Canada stands on principle; Obama goes “meh.”

**Posted by Phineas

A couple of weeks ago I could barely contain my disgust over the appointment of North Korea as head of the UN Conference on Disarmament. It seems I wasn’t the only one, and it’s great to see a liberal democracy refuse to participate in this disgraceful sham.

Good for you, Canada:

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is set to announce Monday that Canada is boycotting the United Nations Conference on Disarmament over North Korea’s involvement, a senior government source told Postmedia News.

So Se Pyong, North Korea’s ambassador, was last week named chair of the Geneva-based group dedicated to promoting global nuclear disarmament.

“North Korea is simply not a credible chair of this UN body as its leaders are working in the exact opposite direction,” the source told Postmedia News on Sunday evening.

“Our government feels this undermines not only the Conference on Disarmament, but the UN itself. And Canada will not be party to that . . . Our government received a strong mandate to advance Canada’s values — freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law — on the world stage.”

During North Korea’s term as chair, Canada will not “engage” in the conference, the source said Baird will announce Monday.

Meanwhile for the Obama administration, it’s no “big deal:

The Obama administration will not follow Canada’s lead and boycott a session of the U.N.-linked Conference on Disarmament to protest North Korea’s appointment to the body’s rotating presidency.

“We have chosen not to make a big deal out of this because it’s a relatively low-level, inconsequential event,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday.

In one sense, Nuland is right; UN conferences often aren’t “big deals,” serving as little more than occasions to pad a resume, collect a per diem, and shop for things not available in your own country.

On the other hand, if the United States won’t defend the principles on which the commission and the larger UN were founded in the little, easy instances such as this, who should believe we would care in the big instances? By assenting to North Korea’s chairmanship of the conference and lending that act our prestige by our participation, we also say that North Korea’s serial illegal arms-trafficking is “no big deal” and encourage them (and others) to do even more. It’s an example of the broken-windows theory to international relations.

Canada and the Harper cabinet are right in this case, while the Obama administration again shows its casual, amateurish approach to foreign affairs.

via The Jawa Report and Weasel Zippers

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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