Just Another Day Where the United States Completely Abandons Its Commitments to the World

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley withdrew the United States from the U.N.'s Human Rights Council. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Just Another Day Where the United States Completely Abandons Its Commitments to the World

On human rights and climate change, Trump says we're taking our ball and going home.

Naturally, while the nation's attention has been drawn by the administration*'s human rights disaster at the country's southern border, the administration* has been up to the usual mischief elsewhere. The moves have a number of things in common, and to which we all have become accustomed--namely, that anything Barack Obama did must be reversed and that multilateralism is for losers.

First, in a curiously timed but completely predictable move, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley withdrew the United States from the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, waxing wroth as she did. From CNN:

The move, which the Trump administration has threatened for months, came down one day after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed the separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border as "unconscionable." Speaking from the State Department, where she was joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Haley defended the move to withdraw from the council, saying US calls for reform were not heeded. "Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council," said Haley, listing US grievances with the body. "The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape its scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in its ranks...For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias."

When the council was formed in 2006, then-President George W. Bush refused to join it. President Obama reversed that decision, but American conservative dislike for the very idea of the council has been intense since the council first was conceived. Much of it was centered on the council's criticism of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinian population. (Benjamin Netanyahu lavishly praised Haley for her decision, so you see where that goes.) It also has been speculated that the administration* bailed so that its own conduct would go unexamined. As for the president*, I think the fact that joining the council was an Obama decision would have been enough.

In 2010, by Executive Order, President Obama put in place something called the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. The initiative stressed what the Obama administration saw as the vulnerability of not only the oceans, but also the Great Lakes as well. This, of course, could not stand. From Science:

Some changes in emphasis are sweeping. The Trump order deletes a preamble to the Obama policy that emphasized "how vulnerable our marine environments are," called for improving the nation's "capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification," and stressed the need for "a national policy to ensure the protection, maintenance, and restoration of the health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems." It also drops the Obama order's references to "social justice," "biological diversity," and "conservation." Instead, the Trump order stresses economic and security concerns. U.S. waters "are foundational to the economy, security, global competitiveness, and well-being of the United States," the order begins. "Ocean industries employ millions of Americans and support a strong national economy. Domestic energy production from Federal waters strengthens the Nation's security and reduces reliance on imported energy."

Specific priorities are also very different. In the Obama order, top items on a list of 10 policies included the need to "protect, maintain, and restore the health and biological diversity" and boost "conservation and sustainable uses" of resources, and using "the best available science and knowledge to inform" management decisions and "understand, respond, and adapt to a changing global environment." Those ideas are essentially absent from Trump's list of seven ocean policy priorities. It first calls for federal agencies to coordinate on providing "economic, security, and environmental benefits for present and future generations of Americans," and then highlights the need to "promote the lawful use of the ocean by agencies, including [the] United States Armed Forces." It also says the government should work to "facilitate the economic growth of coastal communities and promote ocean industries," "advance ocean science and technology," "enhance America's energy security," and ensure that "Federal regulations and management decisions do not prevent productive and sustainable use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters."

The president*'s bottomless well of spite and envy toward his predecessor aside, what he's up to with this move is obvious. He wants a vast new era of off-shore energy exploitation, and he wants it to extend into the Great Lakes. (This idea even in theory always contained the seeds of serious political divisions in the states surrounding the Lakes.) And, as is now customary, under no circumstances will this change in policy be based on any actual empirical data. From Grist.org:

The new order also largely downplays an Obama administration emphasis on creating robust data collections that could help managers make decisions, and on encouraging state and federal agencies to collaborate on plans that would guide marine development, conservation, and other activities. Under Obama, such planning efforts drew fierce opposition from some federal lawmakers and state officials. But two regions--northeastern and mid-Atlantic states--have adopted plans. And the new order should allow those efforts to continue if the partners agree, says Whit Saumweber, an independent consultant in Washington, D.C., who helped shape ocean policy in the Obama White House. But he worries that without robust support from the Trump administration, new marine planning collaborations won't occur and existing plans could falter. "I expect agencies will be reticent to put a priority on those things" under this order, he says.

This is a national policy on major bodies of water that no longer mentions the words, "climate change." These really are the fcking mole people.

© 2023 Esquire