Sunday, October 31, 2004

American Multiple Unilateralism

This table/ list is an interesting commentary on a nation, which wages war to establish peace, bypasses UN to uphold its "resolution", and unilaterally enforces the multi-lateral agreements on other nations, which it has unilaterally rejected itself:

Convention on Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Signed July 17, 1980, never ratified
The US remains one of a handful of countries, including Iran and Sudan, not to ratify CEDAW. Although Bush has called the treaty "generally favorable," the treaty faces resistance from US conservatives.

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Signed Feb. 16, 1995, never ratified At the UN
Only the United States and Somalia, which has no functional government, have not ratified the Convention. Conservatives who favor the death penalty for minors strongly oppose the treaty.

International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
Signed Oct. 5, 1977, never ratified
The US maintains that economic, social and cultural rights are "aspirational," not inalienable or enforceable. 142 countries have already ratified the Covenant.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Control (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol
Ratified UNFCCC Oct. 15, 1992; Signed Kyoto Protocol Nov. 12, 1998, never ratified
Although President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, mandating a reduction in carbon emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012, a 2001 State Department memo rejected the protocol on the basis that it would harm the US economy and exempt developing countries from reduction requirements. Of industrialized states, only the US, Australia and Israel haven't ratified the protocol. The US did ratify the UNFCCC, but has not complied.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
Signed Sep. 24, 1996, never ratified
The US Senate voted in 1999 to reject ratification of the test ban treaty. Taking another step away from the agreement, the White House released the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in early 2002 hinting at a return to testing and reserving the right to use nuclear weapons in a first-strike attack. The NPR also states that arms reductions can be reversed.

Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty
Signed and ratified Summer 1972
US unilateral withdrawal Dec. 13, 2001 The US became the first major power to unilaterally withdraw from a nuclear arms control treaty. Citing "terror threats," the Bush administration will pursue an enormously costly missile defense program, even though its scientific feasibility remains dubious.

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) and Draft Proposal
Signed April 10, 1972, ratified March 23, 1975, rejected Draft Proposal in June, 2001
After the BWC was drafted in 1972, its 144 state parties agreed that the convention's enforcement mechanisms were inadequate. An "Ad Hoc Group" formed in 1994 to negotiate changes. When the group presented its draft proposal in 2001, the US rejected it and refused to return to negotiations, effectively derailing the treaty.

Chemical Weapons Convention
Signed Jan. 13, 1993, ratified Apr. 25, 1997
The US ratified the Convention, but set extensive limitations on how it could be applied in the US, essentially gutting its provisions. The US specifies that material cannot be transferred outside the country for testing, limits which facilities can be tested, and gives the president the right to refuse inspection on the grounds of "national security."

Mine Ban Treaty
Never signed
The US remains the only member of NATO besides Turkey, and the only state in the Western Hemisphere besides Cuba, not to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. The US used anti-personnel land mines in the first Gulf War, and claims that land mines are essential to protect US soldiers in heavily armed places like the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Signed Dec. 31, 2000, unsigned June 6, 2002 In 2002
the US made the unprecedented move to "unsign" the treaty establishing the ICC. Since then, the US has systematically undermined the ICC by signing bilateral agreements with states to exempt US military and government personnel from the court's jurisdiction.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Unilteral Nation Building: Lessons from Histroy

While much is being publicised about how Iraq, with the help of International Community will be the next example of Nation-Building (and will emerge as a vibrant democracy in the middle-east), the history sees to indicate otherise.

This policy brief from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace throws up some dissonant facts about American Record on Nation Building:

  • During the last century, US has made around 200 military interventions around the world.

  • Based on 3 criteria, viz.,
    1. declared goal of "regime change" or "saving a regime",
    2. deployment and long-term commitment of large number of ground troops, and
    3. deep involvement in the political process through use of American military and civilian processes),

    only 16/200 would qualify as efforts towards "Nation Building"

  • Of these 16, in only 4 democracy could survive 10 years after the departure of US forces.

