By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Adversaries of the United States blame the United States for their woes. THE President, not “this president,” or “that president,” receives the animus of those who need America to be their adversary. Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Nicaragua -to some extent Russia and China-all use the United States as a foil. In the previous administration, President Bush was the focus of their ire and there were those who said it was deserved. Now, increasingly, President Obama is the object of their anger-unfortunately, he still seems to think he doesn’t deserve it.
It is not enough for the President of the United States to boast of his minority status, Third World parentage, Islamic heritage in his background if not in his practice, or even, as he once said, a “funny” name. It is not enough to apologize for the prior sins of America, not enough not to be “not President Bush,” and not enough to continually and publicly foist blame on his predecessor. To those who need a big, bad United States to deflect from their own shortcomings, President Obama is indistinguishable from the rest of us.
Which is actually the way it’s supposed to be.
JINSA has no comment on the climate change agenda, but the Copenhagen meeting was worrisome-not for any impact it may have on countries’ behavior as regards climate, but for the bludgeon it handed to avowed enemies of the United States and the West, the response of the assembled and the serial failure of the President to defend his country.
Hugo Chávez and Robert Mugabe-responsible for the impoverishing of otherwise bountiful countries and the wreckage of human rights and human lives in Venezuela and Zimbabwe-denounced President Obama, the United States, and the West. Chávez only months ago praised President Obama by saying he had replaced the “smell of sulfur” (referencing his prior insult to President Bush) at the UN with the “smell of hope.” But in Copenhagen said, “It smells of sulfur here. It keeps smelling of sulfur in this world.” He encouraged President Obama to “leave by the back door.”
Mugabe, who beggared the “Breadbasket of Africa” and is under international sanction for massive human rights violations, told the assembled, “When these capitalist gods of carbon burp and belch their dangerous emissions, it’s we, the lesser mortals of the developing sphere who gasp and sink and eventually die.”
Nothing new, but the damnation of capitalism, America and the West by dangerous, raving lunatics was met with thunderous applause by the European and Third World assemblage-some of whom are our friends and allies in other arenas.
President Obama will never placate or bribe Chávez or Mugabe or Assad or Ahmadinejad into a change of fundamental attitude-and we are beyond the point where he should be apologizing for his country. It is time for the President to take up a strong defense of the capitalist West against the agglomeration of Western anti-Western, anti-American, anti-capitalists who were cheering for our-and their own-demise.
The applause is more worrisome than the lunatics.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.
By Gary Rotto
SAN DIEGO–The tensions around the Goldstone Report ( Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict) have died down for the moment. But hard feelings still remain in the community regarding the report and the resulting resolution in Congress. Congressman Filner clearly communicated his feelings and his thinking around the resolution. He has “mishpachah” in Israel with whom he consulted. His response to SDJW questions were fair and well thought out. And may be factually based. But politics is – especially geopolitical – are based on perception.
The Jewish community reaction to the Goldstone Report may not be so much about the actual information in the report, but the visceral feeling that the United Nations seems fixated on the Middle East, and in particular, the Arab-Israeli, or Palestinian-Israel conflict.
Back on October 2, 2006, as Kofi Annan’s term as the Secretary General of the United Nations was coming to a close, Human Rights Watch reflected on the tasks ahead for his successor. While praising Annan’s dedication to human rights and the creation of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), Human Rights Watch openly criticized the HRC. “The Human Rights Council has so far stumbled because of its relative fixation on Israel, while failing to take concrete steps to address other serious human rights situations as well. It has yet to show that it is willing to take firm, collective action against intransigent governments engaged in systemic rights violations.” The article on its website goes on to say that “The incoming secretary-general must work to ensure that the Human Rights Council is both more credible and more effective than its predecessor.”
One of the giants in the world of Human Rights monitoring, Felice Gaer, severely criticized the Goldstone Report. Her career in the human rights community has included membership on the Council on Foreign Relations, serving as chair of the steering committee for the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and as a member of the Carter Center’s International Human Rights Council since 1994. As reported in the New Jersey Jewish News, Gaer called the report “a biased mandate by a biased group of people.” The biased group of people is the HRC.
Jackson Diehl, Deputy Editorial Page Editor of the Washington Post noted after the HRC’s first year that “Genocide in Sudan, child slavery and religious persecution in China, mass repression in Zimbabwe and Burma, state-sponsored murder in Syria and Russia — and, for that matter, suicide bombings by Arab terrorist movements — will not receive systematic attention from the world body charged with monitoring human rights. That is reserved only for Israel, a democratic country that has been guilty of human rights violations but also has been under sustained assault from terrorists and governments openly committed to its extinction.” In that first year, Israel and Israel alone was the only government criticized by name – and to the tune of 11 resolutions.
Freedom House, one of the preeminent “peace and democracy” institutions since 1941, in its 2009 Worst of the Worst report, which cites the World’s Most Repressive Societies, lists Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
While Israel is imperfect, clearly, other nations and hot spots around the world deserve far greater attention from the HRC. Only once a track record of tackling ongoing, regimented, government sponsored human rights violations in the areas around the world, will the Jewish community will feel that a Goldstone Report maybe even handed and fair and maybe justified.
Rotto is a freelance writer based in San Diego