Saturday, April 5, 2008

The EU and the UN - and the US presidential campaign

All three U.S. presidential candidates say that they will promote closer and better relations with Europe, seeking to mend the rift created by President Bush and his policies. But how will this apply in practice to our relations with the EU at the United Nations?

The United States has sought for years to improve the UN's record with regard to human rights, supporting abolition of the former Human Rights Commission and refusing to join its successor, the Human Rights Council, when it became clear that the new organization would be no better.

As Caroline Glick reports in the Jerusalem Post (, the Human Rights Council just voted March 28 to explore cases "in which individuals 'abuse' their freedom of speech by giving expression to racial or religious bias." This is a clear derogation of freedom of expression - yet the EU members of the Council abstained, rather than voting against it. The EU's position is, however, consistent with its recent condemnation of Geert Wilder's film Fitna, a movie which juxtaposes actual TV clips of Islamist leaders and the carnage they inspire with related passages of the Koran. It is also consistent with the failure of the EU, its member state governments or the EU political elite in general to stand up for Europeans who speak out against radical Islam.

So, to come back to my original question, what would Obama, Clinton or McCain do? Would any of them openly challenge the Europeans to defend the 'Western values' that everyone (in principle) rates so highly? Or would the more likely response be to duck this unpleasant issue, preferring the usual bromides about transatlantic ties and values?

If our next president does challenge the Europeans, s/he can expect a rough ride, and not just at the UN. But such an approach is vital if we are to defend our basic rights - rights that are currently under attack in many quarters around the globe.

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