Finally Obama has made a good decision in his foreign policy. Or has he? The U.S. has rightfully decided to boycott the U.N. Conference on racism. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30282569. However, his boycott comes with the usual lack of conviction, as he expressed his “regret” at not being able to attend. Rather than regret, he should have expressed firm resolve not to take part in such a body. Obama waffled too much on this issue from the start. He lent too much credence to this sham of an institution. While he made the correct decision and backed out he shouldn’t have even considered going in the first place.
There should be no regret for not attending one of the most biased, anti-Semitic, and partisan bodies. This conference and the U.N. Human Rights Council are a mere sham to give a bunch of illiberal and oppressive regimes a platform to spew their vile rhetoric. The body mainly spends its time criticizing Israel, while failing to put much effort into dealing with real human rights issues throughout the world. (See here for the Human Rights Council website. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/).
Fortunately, Obama had the good sense to not attend and wholeheartedly embrace this body. But his hemming and hawing and expressed desire to take part is revealing of his misguided and unfortunate approach to foreign policy. Obama’s desire to interact and participate with the world community as an equal may seem noble on the surface, but it is dangerous and counter-productive.
It seems that he thinks one can garner greater respect through excessive humility and engagement. But the world community does not work this way. Every country has its own interests and will act according to what they see as the best path. Countries are not going to react just because someone is nice. They will be responsive to pressures and rewards they serve their interests. They may like, or say they like, Obama better, but it will have little impact on their policies.
Obama’s behavior doesn’t push the Human Rights Council away from bias and towards a more liberal and just handling of human rights issues. Instead it lends them legitimacy which they do not deserve. They are now liable to feel that their current path has been correct. After all, they have not changed anything and America has stepped closer to playing their game. Obama’s wimpy stance has lowered any positional power the US has, without any movement on the other side.
Unfortunately, this seems like Obama’s general approach on the world stage. He thinks that by diminishing our prestige and power in the eyes of our negotiating partners and enemies that they will suddenly be more amenable to our wishes. It is a foolhardy approach- and one that is likely to lead to much difficulty and loss of influence. He may have made the right policy decision here, but he took a very wrong and damaging path to get there. Hopefully, his time as president will not do irreparable harm to our global position.