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Posts For: February 19, 2009

Durban II, High-Level Diplomacy, and Moral Leadership

Yesterday the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), released a statement welcoming what he described as President Obama’s decision to “launch a high-level diplomatic effort” to change the direction of the Durban II conference, by sending a delegation to the preparatory meeting this week in Geneva.  Berman put the decision in the context of moral leadership:

It is critical that the United States regain its moral voice at the U.N. by jumping into the fray and stipulating clear redlines for re-focusing Durban II, including the removal of language in the Outcome Document attacking Israel or singling it out for criticism.

Berman said that, by going to the Geneva preparatory meeting and telling the participants “we refuse to accept outright anti-Semitism or an attempt to single out Israel,” we are “reasserting our moral leadership in world affairs.”

What we are witnessing, however, is anything but a “high-level diplomatic effort.”  The State Department announced on Saturday, February 14, that it was sending a delegation to the meeting, scheduled to begin on Monday, February 16, to “engage in negotiations on the text” of the conference document and “try to change the direction” of Durban II.  The announcement did not state who was leading the delegation nor name its members.

At the State Department press briefing on February 17, two days into the meeting, the spokesperson could not identify the leader or members of the delegation:

QUESTION: Can you talk about who is in the delegation, who’s leading the delegation?

MR. DUGUID: I can only – I’ll have to take the question, because I know that the delegation left on Saturday. I didn’t get a full readout of who was in the delegation.

At yesterday’s State Department press briefing, the question was raised again:

QUESTION: Do you have any update of the talks about the Durban conference in Geneva?

MR. DUGUID: The – I haven’t had a readout yet. Our group is there on the ground. It is made up of officials from our U.S.-UN – the U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva as well as private partners in that. I don’t have a readout now. . . .

Marty Peretz wrote yesterday that the delegation consists of three people “made up of small fry so if they come home with nothing not much will have really been lost.”

Obama is in the process of making either a low-level, half-hearted diplomatic effort before withdrawing from Durban II, or a low-level, half-hearted diplomatic effort before participating in it:  we will learn which in due course.  But what is currently going on is not a “high level diplomatic effort” involving “moral leadership.”  Moral leadership will occur if Obama decides to withdraw from Durban II – if, in other words, he decides to do what George W. Bush did in connection with Durban I.

Yesterday the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), released a statement welcoming what he described as President Obama’s decision to “launch a high-level diplomatic effort” to change the direction of the Durban II conference, by sending a delegation to the preparatory meeting this week in Geneva.  Berman put the decision in the context of moral leadership:

It is critical that the United States regain its moral voice at the U.N. by jumping into the fray and stipulating clear redlines for re-focusing Durban II, including the removal of language in the Outcome Document attacking Israel or singling it out for criticism.

Berman said that, by going to the Geneva preparatory meeting and telling the participants “we refuse to accept outright anti-Semitism or an attempt to single out Israel,” we are “reasserting our moral leadership in world affairs.”

What we are witnessing, however, is anything but a “high-level diplomatic effort.”  The State Department announced on Saturday, February 14, that it was sending a delegation to the meeting, scheduled to begin on Monday, February 16, to “engage in negotiations on the text” of the conference document and “try to change the direction” of Durban II.  The announcement did not state who was leading the delegation nor name its members.

At the State Department press briefing on February 17, two days into the meeting, the spokesperson could not identify the leader or members of the delegation:

QUESTION: Can you talk about who is in the delegation, who’s leading the delegation?

MR. DUGUID: I can only – I’ll have to take the question, because I know that the delegation left on Saturday. I didn’t get a full readout of who was in the delegation.

At yesterday’s State Department press briefing, the question was raised again:

QUESTION: Do you have any update of the talks about the Durban conference in Geneva?

MR. DUGUID: The – I haven’t had a readout yet. Our group is there on the ground. It is made up of officials from our U.S.-UN – the U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva as well as private partners in that. I don’t have a readout now. . . .

Marty Peretz wrote yesterday that the delegation consists of three people “made up of small fry so if they come home with nothing not much will have really been lost.”

Obama is in the process of making either a low-level, half-hearted diplomatic effort before withdrawing from Durban II, or a low-level, half-hearted diplomatic effort before participating in it:  we will learn which in due course.  But what is currently going on is not a “high level diplomatic effort” involving “moral leadership.”  Moral leadership will occur if Obama decides to withdraw from Durban II – if, in other words, he decides to do what George W. Bush did in connection with Durban I.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

And they said George W. Bush was detached. Imagine if Bush went to a signing ceremony for Guantanamo closing and didn’t know what the next step was or if he allowed Denny Hastert to devise his signature piece of economic legislation.

Fred Dicker says we shouldn’t be surprised Governor Paterson is in “free fall”: “Those who’ve known Paterson well for decades say he’s always been unfocused, self-centered, often lazy – and, at times, clownish and immature.” Ouch.

Ray LaHood says he “fell short” of his responsibilities to persuade Republicans to vote for the transportation bill. So short in fact, he got none. So I guess he should resign or be fired. But is that his job, to be the GOP-pressurer? I thought it was to preside over the sterling operation of the Transportation Department which now has more money than it can spend.

Nancy Pelosi gets a lesson on Catholicism from the Pope. Did she really think she’d skip out of there without one?

