The USA: A Good World Citizen?

In a word: NO! I was amused when I recently read that French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that France will return to full membership of the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO). What, they have not been a full member? It turns out that in 1966, President Charles de Gaulle withdrew his country from the alliance's command structure. So I wondered, what about the good ole U.S. of A? Are there any similar surprises?

In my SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, I argued that the United States is the best country ever. I still believe so, but I have to wonder why we have been such a BRat (Bully Rat) in a variety of universal world agreements. I can tell you at the outset: Conservatives have generally been the reason why. Although I have sometimes tended to side with them, let me be specific.

First, the Kyoto Protocol. One hundred eighty three countries have ratified it, yet the U.S. remains the only major nation in opposition. Enough said.

Of course, many times we do not sign on for "good reason." Take global warming, for example. It makes little sense to do so when China and India are pardoned. However, International Women's Day was March 8, and I found it astounding that the Global Women's Rights Treaty, completed 30 years ago, was endorsed by 170 countries, but not the USA. Why? There is some fear of promoting prostitution and abortion. Would you guess that, as in global warming, hardcore conservatives might be blamed? We are in abysmal company, for Sudan, Somalia, Qatar, and Iran have also refused to sign.

Senator Barbara Boxer (California-D), though, has taken on the challenge of gaining ratification. She has also added the United Nations measure to expand the rights of children. It is reported we have dragged our feet on this issue for fear of condoning youth soldiers, children smoking marijuana, and the like. In case you missed the point, there is a sector of our society that believes parents should have the right to rear their own children, which, granted, makes some sense. This has been floating around for two decades, and was actually signed by President Bill Clinton, but not approved by the U.S. Senate. New UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, recently said that this is a noble cause backed by the Obama Administration.

In case you were wondering, the President signs treaties, which then require Senate approval. The House does not get involved. Oh, by the way, Clinton also signed the Kyoto Protocol, but was not able to gain Senate support.

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is one that I have actually been a part of since my stint in the U.S. Senate three decades ago. While these LOST summits have been close to being the most boring of any possible human assemblage (although, maybe those UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission biennial gatherings exceed that mind-numbing quotient), you would think that something passed in 1982 to cooperate on ocean matters would be a slam dunk certainty. A combination of companies not wanting to share information and something to do with sovereign rights over the open ocean has served to scuttle our participation. Interestingly enough, President George Bush, the 43rd president, actually backed this longstanding treaty. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Rice and Vice President Biden are in support, so surely it will be ratified this time, right? Well, stay tuned, for the military industrial complex suite of war partners remain adamant against this giveaway.

Okay, who can possibly be for land mines? Well, the USA. We have refused to join 150 nations that have ratified this treaty. This one is only a decade old, but the Pentagon is against it because signing would compromise South Korea. Huh? There is also a Cluster Bomb Ban that the U.S. and Russia stand opposed to. Odds are that the Obama Administration will move on these, for they do have humanitarian and practical benefits.

The International Criminal Court was formed in 2000 to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. President Clinton previously signed, but did not even bother to submit it to the Senate for ratification. George Bush the Younger, then "unsigned" it in 2002 because it could bring politically-motivated prosecutions against U.S. citizens. It is possible that the U.S. Constitution would need to be amended to ratify, and there are more important measures to pass at this time, I guess.

There are a few more, but let me stop with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Certainly, we must be the good guys here. Nope. One hundred eighty one nations have signed on, but the US, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran and North Korea have not approved the treaty. Russia is one of the 148 that signed and ratified.

Let me finally end this discussion with the UN Security Council and veto power. Without going into the details, the Soviet Union vetoed more than 100 resolutions. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 there were 23 vetoes, the U.S. with 15 and Russia with 6.

This is getting monotonous, so let me conclude with the simple statement that now you probably should have a better inkling as to why we have not been really popular around the world. Mind you, popularity is tertiary to being right and humane, but consider the above and let your wishes be known to our current leaders.