’ll just pull us out of UNESCO. That’ll teach ’em.

The president just cannot stop doing things that make many of us angry. Sure, he pleases a lot of folks around the country with this so-called “no-nonsense” approach to domestic and international policy.

In my own view, though, he is forsaking policies only because they were crafted by his predecessor, the fellow Trump defamed by suggesting for years he wasn’t qualified constitutionally to serve as president; it’s that “birther” thing.

As for the UNESCO pullout, Trump is managing to anger allied nations who do not view the world through the same distorted prism the president uses.

But, by golly, he’s telling it like it is.

Quit the U.N.? Sure thing, Sarah

Half-Term Gov. Sarah Palin thinks she’s nailed it with a major foreign policy solution.

The United States should just pull out of the United Nations over the U.N. Security Council’s vote to condemn Israel over its building of settlements along the West Bank, according to Palin.

That’s it, says the one-time Alaska governor. Let’s just quit the U.N. and lose our still-powerful voice on the Security Council. Let’s just leave it to others to make decisions critical to U.S. foreign policy and internal security.

Palin’s foreign policy chops are, shall we say, limited in the extreme … which is to say she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.


Palin ran for vice president on a Republican ticket led by John McCain in 2008. After the McCain-Palin ticket got trounced by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, she quit her governorship in the middle of her first term.

Now this quitter wants the president-elect to listen to her “advice” on how to handle a vote on the Security Council? She obviously disagrees with the decision by the United States to abstain from the Israel condemnation vote, rather than veto it as we have done in the past.

Well, I disagree with the decision, too.

Does anyone — other than, say, TEA Party members of the GOP — believe we ought to pull out of the U.N. over this single vote? Give me a break.

The United States of America retains a significant voice in the international body. It shouldn’t toss it in the crapper in a fit of pique.

Why this fierce battle over a Cabinet pick?


I’ll admit that I haven’t always watched closely the process a president-elect goes through to fill Cabinet picks.

Still, the growing tempest over Donald J. Trump’s vetting of secretary of state candidates has me wondering: Is this normal? Have previous presidents-elect faced this kind of outward and public tumult?

The Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is in the running to lead the State Department. A lot of Trumpkins don’t want him anywhere near the new president. Why? Mitt said some harsh things about their guy during the campaign. They want Mitt to apologize before Trump picks him. They also don’t believe Mitt will be loyal to the president.

I happen to believe Mitt was right when he called Trump a “fraud” and a “phony.” At one level, Mitt seems like the absolutely wrong choice to be the vicar of Trump’s foreign policy — whatever it is. Then again, selecting Mitt would verify what many of us have believed all along, which is that Trump has no policy and he’s looking for someone to help him build one from scratch; Mitt could do that for Trump.

Who’s other “favorite” for State? Rudy Giuliani, that’s who. The one-time “America’s mayor” would be a terrible choice. He has no foreign policy experience, other than the money he earned representing foreign governments — which presents a serious conflict of interest.

I keep hearing that former U.N. ambassador John Bolton is in the hunt, too, for the State Department post. He has called for the bombing of Iran, which surely works against any effort to develop “diplomatic initiatives” from the Trump administration. Don’t go there, either, Mr. President-elect.


Former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said she isn’t even sure Mitt voted for Trump in the election. My response? That’s no one’s business how someone votes; that’s why the ballots are cast in secret.

This melodrama is going to play out eventually, I reckon.

If only the president-elect had a deeper pool of applicants to consider for this post. He’s going to need plenty of help developing a foreign policy doctrine. Mitt could deliver it … if only he can get the Trumpkins on his side.

Hold on for a rough ride.

Allow this dissent on ‘most qualified’ candidate for POTUS

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01: President George H.W. Bush waits on the field prior to the start of the game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

“I can say with confidence there has never been a man or woman — not me, not Bill, nobody — more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”

So said the current president, Barack H. Obama, this past week at the Democratic National Convention that nominated Clinton to run for the presidency.

I am going to quibble with the president on this one.

Hillary Clinton probably is more “qualified” on paper than either Obama or her husband to become president. Obama served in the Illinois Senate and then briefly in the U.S. Senate before being elected president in 2008. Bill Clinton served as Arkansas attorney general and as governor of his home state before being elected president in 1992.

