Mirror, Mirror On The Wall,
Who's The Biggest Rogue of All?
by Richard Du Boff
Z magazine, September 2003
What follows is a record of the U. S.
rogue role in the world -- its crimes and imperial designs.
1. Comprehensive [Nuclear] Test Ban Treaty,
1996. Signed by 164 nations and ratified by 89 including France,
Great Britain, and Russia; signed by President Clinton in 1996,
but rejected by the Senate in 1999. The U.S. is one of 13 non-ratifiers
among countries that have nuclear weapons or nuclear power programs.
In November 2001, the U.S. forced a vote in the UN Committee on
Disarmament and Security to demonstrate its opposition to the
Treaty and announced plans to resume nuclear testing of new short-range
tactical nuclear weapons.
2. Antiballistic Missile Treaty, 1972.
In December 2001, the U.S. officially withdrew from the landmark
agreement-the first time in the nuclear era that the U.S. renounced
a major arms control accord.
3. Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention,
1972. Ratified by 144 nations including the U.S. In July 2001
the U.S. walked out of a London conference to discuss a 1994 protocol
designed to strengthen the Convention by providing for on-site
inspections. At Geneva in November 2001, Undersecretary of State
for arms control John Bolton stated, "the protocol is dead,"
at the same time accusing Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Sudan,
and Syria of violating the Convention, but offering no specific
allegations or supporting evidence to substantiate the charges.
In May 2002, Bolton accused Cuba of carrying out germ-warfare
research, again producing no evidence. The same month, three Pentagon
documents revealed proposals, dating from 1994, to develop U.S.
offensive bioweapons that destroy materials ("biofouling
and biocorrosion"), in violation of the Convention and a
1989 U.S. Iaw that implements the Convention.
4. UN Agreement to Curb the International
Flow of Illicit Small Arms, 2001. The U.S. was the only nation
in opposition. Undersecretary Bolton said the Agreement was an
"important initiative" for the international community,
but one that the U.S. "cannot and will not" support,
since it could impinge on the constitutional right of Americans
to keep and bear arms.
5. International Criminal Court (ICC)
Treaty, 1998. Set up in The Hague to try political leaders and
military personnel charged with war crimes and crimes against
humanity. Concluded in Rome in July 1998, the Treaty was signed
by 120 countries. Although President Clinton signed the Treaty
in December 2000, he announced that the U.S. would oppose it,
along with six others (including China, Russia, and Israel). In
May 2002, the Bush administration announced it was "unsigning"
the Treaty, something the U.S. had never before done, and that
it would neither recognize the Court's jurisdiction nor furnish
any information to help the Court bring cases against any individuals.
In July 2002, the ICC went into force after being ratified by
more than the required number of 60 nations, including Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain-Russia now having signed,
but not ratified.
Throughout 2002 and 2003, the U.S. worked
to scuttle the Treaty by signing bilateral agreements not to send
each other's citizens before the ICC. By mid-2003, the U. S. had
signed 37 mutual immunity pacts, mostly with poor, small countries
in Africa, Asia, Central America, and Eastern Europe. Threatened
with the loss of $73 million in U.S. aid, for example, Bosnia
signed such a deal. In July 2003, the Bush administration suspended
all military assistance to 35 countries that refused to pledge
to give U.S. citizens immunity before the ICC.
6. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,
1969. The U.S. signed but did not ratify. In May 2002, as the
U.S. was unsigning the ICC Treaty, it simultaneously announced
that it would not be bound by the Vienna Convention, which outlines
the obligations of nations to obey other treaties. Article 18
requires signatory nations not to take steps to undermine treaties
they sign even if they do not ratify them.
7. The American Servicemen's [sic] Protection
Act, 2002. The Bush administration has been working overtime to
nullify the ICC. In November 2002, the president signed this Act,
which not only bars cooperation with the ICC and threatens sanctions
for countries that ratify it, but authorizes the use of "all
means necessary" to free any U.S. national who might be held
in The Hague for trial before the ICC.
8. Land Mine Treaty, 1997. Banning the
use, production, or shipment of anti-personnel bombs and mines,
the treaty was signed in Ottawa in December 1997 by 123 nations.
President Clinton refused to submit it for ratification, claiming
the mines were needed to protect South Korea against North Korea's
"overwhelming military advantage," a proposition denied
by the heads of North and South Korea in June 2000. In August
2001, President Bush rejected the treaty.
9. Kyoto Protocol of 1997, intended to
control greenhouse gas emissions and reduce global warming. Declared
"dead" by President Bush in March 2001. No other country
has chosen to abandon the treaty completely. In November 2001,
the Bush administration shunned negotiations in Marrakech (Morocco)
to revise the accord, mainly by watering it down in an attempt
to gain U.S. approval. In February 2002, Bush announced a new
plan to limit emissions-by measures that are to be strictly voluntary.
