26 December 2007

Treatyphobia or just looking for effective solutions that work?

Amongst the various views that pass through the body politic, come some pretty strange ones by individuals committed to a partisan view that, for all of the benign good will, actually starts to put something far less benign down. This is true of Karl F. Inderfurth and his article in the Christian Science Monitor, 24 DEC 2007 edition, Washington's phobia of global treaties.

Apparently the US has a staggering case of treatyphobia as seen by our unwillingness to sign some treaties that Mr. Inderfurth believes detract from our leadership amongst Nations. Yes, you are smelling Transnationalism already, aren't you? The belief that every treaty is for a benign cause is, really, benign and would not detract from National sovereignty one little teensy bit. That if the US would 'just get along' with the rest of the world we could 'lead' it... while this 'getting along' business means you become part of a herd. Strange way to 'lead' this 'doing what everyone else does' deal. So lets move on to see what he is going on about!

This from the opening paragraphs:

Washington - Three quarters of the world's countries have signed an international agreement to ban antipersonnel landmines. The Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty – to never again use, produce, acquire, or export these so-called "hidden killers" of civilians – reached its 10th anniversary this month. But the United States is still not a signatory.

Unfortunately this "just say no" approach to international treaties has become a pattern for the US, especially under the Bush administration. This trend must change. The president's successor should make it a high priority for the US to rejoin the world and reassume the country's role as a globally respected leader.
Why, its a leftist buzz-word ridden diatribe! And you would think that it was President Bush who didn't sign the treaty while, in fact, it was President Clinton. Here, from the FAS archives of 17 SEP 1997 is how President Clinton addressed it in his briefing:

Last month I instructed a U.S. team to join negotiations then underway in Oslo to ban all antipersonnel land mines. Our negotiators worked tirelessly to reach an agreement we could sign. Unfortunately, as it is now drafted, I cannot in good conscience add America's name to that treaty. So let me explain why.

Our nation has unique responsibilities for preserving security and defending peace and freedom around the globe. Millions of people from Bosnia to Haiti, Korea to the Persian Gulf are safer as a result. And so is every American. The men and women who carry out that responsibility wear our uniform with pride, and, as we learned in the last few days, at no small risk to themselves. They wear it secure in the knowledge, however, that we will always, always do everything we can to protect our own.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will not send our soldiers to defend the freedom of our people and the freedom of others without doing everything we can to make them as secure as possible. For that reason, the United States insisted that two provisions be included in the treaty negotiated at Oslo. First, we needed an adequate transition period to phase out the antipersonnel mines we know use to protect our troops, giving us time to devise alternative technologies. Second, we needed to preserve the antitank mines we rely upon to slow down an enemy's armor defensive in a battle situation.


We went the extra mile and beyond to sign this treaty. And again, I want to thank Secretary Cohen and General Shalikashvili and especially I'd like to thank General Ralston for the enormous effort that was made and the changes in positions and the modifications in positions that the Joint Chiefs made, not once, but three times, to try to move our country closer to other countries so that in good faith we could sign this treaty.

But there is a line that I simply cannot cross, and that line is the safety and security of our men and women in uniform. America will continue to lead in ending the use of all antipersonnel mines. The offer we made at Oslo remains on the table. We stand ready to sign a treaty that meets our fundamental and unique security requirements. With an adequate transition period to a world free of antipersonnel land mines, this goal is within reach.
Why that *evil* go-it-alone President Clinton!! He actually wanted time to devise new ways to protect our troops and to have anti-armor mines reserved for use against those foes fielding tanks, armored vehicles and the such like. How bad and nasty that this "just say no" President dared... DARED to put the security of the armed forces and the Nation *ahead* of the international community! Yes, I am glad that Mr. Inderfurth direct such venom at him...oh... he didn't.

Now would you like to know some of the *other* Nations that didn't sign it?

This from the Wikipedia page entry on it:

Yes, just from looking at the map the non-signatories include such Nations as: Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Libya, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Poland, Morocco, Cuba, Western Sahara, Somalia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Israel, Bahrain, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea... then a few island Nations scattered around the world. Why the majority of Nations *have* signed the poor thing, but that doesn't mean that it meets the needs of all Nations. Apparently the two most populous Nations on Earth, China and India, see a pressing need to continue using such weapons.

