“Leadership” of the Free World

The recent moves by the self-declared “leader of the free world” are puerile to an extreme.

The vote to grant membership to Palestine in the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO was 107 votes in favor, 14 against, and 52 abstentions. The United States was one of the 14 votes against, demonstrating that it was only “leading” a small group of nations.

The reaction of the US was embarrassing. It announced cancellation of its $60 million payment due in November to the UN body. Membership dues paid by the U.S. account for about 20 percent of UNESCO’s annual budget. Canada also announced it would withholding “voluntary contributions” (are there involuntary contributions?) to UNESCO.

What does withholding funding of UNESCO mean? Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO gives some examples:

… thousands of girls and women in Afghanistan, in Africa and around the world, who have learned to read and write, with the help of UNESCO… the Iraqi education satellite channel that supports learning to Iraqi girls and boys, including refugees and internally displaced persons… hundreds of journalists around the world who are at this very moment harassed, killed or imprisoned, because they stand by the truth … the stolen treasure of Benghazi, Libya, for which UNESCO was first to ring the alarm bell… the millions of lives that may be saved by the Tsunami warning system …1

The sore loser reaction of the US, Canada, and Israel conjures up visions of children playing where one child threatens to take his ball home unless the others play by his rules. This seems an apt analogy for the behavior of the “leader of the free world.”

So much for respect for democratic values that the United States claims to be exporting (often through the barrel of a gun) to the – supposedly – unfree world. The US is violating again an expression of democracy by the world body.

The decision to cut funding to UNESCO was difficult for the US to defend. AP reporter Matthew Lee had US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland scrambling – unsuccessfully – to offer credible responses for the US line.2

“Leader of the free world” … whatever free world means. Certainly many wage slaves do not feel free, and neither do migrants forever evading Homeland security feel free. So what is the “free world”? The 13 other nations that voted along with the US on the UNESCO vote? And who are the free peoples?

Then US President Harry Truman said, “The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world—and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own Nation.”3

There is no greater warmongering nation than the United States.4

Are the 99% free? If one observes the police state repression against them in such places as Oakland, one can only conclude that they are not even free “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” as is constitutionally guaranteed by the First Amendment in the US.

All this is transpiring because the Palestinians are asking for what the Israelis always demand for themselves (backed by the US): recognition of statehood. The hypocrisy could not be much starker.

Despite all the pandering of the US on behalf of the Zionist state, the hawkish (and mawkish) Washington Times is declaring a new “leader of the free world”: Israel.5

Israel – cited serially for violations of international law, peace, human rights, war crimes, crimes against humanity – is no friend of an uncontrolled United Nations. Israel routinely requires the US to wield its undemocratic veto to protect itself against world censure.

The US rarely fails in this regard. But at what price? Apparently at the price of the “leadership” that it claims for itself.

  1. Irina Bokova, “à l’occasion de l’examen du point relatif à l’admission de la Palestine comme Etat membre de l’UNESCO,” UNESCO, 31 October 2011. []
  2. View the exchange at “U.S. Pulls All Funding for UNESCO After Sweeping Vote to Support Palestinian Membership,” Democracy Now! 1 November 2011. []
  3. The leader of the free world – Exceptionalism,” Encyclopedia of the New American Nation. []
  4. See William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000). []
  5. Editorial, “Leader of the Free World no more,” Washington Times, 28 November 2009. []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.