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The Endless War

Guterres Relativizes Hamas Terror — And We See What The UN Has Become

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' comments on the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas, which he said “did not occur in a vacuum,” constitute an incomprehensible relativization of a barbaric mass murder. Shameful, but not surprising, writes Die Welt's editor-in-chief Jennifer Wilton.

Photo of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking during a press conference at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza on Oct. 20.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaking during a press conference at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza on Oct. 20.

Jennifer Wilton


BERLIN — That is one special kind of achievement. On the very anniversary of the United Nations' creation, 78 years to the day after the ratification of its founding document — a treaty dedicated to peace, the rights of peoples, the dignity and worth of individuals — that the UN's chief tramples on so much of what is enshrined in that treaty.

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Not that the expectations for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, or the UN itself for that matter, are particularly high. They haven't been for a long time. The suspicion that the United Nations has become the opposite of what it originally stood for is not new per se: Authoritarian states have made it a habit to exploit the organization to pass themselves off as democracies. Russia, in particular, has become a master at this.

It's also worth noting that Israel has been consistently targeted with a multitude of resolutions for decades — an estimated 140 since 2015, more than twice as many as have been leveled against other states during that period.

Unfathomable affront

Still, Secretary-General Guterres managed to surpass every expectation, or lack thereof. He did so on the day when a group of journalists witnessed, for the first time, the unbearable images of what was done to people in Israel, to Jews, in the Hamas terror attack on Oct. 7.

Many were left speechless. Not the UN's chief. The barbaric murder of children, women, men did not happen in a "vacuum," he said. This is not only a relativization of the worst terrorist attack in recent history; it is an unfathomable affront to the dignity of the victims, their families, and all people.

"Human rights" are the epitome of hypocritical or foolish idealism.

There is a certain subcommittee within the UN, called the Human Rights Commission — another body that has done very little lately that is in line with its mission. Yet, as a reminder, its founding document states that the contempt for human rights led to "acts of barbarism that have outraged the conscience of mankind."

Guterres should resign

These "acts of barbarism" referred, primarily, to the Holocaust. It was the reason behind the fundamental rethinking, after 1945, of the very definition of what human rights are. Antonio Guterres may have heard that on that horrifying Saturday, almost three weeks ago, some 1,400 Jews were brutally murdered.

German-born U.S. philosopher Hannah Arendt, who was almost always right and almost always misunderstood, wrote a long time ago that "human rights" are the epitome of hypocrisy and foolish idealism. The Secretary-General of the United Nations seems intent on proving that all over again.

Guterres should resign. But does it even matter with a body that has long been working against all the principles on which it was founded?

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AI And War: Inside The Pentagon's $1.8 Billion Bet On Artificial Intelligence

Putting the latest AI breakthroughs at the service of national security raises major practical and ethical questions for the Pentagon.

Photo of a drone on the tarmac during a military exercise near Vícenice, in the Czech Republic

Drone on the tarmac during a military exercise near Vícenice, in the Czech Republic

Sarah Scoles

Number 4 Hamilton Place is a be-columned building in central London, home to the Royal Aeronautical Society and four floors of event space. In May, the early 20th-century Edwardian townhouse hosted a decidedly more modern meeting: Defense officials, contractors, and academics from around the world gathered to discuss the future of military air and space technology.

Things soon went awry. At that conference, Tucker Hamilton, chief of AI test and operations for the United States Air Force, seemed to describe a disturbing simulation in which an AI-enabled drone had been tasked with taking down missile sites. But when a human operator started interfering with that objective, he said, the drone killed its operator, and cut the communications system.

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