Monday, October 18, 2021

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley Silence on Terrorism — The Week in Focus

According to his speech, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had a “list of 168 different things to say that we’ve done,” yet the priority of this critical meeting of world leaders is a new U.S. visa policy for visa-waiver countries — a change that does not come close to meeting Mr. Biden’s ambitious goals of eliminating the root causes of conflict and saving countless lives.

In a speech delivered Monday at the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Biden outlined an ambitious set of goals to end poverty and achieve other human rights around the world.

Among his lofty goals were to end sexual violence in war and improve the management of vaccines, thereby improving the health of people in areas afflicted by hunger and other dangers.

However, all of these goals would require government action. Ending polio and influenza are achieved through vaccines, while eliminating malaria, Ebola and HIV/AIDS requires investments in public health measures. Even war crimes are effectively limited by the laws of war, which are primarily governed by the Geneva Conventions, with some additional interpretations, rather than national laws.

It is hardly surprising, then, that Mr. Biden neglected to mention a number of important national issues at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday.

Biden’s speech neglected a number of important national issues at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday.

For instance, just as Mr. Biden pledged a new approach to trade, so has China unilaterally devalued its currency, putting at risk $1 trillion in U.S. exports.

Despite their plight, many migrants continue to migrate, for economic reasons. But for those who are seeking refuge in America, the United States has become an increasingly hotbed of xenophobia.

In contrast, Mr. Biden only urged a different type of immigration reform, offering foreigners welcome yet urgently needed permanent protection and a path to citizenship.

But the overwhelming concerns of the United Nations General Assembly were specific to various violence zones in the world, such as the “bulge” of Middle Eastern population movements that is touching Europe’s core.

What Mr. Biden failed to mention was that Japan only recently began discussing terrorism in the context of U.S. military exercises in the region.

(Peacekeeping forces are another example of U.S. engagement, at least in terms of intervention — for example, if the U.S. were to invade Iran, as Mr. Biden has suggested might be necessary.)

Despite their plight, many migrants continue to migrate, for economic reasons. But for those who are seeking refuge in America, the United States has become an increasingly hotbed of xenophobia.

Perhaps most concerning is that the United States is backing away from its role as a global leader, withdrawing from a broad array of international agreements and pressures.

The United States can take little credit for the bringing peace to the Middle East, as it cannot act independently. But the major achievements of its allies and partners — from Morocco to the Arab League — are not easily duplicated by the United States.

The United States has made some progress on the ground, but its overall commitment is limited.

When the United States launches airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq, it puts pressure on neighboring countries — including Syria, but also Iraq and Jordan — to return to full governance, while at the same time emboldening ISIS to attack and recruit more people.

Even the administration’s support for an African peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo is conditional, as Washington withholds most of its financial support until that force implements U.N. training and operational guidelines.

On a national level, the United States is on pace to close only half of the 500 detention centers it is responsible for in Afghanistan.

In his speech, Mr. Biden was uncompromising about his country’s ability to lead on a range of global issues, yet in reality, the United States has made little progress beyond symbolic actions, to protect human rights, build democratic institutions, or reduce violence.

As the Brookings Institution’s Meghan O’Sullivan has recently written: “The United States leads in government, but not world affairs.”

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