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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Anti-War
Obama's Rogue State
The US calls on other nations to abide by the treaties it violates. Barack Obama warned last week that Syria’s use of poisoned gas “threatens to unravel the international norm against chemical weapons embraced by 189 nations”(8). Unravelling the international norm is the the US president’s job.
"In 1997, the United States agreed to decommission the 31,000 tonnes of sarin, VX, mustard gas and other agents it possessed within 10 years. In 2007 it requested the maximum extension of the deadline permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention: five years. Again it failed to keep its promise(9), and in 2012 it claimed they would be gone by 2021(10). Was the world’s richest nation unable to complete this task on time? Or just unwilling? Russia has now urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control(11). Perhaps it should press the US to do the same.
As for the norms of international law, let’s remind ourselves where the US stands. It remains outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, after declaring its citizens immune from prosecution. The crime of aggression it committed in Iraq – defined by the Nuremberg tribunal as “the supreme international crime”(26) – goes not just unpunished but also unmentioned by anyone in government. The same applies to most of the subsidiary war crimes US troops committed during the invasion and occupation. Guantanamo Bay raises a finger to any notions of justice between nations.
Obama’s failure to be honest about his nation’s record of destroying international norms and undermining international law, his myth-making about the role of the United States in world affairs and his one-sided interventions in the Middle East all render the crisis in Syria even harder to resolve. Until there is some some candour about past crimes and current injustices, until there is an effort to address the inequalities over which the United States presides, everything the US attempts, even if it doesn’t involve guns and bombs, will stoke the cynicism and anger the president says he wants to quench.
During his first inauguration speech, Barack Obama promised to “to set aside childish things”(27). We all knew what he meant. He hasn’t done it."
to read George Monbiot's article published September 9, 2013, click on