“Send lawyers, guns and money,
Dad, get me out of this”
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Kofi Annan, speaking at Harvard University’s commencement, criticised the USA’s policies in Iraq on June 10, 2004. ``What kind of world would it be, and who would want to live in it, if every country was allowed to use force, without collective agreement, simply because it thought there might be a threat?'' Annan asked.
Although Annan was speaking specifically of Iraq, his words apply to US actions in most areas of foreign and domestic policy. George Bush, aided by a radical neo-conservative/neo-liberal Congress and Senate, began breaking treaties as soon as he was sworn in. His unilateral outlook pays no heed to international laws, treaties, conventions, multilateral institutions or the wants and needs of the world community as a whole.
Should countries, some countries, be considered above the law because of their military and economic might? What kind of world would that make? Well, we are getting an indication from the actions of George Bush and his supporters. One country is acting as if it is above the law. The results are anything but positive for the rest of the world, yet few are standing up and saying, “Stop!”
The Centre for Economic and Social Rights, an American human rights group, did just that on the same day Annan was giving his speech. They released a report called Beyond Torture: US Violations of Occupation Law in Iraq. The report, twenty eight pages of carefully researched documentation of the crimes committed by the Bush Administration in Iraq, is damning. The top ten list in the Executive Summary lists Failure to Allow Self-Determination, Failure to Provide Public Order and Safety, Unlawful Attacks, Unlawful Detention and Torture, Collective Punishment, Failure to Ensure Vital Services, Failure to Protect the Rights to Health and Life, Failure to Protect the Rights to Food and Education, Failure to Protect the Right to Work, and Fundamentally Changing the Economy.
Beyond Torture clearly points to the complete disregard for the law that has been exhibited by the Bush administration. The first paragraph of the conclusions reads, “This report is grounded in the assumption that the U.S. is not above the law, but rather should be bound and limited by law. Such limitation would have profound implications for Bush Administration policies in Iraq. International law forbids imperialism in any guise; forbids unilateral aggression in the guise of “pre-emptive” war; forbids military occupation in the guise of providing security; forbids hand-picking political leaders in the guise of promoting democracy; forbids economic pillage in the guise of reconstruction; forbids extraterritorial impunity for war crimes in the guise of establishing rule of law; and forbids criminalizing resistance in the guise of fighting terrorism. In essence, the
entire thrust of U.S. policy in Iraq stands in contradiction to the post-World War II legal
order and particularly the legal framework governing occupation.” It goes on to call for all war criminals, US and Iraqi, to be tried for their crimes and for the US to pay reparations.
That seems unlikely to happen at this point. The United States sought and received immunity from the ICC when it first came into being. To receive the immunity they vetoed further UN missions in Bosnia, basically blackmailing the rest of the Security Council into either backing them or abstaining from the vote. The Bush administration then revoked military aid to some 35 countries who would not issue a guarantee that US citizens would not be turned over to the International Criminal Court if the were suspected of committing war crimes.
The US is presently seeking to extend their immunity for another year. Great Britain is likely to support them in the Security Council and is rumoured to be pressuring Romania to do the same even though Romania has stated publicly that it will abstain from the vote. Resolution 1487 does not have to be renewed until July and, although the US pushed for an early renewal, the vote has been postponed indefinitely due to lack of support within the Security Council.
The lack of respect for international law and treaties in the Bush White House is palpable. It isn’t just related to war, either. Economic control is the second front in the puzzle. When George Bush refused to ratify Kyoto the reasons given were economic. The argument of the US was that it would cost too much and hurt the economy. The argument does not really wash, of course. Implementing Kyoto would require new technologies and new technologies have benefited economies since technology has existed. Global warming is far more of a threat to the overall US economy than Kyoto will ever be.
Kyoto would injure the dominance of US-based corporations. It would do grave damage to the corporations that are so intrinsically involved in US politics in general and especially in the Bush White House. After refusing to ratify Kyoto, a move that could well scuttle the entire deal world-wide, Bush introduced a plan that allows CO2 emissions to rise as long as there is a profit made. As Nancy Kete of the World Resources Institute pointed out in the Christian Science Monitor, US green house gas emissions have been growing in the US at about the same rate envisioned in the Bush plan.
Even what appear to be positive environmental steps in Bush’s emissions plan are based, in the end on fossil fuels. Hydrogen production in the US is to be powered by coal, diesel fuel, and natural gas powered plants, with some nuclear power tossed in. The effects that this plan have on the rest of the planet are immaterial as far as the Bush White House is concerned. Only the USA, actually the small part of the USA that supplies massive political donations, matters to them.
Since George Bush took over the White House, the United States has refused to sign on to, refused to ratify, or outright cancelled many treaties and agreements. The Anti-Ballistic Missle Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Convention on the Prohibition of Landmines, the Small Arms Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Kyoto Global Warming Accord, the International Criminal Court, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts (Child Soldier Protocol), have all been weakened, undermined, or cancelled due the Bush administration’s refusal to participate.
Our neighbour to the south has become the greatest threat to world peace and advancement. They have done so under the tutelage of those who consider profit for privately held companies to be more important than the rights and needs of people, yet they claim to be a democratic nation.
Here in Canada our politicians are unwilling to speak out against the tyranny being imposed by the United States on the rest of the world. Paul Martin has agreed to talks on Missile Defence and seems to be moving towards even deeper integration with the United States. Stephen Harper goes even further than Paul Martin, stating that he would cancel Kyoto in favour of an Bush-style plan for reducing emissions. Both Martin and Harper would remain in NAFTA and support the FTAA. Although Martin has stated that such an agreement should take human rights into account, it is certainly not clear that he considers the absence of such a clause to be a deal-breaker. Harper has been mute on human rights in regard to trade deals and his plans to further integrate the Canadian military, immigration policies, and border patrols with that of the United States point to an willingness to cooperate fully and completely with the US. While that may or may not aid trade between our two countries, it threatens Canadian sovereignty and will negatively impact our ability to continue to work with the world through multi-lateral institutions.
In short, the two most likely candidates to lead Canada after the June 28 election are not only willing to overlook the Bush administration’s complete and utter disregard for international laws and treaties, but seem eager to become accomplices in the commission of international crimes and quasi-legal dirty dealings. Martin and Harper, like the ideologues in the Bush administration, are all to willing to trade the good of humanity for the profits of a very few wealthy people. They are all too willing to participate in high crimes and misdemeanours. Martin and Harper seem to be increasingly of the opinion that no matter what they get into lawyers, guns and money will provide a solution.
As the rest of the world, including many American citizens, slowly comes to realise that the American government sees itself as being above the law, the two main contenders vying to be Canadian Prime Minister are moving the other way. That is not the Canada we need.
UN (PDF Link)
Christian Science Monitor
Council for a Livable World
UN (PDF Link)
Christian Science Monitor
Council for a Livable W...