Incompetence at the State Department is the charitable explanation

Claudia Rosett noticed a stunning mistake in an official State Department publication, a blog,   “UNGA 69: Why the UN Matters More Than Ever. No, the mistake is not expressing the view the view that the UN matters more than it did when it, for instance, authorized action against the North Korean invasion of South Korea, or when it admitted Israel. No, the error Ms. Rosett noticed requires no qualitative judgments:

Near breathless in its enthusiasm for the”diplomatic marvel” of the UN General Assembly opening, the article begins by reeling off a few facts and figures about this event, including a statement that: “World leaders and representatives from 194 countries will come together to work on an agenda packed with burning issues… .”

Whoa. Let’s replay that tape. Did State really mean to say “194 countries”? There are only 193 countries in the UN. So, what is this 194th country that State was referring to?

Rosett rightly suspects that there is more than an innocent typo at work here:

For years now, under the slogan “Palestine 194,” the Palestinian Authority has been campaigning to be admitted to the UN as the 194th member state. Officially, the U.S. is opposed to any such admission, unless and until the Palestinians have kept their promise to negotiate a viable peace with Israel. But within the Obama administration there has been a lot of foot-dragging on this policy, accompanied by attempts to erode it. This has included administration pressure on Congress to waive laws that forbid U.S. funding to any multilateral body (notably, to date, UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) that admits the Palestinians to full membership before they have kept their promise of peace.

When the State Department puts out an article describing the UN General Assembly opening as bringing together “194 countries,” it looks less like a mistake than a sly attempt to rewrite official U.S. policy by referring to the Palestinians as the 194th UN member state. Especially when the State Department, instead of correcting its mistake, blasts out the same article a few days later, including the reference to “194 countries,” in a list of “Highlights of the UN 69th General Assembly High-Level Week.”

That looks like doubling down.

Well, at least they didn’t make it 195 by including the Islamic State….