What is even more fascinating is the conclusion reached in this National Academies Press book of 2001, Alternative Technologies to Replace Antipersonnel Landmines by the National Research Council and on page 77 we find conclusions:
Conclusion 1. The major reasons for seeking alternatives to current antipersonnel landmines (APL) are humanitarian concerns, compliance with the Ottawa Convention, and enhanced military effectiveness. Indeed, this study would not have been empanelled were it not for the Ottawa Convention. The current inventory of self-destructing and self-deactivating U.S. APL is militarily advantageous and safe. They achieve desired military objectives without endangering U.S. warfighters or noncombatants more than other weapons of war, but they are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention. However, humanitarian concerns and Ottawa compliance are not always synonymous. In fact, some of the apparently Ottawa-compliant alternatives examined by the committee may be less humane than present U.S. self-destructing and self-deactivating landmines.
What, you mean the US already HAS landmines that offer better solutions than the Ottawa Treaty does? Say What? What is Mr. Inderfurth smoking as it has got to be better than my sinus congestion! Yes, the Ottawa Treaty would have made research into *better* ways of making landmines that were safer and more effective, plus less of a long term threat nearly impossible.

Then comes a very strange segue by Mr. Inderfurth into yet another treaty that he thinks it would be grand and glorious for the US to sign. So here we are just in the next two paragraphs where Mr. Inderfurth continues to bemoan President Bush's keeping with traditions of previous Presidents, like his predecessor:
In some cases the rationale for US opposition is tied to security, economic, or legal considerations. But in all cases the unifying principle behind the Bush administration's refusal to join these treaties seems to be ideological – not wanting to encumber the US with further international obligations or to constrain America's freedom of action.

This "America unbound" approach is making the US the odd man out on critical global issues. In March of this year, a new human rights treaty was opened for signature at the United Nations, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention would ensure that people around the world with disabilities enjoy the same rights as everyone else to equal protection before the law, and in work and education opportunities.
A treaty to ensure that 'Persons with Disabilities' would have the same rights around the world as 'everyone else'! Such a lovely bit of phrasing, no? Strangely enough I have, actually, looked at this question before on the question of human rights, and have found that there is already a treaty mechanism for this very thing: it is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And it already has those same rights for EVERYONE within those signatory Nations. Those very things he bemoans is already *achieved* by the Universal Declaration as it does not discriminate between any citizens within a Nation and the signatories agree NOT TO DO THAT. This is a 'feel good' treaty and more verbiage that achieves nothing... until you look just above about not wanting to 'encumber' the US with further obligations.

Here's the deal, the moment the US signs such a treaty it is obligated to enforcement proceedings, which means that anyone can come in and *litigate* on it. America does, indeed, like to keep those sorts of things to a minimum as our court systems are already chock-a-block with ambulance chasers.... hmmmm... 'personal injury lawyers' seeking punitive damages on every damned thing they can think of. The last thing we need is *more* of that. The reason that this is important is given in the very next paragraph by Mr. Inderfurth:
Entry into force of the new treaty would give those disabled by land mines – an estimated 473,000 people worldwide – as well as others injured by weapons of war an important boost in their efforts to rebuild shattered lives.
Yes, 'rebuild shattered lives' which is short-hand for: sue.

That is what this thing called 'governments' are for: to seek war reparations from those that attacked them. Mr. Indermurth would much rather have ambulance chasers in the US hang out shingles in foreign Nations to then sue in the US without having to go through all of this 'government' nonsense. Perhaps even 'class action lawsuits' would be invented around this!! Wouldn't that be lovely? To have thousands of individuals laying on lawsuits on a global scale? The courts could not handle them all and anything else, like trying to get simple, regular justice done inside a Nation would be stopped up for good and all by litigation happy Transnational Lawyers seeking to reap billions off of things like: DECLARED WARS.

Yes, indeedy, that would be such a wonderful world where LAWYERS determined foreign policy, wouldn't it?

Then Mr. Inderfurth wants the US to sign the cluster bomb treaty:
Nor was the US a participant at a conference concluded this month in Vienna. Some 130 nations attended to consider an international treaty banning cluster bombs, which "cause unacceptable harm to civilians." Once dropped, these munitions scatter hundreds of bomblets over a wide area. Many don't explode (the failure rate is up to 30 percent) and instead linger on as de facto land mines.


