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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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