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David Cameron speaks to the United Nations General Assembly, attacks the United Nations

By Peter Hoskin
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This morning, it seemed that the stand-out point from David Cameron’s UN speech would be his relative optimism about the course of the Arab Spring. But now that the text of that speech has been beamed around for our reading pleasure, it’s actually a much gloomier passage that leaps from the page. Speaking of the situation in Syria, Mr Cameron launches a verbal volley against the United Nations itself, which includes a barely coded attack on countries such as Russia, China and Iran:

“If anyone was in any doubt about the horrors that Assad has inflicted on his people, just look at the evidence published by Save the Children this week; schools used as torture centres, children as target practice.

A 16 year old Syrian called Wael who was detained in a police station in Dera’a said: ‘I have seen children slaughtered. No, I do not think I will ever be ok again ... If there was even 1% of humanity in the world, this would not happen.’

The blood of these young children is a terrible stain on the reputation of this United Nations.

And in particular, a stain on those who have failed to stand up to these atrocities and in some cases aided and abetted Assad’s reign of terror.”

He goes on to describe how UN countries might help, including by increasing their humanitarian support for the Syrian people. But, really, it’s hard to see past the ferocity of that attack. One of the key trends of the past few years has been — concurrent with the gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan — an escalation in the war of words with Russia and Iran. Now it seems that the UN is catching some flak too, which makes you wonder how much confidence Western policymakers place in the organisation.


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