Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Powell should have gone to South Africa

The Bush administration is probably right that the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which begins tomorrow in Durban, South Africa, has been staged largely as a mugging for America and its friends and interests.

The administration decided, after a lot of introspection, not to send Secretary of State Colin Powell to this affair, largely because it found the agenda not to its taste. It especially found planned discussion of Zionism as a racist design and reparations for descendants of slaves, including American descendants of slaves, not to its liking.

On one level, this is simply an impractical approach. Sure, the United States is the only superpower, but that hardly gives us the ability — or the right — to dictate the agenda of every international conference, threatening to pick up our marbles and go home if we don't get our way.

More important, the presence of Powell — descendant of slaves and now America's top diplomat, could lend a credible counterweight on the international stage to those who loosely hurl "ism" accusations for hidden purposes.

The world will eventually have to deal with the topics of the Durban conference. The United States should be participating in a meaningful way.