UNpopular

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.



Perhaps the
May 3 vote by the UN Human Rights Commission, denying the United States one
of the body’s three "Western" seats, will turn out to be a blessing
in disguise. It was certainly no accident. On the same day that the UNstripped
the U.S. of a seat it had held since 1947, representatives to the International
Narcotics Control Board drove the point home by failing to reelect an American
candidate.


Madeleine Albright
may still believe America stands taller, sees farther than any other country;
The Weekly Standard’s editors beat the drums for the Bush administration
to establish "benevolent global hegemony"; The New Republic
can let the cat out of the bag by crowing that Bush’s missile defense plan
isn’t needed to protect Americans but is really a highly desirable "tool
for global dominance." But the rest of the world has had enough. It doesn’t
want U.S. hegemony.


Did everyone
notice the steadfast expressions of support from our democratic allies when
the U.S. spy plane was forced down and its crew held in China? No? That’s
because there weren’t any. With these UN votes, the world is letting us
know that it wants limits on American power. The lesson was delivered cheaply,
at no cost in blood or treasure to the American people. It is in our interests
to heed it.


But there are
no glimmers that this is understood in official Washington. There, the word-processor
warriors are pounding away, parsing out the blame for the malicious vote. It’s
Colin Powell’s fault, asleep at the switch, naive about duplicitous European
diplomats. No, it’s W himself, the president who has never shown any interest
in foreign countries beyond Mexico and Israel. No, it’s the Senate’s
confirmation morass which has delayed appointment of John Negroponte, W’s
choice for UN ambassador. GOP congressmen are vowing vengeance by withholding
U.S. payments to the world body.


The sources
for the rebuke go deeper, though. The U.S. failed in the Human Rights Commission
because it counted on European votes it didn’t receive. This wasn’t
the Third World/totalitarian coalition that Daniel Patrick Moynihan diagnosed
26 years ago. These weren’t the votes of China, Libya and Sudan, whose
opposition to the U.S. at the UN is a given. (All have seats on the commission.)
Here the dagger seems to have been wielded by the European democracies, which
preferred that France, Austria and Sweden hold the coveted spots instead of
America.


This has been
a while in coming. The anti-Americanism of the left is an old factor in
European politics, thick in the intelligentsia and the Moscow-leaning Communist
parties, but heretofore not especially widespread. Since the Cold War’s
end, it has begun to migrate rightward. Without Moscow to fear, commercial competition
becomes more salient and American laws that penalize Europe for trading with
"rogue states" (as defined by Washington) are increasingly resented.
So is the American military presence, now seen more in the European mind as
hotdogging Marine fighter pilots who might bring down a ski gondola in Italy,
kill 20 (and receive virtually no punishment) than as stalwart defenders against
a Soviet push westward. Europeans perceive the United States as using its UN
Security Council veto to run interference for Israel, in order to abort European
peace initiatives.


Many European
conservatives feel the same contempt as American conservatives do for the tone
and impact of Hollywood’s popular culture–indeed all the more so because
the vulgarity is foreign, not homegrown, and American movies and artists compete
against their own entertainers. Too, for much of Europe’s right, the collapse
of communism is transforming the purpose of conservatism. For some it is still
Thatcherite: faith in free markets and free trade as the one and only route
to the good society. But not for everyone.


Jonathan Freedland,
noting the anti-American drift in British conservatism, captures the new sentiments
nicely in London’s Spectator. Many British Tories, he writes, "miss
the high streets that used to have their idiosyncrasies but which are now decked
out in the uniform colors of unstoppable global brands. They yearn for the Sunday
of old, when commerce stopped and service was not available ‘24/7’.
The onward march of globalization is destroying the very things that these British
conservatives want to conserve about Britain. And who is behind globalization
but the Americans?"


Such feelings
flourish in France, Italy and Germany as well, even in Russia, which means the
European left no longer pays any penalty in public opinion for anti-Americanism,
and is thus freer to indulge. Whether left or right is voted into power, there
will be more American diplomatic embarrassments.


United Nations
rebukes may be harmless enough, but the U.S. would be foolish simply to thumb
its nose at the world’s nations because we have a large military and they
do not. Last week’s papers carried a small item about W naming Dick Cheney
to chair a committee to coordinate federal policy in the event of a major terrorist
attack (biological or nuclear weapons) against an American city. In his appointment
letter, W acknowledged that U.S. means to prevent such an attack were far from
perfect. If the United States continues its drive to create a world in which
the "world’s only superpower" has no friends, only subsidized
client states and sworn enemies, our means to ward off the unthinkable will
be all the more limited.



 


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