Perhaps such glibness seems out of place, but it is hard to take the complaints of some of these women-oppressing, homosexual-executing, free-speech-banning countries seriously. Just last week, the Arab League, which constantly condemns Israeli "genocide," welcomed Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir to its summit. It was intended as a way to chastise the International Criminal Court for bothering to indict the Butcher of Darfur when it could be putting Jews in the dock.
At the UNHRC, Israel's defensive war against Gaza was treated as history's greatest crime, while the deaths of 16,000 Somalis at the hands of invading Ethiopians were ignored. Since 2006, the council has opted to shut down investigations of Congo, Cuba, Liberia and Belarus. The agency hasn't even been a speed bump on Zimbabwe's descent into hell. It passed a nonbinding, Pakistan-sponsored resolution condemning "defamation of religion" that 180 groups from around the world cautioned could help Islamic theocracies crush dissenters in the name of protecting Islam from insult. And it has condemned Israel more than it has condemned all other U.N. member countries combined.
The Obama administration, which passionately believes in the U.N. as a force for good, thinks it can change the council simply by being on it. "We have a record of abject failure from having stayed out. We've been out for the duration, and it has not gotten better. It's arguably gotten worse," Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told Politico. "We are much better placed to be fighting for the principles we believe in ... by leading and lending our voice from within."
But such thinking is only possible if you think the U.N. is a democratic, deliberative body. It isn't. Some of the member nations are liberal democracies. Some are backward, cruel regimes with well-coiffed front men who only do their masters' bidding. Valuing villains as equal to democrats is a recipe for moral rot.
No doubt the U.S. will "succeed" in tempering the UNHRC's actions. But such victories will pale in comparison with the unearned validation we grant the council by our participation.