On Native Ground
AMERICA AGAINST THE WORLD
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It's becoming clearer by the day that the Bush administration has absolutely no intention of cooperating with the rest of the world on any matter that is deemed by the Bush administration to be at odds with their view of the national interest.
Since taking office, President Bush has rejected or refused to take action on more international agreements than any president in memory. Some of the big ones include the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (because they prevent the United States from deploying "Star Wars" and a new generation of nuclear weapons), the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases (because it might hurt the ability of corporate America to make endless profits), and agreements on reducing the proliferation of small arms and land mines that fuel regional wars around the world (because we are the largest arms dealer in the world).
But what tops them all is the decision announced by the Bush administration on May 6 to "unsign" a treaty signed by President Clinton to set up the world's first International Criminal Court.
The United States was one of 139 countries that originally signed the 1998 treaty creating the court, which has the authority to prosecute people charged with genocide and other war crimes if their government can't or won't put them on trial.
War crimes in the 1990s such as the genocide in Rwanda and the "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslavia were the inspiration for the court. Sixty-six nations - including most of the world's democracies - have ratified the treaty, which takes formal effect on July 1. But conservatives immediately raised a stink over the treaty because of fears that such acourt would prosecute U.S. soldiers and government officials for war crimes. President Clinton never submitted the treaty for Senate approval because of this opposition.
Not only is the United States renouncing the treaty, it also announced that it will no longer be bound by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties - a 1969 agreement that outlines the obligations of nations to obey other national treaties, even if they do not ratify them.
In other words, the United States will not recognize the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction and will not submit to any of its orders. And if the United States decides any other international agreements that happened to bein force prior to the Bush administration are not in the national interest,it won't submit to those either. Once again, the United States stands alone. And that seems to be how President Bush likes it. The United States will not be encumbered by any multilateral agreements and has no need for international cooperation in the "war on terror." The United States will do as it pleases and if the rest of the world doesn't agree, too bad. Thinking like this means there's no need for the United States - with slightly less than five percent of the world's population - to justify spending more on its military the rest of the nations in the world combined. Or using 27 percent of the world's annual oil production. Or creating and consuming about 30 percent of the Gross World Product. Or threatening to invade Iraq over the objections of our allies.
"When the Bushites and the religious right-wingers in his camp say 'God Bless America,' they must mean it as a fait accompli," wrote Salim Muwakkil in the Chicago Tribune on April 15. "God already has blessed America - and only America. Because of our God-blessed power and wisdom, they reason, we are the only country capable of running the world. Suchreasoning certainly would explain the actions of the Bush administration, which has taken unilateral arrogance to a new level."
Is this what the events of Sept. 11 have brought us - the justification for the United States to ignore treaties and the counsel of our friends and allies so we can invade any nation we choose for any reason if we don't like its government? This goes beyond dangerous. It's insane.
Most of the world doesn't hate America. Through most of the past century, the world has looked to America for leadership and our ideals of democracy and fairness. They see what the Bush administration has done over the past 18 months to undermine those ideals. They see a great superpower that has little appreciation for the planet's common good. And they are now worried, and with good reason. The unilateral vision of the Bush administration - the black and white "you're with us or with the terrorists" view of things - insures we will have a world that is filled with resentment toward America. It will create more enemies, which will create more wars and needless bloodshed.
A nation as powerful as the United States that fails to work constructively with the rest of the planet to ensure a world that respects democracy, openness and human rights is missing an important opportunity to make this world a better and safer place. The Bush administration apparently doesn't care that it is stoking anti-American hatred and distrust with each treaty it rejects and each decision it makes to go it alone on issues that affect the well-being of the entire planet.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).