Clinton’s wife served in the U.S. Senate and as secretary of state after serving as first lady — while taking an active role in policy decisions made during her husband’s administration.

But is Hillary Clinton the most qualified person ever to seek the office?

For my money, the honor of most qualified candidate — in my lifetime, at least — goes to a Republican.

I give you George Herbert Walker Bush.

You are welcome to argue the point with me if you wish.

But G.H.W. Bush’s pre-presidency credentials are damn impressive.

He flew combat missions in World War II as the Navy’s youngest fighter pilot. Bush then came home, moved to Texas and started an oil company. Then he served in Congress, where he represented the Houston area for a couple of terms before losing a Senate bid to Democrat Lloyd Bentsen.

That wasn’t nearly the end of his public service.

He would later be appointed to serve as head of the CIA, as special envoy to the People’s Republic of China, as chairman of the Republican National Committee, as ambassador to the United Nations — and then he served as two vice president for two terms during Ronald Reagan’s administration.

I get that President Obama wants to cast his party’s nominee in the best possible light. Given that she’s running against someone — Donald J. Trump — who is likely the least qualified candidate for president in U.S. history, the president perhaps can be excused for a bit of embellishment.

But a great man is still with us.

Sure, President Bush lost his bid for re-election to Bill Clinton. That, though, must not diminish the myriad contributions he made in service to our beloved country.

Complicated relationship may get really testy


The world is full of complicated bilateral relationships: Greece and Turkey, India and Pakistan, Israel and Egypt.

A pair of nations, though, may have witnessed an event that makes their stunningly complex relationship even more so.

Taiwan has just elected its first female president, Tsai Ing-wen. It’s not her gender that complicates matters. It’s her longstanding support for something that sends government officials in the People’s Republic of China into orbit: Taiwanese independence.

Tsai leads the Democratic Peoples Party, which long has advocated that Taiwan declare its independence from the PRC.

However, there’s this tiny problem (actually, it’s huge). China considers Taiwan to be a “renegade province” that belongs to the mainland government, the communists who took over the country in a bloody civil war right after World War II.

The Kuomintang, which governed China, fled to Taiwan in 1949 and set up a new government.

For more than six decades, China has declared it wanted Taiwan back. Meanwhile, Taiwan grew into a powerhouse nation all on its own, independent of China.

Tsai’s victory isn’t likely to produce a declaration of independence in the next week, month or perhaps even a year from now.

However, it strains to the max a relationship that had been showing signs of thawing in recent years.

Allow me a bit of personal privilege here.

I’ve visited Taiwan five times as a journalist, dating back to 1989. I returned in 1994, 1999, 2007 and 2010. I have seen a country that has grown tremendously just since my first visit.

Taiwan had functioned under martial law until 1989. The ruling party felt it necessary to impose strict curfews and restrictions on its citizens, given the tremendous threat of violence posed by the giant neighbor on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

The island has functioned famously since martial law was lifted.

But the threat of military action persists. The Taiwanese officials I have visited over many years have told me they take those threats seriously and have built a muscular military apparatus quite capable of inflicting damage on any nation in the world. The Taiwanese also have a defense pact with another significant nation: the United States of America, which has pledged to come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of war with, um, the PRC.

President-elect Tsai isn’t likely to do anything rash. At least that’s my hope.

Taiwan already is shut out of virtually all international associations: the United Nations evicted Taiwan in 1971 when it admitted the PRC; the United States severed official diplomatic relations with Taiwan when it recognized the PRC; the World Health Organization bans Taiwan’s participation.

The international community follows what’s called a “one-China policy,” meaning that the only “China” it recognizes is the big one, the PRC.

That’s all fine, except that Taiwan is, well, Taiwan. Most of its 24 million residents were born on the island and they have diminishing links with the mainland.

Yes, Taiwanese still speak Chinese. Their names look and sound Chinese. However, the country has developed into an entity that — for all intents — is independent already from China.

The problem remains, though, that it cannot declare officially its independence as long as those big, bad commies on the mainland keep threatening military action.

As China has shown over many years, it doesn’t like being lectured by other nations about how to conduct its affairs.

You want complicated? This Taiwan-China thing goes beyond my understanding of the word.