World View: Can Ban Ki-moon Prevent Russia from Destroying the United Nations?

This morning's key headlines from

  • Turkey's warplanes shoot down Syrian helicopter
  • U.N. team finds 'large scale' use of sarin gas in Syria
  • Can Ban Ki-moon save the United Nations from Russia?
  • Why are so many German professors against the euro?

Turkey's warplanes shoot down Syrian helicopter

 A destroyed Russian-made helicopter that belonged to the Syrian army is seen at the Minnigh military airport (Reuters)
A destroyed Russian-made helicopter that belonged to the Syrian army is seen at the Minnigh military airport (Reuters)

Turkey scrambled two F-16 jets on Monday and shot down a Syrian Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter after warning it that it was approaching Turkish airspace. The helicopter was shot down over Turkey's airspace, but it landed in a ball of flames on the Syrian side of the border. It's unknown what happened to the pilots, but reports indicate that Syrian anti-government rebels shot them dead after they ejected. 

In June of last year, Syrian forces shot down a Turkish air force jet ("23-Jun-12 World View -- Syria shoots down Turkey's air force jet"). A furious Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that the rules of engagement had changed and that Turkey would use military force in response to any incursion by Syrian aircraft. Zaman (Istanbul)

U.N. team finds 'large scale' use of sarin gas in Syria

A United Nations report concludes that on August 21, "chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in [Syria], also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale," and that "surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in the Ghouta area of Damascus." 

According to U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon: 

The report makes for chilling reading. 

The results are overwhelming and indisputable. The facts speak for themselves. The United Nations Mission has now confirmed, unequivocally and objectively, that chemical weapons have been used in Syria...

There must be accountability for the use of chemical weapons. Any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, is a crime. But our message today must be more than: Do not slaughter your people with gas. There must also be no impunity for the crimes being committed with conventional weapons. 

This is a war crime. This is the most significant confirmed use of chemical weapons against civilians since Saddam Hussein used them in Halabja (Iraq) in 1988. The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare. 

The international community has pledged to prevent any such horror from recurring, yet it has happened again... 

It is for others to decide whether to pursue this matter further to determine responsibility. We may all have our own thoughts on this, but I would simply say that this was a grave crime and those responsible must be brought to justice as soon as possible.

At Russia's insistence, the U.N. team was forbidden from reaching any conclusions about blame, but the report emphasizes the large volume of chemical weapons that were used, that they were delivered by sophisticated rockets, and that the rockets were launched from places controlled by regime of president Bashar al-Assad. U.N. press release and Full U.N. Report (PDF)

Can Ban Ki-moon save the United Nations from Russia?

The laughable op-ed article by Russia's president Vladimir Putin that the NY Times published last week contains the following: 

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

The League of Nations collapsed because it was paralyzed in the 1930s by people like Vladimir Putin. Putin's policy since the 2011 Libya action, as I've reported several times, has been to use the United Nations as a tool to control Barack Obama and cripple American foreign policy, and he's been spectacularly successful since then ("22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics").

So Putin, who massacres his own people in Chechnya, invades Georgia and annexes two Georgian provinces, all "without Security Council authorization," and who provides weapons to the psychopath Bashar al-Assad to promote mass slaughter, mutilation, and murder of his own citizens, now lectures Americans on morality and preserving the United Nations. 

Putin has used the United Nations to lead Barack Obama by the nose and repeatedly humiliate him and the United States. In doing so, he's also harmed the United Nations, making it look useless and impotent. 

And now it looks like Putin is going to do it again. The U.N. team report and Ban Ki-moon's statements make it clear that Bashar al-Assad's regime launched horrific, massive sarin gas attack on Syrian civilians on August 21, a major crime against humanity. But on Monday, Putin's representatives were going full steam denying that the U.N. report proves anything, and that the sarin gas attack was launched by opposition forces, even though that appears to be physically impossible. They were saying that under no circumstances would they authorize military action against Syria, even though it was only the threat of American military action that got Russia and Syria to admit they had chemical weapons. But Putin isn't interested in the truth; he's interested in crippling American foreign policy, using the United Nations as a tool. 

Putin's actions make this an existential crisis for the United Nations itself. Ban Ki-moon must realize this, which is why, I believe, he used such strident, condemnatory language in his statements on Monday, going right up to the line of accusing the Bashar al-Assad regime of new crimes against humanity, though not crossing it. 

In fact, I'm not so sure that what happened on Friday was an accident. As I reported ("14-Sep-13 World View -- Ban Ki-moon accidentally tells the truth about Syria"), Ban was giving a talk to a women's group at the United Nations that was supposed to be private. But in fact his statement, which accused the Bashar al-Assad regime of "many crimes against humanity," was broadcast throughout the U.N. building. Was this all truly an accident? Why was Ban making a statement like that to a women's group? Could he really have been surprised that the cameras were rolling? 

Right now, Putin is controlling the United Nations agenda and crippling American foreign policy. I believe Ban is well aware of this and is looking for ways to take control away from the Russians. Because if Russia is able to prevent any consequences to follow from al-Assad's truly monstrous and gigantic crimes against humanity, then nobody will trust the United Nations again. Russia Today and Jamestown

Why are so many German professors against the euro?

The arch-conservative Philip Plickert has a revealing comment in Frankfurter Allgemeine explaining why so many German professors hate the euro. The reason is largely psychological. Many of them had warned against the adoption of a single currency in the 1990s but were ignored at the time by Helmut Kohl, who considered them technical morons with no sense of the political and historical understanding of the project. It is no surprise, therefore, that they are offended now. EuroIntelligence and Frankfurter Allgemeine (Trans)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Damascus, United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Georgia, Chechnya, Germany, euro 

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