The World Has Spoken on Gaza: The US Again Stands Alone

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres “had just invoked Art.99 of the UN Charter – for the 1st time in [his] tenure as Secretary-General.” Article 99 states that “The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security.” It was the first time it had been invoked since 1989.

The fifteen member Security Council responded by holding a meeting to vote on an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell “ask[ed] the EU members of the UN Security Council and like-minded partners to support” the resolution. Thirteen nations voted in favor of the resolution. The UK abstained. The US used its veto as a permanent member to block the resolution and ensure that it did not pass. The US stood alone.

One month earlier, the United Nations General Assembly gathered for the thirty-first time to vote on ending the US embargo on Cuba. For the thirty-first time, the resolution overwhelmingly passed. 187 countries voted in favor of the resolution. Ukraine abstained. Only Israel voted with the US against the resolution to end the embargo. The US, again, stood alone.

So isolated is the US that, in each case, with the exception of the UK abstaining on Gaza and Ukraine abstaining on Cuba, all of the US’ European and NATO partners broke from them.

Responding to the US vetoed Security Council vote on Gaza, Egypt and Mauritania invoked Resolution 377A. A rarely called upon resolution, 377A, or Uniting for Peace, was adopted in 1950 and was last invoked in 1997. Resolution 377A first reaffirms that, in the exercise of its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, it is the duty of the five permanent members of the Security Council “to seek unanimity and exercise restraint in the use of the veto.”

However, “If the Security Council, because of a lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security . . . the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures . . . to maintain or restore international peace and security.” Those recommendations are a crucial measure of the world, but they are nonbinding.

On December 12, the General Assembly held the Resolution 377A vote. 153 countries voted in favor of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, 23 abstained and only 8 joined the US and Israel with a no vote. Austria and Czechia were the only EU countries to vote no. France and Spain voted yes while the UK and Germany abstained. Once again, the US stood nearly alone.

A disturbing pattern emerges of a nation who claims to lead a liberal world that rests on a foundation of humanitarianism and international law voting in favour of embargoes and sieges and against ceasefires.

The Biden administration State Department has abdicated its diplomatic role. When America’s top soldier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, advocated diplomacy in the Russia-Ukraine war, saying that the conflict in Ukraine would have to be solved by means other than military and, later, that achieving American and Ukrainian goals would be difficult and deadly by military means but that they could possibly be achieved “through some sort of diplomatic means,” its top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, advocated war.

Diplomcacy was dead, and the State Department had become the more hawkish arm of the Pentagon. The State Department declared a new doctrine of diplomacy: you don’t negotiate during a war. Responding to the suggestion that diplomacy take place while the war rages on, State Department spokesman Ned Price insisted that “This is not real diplomacy. Those are not the conditions for real diplomacy.” If war is not the condition for diplomacy, what is?

When Chinese diplomats suggested that, “All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire,” the US invoked the new doctrine and responded that, though “a ceasefire . . . may sound good, we do not believe would have that effect,” it would not be “a step towards a just and durable peace.” “We don’t,” National Security Council spokesperson Kirby said, “support calls for a ceasefire right now.” Blinken dismissed the Chinese suggestion that all countries should support the resumption of dialogue with the warning that “the world should not be fooled.”

When the world voted by a growing and overwhelming number for a ceasefire in Gaza, US Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “Any ceasefire right now would be temporary at the best and dangerous at worst.”

The United Nations is a body for international discussion and debate. But discussion is for equals. Even leaders may discuss and negotiate at times. Lingering delusions of primacy preclude the US from diplomacy and negotiations. If the US view is the universal view, then challenges are not voted on but vetoed.

Ted Snider is a regular columnist on US foreign policy and history at and The Libertarian Institute. He is also a frequent contributor to Responsible Statecraft and The American Conservative as well as other outlets.  To support his work or for media or virtual presentation requests, contact him at