The U.S. is the largest single producer of these emissions, generating
20 percent of the world's total.
10. International Plan for Cleaner Energy,
2001. The U.S. was the only nation to oppose this Plan, put forth
by the G-8 group of industrial nations (U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia,
Germany, France, Italy, UK) in Genoa in July 2001. It would phase
out fossil fuel subsidies and increase financing for nonpolluting
energy sources worldwide.
11. UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,
1982 and the 1994 Agreement relating to Implementation of Part
IX (Deep Seabed Mining). It establishes a legal framework for
management of marine resources and preservation of the marine
environment for future generations-including fish stocks, minerals,
international navigation, marine scientific research, and marine
technologies. President Clinton submitted these treaties to the
Senate in 1994, but they have not been ratified, as they have
been by 135 and 100 countries respectively. The primary obstacle
to applying them remains the absence of U.S. ratification.
12. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to
the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, 2000. An international
treaty sponsored by 130 nations, it seeks to protect biological
diversity from risks posed by genetically modified organisms resulting
from biotechnology. To date, it has been ratified by 13 countries
and signed by 95 more, including the United Kingdom, Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, Ireland, both Koreas, China, India, Indonesia,
Argentina, and Mexico. The U.S. has long argued that there is
no reason for such a protocol, has not ratified it, and is not
13. European Union (EU) talks on economic
espionage and electronic surveillance of phone calls, e-mail,
and faxes, May 2001. The U.S. refused to meet with EU nations
to discuss, even at lower levels of government, these activities
carried out under its Echelon program. Meanwhile, the U.S. escalated
its opposition to the EU's Galileo project, a global satellite
navigation system that would rival the U.S. Global Positioning
System (GPS), funded and controlled by the Department of Defense
and serving thousands of corporate and individual users worldwide,
all monitored and recorded by the U.S. In December 2001, Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the EU that Galileo would
have "negative consequences for future NATO operations"
and would interfere with GPS. (In fact, it is planned to be compatible.)
In March 2002, the EU announced that it would proceed with Galileo,
slated to be operational in 2008.
14. Multilateral talks sponsored by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris,
May 2001. Discussion on ways to end "Harmful Tax Competition"-tax
evasion and money-laundering operations carried out through off-shore
tax havens. The U.S. refused to participate. In negotiations in
Vienna under the auspices of the UN, the U.S., and the EU are
also battling over a proposed global Convention Against Corruption.
Europe wants the pact to cover businesses and governments; the
U.S. wants it restricted to governments.
15. World Conference Against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, September
2001. Convened by UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization) and the UN High Commission for Human Rights. It
brought together 163 countries. The U.S. withdrew from the Conference,
alleging anti-Israel and anti-Semitic politics on the part of
many delegations. The final declaration of the conference expressed
"concern about the plight of the Palestinian people under
foreign occupation" and "recognized the inalienable
right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the
establishment of an independent State and...the right to security
for all States in the region, including Israel. "
16. The 39-year-old illegal embargo against
Cuba by the U.S. Under Bush II, it has been tightened. In November
2002, the UN General Assembly passed, for the 11th consecutive
year, a resolution calling for an end to the boycott by a vote
of 173 to 3, the largest majority since the General Assembly first
debated the issue in 1992. The U.S., Israel, and the Marshall
Islands voted against the resolution.
17. UNESCO. The U.S. quit UNESCO and ceased
its payments for UNESCO's budget in 1984. The pretext was the
New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO), which was
not a UNESCO project, but a proposal, backed by several groups,
including UNESCO, for change in global communications designed
to lessen dependence of developing countries on Western media,
news agencies, and advertising firms. The NWICO proposal was dropped
in 1989; the U.S. nonetheless refused to rejoin UNESCO. In 1995,
the Clinton administration proposed rejoining; the move was blocked
in Congress. In February 2000, the U.S. finally paid some of its
arrears to the UN but excluded UNESCO. President Bush stated that
the U.S. would rejoin UNESCO in September 2002, when he appeared
before the UN to ask for a resolution authorizing him to attack
18. State-sponsored terrorism. The International
Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague held the U.S. in violation
of international law for "unlawful use of force" in
Nicaragua, 1986, through its own actions and those of its Contra
proxy army. The U.S. refused to recognize the Court's jurisdiction.
A 1988 UN resolution that "urgently calls for full and immediate
compliance with the Judgment of the International Court of Justice
of June 27, 1986 in the case of 'Military and Paramilitary Activities
in and against Nicaragua' in conformity with the relevant provisions
of the Charter of the United Nations" was approved 94-2 (U.S.
and Israel voting no).
19. Optional Protocol, 1989, to the UN's
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). Aimed
at abolition of the death penalty, it contained a specific provision
banning the execution of those under 18. The U.S. has neither
signed nor ratified and exempts itself from the latter provision,
making it one of five countries that still execute juveniles (with
Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, and Nigeria).
