Cheap Ruses at the UN

A UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Syria’s violent actions against protesters was vetoed by both China and Russia. They wanted some sort of guarantee that outside intervention would not happen. U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was not happy with the developments. She walked out of the meeting after the vote was cast, calling the move a “cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people.” The European-drafted resolution had already been stripped of any mention of sanctions.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is taking the budget debate to NATO, warning the organization that Washington won’t be able to cover any funding and support shortfalls in the near future. He called on NATO countries to step up and bolster the organization's capabilities: “There are legitimate questions about whether, if present trends continue, NATO will again be able to sustain the kind of operations that we have seen in Libya and Afghanistan without the United States taking on even more of the burden.” He said the joint alliance has to work together, and that “we cannot afford for countries to make decisions about force structure and force reductions in a vacuum.” Panetta called on NATO countries to coordinate defense cuts so the organization isn’t hollowed out.

Attorney General Eric Holder is coming under fire. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday requested that special counsel be appointed to look into whether Holder may have lied during testimony in May about his knowledge of “Operation Fast and Furious.” The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s operation in theory allowed some guns to be illegally sold to Mexican drug cartels so that sellers and purchasers could be tracked. But the op has since come under close scrutiny and criticism. Holder is being accused of lying about when he first became aware of the operation.

And an update on the Middle East Quartet: the group will now be meeting on Sunday in Brussels to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. U.S. special envoy David Hale will represent the United States.