Instead of sending delegates to the Vienna meeting, the Bush administration says it will seek to regulate the use of cluster munitions in another forum known as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Described by The Economist as "a ponderous process, going on since 1980," the CCW normally takes years to produce results, if then.
And if you think the CCW takes time to figure things out, you should look at the IAEA which only takes years to figure out that North Korea might be on to something when it started up nuclear reactors.

So, these nasty bombs turn into land mines... well the *old ones* would, yes. But there is a technical answer to this already being deployed by the US! Yes, I have looked at this before, too, in an article looking at how warfare is transforming due to all the neat stuff coming down the pipeline. For this I will extract a part of that article:
Next up is something to handle armored and vehicular columns of more traditional forces. Here, again, bigger is not always better, but it was difficult to get something like cluster bombs to accurately go after armored vehicles. With a standard cluster bomb you have all sorts of nasty sub-munitions laying around waiting to go off and that is very difficult to clear. And so one man had a vision of tanks dancing from directed plasma way back in the 1980's. Of course, the Pentagon wanted nothing to do with that. So what does someone with a bright idea actually *do* when the Pentagon says NO? Why you go to your Congresscritters and get pork-barrel funding, of course! The Pentagon hated that and tried, repeatedly to kill this dream. It was derisively called the 'weapon of 1,000 miracles' because it would need that many to function in all of its Rube-Goldbergesque capabilities. Textron believed in this dream and so it came to pass, and be made: CBU-97.

Source: Future Weapons, The Discovery Channel

By all accounts it did the impossible of being dropped over a large area and attacking up to 40 targets separately. It comes in at 1,000 lbs. which makes it amenable to all sorts of aerial vehicle delivery platforms and only some basic GPS to get it over the target AREA. It is an area effect weapon and that is all it needs. The final sub-sub-munitions do the rest... the 'skeets'.

Real Trouble!
Source: Federation of American Scientistsl

This was first deployed against an armored column that Saddam was forming up as the Marines were heading towards Baghdad. It was going to be the start of his counter-attack, spearheaded by the Republican Guards. It met up with two CBU-97's and the front third of the column along with some rail rolling stock was destroyed in under 5 minutes. The Republican Guard left the hulks of their dead tanks and the entire counter-attack disappeared as morale broke, never to be seen again. The Marines had been preparing for a light infantry maneuver against armor... and could not believe what happened. A 'dumb bomb' but with very, very smart components. And the 'skeets' that do the dirty work shutdown or become non-operable if they cannot find a target. No explosive mess left behind to clean up. Truly only an American could think up such a complicated way of doing things and make it work.
Mr. Inderfurth, meet the weapon of 1,000 miracles! The lovely sub-munitions look for a target and then, if they can't find one, NEUTRALIZE themselves so that the exposives are rendered incapable of exploding. Similar work is being done for anti-personnel cluster bombs, as the US loves high-tech solutions to long-term battlefield problems. But Mr. Inderfurth would want THAT sort of research stopped in its tracks by having a treaty signed to eliminate this class of weapons.

It seems that Mr. Inderfurth isn't too much up on 'hi-tech' these days, and lives in a world perpetually stopped in the 1970's.

But the moaning doesn't stop with landmines, the disabled and cluster bombs! Heavens, no!

From Mr. Inderfurth the US does, indeed, lack in another area:
But perhaps the greatest irony is that the US is missing the opportunity to take credit for much of the good that it does around the world. Instead of garnering appreciation, the US engenders resentment for its continued practice of "American exceptionalism."

That resentment spilled over at the recent Bali conference on global warming, where obstructionist tactics by the US delegation were met by boos from other delegates and a threatened European boycott of the Bush administration's climate conference in Hawaii next month. With the diplomatic equivalent of a gun to its head, the US showed a bit more flexibility. But it remained adamant in its refusal to join a global pact to cut greenhouse-gas pollution. Instead, the US said these goals should be "aspirational."
Scratch a Transnational Progressive and you get a global warming churchman. Mark Steyn had a quick bit on the Bali meeting and noticed something that goes unspoken from their 2005 meeting:
"Stop worrying about your money, take care of our planet," advised one of the protesters' placards. Au contraire, take care of your money and the planet will follow. For anywhere other than Antarctica and a few sparsely inhabited islands, the first condition for a healthy environment is a strong economy. In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.