Megan McArdle joins the ranks of those amazed at how poorly Tim Geithner handled the bank roll out. And now he has the car industry to manage too. But even if we had a competent Treasury Secretary, running the car industry from Washington would still be  bad idea.

An Obama spokesman says he opposes the Fairness Doctrine. Yes, he also opposed voting on legislation before the public has viewed it for five days, but let’s hope he means it.

He’s didn’t mean that whole thing about renegotiating NAFTA. Thank goodness.

David Brooks writes that “the stimulus package was designed by people who have complete faith in government technocrats, who think an agency can triple its size overnight and still be managed efficiently, who think government knows enough about business to set salaries. Some people think government officials know enough to run the auto industry.” I surmise that “some people” includes Obama, who signed the stimulus (threw a whole photo-op event in its honor) and approved a car czar-board. (The silver lining in the Obama administration is that it has made Brooks seem like a “raving libertarian”!)

So what’s wrong with the $275B homeowners’ bailout? (I mean other than the fact we don’t have $275B.) Well, it puts added strain on the banks so our bank bailout will be that much more expensive. You see, once you start with the bailouts there is no end to them. And the people who are current in larger mortgages (which don’t qualify for relief ) but also  “underwater” due to the drop in home prices are, not surprisingly, annoyed.

Karl Rove thinks the Obama team is “winging it.” Or maybe they have really bad policy ideas. Or both.

Are “the politics what’s killing the economy“? It’s not helping. Talking bank nationalization, prolonging the process of devaluing assets and putting billions into failing enterprises does not seem like a recipe for recovery.

Sen. Dick Durbin says Roland Burris’s time in the senate is “in question.” Well, that sort of talk isn’t going to get Burris out anytime soon. And Robert Gibbs offers a limp comment that the people of Illinois “deserve to know the extent of the involvement” between Burris and Blago. This is the best they can all do?

And they said George W. Bush was detached. Imagine if Bush went to a signing ceremony for Guantanamo closing and didn’t know what the next step was or if he allowed Denny Hastert to devise his signature piece of economic legislation.

Fred Dicker says we shouldn’t be surprised Governor Paterson is in “free fall”: “Those who’ve known Paterson well for decades say he’s always been unfocused, self-centered, often lazy – and, at times, clownish and immature.” Ouch.

Ray LaHood says he “fell short” of his responsibilities to persuade Republicans to vote for the transportation bill. So short in fact, he got none. So I guess he should resign or be fired. But is that his job, to be the GOP-pressurer? I thought it was to preside over the sterling operation of the Transportation Department which now has more money than it can spend.

Nancy Pelosi gets a lesson on Catholicism from the Pope. Did she really think she’d skip out of there without one?

Megan McArdle joins the ranks of those amazed at how poorly Tim Geithner handled the bank roll out. And now he has the car industry to manage too. But even if we had a competent Treasury Secretary, running the car industry from Washington would still be  bad idea.

An Obama spokesman says he opposes the Fairness Doctrine. Yes, he also opposed voting on legislation before the public has viewed it for five days, but let’s hope he means it.

He’s didn’t mean that whole thing about renegotiating NAFTA. Thank goodness.

David Brooks writes that “the stimulus package was designed by people who have complete faith in government technocrats, who think an agency can triple its size overnight and still be managed efficiently, who think government knows enough about business to set salaries. Some people think government officials know enough to run the auto industry.” I surmise that “some people” includes Obama, who signed the stimulus (threw a whole photo-op event in its honor) and approved a car czar-board. (The silver lining in the Obama administration is that it has made Brooks seem like a “raving libertarian”!)

So what’s wrong with the $275B homeowners’ bailout? (I mean other than the fact we don’t have $275B.) Well, it puts added strain on the banks so our bank bailout will be that much more expensive. You see, once you start with the bailouts there is no end to them. And the people who are current in larger mortgages (which don’t qualify for relief ) but also  “underwater” due to the drop in home prices are, not surprisingly, annoyed.

Karl Rove thinks the Obama team is “winging it.” Or maybe they have really bad policy ideas. Or both.

Are “the politics what’s killing the economy“? It’s not helping. Talking bank nationalization, prolonging the process of devaluing assets and putting billions into failing enterprises does not seem like a recipe for recovery.

Sen. Dick Durbin says Roland Burris’s time in the senate is “in question.” Well, that sort of talk isn’t going to get Burris out anytime soon. And Robert Gibbs offers a limp comment that the people of Illinois “deserve to know the extent of the involvement” between Burris and Blago. This is the best they can all do?

Read Less

Imagine If He Could Select a Cabinet

Somehow this fails to shock:

When The Harris Poll® asked a cross-section of adult Americans to say whom they admire enough to call their heroes, President Barack Obama was mentioned most often, followed by Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King.

But the election was all about issues, right? And conservatives need to look inward to determine what aspects of contemporary conservatism failed to meet the needs of average Americans, don’t they?

Somehow this fails to shock:

When The Harris Poll® asked a cross-section of adult Americans to say whom they admire enough to call their heroes, President Barack Obama was mentioned most often, followed by Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King.

But the election was all about issues, right? And conservatives need to look inward to determine what aspects of contemporary conservatism failed to meet the needs of average Americans, don’t they?

Read Less




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