`Rogue’ State - USA
Stinging rebuke by American author By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
April 7, 2002

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WHEN officialdom in the USA speak about "rogue states", "evil troika" or "crimes against humanity", people and representative organisations of the Caribbean, like those in other parts of the global community, are inclined to think of countries of the Arab world, Asia or Africa.

Wrong, quite wrong, according to a proud citizen of superpower USA, an academic, researcher and author.

What this American, Phyllis Bennis, a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and author of `Calling the Shots - How Washington Dominates Today's UN’, has to say about the USA as a "rogue state" would make very uncomfortable reading for the administration of President George W. Bush and America's strategists currently obsessed in focusing world opinion on "international terrorism".

Bennis, author also of a forthcoming book, "Before & After: US Foreign Policy and September 11th Crisis", has written a scorching article in a recent edition of 'Fletcher Club Digest', an on-line magazine of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston, USA.

Writing against the backdrop of US denigration of countries in the Middle East as "rogue" states, or as "evil" societies, including North Korea, Bennis's analysis is quite relevant to President Bush's "war against terrorism" and Israel's Ariel Sharon's "war" against the Palestinians.

Let me share with readers excerpts of what she has written on `Rogue States? America Ought to Know’, before my own brief concluding comment:

"What would you call a country that produces the highest levels of dangerous chemicals in the world but abandons key negotiations aimed at reversing global warming?

"How about a country whose leader blithely announces that he is abandoning a quarter-century old arms control treaty, one the whole world understands to be the key to preventing complete nuclear madness?

"And what about a government that walks out of talks to enforce the biological weapons treaty because it doesn't want international inspectors peeking at its own weapons production facilities?

"That same country keeps rejecting human rights treaties, even the ones protecting the rights of children?

“Sounds pretty roguish, don't you think? Iraq, maybe, or one of those other evil-doers like Iran or North Korea? But, oops - wrong guess. This particular rogue state would be the United States of America....

"The problem is unilateralism, our tendency to act our unchallenged super-power of superpowers' role without concern for what others in the world think. When the Bush administration came into office last year, unilateralism was suddenly on everybody's radar screen....

*"What really caught the eye of policymakers and pundits were Bush's rapid-fire moves to abandon the 'Kyoto Protocol' on global warming and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

"The United States produces by far the largest amount of greenhouse gases in the world - the stuff that is destroying the ozone layer and causing dangerous global warming....

In January 2002, the administration rubbed salt into the world's wound, dissing the whole Kyoto process by announcing a separate unilateral plan. The new plan would, coincidentally, leave current US greenhouse gas levels, and the resulting increase in global warming virtually unchanged.

*"Then came the problem of weapons of mass destruction. In October 1999, the US Senate refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a long-sought effort at keeping the US and Soviet nuclear genies closer to their bottles. The world was not amused. Many, especially Europe, were outraged.

"So when Bush announced in early 2001, that he planned to unilaterally abrogate the 25-year-old ABM Treaty, it wasn't only the Moscow that felt betrayed. The ABM treaty had served as the linchpin of strategic arms control for a generation. Bush's claim that it was 'irrelevant' in the post-cold war era fooled no one. The only thing that had become 'irrelevant', to the United States, was international concern about the Pentagon's war drive...

*"Only two countries in the world have refused to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child - Somalia and the United States. In the summer of 2001, the United States walked out of another international conference, this one on how to enforce the 1972 treaty prohibiting biological weapons...

"It was not the Iraqis, it was us, the US delegation that walked out because they refused to accept international inspections of American production facilities which the United States demanded for everyone else (including Iraq).

*"On the issue of human rights, when it comes to real commitments, backed up by international agreements, Washington falls way behind. Take the Convention on Rights of the Child. That one should be a no-brainer. The Convention is, according to UNICEF, 'the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history'.

"The Convention sets norms for what governments should provide for parents and their children - adequate nutrition, compulsory primary education, adequate health care, safe access to play, art and culture. Only two countries in the world have refused to sign on - Somalia and the United States....

"Then there's the International Criminal Court. The United States spent years demanding that the world create such a court to insure that those guilty of genocide or war crimes would be held accountable. When the court was approved, delegates from 120 countries stood and cheered. Only seven countries voted against, led by the United States at the head of the rejectionist front.

"Who were Washington's bedfellows? Those stalwart democracies such as China, Israel, Libya, Iraq.

As it turned out, the United States never had any intention of signing on, fearful that it would expose American troops around the world to prosecution outside the US justice system. It just demanded a court for the rest of the world...

"After September 11 (terrorists' strikes), most of the world's criticism of our unilateralism and arrogance was silenced. But now we stand in danger of losing the human sympathy that followed those attacks. Haven't we - and the rest of the world - had enough of Washington's rogue behaviour?"

In the Caribbean, I am sure there would be a lot of "yes" votes to Bennis's question. Not because of any deep-seated anti-Americanism, but because of the sheer hypocrisy and arrogance of an administration in Washington.

Even as Bennis was posing her poignant rhetorical question in her analysis of America as a “rogue" state, the Bush administration was signalling to the United Nations the possibility of "unsigning" from any involvement with the International Criminal Court which is scheduled to be ceremonially inaugurated on April 11.

The UN hopes this does not happen. According to the UN Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs, no country has ever "unsigned" a UN treaty, as such an action would be viewed as undermining the purpose and/or objectives of any international treaty.

Such then is the harsh reality of the times in which we live with the world's sole superpower playing the role of global policeman and threatening any country, "not with us in fighting terrorism", while itself carrying the unflattering qualities of a 'rogue' state, according to some of the very definitions it applies to others.