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America's Lonesome Diplomatic Strategy: Bush Vision Puts US Out On a Limb
15 April 2002
This nation is heading down a dangerous, solitary road that is almost destined to lead to global hatred and distrust.
We've squandered opportunities to increase global security through international cooperation that were presented by the Sept. 11 tragedy. Instead of helping create a world that reduces the lure of terrorism, we've done the opposite.
The latest U.S. act of self-sabotage is its opposition to the world's first permanent International Criminal Court, which was officially ratified at an April 11 ceremony in the United Nations. Beginning in July, the court will have the authority to prosecute people charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if their governments are unable or unwilling to try them.
The 1998 treaty establishing the court was negotiated in Rome after the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and the genocide in Rwanda.
The U.S. during the Clinton administration was one of the 139 nations that signed the treaty, although Clinton never submitted it to the Senate for ratification.
Now the Bush administration is considering "unsigning" the treaty. UN officials, human rights groups and some of the U.S.' closest allies, including Britain, France, Canada and Germany, have lauded the court as a powerful new tool in the fight against war crimes.
Why isn't the U.S. a kindred spirit in this quest for international justice? Especially since all of our allies have signed on to the court and our global war on terrorism seeks their help? Instead, the U.S. has vehemently opposed the treaty and has vowed to take action to ensure U.S. citizens cannot fall under the court's jurisdiction.
The Bush administration reportedly fears the court might carry out frivolous trials against U.S. soldiers engaged in overseas combat or peacekeeping missions.
Let me suggest, however, the real motive: The U.S. is trying to maintain its global dominance. The world's last superpower (the French call us a "hyperpower") simply will not submit to the judgments of lesser nations.
When the Bushites and the religious right-wingers in his camp say "God Bless America," they must mean it as a fait accompli. 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.
Such reasoning certainly would explain the actions of the Bush administration, which has taken unilateral arrogance to a new level.
Name an international treaty, Bush has rebuffed it: The Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases; a global agreement to curb the illicit sale of small arms; the Biological Weapons Protocol; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
All of these treaties were strongly supported by U.S. allies and most of the international community.
Thus, the Bush administration's rejection of the Rome Treaty's world criminal court should come as no great surprise. Dubya is just a unilateral kind of guy.
But already we are paying the price of that unilateralism. In the Middle East, for example, Bush's simplistic rhetoric has come back to haunt us. His oracular division of nations into those "with us or with the terrorists," may sound decisive in times of crisis. But upon reflection, it sounds rather simplistic.
Bush's combative "wanted dead or alive" language was wildly popular to an American public weaned on white hat/black hat dichotomies, and no Republican dared to challenge a president with Bush's stratospheric approval ratings.
Reducing complicated conflicts to simple Texas sound bites may enthrall Bush's right-wing posse, but it undermines the foundations of successful diplomacy. His wiser counsels, such as Secretary of State Colin Powell, know that international relations require finely calibrated approaches.
We see an example of diplomacy devalued in the way Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has defied Bush's stern urgings to terminate the savage invasion of Palestinian territories and in former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cheeky address to Congress Wednesday.
Both men are using Bush's own intemperate words to prosecute and justify what most of the world is calling war crimes against Palestinian civilians.
If Bush used the terrorist attack of Sept 11 to justify a massive military response, they ask, why shouldn't Israel replicate that behavior and use overwhelming force to subdue its own "terrorists"?
The right-wing Sharon regime has used that logic to deflect U.S. criticism of its brutal behavior. In fact, China, Colombia, India, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey and others all are embracing Bush's inflexible and simplistic two-tone view of the world to redefine their dissidents as terrorists.
Danger lies ahead unless we change course.