Sunday, May 16, 2010


I guess bringing up Gitmo would have been kind of awkward.

Not exactly a Stop-the-Presses story:

No breakthroughs in US, China human rights talks

“A senior U.S. official said that the two-day meeting lays groundwork for more regular talks to soothe an irritant in relations between the two world powers.”

To soothe an irritant? Who knew the Red Chinese (can I still call them that?) were so caring? Our side was represented by Michael Posner who is assistant secretary of state in charge of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (and if I ever knew we had such a Bureau, I had long since forgotten). Apparently one of the key responsibilities for such a position is to apologize to foreign powers (when the President is not available to do it himself) for whatever guilt-inducing matters have caught the State Department’s attention.

“Posner said in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and rule of law, officials also discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.”

Did he say this with a straight face? Does anyone (I mean, apparently outside our State Department and the White House) really believe that Red Chinese officials have given – EVER – even a nanosecond over to concern about our poor and homeless? Remarkably, though, it gets worse:

“He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its own a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person's immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally.”

I admit my first reaction was a kind of weary I-give-up; it has so far proven impossible to underestimate this Administration.

I’m going to be charitable and assume the description of what the law “requires” is an expression of the ignorance of AP writer Foster Klug (and his editors) and not the Holderesque musings of Mr. Posner. That said, I would still mock such diplomatic naiveté even if I witnessed it at a Model UN conference. Does this Administration really think bad-mouthing to a foreign power a state law modeled explicitly on federal law is a winning strategy?

This, unfortunately, portends a disturbing new trend in our diplomatic efforts. As between Israel and the Palestinians, the main hindrances to fruitful peace talks should obviously be seen as Palestinian in nature. That is, until President Obama hands them the issue of Jerusalem settlements to revive their flagging obstructionism. Similarly, a Chinese diplomat who suggested bringing up the Arizona law as a potential sticking point would no doubt have been reassigned to work a North Korean posting. They then had to be flabbergasted (and grateful) when we brought it up instead. Can’t we come up with some kind of Diplomatic Miranda whereby we advise our wunderkinds that they are under no obligation to raise new issues in a deliberate effort to make us (or our allies) look bad – particularly those issues about which they are obviously clueless.

Except for possibly the North Korean border, I’m guessing China really doesn’t have much of an illegal immigrant problem. Many of the reasons they don’t should have been the main thrust of these talks. But, instead, it’s just another layover on our non-stop apology tour.

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