Why Jonah Goldberg and Anne Bayesfky Should Support the US Decision to Join the Human Rights Council

Rather predictibly, Jonah Goldberg is displeased with the Obama administration’s decision to join the UN Human Rights Council. 

The Obama administration, which passionately believes in the U.N. as a force for good, thinks it can change the council simply by being on it. “We have a record of abject failure from having stayed out. We’ve been out for the duration, and it has not gotten better. It’s arguably gotten worse,” Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told Politico. “We are much better placed to be fighting for the principles we believe in … by leading and lending our voice from within.”

But such thinking is only possible if you think the U.N. is a democratic, deliberative body. It isn’t. Some of the member nations are liberal democracies. Some are backward, cruel regimes with well-coiffed front men who only do their masters’ bidding. Valuing villains as equal to democrats is a recipe for moral rot.

Whether Jonah Goldberg likes it or not, the Human Rights Council exists and continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  The point of joining the Human Rights Council is so that the United States can exert influence over the body, help steer its decisions, and protect the interests of itself and its allies.

To that later end, I’m sort of shocked by some of the outrage directed at this decision from erstwhile friends of Israel.  Would not Jonah Goldberg and Anne Bayefsky prefer a staunch defender of Israel to join the Council?  After all, some of the decisions of the Human Rights Council have real world consequences.  For example, the Human Rights Council recently agreed to send Judge Richard Goldstone to examine alleged war crimes stemming from Operation Cast Lead. As I noted in an earlier post Goldstone is not easily dismissed as someone with an anti-Israel agenda–he is a lion of international law and has strong ties to the country. 

As a consequence of action at the Human Rights Council, the Israeli government is in the tough spot of having to decide whether or not to cooperate with Goldstone’s inquiry. If it does not cooperate, it faces further international isolation. If it does cooperate, then perhaps Goldstone will come to conclusions that embarrass Israel?   (For the record, I am in favor of cooperation; a thorough accounting of what happened during Operation Cast Lead could help provide the foundation for a lasting peace.) 

Still, I’m sure that this is a decision the Israeli government would prefer it did not have to make.  Presumably, if the United States held a seat on the Council, Washington would be better positioned to prevent such an outcome in the first place.   

Now, I don’t mean to concern troll.   I support the United States joining the Council because I believe a strong international human rights regime is in America’s best interests and in the interests of humanity. But surely even skeptics like Bayesfky and Jonah Goldberg see that there are good “reasons of state” for American ascension to the Council?

(Image from Flickr of  the Human Rights Torch Relay)