Monday, May 5, 2014

The CRPD and the Heritage Foundation


On May 2, 2014 the Daily News Journal (dnj.com) posted a piece by the Heritage Foundation on what should be the foreign policy top priorities of the U.S. for 2014. (http://www.dnj.com/article/20140503/OPINION/305030009/Group-lists-foreign-policy-top-priorities) Putting aside the fact that we are five months into the year 2014, is it possible that Heritage’s top five could actually help make the case for Senate ratification of the CRPD?

Heritage:  The United States faces mounting challenges abroad in 2014. With weak leadership from the White House over the past five years, the U.S. has been confronted and all too often sidelined by America’s adversaries and strategic competitors. The Obama Administration’s “leading from behind” strategy has been a spectacular failure that has led to confusion among traditional U.S. allies while emboldening the enemies of freedom.

CG:  I’ll concede that “leading from behind” was a poor choice of words that has become an over-used talking point by some, but “confusion among traditional U.S. allies” has some traction. If the Senate ratified the CRPD, the confusion among allies would be lessened, and probably will be accompanied by a sigh of relief!

Heritage:  In 2014, the U.S. should be willing to stand up to those who threaten its interests while it stands with those who share its values and goals. Foremost among those values are the principles of sovereignty and self-determination, which must be as central to U.S. foreign policy as they are sacred to its system of government.

CG: “In 2014, the U.S. should be willing to stand up to those who threaten its interests while it stands with those who share its values and goals.” Amen to that statement, especially that last clause. The CRPD contains the values and goals expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Foremost among those values are the principles of sovereignty and self-determination, which must be as central to U.S. foreign policy as they are sacred to its system of government.” Conservative legal scholars in November 2013 told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee how to preserve U.S. sovereignty and self-determination in reservations, understandings, and declarations that could be put in the resolution on the CRPD.

The Heritage Foundation offered these top five foreign policy priorities for the Administration and Congress in 2014:

Heritage: 1. Halt the rise of a nuclear-armed Iran. In 2014, Washington should strengthen, not weaken, sanctions against Tehran while deploying a comprehensive missile defense system to defend the U.S. and key allies from the growing Iranian threat.

CG:  What would happen if we said to Iran after the Senate ratifies the CRPD – As a ratifier of the CRPD like Iran (Iran ratified the CRPD on 10/23/2009) the U.S. is willing to help Iran tackle its accessibility challenges in the built environment, technology, and policies so that Iranians with disabilities could more fully participate in Iranian civil society? At a minimum, Iranian attention would be diverted from the current tensions. This diversion could have positive, sustainable consequences that spill over to other foreign relations arenas.

Heritage:  2. Defend U.S. sovereignty and reform the treaty process. The administration backs a series of treaties—such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, and the Law of the Sea Treaty—that would do nothing to advance U.S. national interests but would be detrimental to U.S. sovereignty by subjecting the U.S. to the unprincipled and deeply political judgment of foreign sources of authority.

CG:  Evidently Heritage is not concerned about sovereignty when it comes to Senate ratification of fish treaties, which it did very recently. I guess sovereignty only concerns Heritage if it deals with things on the water, associated with human rights, or connected to a trade advantage – a concern that is voiced when there's a political point to be made, perhaps? Consistency be damned.

Heritage:  3. Bolster allies and economic freedom in the Middle East. While the Obama Administration has rushed to engage adversaries such as Iran and Syria, longtime allies such as Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have chafed at what they regard as Washington’s neglect of their core security interests.

CG:  One of the core interests connected to security of any country is the sense of participation in community life felt by all segments of society. The U.S. could respond to the Heritage point by exporting its disabilities rights and accessibility expertise to all of the countries Heritage references – Iran, Syria (ratified the CRPD, July 10, 2009), Egypt (ratified the CRPD, April 14, 2008), Israel (ratified the CRPD, Sept. 28, 2012), and Saudi Arabia (ratified the CRPD, Jun. 24, 2009). This would be easier to do after the Senate ratifies the CRPD. Who knows, if we did that, peace and a sense of safety and partnership could spring up in many places. U.S. status, influence, and reach could be strengthened. Bruised relationships could be transformed.

Heritage:  4. Weaken the European project and strengthen the transatlantic alliance. A robust transatlantic alliance remains crucial to U.S. strategic interests, as the ongoing NATO-led operation in Afghanistan continues to demonstrate.

CG: The only way to strengthen something is by weakening something else? I think not. By ratifying the treaty, by emphasizing disability rights, the U.S. could inspire other countries to revisit common ground and reinvigorate cooperation by joining hands to implement the CRPD fully, creatively around the globe.

Heritage:  5. Reprioritize relations with key Asian democracies. The administration’s rhetoric about a U.S. “pivot” to Asia has been the worst of all worlds. Widely accepted as reality abroad, it has disillusioned American allies, but since it has not been backed up by any policy changes, it is nothing more than words. China’s aggressive moves have led to nervousness in many Asian nations that are traditionally close to the U.S., but the U.S. has failed to demonstrate steadfast leadership in response.

The U.S. should re-emphasize the value of its relationships with close allies such as Japan and South Korea.

CG:  It’s time we all start thinking out of the box. Many things are reduced to sound bites and talking points. We need to start thinking about the connections or potential connections between and among things. Fully embracing the CRPD by ratifying it will not weaken U.S. sovereignty. We need to recognize the CRPD as a strategic tool in our foreign relations toolbox. We cannot afford to ignore the potential benefit it will bring.

Thank you.
Common Grounder 

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