Friday, January 30, 2009

A Change In Tone

Newly appointed ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice had several interesting things to say before the U.N. Security Council yesterday. On Israel and the Gaza campaign:

Israel must investigate allegations that its army violated international law during its three-week war against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, the new U.S. envoy to the United Nations said on Thursday.

"We expect Israel will meet its international obligations to investigate and we also call upon all members of the international community to refrain from politicizing these important issues," Ambassador Susan Rice said in her debut speech before the U.N. Security Council.

She was also quick to condemn the acts of terrorism committed by Hamas in and leading up to the Israeli operation.

On the U.N.:

Rice made it clear that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had a very different view of the role of the United Nations from George W. Bush's government, whose officials were often suspicious of the world body and occasionally spoke of it with disdain.

She said Obama's long-term goals included enhancing global peace and security, fighting terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, dealing with climate change, alleviating poverty and improving respect for human rights worldwide.

"The United Nations is indispensable for advancing these goals and making our world a better, safer place," she said.

And on the International Criminal Court, long derided by conservatives:

She also hinted that Obama had a different attitude towards The Hague-based International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal.

President Bill Clinton's administration had signed the ICC treaty, which was never ratified by Congress. Bush later rejected the idea of ever joining the court.

"The International Criminal Court, which has started its first trial this week, looks to become an important and credible instrument for trying to hold accountable the senior leadership responsible for atrocities committed in the Congo, Uganda and Darfur," Rice said.

That's not quite a "sign us up!" but still. Of all of these, the call for Israel to investigate it's own activities in Gaza is the most surprising, and the Bush administration would have been loathe to even acknowledge that Israeli forces might have committed violations of Israeli or international law. This is another reminder that things have changed up there in the White House.

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