SUNS #5154 Friday 5 July 2002 (www.sunsonline.org)
United States: Latest Bush
moves will sow disorder abroad
Washington, 3 July (IPS/Jim Lobe) -- Two major new
foreign-policy initiatives announced here in the past 10
days are providing ammunition to analysts who argue that the
world's superpower is pursuing irresponsible policies likely
to feed chaos and disorder abroad.
They say that Washington's threatened veto of UN
peacekeeping operations if the Security Council does not
grant its forces exemption from the new International
Criminal Court (ICC) could destabilise global hotspots,
beginning with Bosnia and southern Lebanon.
The threat also marks a major assault on the concept of
international law, according to critics of the
administration of President George W. Bush, who note that
Washington has already renounced the 1972 Anti-Ballistic
Missile (ABM) treaty, the Rome Statute that created the ICC,
and the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Global order depends on most governments abiding
voluntarily by shared norms," said Human Rights Watch
director Kenneth Roth, writing in Monday's 'Financial
Times'. "Exempting America from the rule of law undermines
those norms, leaving a more violent and inhumane world."
Critics say that Bush's demand last week that Palestinians
carry out sweeping political and economic reforms of the
Palestinian Authority (PA) and oust its president, Yasser
Arafat, in new elections as a pre-condition for statehood is
unrealistic and counter-productive.
Worse, the move is almost certain to spark renewed violence
and turmoil in and around the Occupied Territories,
especially in the absence of comparable demands for Israel
to withdraw from towns and territory it re-occupied with
Bush's implicit support.
"It's just an excuse for American non-involvement," wrote
Nahum Barnea, a columnist for Israel's 'Yediot Ahronot'
"By calling off our plans for a Middle East conference and
simply insisting that Mr. Arafat leave the scene before we
come out to deal, Mr. Bush is signalling that we are
disengaging from the Middle East, returning to his earlier
failed policy of looking the other way," wrote columnist
Nicholas Kristoff in the 'New York Times'.
"That was a catastrophic mistake that helped create today's
There is indeed a growing sense here and abroad that despite
its unprecedented power, Washington is becoming increasingly
detached from an international system that it dominates,
even as it pursues its global war on terrorism.
"The paradox is that we need more and more co-operation, and
the world's strongest nation is pulling back," noted Pierre
Schori, Sweden's ambassador to the UN, at a recent seminar.
"There will be no stability in the world without the US."
Such an assessment has already been demonstrated by
Washington's performance in Afghanistan.
Despite the pleas of European allies and its hand-picked
leaders on the ground, the administration's steadfast
opposition to deploying the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) beyond Kabul has resulted in the
carving up of the rest of the country into fiefdoms run by
the same warlords - renamed "regional leaders" by the
Pentagon - who created the conditions for the rise of the
Taliban and al-Qaeda in the first place.
Even neo-conservatives who have publicly cheered
Washington's unilateralism in pursuing the war are growing
worried that the administration is turning its back on
Afghanistan despite Bush's promises less than three months
ago to rebuild it.
"The resulting gap between rhetoric and reality is an
embarrassment to the United States, as on too many foreign
policy issues," the 'Washington Post' editorialised last
Bush's vision of a democratic and independent Palestinian
state living side by side with Israel within three years is
belied by the total lack of planning and preparation that
went into his new Mideast policy.
Similarly, his oft-stated goal of removing Saddam Hussein
contrasts with the administration's abject failure to
convince anyone - including its own military brass - that it
has any idea of what to do with Iraq the morning after to
prevent civil war or the country's disintegration.
"There is this idea that you can unseat governments and then
simply leave it to the natives," according to Pierre Hassner,
a foreign policy expert at France's International Studies
and Research Centre (CERI).
To Hassner, this pattern of behaviour is "typical of empire,
not of a mild hegemon", which "is always supposed to balance
its interests (with) the interests of the alliance it is
The problem is that the Bush administration has shown little
or no inclination to even seriously consider the interests
of friends or foes alike.
The president's summary rejection of the Kyoto Protocol on
the grounds that it "could harm our economy", and his
subsequent failure to fulfil a pledge to design an
alternative that would substantially reduce greenhouse gas
emissions has completely undermined Washington's claim to be
a leader on global environmental issues.
Likewise, his administration's assault on the international
arms-control regime, beginning with its withdrawal from the
ABM Treaty, appears to have been taken only with its own
interests in mind.
"It's the wholesale replacement of one whole approach with a
unilateral approach," said Miller. "It's seen as one more
unilateral US effort to achieve singular security."
Almost 18 months after the administration took power, he
added, "there is a lot of broken crockery. How much of it
can be glued back together?"