US Was 'Set Up' to 'Take the Flak' for China, India at Bali Conference

January 22nd, 2008 11:57 PM
The media loved the melodramatic moment at the Bali global warming conference where a delegate gained YouTube and environmental infamy as the man who pushed America to break the deadlock in Bali when he told the US to “lead” or “get out of the way”on the issue of curbing greenhouse gases.

This January 22 New York Times article revealed the truth about that moment, but the information was buried with a deceptive headline and misdirection. Papua New Guinea delegate Kevin Conrad admitted other countries “set up” the US as a ready-made eco-villain that would “take the flak” as a “fall guy” if the negotiating bloc of developing countries known as the Group of 77 and China “couldn't resolve its own issues” about setting greenhouse curbs (bold mine throughout):

Nearly every news report — many are now on YouTube — focused on Mr. Conrad’s bold comment as a nudge that got the sleeping giant in the global greenhouse to move a little.

But what happened was not that simple, Mr. Conrad said recently, in his first in-depth interview since the close of the talks. The American delegation, in a way, was “set up” by other countries to take the blame, he said, adding that his prime goal was not to embarrass the United States but to keep the negotiations from getting derailed.

Divisions and confusion within the negotiating bloc of developing countries, which has long gone by the name the Group of 77 and China, were as much the cause of the diplomatic logjam as anything else, he said. Interviews with several other negotiators and observers supported his view.

There was a certain feeling that maybe the U.S. could be the fall guy for this whole thing, that if G-77 couldn’t resolve its own issues, if it just held the line on a position they already knew the U.S. rejected, that the U.S. would be the one that stepped up and had to take the flak for collapsing the whole thing,” he said. “From Papua New Guinea’s standpoint, we couldn’t accept that.”

The article, written by the Times's Dot Earth blogger Andrew C. Revkin,  downplayed this revelation, though. The headline “Issuing a Bold Challenge to the US Over Climate,” glossed over Conrad's admission, and the article itself turned out instead to be another favorable profile of the former delegate as well as the Bali conference.  

What could have been a glimpse inside environmentalism's publicity ploys, became a confused article devoted to a man who gained fame only because of his roll in a “set up” designed to portray America as the bad guy blocking “progress.”

Conveniently, Revkin also forgot the furor over the Clinton/Gore administration's role in refusing to participate in the Kyoto Protocol. By only addressing the feelings "built over seven years," it was as if only Bush has angered environmentalists:

The boos for the United States, and cheers for Mr. Conrad, appeared to reflect widespread feelings, built over seven years, that the Bush administration had stalled progress in curbing greenhouse gases even as it claimed to be leading the effort.

It's easier to blame the United States for all of the world's problems. That way no one else has to take responsibility, and it perpetuates the Evil America storyline.


Lynn contributes to NewsBusters. Email her at tvisgoodforyou2 (at) yahoo (dot) com