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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Gross negligence, thy name is Susan Rice

As I'm sure many of you have already heard, Iran has been appointed a member of the United Nations Commission on Women - rumor has it that the UN will follow this stroke of brilliance by appointing the Taliban to a commission on religious freedom.

The big question though - since Iran was voted in by acclimation - is where was the United States' ambassador, Susan Rice when this happened? Apparently, she was powdering her nose.
Now comes word that United States ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice wasn’t even at the U.N., let alone in the committee room, when U.N. members voted Iran onto the Commission on the Status of Women committee. Not only was our ambassador not in the room for the vote, she wasn’t even in the building. Wouldn’t you think that a female American ambassador would understand the importance of standing up against a country that has some of the world’s most hostile laws toward women? Shouldn’t Rice want to use the opportunity to highlight the regime’s record on women’s rights?

Also troubling is that Iran was not only elected to the Women’s committee that day but elected, sans Rice, to three other U.N. committees, too: Iran is now an official member of the U.N.’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, and the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat). And our representative didn’t bother to show up — or speak up.

I spent eight years at the U.N., so I understand that U.S. ambassadors have a lot of issues to cover. There is no way to expect one ambassador to cover all of the U.S. government’s priority issues, and certainly there are a plethora of U.N. meetings that drag on, with an unlimited number of speakers and no time limits. I also understand the unique ways of the U.N. system and the regional voting blocs that control elections. But an American ambassador must be able to be nimble and spontaneous. The ambassador’s staff must monitor situations simultaneously and use the ambassador’s time well, to maximize attention and impact. If the votes are stacked against the U.S. and we are going to lose an election, then, for heaven’s sake, stand up and say something! Bring some shame on the countries that vote for the violators by drawing attention to the situation. American silence sends a very loud message and encourages the status quo.

But U.S. mission staff have confirmed that Rice wasn’t at the U.N. and therefore wasn’t able to so much as drop by the committee-elections meeting that was taking place, because she wasn’t attending any formal U.N. meetings that day. Even after all the votes were counted and Iran was elected to four committee assignments, Rice didn’t speak out to highlight the hypocrisy of electing a country like Iran to a committee designed to promote women’s rights — because she wasn’t around.
This is apparently completely in character for Rice. Read the whole thing.


At 6:35 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Obami are more obsessed with reining in Israel than they are with stopping Iran.

What could go wrong indeed


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