Tuesday, February 18, 2014

international law

This article says American foreign policy is arrogant and Obama is a huge disappointment. This article is about the terrible abuses in North Korea. This wikipedia page is about the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1951. This disgraceful law is emblematic of US paranoid nationalism. In this piece, Abdulrahman's grandfather points out that Barack Obama killed a 16 year old boy in cold blood for no coherent reason (and many other people) on October 14, 2011 and has kept it up since then.

All of these articles are related by the following truth: the United States of America is the most powerful country in the world and has been for a long time. Rather than use this power to move to a world governed by international law and take a huge step forward in human history towards a world community, the USA has absolutely squandered it's moral authority and leadership on petty and destructive, arrogant, and pointless violence and lawlessness. Obama, who should know better, has been a horrible president when it comes to building international law and moving beyond might makes right to a world where justice is conceivable.

Obama has not been a complete failure as a president. The healthcare thing was a step in the right direction, even if imperfect. The opening to Iran was great. He has given hints of the Obama who could have been, but no. In the end, he failed in all the important ways. The environment is the slavery issue of our centuries. Obama is one of those leaders who kicked the can down the road who should and will be a footnote. You can't tackle issues like global warming with an undemocratic deep state America failing to do its part as a good neighbor.

International action is necessary on all important issues. Law is better than lawlessness. One day, the US will wake up and wish it was in a world of law and when we do and when we are not in that world, we can blame Obama, and ourselves, and the deep state of the NSA, the military, the CIA, the echo machine that allows them to thrive and the rest of the unelected spooks who dominate the government.

The US should use its power to embed itself in a system of international law so thoroughly that the US can never act alone again. Why? Because the US is powerful enough not to have to embed itself in a system of international law. So, when the US does it anyway, it will re-establish its moral authority.

The nationalist will howl about, what, French surrender monkeys or some other ridiculous, offensive nonsense. I just don't buy it. No government is going to be more incompetent and clueless than the US government.

Obama will not agree to a no-spy agreement with Germany and Brazil. Why not? As a US citizen, I know for an absolute fact that I have more to worry about from the NSA, the US military and the CIA than I do from the Brazilian or German governments. In fact, I am absolutely sure that both the Brazilian and German governments are more democratic and less threatening than the US government.

In the US, we worship the military. We have to stop. The US military is a force, when used, for more harm than good by far. Vietnam, Iraq: these are not footnotes. Bosnia, which seems to have been a success, is a footnote. The first gulf war, regardless of the outcome, was illegal under US domestic law as the troops were already in Saudi Arabia when Bush brought the issue to congress. Afghanistan was justified and legal internationally and domestically initially but so thoroughly botched that it belongs with Iraq and Vietnam as national disgraces, along with all the others involving other branches, secret wars and actions in Iran in the 50s, Central America in the 80s, etc.

Sure, presidents not the military made these decisions, but having the military there to use didn't help. So, since World War II, the US military has been a tremendous force for harm. We the people of the US would be far, far, far better off with a lot less of it. It doesn't work. Mostly what the military has done is murder a million people in Vietnam for no coherent reason (were the communists there puppets of China or Russia?) and hundreds of thousands in Iraq (so that Iran could have a regional ally?). The US military is a failure morally and in terms of advancing US interests and in terms of making the world safer for the citizens of the US.

After World War II, the world seemed to agree on a couple of things. One, a country should not be able to invade a country to make itself bigger. It doesn't matter who started the war, when it's over, both sides go back to their side of the border.

This is a good rule. Probably 90% of the wars in history after WWII involved someone hoping to take some land from the other guy. World War I and World War II definitely started about land. So, let's take land off the table. It's an important principle if we are all going to get along. The two main exceptions to this rule since the end of World War II are the Chinese invasion of Tibet and the settlement policy of Israel in Palestine.

China was quite wrong to annex Tibet. China is now quite wrong to do business with North Korea. China, if it feels it can aide a regime like Kim's in North Korea or simply disappear a culture, is quite dangerous to the international order. But the US can do nothing without credibility. The US can only help steer China to be responsible if the US has the backing of the world, Brazil, Germany, etc. As a leader, the US can be important and useful. As a lone world, the US is useless.

What are we going to do about income inequality? Don't you think the answer will have to be international? Just as the domestic progressive compromise in many countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, to create a more prosperous and secure working class, was necessary, so to an understanding about trade and fairness will be necessary now across the whole world.

What are we going to do about the climate? How can we work together on the climate if we can't figure out what to do about the basic rules of how countries interact, of basic legality and respect?

The drug war failed. A lot of people died and went to prison. Let's see what ideas they might have in Uruguay or Bolivia. Maybe there is a better way to deal with this.

As a US citizen, I would like my government to trust the Brazilians and Germans (as examples) enough not to piss them off, not to read their email, and to actually listen to them, to work with them to make an international court system that is effective and fair, as best we can, and then sign on.

I would like international trade agreements that exclude countries in which the workers in that country cannot unionize or suffer accidents without social security, that have no planning for their retirement. If you want to manufacture stuff to sell in the US (and Europe. Japan and South America, etc.), you should make sure that the worker in that factory have rights. No slaves. The US could lead on this issue. It would be good for workers in Bangladesh and good for workers in the US.

The US submits to the international court. The US submits to an international trade agreement that is focused on workers and the environment, not only copyright and subsidies and things that matter to corporations. The US agrees to adhere to international law.

Then the US can do something about China, Russia, North Korean, maybe even Syria. We could scale back our military. Stop spying on our own citizens and potential allies. Become more democratic at home. Then one day we won't wake up with China threatening us and wish we lived in a world of law, or wake up under 20 feet of water and wish we had got together to do something when we still had the power to lead.

We will not always be the big kid on the block. The young strong man will one day be an old man who needs help. When he is old and frail, he might wish he hadn't been a bully and a terror to the neighbor when he was younger.

The US is a lone wolf. The "alliance" with Israel, and there is no way to avoid that topic, is based on the power of the US pro-Israel lobby. It is not anti-semitic to say this since this lobby is almost entirely not Jewish. Helping Israel steal the Palestinians land is in no way in the US interest. It is not in my interest. Defending Israel from foreign attack, sure. But not stealing. If a deal with the Palestinians were possible, Israel has to give back the land they got after 1967. That's the law.

So, Obama goes and makes a deal with Iran that IS in the interest of the US and of the people of the US. We aren't going to attack Iran. They know it. We know it. So, let's do a deal. But then the pro-Israel lobby comes in and messes it up. That's profoundly wrong for US citizens to undermine their own interest in favor of another country's short term interest.

Israel should be safe and secure. No one should ever dream of throwing the Jews into the sea and turning back the clock. But this goal is in everyone's interest, including Iran. If the US thinks about it's own interest, and if Israel understands it will have to give back a lot of land, the US will be in a better position to lead the world to an international system of law.

I wanted to write what I think in this blog entry not because it will do much good but because when in 20 years the US is whining about how China isn't fair, and this time it's our own ass on the line, and no one gives a shit, among other terrible problems, I can link back to this here. Thanks for reading.

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