  • Of the 4 successful transitions to democracy, 2 nations (Panama and Granada were really small, with a population of >3mn and 0.1mn, respectively)

  • The other 2 much quoted examples of successful Nation Building - Germany and Japan - had many similar characteristics (which contrast with the situation in Iraq):
    1. both of these countries were homogenous societies with no dominant conflicting interest groups,
    2. had previous experience of constitutionalism, and
    3. the popular (and soemtime elite) interests were aligned to those of the US.

  • Not a single US-supported Surrogate Regime could make a transition to democracy in the post-conflict period.

    ... the full report/ Policy brief is available at:

  • Saturday, October 23, 2004

    Empire Creates Its Own History

    For most of us (individuals, organisations, states): History unfolds, we pick up the cues of its direction, and align ourselves to leverage on this unfolding...

    But there can also be another - more experimental and faith-based - view of History, viz., not of history-as-unfolding, but as history-to be-made (or history-as-an-experimental-creation)...

    ...this excerpt from Ron Suskind's article in New York Times, Without a Doubt (Oct 17, 2004) is a good example of this perspective:

    "In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like... I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend...

    "The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community", which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.""

    What also gives credence to this view - to the view that there is a set of people who firmly believe that one can experiment with history, and thus, change the nature of reality, is the history of a think-tank - Project for New American Century[1] -which was formed in 1997. The 25 signitories of its "Statement of Principles[1]" included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Jeb Bush (and Zalmay Khalilzad - the present US Ambassador to Afghanistan, and the erstwhile Unicol director)

    One of the reports by this think-tank, Rebuilding America's Defenses (Sept, 2000)[2] - a year before 9/11, and in many ways, reminescent of Hitler's Mein Kampf - is remarkably prophetic of History to come:

    Re: 9/11:
    "Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor."

    Re: Iraq War:
    "Indeed, the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

    Re: "Axis of Evil":
    "The current American peace will be short-lived if the United States becomes vulnerable to rogue powers with small, inexpensive arsenals of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not be so trivially squandered"

    the coincidences go on....

    ... perhaps, it will be history-as-unfolding, which will determine if this history-as-an-experiment turned out to be successful...


    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    Globally Competitive Socialist Welfare States

    World Economic Forum released the Global Competitiveness Report [download pdf summary] last week.

    The report which rankscovers 120+ countries ranked the following as the top 10 globally competitive countries:

    1. Finland
    2. USA
    3. Sweden
    4. Taiwan
    5. Denmark
    6. Norway
    7. Singapore
    8. Switzerland
    9. Japan
    10. Iceland
    What is interesting about this ranking is that 5 of these countries (Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland) are the Scandinavian/Nordic countries, and can be broadly described as Socialist Welfare States. These countries have been in this league since last 3-4 years, and also feature in the top slot on HDI - Human Development Index).

    Of course, in the recent times, the "Socialist Welfare" Economic Model has become somewhat unfashionable in the metropolitan conversations of business-leaders/ strategy-makers (except as a target for bashing). But in its basic meaning, Socialism - i.e., people's control over the means of production - is worth a thought and consideration. And these
    FAQs on the Scandenavian Model[1] describe why and how this economic model works.

    Sunday, October 17, 2004

    Iraq Pays for "War Damages"

    According to an article in The Guardian, on October 21 2004, United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) - a body of UN, which had recently described the Iraq invasion as "illegal" - will collect $200mn as "War Reparation" from the Iraqis, and will distribute it to some of the richest countries and corporation.

    Since last April, Iraq has paid $1.8bn as "damages for war" to UNCC,, which has distributed it among:
    - UK ($37mn),
    - USA ($32.8mn),
    - Halliburton ($18m),
    - Bechtel ($7m),
    - Mobil ($2.3m),
    - Shell ($1.6m),
    - Nestlé ($2.6m),
    - Pepsi ($3.8m),
    - Philip Morris ($1.3m),
    - Sheraton ($11m),
    - Kentucky Fried Chicken ($321,000) and
    - Toys R Us ($189,449)...
    among others...


    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    No WMDs as justification for War

    MIAMI Oct. 7, 2004 — Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on Thursday that a report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, who found no evidence that Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction after 1991, justifies rather than undermines President Bush's decision to go to war....

    [at one level this news item is ironically hilarious... at the other, it is a tragic commentry on people who have died, lost homes and loved ones, committed suicide - and all for nothing!!!]