Friday, December 26, 2014

The Senate Republicans

This must be read by every sane citizen to see where our republican Senators stand on reasons.

It was written by my life long friend Dennis Jett, a career diplomat and former Ambassador to Peru and Mozambique.

Republicans Are Blocking Ratification of Even the Most Reasonable International Treaties Why do they oppose the Arms Trade Treaty? Because the NRA tells them to.
By Dennis Jett <http://www.newrepublic.com/authors/dennis-jett>
The world got a present on Christmas Eve, when an international treaty to limit the sale of weapons to warlords and terrorists went into effect <http://www.startribune.com/world/286689751.html> . The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) aims to limit the number of civilians slaughtered around the world by requiring any country that sells weapons to establish the same kind of export criteria that the U.S. and other Western democracies have in place. It has been signed by 130 countries and ratified by 60, ten more than it needed to become effective. When the U.N. General Assembly put it to a vote last year <http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/unratified-us-controversial-un-arms-treaty-enters-force> , only three countries opposed the treaty outright: North Korea, Syria, and Iran.
While the Obama administration has signed the treaty, there is no chance it will get the 67 votes needed for Senate ratification. In October 2013, 50 senators sent the president a letter <http://www.inhofe.senate.gov/download/?id=5eb82344-2309-4c35-aa0f-87475036aa34&download=1>  expressing their opposition to the ATT. They included every Republican except Mark Kirk, and five Democrats—Joe Manchin, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Mary Landieu and Kay Hagen. (Manchin was the only one of the Democrats who was not up for reelection last month, and all four that were lost.) So the Republicans stand together with the Axis of Evil 2.0 because the National Rifle Association <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/28/us-arms-treaty-nra-idUSBRE8BR03420121228>  opposes the treaty. The NRA sees it as a potential threat to gun ownership because it does not explicitly provide a guarantee of the “American people’s rights under the Second Amendment.”
In the Senate’s first two centuries <http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/Treaties.htm> , it approved more than 1,500 treaties. It rejected only 21; another 85 were withdrawn because the Senate did not take action on them. A treaty that is not approved, rejected, or withdrawn remains in limbo. At present, there are 36 treaties <http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/pending/>  awaiting action by the Senate, dealing with everything from the protection of albatrosses to the testing of nuclear weapons.  
While protecting waterfowl might seem like something reasonable people could agree upon, apparently no issue is too small for the foes of the imaginary threat of a world government. There are more serious questions not being addressed, however, including:
—The United States has six tax treaties with over 60 countries to prevent double-taxation and make tax evasion more difficult. Republicans have prevented approval <http://thehill.com/policy/finance/297741-libertarian-lawmaker-blocks-international-tax-treaties>  of the six, costing the country billions <http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/rand-paul-tax-swiss-banks-104148.html>  in lost revenue each year.
—Drafted over thirty years ago, the Law of the Sea Treaty is designed to bring some order to the world’s oceans and lessen the chances for conflict in places like the South China Sea. Ratified by 162 countries and supported by the oil and gas industry, the Pentagon, environmentalists, and past presidents from both parties, it was opposed by Republicans because “no international organization owns the seas <http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78568.html> ."
—The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities would apply the standards found in American law to other countries. It is supported by veterans’ groups and corporate interests and has been ratified by 141 countries. Home-schoolers and right-to-life groups <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/27/un-disability-treaty-_n_2197794.html>  opposed it, however, believing false claims that it would interfere with their children’s education and increase access to abortion. When it came to a vote two years ago, 38 Republican senators voted nay.
—The Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of the most popular and respected human rights treaties in history, was negotiated during the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations with major American input. The United States may soon be the only country <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-lesley/us-may-soon-stand-alone-f_b_6337794.html>  among the 193 members of the U.N. that has failed to ratify it. Opponents argue it would hurt traditional families and the rights of parents.
One of the most frequent criticisms of any treaty is that it undermines American sovereignty. But that is the price of international cooperation. Any relationship, whether between two people or among two hundred countries, requires some limits on what one party can do. Globalization has made such cooperation even more imperative; it is impossible for one nation to deal unilaterally with today’s gravest problems. Even the world’s only superpower cannot ignore that fact.
The term “American exceptionalism” never appeared in any party platform until the election in 2012. It made its debut in the Republican platform that year as an 8,000-word section, devoted to the concept that America holds a unique place and role in human history. If the GOP continues to let paranoia prevent this country’s leadership, or even participation, in addressing the challenges created by an ever-more globalized world, that role in history will be short.
Dennis Jett is a professor of international affairs at Penn State University <https://www.sia.psu.edu/faculty/jett> and the author of American Ambassadors—The Past, Present and Future of American Diplomats <http://www.amazon.com/American-Ambassadors-Present-Americas-Diplomats/dp/1137395664> .


4 comments:

Bubba Muntzer said...

That turns my stomach. My first thought is that we are seeing the grisly playing out of the death of the Republican Party. And the smaller and more threatened it becomes the worse it will get, until it's finally over.

But Jett's warning at the end that the US may see itself excluded from world decision making is a real threat, I think. Just look at what's happening in Latin America. MERCOSUR has all but replaced the US-dominated OAS as the main vehicle for addressing our hemisphere's problems. It was started by Hugo Chavez, but even moderate governments down there have joined it because they are tired of the US and its wacko exceptional bullying ways.

Latin American nations are also doing their own trade deals with each other, and are building up a couple of different development financing vehicles, one a development bank, so they don't have to kowtow to the US dominated IMF and World Bank, which require any country getting that money to implement Reaganomics, aka Thatcherism, aka Neoliberalism, aka the Washington Consensus, aka Austerity, which is simply a scheme to redistribute wealth upward. It's theft by the rich.

But in other words, if Latin America can run its part of the world without US involvement, so can everyone else. We are not indispensable and not exceptional, and people can find ways to go around us.

Vicki said...

I fear that the "checks and balances" required for our democracy to thrive are gone with the plutocratic government we now have, especially accelerated by the "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision. The voting populace has shrunken to an all-time low and "The People" are largely so poorly uneducated on not only the issues affecting them daily but also on history, science, government, etc. The shrunken conscience of our politicians and the increasing inability (refusal) to convey ideas and facts through our sources of media allow for simple propagandistic thought to prevail as "common truth". Absent some sort of national crisis, I do not think the US democracy can "bounce back". The very rich own us and until we experience wide-spread deprivation and loss, I fear that elections will change nothing in the immediate future.

Bubba Muntzer said...

Not to mention the European Union, the underlying purpose of which is to push back against US hegemony, primarily economic hegemony but it has put in place the forms to be a political union, too.

The EU's internal conflicts notwithstanding. It's interesting to see that playing out. England trying to participate and still be best friends with the US, Germany trying to take it over, etc. Wie geht's!

Michelle Meaders said...

Thanks for this enlightening article! Another unratified treaty that the US is in a small minority is the one on the rights of women: "Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women", or CEDAW. Read about it here: http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cedaw/pages/cedawindex.aspx

On the list of countries, the US is the only one described as "not a party to CEDAW convention", even though it was ratified by the UN General assembly in 1979, and by President Carter in 1980.