On August 24, foreign ministers from Latin America And the Caribbean Will gather in Washington for a meeting of the venerable Organization of American States (OAS). They will dive headlong into the dispute involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, diplomatic-asylum-granting Ecuador, and the U.K.
Why now? Why Washington? Why the OAS? Probably because it’s an opportunity to tarnish theU.S.’s image.
Ecuador and its leftist friends in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) will likely denounce a U.S. ally for its alleged threat to invade the Ecuadorian embassy in London, “gunboat” style. They will hammer away at alleged conspiratorial plans the U.S. harbors to secure the legal rendition of Assange which will leave the “courageous” Australian fighting hopelessly for his life in the clutches of vindictive, secretive U.S. injustice.
For once, the State Department isn’t buying this poppycock. Said Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman, “Ecuador is trying to gin up trouble.” The State Department says the OAS is an inappropriate forum for this bilateral issue. Again, insisted Nuland: “We have very important business that we do in the OAS that has to do with the strength and health and democracy in the region, and this is, frankly, a sideshow.”
Fundamentally troubling is an amazing set of double standards. If Ecuador and ALBA are so concerned about the inviolability of diplomatic premises, then why do they go out of their way to embrace friends such as Iran,Syria, and by inference militant Islamic groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, all with long records of bombing embassies and fostering savage acts of terrorism?
Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, moreover, have expelled U.S.ambassadors on mere whims. U.S.ambassadors have been harassed by anti-American mobs. In June, the ALBA countries renounced the American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, a historic collective security pact once symbolic of hemispheric unity. Attacks by ALBA members on the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and, in the case of Ecuador, the special rapporteur on press freedom are ongoing.
Furthermore, Ecuador and ALBA long ago read the death rites over the OAS, yet they are willing to revive it when convenient and if others go along. Said Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in 2010: “the OAS is like a corpse that must be buried.”
The August 24 meeting of OAS foreign ministers serves to trivialize and further diminish an already weak, ineffective organization. The goal of Ecuador and the ALBA group is to engage in anti-American pyrotechnics, plain and simple. The readiness of so many other OAS members to over-inflate the importance of the Assange case and to raise Ecuador’s spat with Britain(and by implication theU.S.) to the multilateral level is truly disappointing, a product of regional group-think.
Ecuador and company are turning the OAS into little more than an expensive, irrelevant, taxpayer-supported stage for diplomatic melodrama. A few more flops like this and the show may be closing down.