Biden admin ripped by foreign policy think tank for inviting UN envoy on racism to assess US
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Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s decision to invite United Nations envoys on racism and minority issues to assess the U.S. continued to draw backlash Thursday, more than a week after the announcement.
“Our foreign policy should be predicated on both strength and pride and that American exceptionalism is not a matter of perspective — it’s a matter of history,” said Carrie Filipetti, executive director of the Vandenberg Coalition, a nonprofit national security think tank named after former Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, R-Mich. “We were the first country to really focus on universal values, not those of a particular race or ethnicity or creed. And I think that’s been forgotten by our foreign policy establishment that seeks to apologize for the United States internationally.”
Last Tuesday, Blinken said he had invited the U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues because “great nations such as ours do not hide from our shortcomings, they acknowledge them openly and strive to improve with transparency.” He also issued a standing invite to “all U.N. experts” who specialize in human rights issues.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, greets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, as they arrive for a meeting at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland, Wednesday, May 19, 2021, on the sidelines of the Arctic Council Ministerial summit. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
But critics question the validity of what a U.N. report might look like, especially after similar assessments criticized the US strike that killed the terrorist Iranian Gen. Soleimani and described Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians as an “illegal occupation.”
“I don’t think he’s done a very good job of explaining what he’s thinking,” said Filipetti, who was a Trump-era Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cuba and Venezuela at the State Department.
And the U.N.’s Human Rights Council itself has come under fire in recent years. The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the group in 2018 to protest what it called anti-Israel bias as well as the fact that other members included countries accused of egregious human rights violations, including Cuba, Nicaragua, Russia, China, Somalia and Sudan.
Supporters of China’s Muslim Uighur minority wave the flag of East Turkestan and hold placards on December 20, 2019 during a demostration at Fatih in Istanbul. – More than 1,000 protesters marched Friday in Istanbul to protest against China over its treatment of mainly Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, an AFP correspondent said.They called for an end to the crackdown in China’s northwestern region, where upwards of one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are believed to be held in re-education camps. (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
Blinken’s State Department accused China of “genocide and crimes against humanity” targeting the country’s Uyghur Muslims in a new report last week.
“These entities join the Human Rights Council, by the way, to hide their crimes, not to actually shine light on crimes that are really occurring,” Filipetti said. “Where is the call for a human rights investigation into the attacks against Cuban dissidents, into the human trafficking, by the way, of Cuban doctors over the course of the last decade?”
And the U.N. as a whole has been accused of succumbing to pressure from Beijing on a number of issues, including the coronavirus lab leak theory that officials convinced the mainstream media to virtually ignore for more than a year.
Filipetti said the HRC currently has “absolutely no credibility” and called the potential assessment “a misuse of U.S. tax dollars” – in addition to a waste of U.N. resources that she said should be focused on investigating ongoing human rights violations.
People block Palmetto Expressway during a protest showing support for Cubans demonstrating against their government, in Miami, on July 13, 2021. – One person died and more than 100 others, including independent journalists and dissidents, have been arrested after unprecedented anti-government protests in Cuba, with some remaining in custody on Tuesday, observers and activists said. (Photo by EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images)
(Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP) (Photo by EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images))
In Cuba, for example, she said anti-communist protesters who have been demanding freedom and democracy are being rounded up and imprisoned. China is accused of keeping more than 1 million ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims in concentrations camps. And Russia has been accused of killing its own political dissidents – even when they live in foreign countries.
“We need to resume our leadership role,” Filipetti said “And other countries will respect that as they have over the decades of American leadership until now.”
The U.S. government, with its powers separated between the legislative, executive and judicial branches, is more than capable of investigating and resolving its own racial justice issues, she said.
Inviting a compromised HRC assessment only serves to further Chinese and Russian propaganda that is designed to deflect from human rights violations in those countries by highlighting any tensions that emerge in the U.S.
Dennis Christensen, a Danish Jehovah’s Witness accused of extremism, is escorted into a courtroom to hear his verdict in the town of Oryol on February 6, 2019. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)
“It does concede ground to the Chinese and the Russians who are trying to perpetuate this myth of American human rights violations, when all it takes is a quick look at any human rights organization out there and see that China and Russia are actually two of the most significant human rights violators that are out there in the world – and the United States is just fundamentally not,” she said.
And the foreign adversaries have already been accused of trying to exploit racial tensions in the U.S. by using bots and troll accounts to drum up controversy and pit Americans against one another, which Facebook calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
“This is real information warfare and it’s being used to sow discontent within our country that is not reflective of where the American people are,” Filipetti said.
Chinese soldiers participate in an anti-terror drill in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, July 8, 2017.
A State Department spokesperson said Friday that the U.N. Special Rapporteur on minority issues had requested an official visit and formal invitation to the U.S. earlier this year.
“This official visit is a priority to the United States,” the spokesperson said. “It was considered among several official visit requests received for 2021.”
Another invitation to the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism is an “extra step” meant to “support a fuller discussion on racial justice issues,” the spokesperson added.
The U.N.’s current Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism is a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, E. Tendayi Achiume, a Zambia native who attended elite universities in the U.S. and United Kingdom. Her office’s most recent report sought to highlight “how digital technologies are being deployed to advance the xenophobic and racially discriminatory ideologies that have become so prevalent, in part due to widespread perceptions of refugees and migrants as per se threats to national security.”
In terms of which countries she has written reports on, the list of links on her UCLA bio is short: the Netherlands, Qatar, the United Kingdom and Morocco.
She did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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