Multilateral mayhem at Obama's State Department

John Bolton:

THE Obama adminstration announced yesterday that it's withdrawing from the UN group preparing for the "Durban II" conference. Multilateralism, the new team is fast discovering, isn't everything it's cracked up to be.

The administration's foreign-policy performance has been uneven so far - with this debacle merely the most obvious mess. Where some had believed President Obama would pursue a moderate, pragmatic course, his administration increasingly seems not only highly ideological, but naive and uninformed - exposing and endangering America and its allies.

One example of pure ideology was having the United States engage in preparations for "Durban II," a UN "anti-racism" conference in April intended to update a 2001 conference (held in Durban, South Africa). Ostensibly designed to find common global ground against racism, Durban I instead focused on isolating and delegitimizing Israel as "racist."

Durban I was also, just below the surface, profoundly anti-American. It was so offensive that the United States walked out rather than dignifying the final conference document, even by voting against it.

This courageous act, however, became a basis for complaints about President Bush's "unilateralism" and "abandonment" of diplomacy. On the international left, these mantras became a theology that the new administration now seeks to advance in a variety of foreign-policy areas.

By joining preparatory work for Durban II, however, the White House has proven not only naive, but destructive. The move isolated our ally Israel, embarrassed our ally Canada (which had already announced its boycott of Durban II) and cut off at the knees several European allies who were on the verge of announcing their Durban II boycotts.

How's that for "diplomacy"?

Of course, the State Department rarely encounters a conference it doesn't want to attend. Left to themselves, State's bureaucrats would never have walked out of Durban I - or withdrawn from the looming mess of Durban II.

The administration has now effectively admitted its mistake by withdrawing from the Durban II preparations. But why did it get involved in the first place?


He suggest several plausible answers to his question. However, this kind of nonsense makes one long for the direct diplomacy of the Bush era where is was much easier to call BS on absurd gatherings of racist and religious bigots.


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