ever-shrinking interest in the world
seem to be tacking against the general winds of the world—that of
increasing political, economic, environmental and judicial cooperation.
Express Arts Editor
Bush administration announced last week that it would withhold $34
million from the United Nations Population Fund—an organization
committed to women’s reproductive health and family planning—it was
roundly criticized for bowing to the conservative groups Concerned Women
for America and the Population Research Institute.
barely beneath the surface was, of course, abortion. There is no denying
it was a pointed political move. The administration had itself asked for
the funds last year but, subsequently, balked when conservative groups
charged the U.N. organization facilitated forced abortions and
sterilizations in China. The White House sent a fact-finding team to
China in May, which reported back that the U.N. program neither directly
nor indirectly had any such coercive role in China.
insight into the trench warfare of abortion politics, however, this
latest decision by the president is one in a series of signals of a
bigger political ideology at work: that of a steadfast commitment to
maintaining America’s unilateral perogative in a rising tide of
globalism. In a sense, we are having the federalism argument—Hamilton
vs. Jefferson—all over again, this time on a global level.
sign of this new foreign policy approach was the administration’s
opposition to the Kyoto accord—an agreement by the industrialized
countries of the world to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse gases are believed to contribute to global warming. Despite
the fact that the United States is the world’s largest polluter, and
despite the fact that the European Union and 54 other nations signed the
accord, we have decided short term economic self-interests outweigh
long-term, global environmental and, eventually, economic interests.
sign of our retreat from the global community was our decision to impose
30 percent tariffs on steel imports. Because the big steel companies in
Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio are losing the competition with
foreign producers, the administration decided to improve big steel’s
chances with tariffs. That these three states will have pivotal House
seats up for grabs in November, and account for 46 electoral college
votes, no doubt figured into the decision. Regardless, the country that
touts free market economics suddenly has no will for it when it starts
to lose in a competitive marketplace.
there is the issue of the United Nations International Criminal Court—a
new entity as of July 1 that is charged with addressing global war
crimes. The Bush administration has refused to join the court unless
U.S. citizens receive immunity from any sort of future prosecution. It
is hard to fathom the justification for demanding everyone play by the
rules except us.
there was just last week a failed attempt by the U.S. to block a plan at
the U.N. to bolster the 1989 convention against torture. The plan calls
for United Nations’ Economic and Social Council to conduct regular
inspections of prisons and detentions centers around the world to check
for abuses. The concern of the administration is that the U.N. body will
gain access to the detention camp at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, where "enemy combatants" and the suspected al-Qaida
members are being held. Other U.S. prisons would be subject to
inspections as well, though how the states’ rights would factor into
the equation is hard to know. It seems a place like Guantanamo Bay,
however, is a perfect candidate for inspections. I would hope we weren’t
torturing people, and it seems unlikely we would be, but, if so, why
shouldn’t the world know about it? Torture is torture, no matter who
is doing the torturing and no matter who is being tortured.
the proposal enjoyed wide support among Western European and Latin
American countries, while those opposing it included the United States
and conservative Muslim states.
doubt that President Bush considers himself a leader and the United
States to be the leader of the world. But the president’s inclination
to avoid multilateral agreements and organizations belies a true sense
of leadership. To lead is to be part and parcel of a group, to be
engaged and involved with the members of a community. We seem to be
tacking against the general winds of the world—that of increasing
political, economic, environmental and judicial cooperation.
Gulf War and the bombing campaign in Afghanistan proved, we need the
help of other countries to achieve our goals. In the latter case, it
seems obvious that to simply protect ourselves on our own soil from
terrorists requires tremendous cooperation and involvement with the
global community. We may be big and powerful, but the course of history
is showing us that that does not afford us the ability to act
unilaterally without consequence, as we did in the mid and latter part
of the 20th century. I would venture to say the global
political and economic model President Bush holds in his mind’s eye is
a relic of his father’s generation.
not that our greatness has diminished; it is that the rest of the world
has become a stronger and more cohesive force. President Bush would do
well to reconsider participating in global affairs. He just might become
the leader of the free world. The alternative is to become marginalized
as just another leader of an American political party.