Had America and Australia ratified Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure that would be statistically undectectable within annual climate variation. In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower by $97 billion to $397 billion - and those are the US Energy Information Administration's somewhat optimistic models.
Yes, you did read that correctly: the US is far closer to meeting the Kyoto protocols than Europe is. In fact China has now overtaken the us for output of carbon dioxide, so perhaps it is time for the global worrywarts to go after them. Because it is efficient, highly capitalist Nations that see benefits in reducing emissions and utilizing the entire production cycle so that waste is minimized. The reasons they should be 'aspirational' goals is that other Nations can't even achieve the ones they have already set for themselves. By having different 'aspirations' the US is doing far, far better than these other Nations.

Mr. Inderfurth winds up with this:
"Just saying no" is not the kind of leadership that many expect of the US, either at home or abroad. By joining other countries to establish mutually binding agreements, the US could seize the opportunity to demonstrate that it is truly committed to working with the international community to solve global problems.
Apparently this 'American Exceptionalism' is doing this think known as LEADING THE WAY. The boos heard at Bali consist of Nations that will not abide by a treaty they signed and are unable to comply with their word on it and are now complaining that the US, by not signing on to this stuff, is not taking its share of the blame for not meeting expectations... save that the US is far closer to those expectations than those doing the booing.

If that is the 'international community' then they are a bunch of hypocrites.

By not 'joining other countries' in the 'international community' the US is leading the way on global problems by showing how they can be solved. 'Working' on global problems is not, necessarily, solving them. Often this 'work' is just an excuse to do *nothing* which the US sees a lot of from the 'international community'. So if they want to complain that the US achieves their aspirations and they CAN'T then LET THEM. These other Nations want to lead by committee, and 'working' on problems, while the US likes to tackle problems and solve them. Others can follow our example or not as they please, but this example has one salient point that the Transnationalists miss in their wanting to make lawyers roam the Earth like hordes of dinosaurs:


Treaties? Not so much.

Want a better world? Do something about it and don't whine that others aren't doing your work for you.


Morpheus, SOC said...

Nice post. The extensive information always works to your advantage when proving a point. The only problem is that those with just talking points cannot apprehend all the information you have provided because of the self-centered presuppositions. Very thorough! Merry Christmas dude!

A Jacksonian said...

Merry Christmas!

'Talking Points' are soundbites, they do not properly encapsulate ideas. Nor do soundbites, and our being driven to ever smaller, ever simpler presentations of ideas is toxic to being able to think in a longer form.

The antidote is to give the pure, unadulterated stuff itself, and attempt to break the 'Limited Attention-span Theater Effect'.

Talking points are about yelling slogans.

Talking is about discourse and familiarizing oneself with the full extent and scope of things beyond 'talking points'. That talking *beyond* 'talking points' is attacked or ignored speaks to our paucity in ability to think.

That is fatal if it goes on to long.

Leads to 'not thinking' and just yelling 'talking points'. Then you can't be heard when someone is warning you a bus is about to make you street-pizza for the yelling is too loud...

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Unfortunately for the bulk of us, the Left and Demorats wish merely to work on EMOTIONS. If it "feels" better for saying or advocating, then that's the appropriate course of action. Action? Did I write Action? Where is the ACTION (as you so aptly write) on the part of the signatories? I see LITTLE action. And in terms of emotions and feelings, let the facts themselves and those nasty little details be damned! Which proves one excellent point: how many people actually take the TIME to READ the TEXT of various treaties and to REALIZE what is actually OCCURRING in reality?


A Jacksonian said...

Mr. Z - You are exactly correct.

They want a 'no cost' 'feel good' solution with peace and harmony and government telling you what to do and act in just such ways as they like... or they will put those lawyers on you and then you will PAY.

Heaven forbid they actually get off their butts to starting *making* things so the world can be a better place and the ills of people alleviated in that doing. Just let government take care of it... until you have no rights nor liberty left at all. Then the Rule of Law is replaced by the Law of Rules.