Sometimes, diplomacy really gets a bad rap. Being diplomatic doesn’t always come with a positive connotation and instead could be meant to imply that you are full of BS and don’t actually accomplish anything. The irony is that trying too hard to be diplomatic can have unintended consequences. Diplomacy really is a balancing act and a good diplomat knows when to push, when to finesse, when to give ultimatums, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t think the US is doing such a stellar job on this front. Let’s look at two recent examples:
As way of follow up to an older post on the peace process, Israel has announced even more settlements. Plans have been unveiled which would provide for the building of around 1,300 houses in East Jerusalem. Although Israel disputes this, East Jerusalem is considered part of the occupied territories by the international community. As such, these settlements would be just as illegal as the ones in West Bank and Gaza. Adding insult to injury, East Jerusalem is where Palestinians would likely place their capital when they have their own nation. But not to worry, the US has exerted its mighty influence…. As reported in BBC News, a US state department spokesman Philip Crowley said the White House was “deeply disappointed” by the announcement and viewed it as “counter-productive.” Very powerful stuff. Superpower indeed.
In my opinion, the US is doing the Palestinians and Israelis a major disservice by not playing their cards right. Certainly more pressure than a finger-wagging could be applied here. It’s no wonder that Palestinians are toying with the idea of going through the United Nations to establish their nation instead of trying to work out a peace deal. I do not necessarily think this is the right move, I’m just saying I can see how they would be fed up with this process. Although, the UN probably won’t get them anywhere since the US has a veto position on the Security Council and will almost positively veto any UN resolution creating a state for Palestinians. Which leads me to my next example of a diplomacy hiccup…
On my way into work today, I read that President Obama endorsed the idea of India joining the UN Security Council on a permanent basis. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much of a problem. However, it could be. UN Security Council reform has been an issue for years and will likely continue to be. As of right now, only 5 nations hold a permanent spot and veto power: the US, China, Russia, France and the UK. In addition, 10 other members are elected to temporary spots.
As I said, for years many nations have wanted to reform the council.
Japan, Germany, Brazil and India are most frequently suggested as possible permanent nations. But it’s not just these nations that have opinions on the matter. There are other nations that would also like to be considered. Also, countries in the developing world think that they should have a representative. Many in the southern hemisphere support Brazil because there are no countries in the permanent 5 that are in the south. Even if everyone agrees on the need for reform (which they don’t), those who want reform generally can’t agree on how best to go about it.
Additionally, there are those that are against permanent membership for certain countries. For example, Pakistan would not be too psyched on India’s permanent status. This is one reason why it was not necessarily very smart of President Obama to publicly support India’s bid while we are working with Pakistan on terrorism and Afghanistan. It’s likely not enough to make Pakistan super angry at us, but I’m sure they aren’t thrilled. China also would probably be against India’s inclusion because they both are competing as an emerging economic power.
The other complicating factor is criteria for being a member. When the Council was formed, it was immediately following World War II and the victors from the war became the Security Council members. A lot has changed since then and some of the currently seated veto members wouldn’t necessarily meet the criteria that many nations believe any new members should have.
Any way you look at, getting everyone to agree on Security Council reform is a big task and I don’t think that President Obama should have necessarily spoken to India’s prospects.
So, to sum up… push the peace process MORE, push India’s Security Council bid LESS.