(Re-)Joining the World

One of the many things we must rightly demand of the incoming U.S. government is the abandonment of rogue status, the serious participation in treaties, a cooperative and productive relationship with the rest of the world.

We’ve all heard about the Iran agreement, which ought to be re-joined and made into a treaty — and sanctions ought to be ended. Biden can do this alone, except for the ending sanctions part.

We’ve all heard about the Paris climate agreement, which ought to be re-joined and made into a treaty — and military pollution included. Biden can do this alone on Day 1.

But what about the others? What about the treaties that Trump has illegally withdrawn from (illegally because treaties require Congress, and because these treaties have built-in procedures for addressing the alleged problems Trump used as excuses to withdraw)? Biden can rejoin them at will. Does he have the will?

He may have it for disastrous corporate trade agreements, but what about for disarmament treaties that increase humanity’s chances of survival? We’re talking about the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty, which need to be rejoined, plus the New START Treaty that needs to be renewed. Will the madness of Russiagate win out over the saneness of disarmament and the (usually righteous) reversal of Trump? Trump also took the U.S. out of the UN Human Rights Council, and out of UNESCO, both of which need to be rejoined. Trump sanctioned the top officials of the International Criminal Court. That needs to be undone and the court joined.

The United States’ rogue status didn’t begin with Trump. Of the United Nations’ 18 major human rights treaties, the United States is party to 5, fewer than any other nation on earth, except Bhutan (4), and tied with Malaysia, Myanmar, and South Sudan, a country torn by warfare since its creation in 2011. The United States is the only nation on earth that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is by many measures a top destroyer of the natural environment, yet has been a leader in sabotaging climate protection negotiations for decades and has never ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Control (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. government has never ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2001. It has never signed the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The United States leads opposition to democratization of the United Nations and easily holds the record for use of the veto in the Security Council during the past 50 years, having vetoed U.N. condemnation of South African apartheid, Israel’s wars and occupations, chemical and biological weapons, nuclear weapons proliferation and first use and use against non-nuclear nations, U.S. wars in Nicaragua and Grenada and Panama, the U.S. embargo on Cuba, Rwandan genocide, the deployment of weapons in outerspace, etc.

Contrary to popular opinion, the United States is not a leading provider of aid to the suffering of the world, not as a percentage of gross national income or per capita or even as an absolute number of dollars. Unlike other countries, the United States counts as 40 percent of its so-called aid, weapons for foreign militaries. Its aid as a whole is directed around its military goals, and its immigration policies have long been shaped around skin color, and lately around religion, not around human need — except perhaps inversely, focusing on locking up and building walls to punish the most desperate. Biden could end the Muslim ban and the horrendous immigration and citizenship policies. He could end several wars, halt numerous weapons sales, close numerous bases.

Yet, virtually absent from discussions of what’s most needed at this moment of governmental transition — in part because so damn much is needed, but in part because of shortcomings in U.S. culture — is any discussion of compelling the new U.S. government to become a good global citizen.

*Thanks to Alice Slater for much useful information.

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