19 April 2009

19 April 2009 - Once again, credit where it is due

I don't approve of President Obama glad-handing Hugo Chavez. But at least he decided to pull out of the Durban 2 conference. He never should have considered going in the first place, but the decision is welcome nonetheless.


At 11:24 AM, Anonymous an israeli said...

I disagree with your comment that he "should never have considered going in the first place". In contemplating it, Obama acted in a very savvy and politically responsible way by not appearing as a rejectionist like Bush. The message that now comes out of the whole process is that the US is willing to collaborate and engage other countries. Moreover, because of Obama's willingness to play the diplomatic game Durban 2 is now seen as legitimately wrong and biased. Had Obama not even bothered, like you suggested, the US would have been criticized by other countries, much like it had during the Bush administration. One should give credit to Obama for correctly reading the political map, trying to engage, and when that failed, pulling out. This makes the process seem much more than an afterthought or a kneejerk reaction. In addition, even though the US and other countries are not participating, during the negotiations the US managed to convince the organizers to strike down several problematic provisions in the declaration.
So all in all, I would say that Obama handled this quite well.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Joel said...

You seem to forget what happened in Durban I. The Bush administration did, in fact "engage" that conference, and only pulled out at the last minute. The Obama administration, stubbornly refusing to learn from (or even learn about) history, and believing the fallacy that Bush had been a nasty obstructionist in all things great and small, repeated the Bush administration's mistake.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous an israeli said...

The Obama administration did not "stubbornly refuse to learn from (or even learn about) history". In fact, learning the lessons from Durban I and attempting to reform it into a better and fairer convention is exactly the result of that learning. If the US had not withdrawn, then your claim about not learning would have been plausible. But as my argument suggests, Obama scored a lot of points for seriously considering joining, attempting to influence, and then boycotting before the conference began.

Indeed, I believe that back in February you alluded to the same argument that I'm making now when you wrote:
"Question: would it have been better to avoid the negotiations in the first place, or is the opposition to Durban 2 stronger now that Obama has made a show of his attempt to change it?"

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Thermblog said...

When trying to reach agreement with a totally unreasonable party, there's a point where one realizes the futility of the activity and withdrawal is the only sane option.

That point will be different for everyone but in the case of the UNHRC it was long ago reached for any country of goodwill. Those still lingering are doing so out of self-interest and not in the hope of achieving anything moral.

At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Shani said...

Hi Joel,

This is Shani!

I don't know if you have been following the Harvard ROTC debates and poll, but I would love to get your take on it.

As an active member in a gay rights organization and a strong believer that military service is an amazingly important and valued form of public service, I am naturally conflicted.



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