Notes: Last week the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance took place in Durban, South Africa. The title was too high-minded to live up to. Once gathered together, nations began fighting over their self-interests -- something all nations do -- and lofty ideals took a back seat.

Arab delegates demanded that Zionism be denounced as racism causing the United States and Israel to walk out. Some African countries at the conference demanded apologies and reparations from Western nations which were historically involved in slave trade, though they failed to condemn today's slavery in Sudan and Mauritania. Moreover, some of the countries demanded apologies are ardent violators of human rights today. Past colonialism was also a target of sought-after apologies from the West. In turn, the United States and European nations wouldn't approve language that described slavery as "a crime against humanity" fearing litigation over reparations over slavery.

While compromises were reached by the end of the week, the conference reaffirmed what diplomatic history teaches us -- i.e., that nations operate solely out of self-interest.