China abolished the practice in 1997, Pakistan in 2000.
20. UN Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979. Ratified by 169
nations. President Carter signed CEDAW in 1980, but the Senate
blocked it. The only countries that have signed, but not ratified,
are the U.S., Afghanistan, Sao Tome and Principe.
21. UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child, 1989. It protects the economic and social rights of children.
The U.S. has signed, but not ratified. The only other country
not to ratify is Somalia.
22. Cairo Action Plan, 1994. Adopted by
179 nations at the Cairo International Conference on Population
and Development in 1994. It seeks to establish "reproductive
health services and health care" as a means for curbing population
growth in developing countries. In July 2002, the U.S. cut off
its $34 million annual contribution to the UN family-planning
program and, in November, withdrew its support of the Cairo Action
Plan. The State Department's population office stated that the
Plan implied a right to abortion and undermined the U.S. international
campaign for sexual abstinence to avoid pregnancy.
23. UN Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948. The U.S. finally ratified
in 1988, adding several "reservations" to the effect
that the U.S. Constitution and the "advice and consent"
of the Senate are required to judge whether any "acts in
the course of armed conflict" constitute genocide. The reservations
are rejected by Britain, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain,
Greece, Mexico, Estonia, and others.
24. Convention Against Torture and Other
Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1987. Ratified
by the U.S. in 1994. In the UN Economic and Social Council in
July 2002, the U.S. tried to stop a vote on a protocol to reinforce
the Convention. The protocol would establish a system of inspections
of prisons and detention centers worldwide to check for abuses.
The U.S. claimed that the new plan would allow monitors to gain
access to American prisoners and detainees-including, presumably,
those held in U.S. detention camps in Guantanamo, Afghanistan,
and now Iraq.
25. Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
and Optional Protocols, 1963. The U.S. is a long-time violator,
by detaining foreign nationals and failing to notify their governments.
In 1999, two German citizens, Walter LeGrand and his brother Karl,
were put to death in an Arizona gas chamber. When arrested in
1984 for the murder of a bank teller, the LeGrands were not informed
of their right to contact the German embassy and German officials
were unable to provide legal aid. In 1998, the World Court (the
ICJ) ruled that the U.S. had violated international law in the
case and asked the U. S. Supreme Court to stay the execution.
The Supreme Court dismissed the request. In 2002, Mexico petitioned
the ICJ to grant stays of execution for 54 Mexicans held on death
row in the U.S., arguing that U.S. municipal and state officials
are violating the Vienna Convention. In August 2002, Mexican President
Vicente Fox cancelled a meeting with President Bush at his Texas
ranch to protest Alabama's execution of Mexican citizen Javier
Suarez Medina, who was denied the right to seek help from his
government when arrested in 1988.
After September 11, 2001, U.S. violations
of the Convention multiplied, with more than 600 "unlawful
combatants" detained in Guantanamo and elsewhere without
charges, denied all legal rights, and held for possible trial
before closed military tribunals.
26. Agreement among all other 143 members
of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to help poor nations buy
medicines to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases,
by relaxing patent laws that keep prices of drugs beyond their
reach, concluded at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar
in November 2001. In December 2002, the U.S. single-handedly destroyed
the agreement. Sources at the WTO in Geneva said that the U.S.
decision came directly from the White House, following intense
lobbying from U.S. pharmaceutical companies.
Is the status of "we're number one"
rogue overcome by generous foreign aid given to less fortunate
countries? The three best foreign aid providers in 2002, measured
by the aid percentage of their gross domestic products, were Denmark
(1.01 percent), Norway (0.91 percent), and the Netherlands (0.79
percent). The worst was the U.S. (0.10 percent) followed by the
UK (0.23 percent). A 2003 index, put together by the Center for
Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine and ranking the
contribution made by 21 developed nations to growth in the developing
world, placed the U.S. 20th; only Japan ranked lower.
The foregoing record of the biggest rogue
of all excludes the use of armed force against other nations.
According to the Congressional Research Service (Report 96-119F,
"Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad"),
from 1798 through 1995 there were 251 instances (of which only
five were declared wars) when the U.S. used its armed forces abroad,
in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for
other than normal peacetime purposes. Since the collapse of the
Soviet Union, the level of U. S. military activism abroad has
"Since the end of the Cold War, the
United States has embarked on nearly four dozen military interventions
[during 1989-1999] as opposed to only 16 during the entire period
of the Cold War. Many of these interventions, such as those in
Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, were launched into areas traditionally
considered marginal to U.S. interests" ("New World Coming:
American Security in the 21st Century," September 1999, United
States Commission on National Security/21st Century).
Richard DuBoff is professor of economics
at Bryn Mawr College. He's the author of Accumulation and Power:
An Economic History of the United States (M.E. Sharpe l989).
Rogue State: United States
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