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In Case You Thought It Couldn’t Get Any Worse

The Goldstone report can’t even get a stamp of approval from Mary Robinson. (I bet it’ll make the Osama bin Laden reading list, however.) We noted last week the rather tepid response from Ambassador Susan Rice. Then it appeared that the U.S. was actually going to step in to block further action on the report—almost like it was defending an ally who had been unjustly accused by ideologically craven opponents. But that, it turns out, was a mistake, a misstatement, a gaffe. The Obama administration wouldn’t dream of such a thing. This report explains:

A White House official “misspoke” when he said the Obama administration would not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel’s conduct in the Gaza war to reach the International Criminal Court. A top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to “quickly” bring the report—commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone—to its “natural conclusion” within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further, Jewish participants in the call told JTA.

Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, called JTA later to say the official “misspoke” and that administration policy on the Goldstone report remains as articulated last week by Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador.

Rice described the UNHRC mandate as “unbalanced, one sided and basically unacceptable. We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report. We will expect and believe that the appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the Human Rights Council and that is our strong view.”

She did not mention what the United States would do were the report to be referred to the ICC.

Well this is pretty much par for the course in the hapless and comically inept Obama foreign-policy operation. It’s bad enough to pull out on missile defense, but then we call allies in the middle of the night and announce the news on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland. It’s bad enough that we don’t put an end to the Goldstone travesty, but first we say we will—before we say we won’t.

Implementation and execution matter in foreign policy, as the Obama campaign reminded us continually. They assured us that they would be smart, adept, subtle, and sophisticated—and oh so worldly. The reality is a shocking display of amateurism and disdain for our allies. The Obama team was supposed to “restore” our place in the world; instead we are transforming friends into embittered former allies.

It makes one long for the “clumsy” cowboy diplomacy of George Bush. You remember—when Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras, and human-rights activists felt they had a friend in the White House and when the administration’s pronouncements weren’t always popular but didn’t require an errata sheet.


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