Caracas 181, Kerry 0

Thursday, October 16, 2014
From The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board:

Caracas 181, Kerry 0

Venezuela gets a U.N. Security Council seat with no U.S. resistance.

Venezuela’s economy may be imploding, with a debt default looming, but the enemy of the United States on Thursday managed the diplomatic coup of being elected to the United Nations Security Council. So much for the Obama Administration’s political and moral influence with the “international community.”

“This is a moment of great pride for all of Venezuela,” said President Nicol├ís Maduro from Caracas. “The world has given us support. We should feel happiness in our hearts that we are a country that is admired and loved.”

The vote, after a long campaign by Caracas and its friends in Havana and Moscow, ought to be an embarrassment to the Obama Administration, which barely lifted a hand to stop Venezuela’s accession for a two-year term through 2016. Secretary of State John Kerry apparently felt it wasn’t worth the effort, or perhaps that the effort wouldn’t succeed.

That’s in contrast to the George W. Bush Administration, which managed to block Venezuela when Caracas was last on the ballot. A country can be defeated with the votes of one-third plus one of the 193-member U.N. General Assembly. This time Venezuela received 181 votes, and the U.S. wouldn’t say how it voted. Ten countries abstained.

“Unfortunately, Venezuela’s conduct at the U.N. has run counter to the spirit of the U.N. Charter and its violations of human rights at home are at odds with the Charter’s letter,” said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, in a statement. She’s right, but now she’ll have the privilege of listening to Venezuela denounce the U.S. on a regular basis.

Venezuela will be one of the 10 rotating members of the Security Council, and with any luck it won’t matter. The Security Council has become increasingly irrelevant as Russia and China exercise their vetoes against concerted action in Syria or the world’s other despotisms.

Still, President Obama usually insists on the world’s blessing before the U.S. acts even in its own defense, so it will be a particular irony if Cuba’s best friend in the Americas now bedevils the U.S. security agenda through the end of the Obama Presidency.