CONTENTIONS contributor Jamie Kirchick provides an exacting and valuable look at Mary Robinson’s role not only as the ring master at Durban but also as an expert practitioner of moral equivalence—of the sort that gives the term a bad name. Ever the critic of any step Israel and the U.S. might take to defend themselves against terrorists (these are always dubbed as “losing the moral high ground”—only passive victimhood appeals to her), she never, as Kirchick notes, “lifted a finger when it came to serial abusers of human rights” among the world’s miscreants.
It is hard to believe that the Obama team was unaware of all this. Neither Durban nor Robinson’s UN tenure is incidental to her career. Moreover, her rhetoric and outlook bear an uncanny resemblance to the approach taken by the Obama administration. Obama is full of invective and regret for America’s actions—be they in the war on terror or in our historic record of dealing with Iran and Central America. As for human-rights outrages in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or China, he has been largely, if not entirely, mute. No wonder Robinson was selected.
And on Israel itself, Robinson’s elevation of Palestinian suffering without context or reference to their contribution to their own misery echoes both candidate Obama (who decried that no people had suffered as the Palestinians had) and President Obama at Cairo (who elevated the Palestinian cause to the same plane as the horrors of the Holocaust).
One can’t help but conclude that Robinson was chosen precisely because and not in spite of her worldview, which differs not that appreciably from Obama’s. Yes, Obama chose not to attend Durban II—that was a bridge too far. But let’s get real—is it more likely that the Obama team “missed” the entire focus of Robinson’s career or that she embodies in meaningful ways their vision of the world and underlying unease with American exceptionalism? They would have us believe the former—pleading incompetence. But the more one recalls Robinson’s career, the weaker that excuse seems.