Thursday, December 18, 2003

UNILATERALISM, IN RETROSPECT

The path to security and the solutions to many of our and the world's collective problems--from stopping terrorism to stopping the spread of AIDS--lies in international cooperation. The Bush administration however is leading our country down and the world down a very different path. While most public scrutiny is fixated on Bush's unilateral push for war in Iraq and a unilateral occupation, it is useful to look back on the path Bush has forged, even before 9/11 "changed everything" (by which I mean it changed nothing), with such utter disdain for the world community, human decency, and the enlightened U.S. interests that encompasses these goals.

To recap:

U.S. has done nothing or hindered effective action:
*Climate change--Bush renounced the Kyoto protocol, took no domestic action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and rather torpedoed environmental and clean air policies aimed at curbing emissions.
*Small Arms Trafficking (the root of civil war around the world)--Bush blocked and weakened key provisions of a draft UN agreement to curb the illicit global small arms trade.
*Tobacco--Bush blocked and weakened key provisions of draft Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. 80 countries signed it, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and even the shut in countries like North Korea and Myanmar.
*Population control and reproductive health--Bush cut off U.S. assistance to foreign NGOs providing family planning services and pre-natal care. (Thus ensuring more kids in the Third World inherit poverty as their birth right).

U.S. flouted rules-based international system:
*Trade--Bush imposed egregious and ineffective steel tariffs (see my previous post), and racked up outrageous farm subsidies as part of a misguided agricultural policy that impoverishes the world's farmers and puts food in the hands of monopolistic multinational corporations.
*Chemical Weapons Convention--Bush only ratified the convention after asserting "special rights" to refuse inspections and to prevent collected samples from leaving U.S. territory.
*Nuclear Weapons Proliferation--Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in order to proceed with his pipe dream (and pet of his military-industrial complex cronies) National Missile Defense project.
*War Crimes--Bush "un-signed" the Rome treaty establishing the International Criminal Court and announced the court would not receive US cooperation. Bush also threatend to invade the Netherlands should the court attempt to try an American (say, for example, his Daddy for alleged crimes against humanity).

Source: Simmons, P.J. 2002. "Global Challenges: Beating the Odds." Carnegie Endowment For International Peace Policy Brief No. 17. August.

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