Conservatism is a nuanced philosophy, fiercely debated and rarely serving up easy answers on policy — especially foreign policy. But if we could dare offer one easy, cookie-cutter note for all Republicans to keep in mind, it’s this: If something has the phrase “United Nations convention” or “United Nations treaty” in it, vote “No.”
That is pretty much final.
And the reasons are simple: At their worst, these deals, crafted by the “global community,” seek to undermine the interests of America and her allies (see: Arms Trade Treaty); at their best, they simply force our representatives to appear before panels of “experts” in Geneva to be abused for any number of the perceived grievances ruffling our European friends’ feathers that day (see: International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination).
The latest offender is the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). What kind of modern monster could be against that, right?
Certainly not the GOP’s reliable internationalists, Sens. Mark Kirk, John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and John Barrasso, nor former Sen. Bob Dole, whose letter to the Senate fretted that American “leadership” on disabilities “will be imperiled without the United States’ ratification of the CRPD.”
Imperiled, we fear, if we don’t put our stamp alongside Uganda and Togo’s on that piece of paper.
So what the hell is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and why do Sens. McCain and Robert Menendez think it “embodies ‘equality’ and ‘unalienable rights’ in the best tradition of our ideals”?
In the minds of its proponents, CRPD is a grand treaty that will help disabled Americans (including wounded veterans; enter: Mr. McCain) at home and abroad; and maintain American leadership in global access for disabled people, even spurring other countries to get their act together.
In reality, CRPD is a bunch of feel-good hogwash that will embarrass the United States without doing any of the things its proponents say it will.
CRPD won’t benefit anyone in the United States because U.S law is already at — or above — the levels of protection guaranteed in the convention. (That our country’s senators don’t know that is troubling.)
CRPD won’t benefit U.S. citizens abroad, because it only requires countries to meet the conditions for their own people within their own borders — something that is not impacted by the America’s signature, nor, per typical U.N. fashion, the slightest bit enforceable. (That leading Republicans don’t realize that is troubling.)
CRPD won’t establish the United States as some kind of global leader because, well, why the hell would it? The United States leads by the example she lives within her borders, as well as through the millions of dollars the USAID spends improving conditions for the disabled around the world. (That Mr. McCain thinks our leadership role is based on a U.N. convention is troubling.)
And the idea that America signing the CRPD will spur foreign countries to action is about as believable as the notion that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights led Iran, Uzbekistan and similar signatories to respect those ideals. (Troubling. And stupid.)
All the CRPD will do is embarrass U.S. officials. America’s reward for signing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, for example, was being told to close Guantanamo Bay, end the death penalty and give voter rights to convicted felons. Oh, and when we declined the suggestions, we got a dressing down from countries like China. And Iran.
So when senators hold up pictures of wounded veterans and say that ratifying this scrap will lessen their challenges abroad, they’re promising something they cannot deliver. Which in most places is called lying.
And while they are quick to say that a “Yes” vote is a litmus test for whether a senator supports wounded U.S. veterans, it’s really litmus test for whether a senator is actually conservative.
“Some people ask if someone is a conservative or not,” Steven Groves, a treaty expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Caller. “A good indication is if you’re in favor of global treaties and grand agreements that pretend to be the solution to a global problem, that progressives hold up as a magical solution for global problems. If you’re in favor of those, you’re probably not a conservative. If you’re going to turn over some kind of discretion to a U.N. organization or U.N.-style of organization, that’s a good indication of if you’re a conservative or not.”
A healthy republic is a difficult thing to maintain. Conservative ideas aren’t easy to translate into politics and policy. And it’s even more difficult to consistently apply conservative ideas to an ever shifting world. But this one is pretty easy: Just say no to the U.N.