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US policy spinning out of control as Bush struggles NZ Herald august 2001 Gwyne Dyer
It's perfectly all right for the United States to slap the rest of the world in the, face once in a while, if the rest of the worldis wrong or just to defend its own vital :national interests. But it should be done for national interests, not private ones, and it should be done in ways that cause the least possible offence. That is not what's happening now. Consider only the past month. In the second week of July, the Bush Administration told Congress that its ballistic missile defence project would "bump up against" the constraints of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty "within months". Never mind that it's a stupid idea, just look how it's being done. The ABM treaty tallows either party to withdraw on six months'notice, but no such notice has been given. The US is just going to breach the treaty illegally.
In the third week of July, American negotiators at a United Nations conference aimed at curbing the global trade in small arms effectively killed the initiative. The country that produces more than half the world's small ams blocked any restrictions on private gun ownership and vetoed an African-backed proposal to ban arms sales to "non-state actors" - the guerilla groups which are ravaging so many African countries. ""The US should be ashamed," said African envoy Jean Du Preez. In the same week, 160 countries meeting in Bonn agreed on the final terms of the Kyoto treaty to combat global manning in spite of US opposition (and the chief American negotiator was booed by the assembled delegates at the close.)
A subtler obstructionism might have achieved the US government's goal of stalling the treaty for a couple of years, until US industry is ready to compete in the expanding - non-fossil-fuel energy markets whose rapid expansion the treaty will facilitate. The Bush Administration's clumsy defiance of world opinion simply annoyed everybody else so much that they went ahead and signed the treaty anyway. So non-US energy companies, not American ones, will reap the new global opportunities and the international emissions trading that wotdd normally have the US will probably be in London instead.
Late in July it was the turn of the 1972 treaty outlawing germ warfare. For six year 56 countries have been negotiating a treaty that would create verification rules and international inspectors to enforce what was previously just a pious pledge not to produce biological weapons. Fifty-five of those countries had agreed on a 200-page draft protocol - and suddenly, on July 25, the US declared that it 'could not agree because American pharmaceutical plants, which dominate the .World market, would then be open to inspection, too, thus jeopardising commercial secrecy. And so it goes. Last week Thomas Novotny, the lead American negotiator for the past decade on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, suddenly resigned his post. Colleagues say that it was over frustration at the sudden American switch that sought to restrict cigar and marketing to one that basically echoes the tobacco industry's positions. It's as if there was nobody in charge, so that every bureaucratic or industrial interest group with access to the Bush Administration gets to make policy for its own bit of the picture. If George W. Bush were really running the show, there would at least be a coherent strategic vision, and perhaps tactics to match. But you just have to look at the frequent anguish on his face as he struggles to find his way to the end of the sentence to suspect that he might not be up to the challenge.
Anthrax research admitted in secret project NZ Herald sept 2001
WASHINGTON - The United States plans to produce chemical and biological agents, including a deadly new form of anthrax, as part of a "defensive" progr-amme. "The ffimat [of chemical and bio- logical warfare] is real. It is growing, and it is the responsibility of the US military and this [email protected] to protect us against it," said Defence Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke. She said no agents had yet been produced in the "defensive" pro- gramme, which had been going on in secret for at least four years. But she said there were plans to develop agents to cause such diseases as a new and virulent strain of anthrax within the restrictions of the Biological Weapons Convention. : That 1972 global treaty, signed by the US, forbids nations from develop,
ing or buying weapons that spread disease, but it allows work on vac- cines and other protective measure. Clarke and White House spokes, man Ari Fleischer separately ww firmed a New York Times report that the US had been engaged in secretive efforts to develop defences against chemical and biological agents. Clarke said efforts to develop a new form of anthrax, similar to one that the US charges that Russia has already produced, were "put on hold" by the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency this year, to make sure the work did not violate the arms convention.
But she said that the anthrax pogramme part of the so-called Jefferson Project would continue because it did not violate the treaty. "We take the threat of the spread of biological and chemical warfare very; very seriously," Clarke said.' Clarke defended the previous secrecy of the project. She sald the US did not want to provide information on possible defences to countries thdt might be developing chemical and biological agents with "hostile intent". Fleischer said the US research fell within the limits of the treaty. "The US has operated, for a period of time, a programme that was designed to protect our servicemen and women particularly from the of chemical and biological warfare. "It's purely defensive," Fleischer added when asked if the US was bpy- ing to develop a bomb with the research. "We are honouring the treaty." Government officials, cited by the New York Times ' said the secret research, which mimicked the sups a state or terrorist would take to create a biological arsenal, was aimed at better understanding the threat.
Clarke confirmed that the projects started under the former president Bill Clinton had been embraced by the Bush administration.
Fight to save racism summit BBC Monday, 3 September, 2001
Diplomats at the UN racism conference in South Africa are searching for ways to repair the damage done by Monday's walk-out by the US delegation.
The Americans, followed by Israel, pulled out after failing to have "hateful" language about the Jewish state removed from meeting documents. European delegates - who expressed sympathy for the US stance but did not follow their lead - are working through the night to draft a "completely new text" on the Middle East conflict.
"But that does not mean that we are necessarily going to have anything approaching an agreed text on Tuesday," a European Union spokesman said. "There are still four days to go before the conference ends."
The conference in the South African port city of Durban reached deadlock on Monday when paragraphs criticising Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people came up for discussion.
Arab and Islamic countries want Israel singled out for condemnation in the conference's final declaration and have rejected a compromise text proposed by Norway and backed by the US.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell had already boycotted the event, but a mid-level US diplomatic team had been sent to Durban where it was heavily involved in behind-the-scenes efforts to amend the wording - although they took no public role in the conference.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres called the activities at the South African conference an "unbelievable attempt to smear Israel." "An important convention that's supposed to defend human rights became a source of hatred," he told a news conference in Jerusalem.
Human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said they were disappointed by the US and Israeli decision. "By walking out in the middle of the conference, the US is letting down the victims of racism on all sides," Amnesty spokeswoman Maya Catsanis said.
Earlier in the day, divisions emerged between the European over the other most controversial issue of the conference - the question of whether former slave trading nations should apologize for past misdeeds.
On Sunday, a human rights forum coinciding with the conference equated Zionism - the movement which led to the establishment of a Jewish state in 1948 - with racism and called for international sanctions against Israel.
The forum's declaration - which will be presented to the summit organisers for consideration - branded Israel "a racist apartheid state" and called for an end to its "systematic perpetration of racist crimes, including war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing."
Israeli delegate Mordechai Yedid made a strongly-worded speech
to the conference on Monday saying Arab and Islamic states trying
to label Israel and Zionism as racist were being anti-Semitic
"The outrageous and manic accusations we have heard here are attempts to turn a political issue into a racial one, with almost no hope of resolution," Mr Yedid said.
Amr Moussa - the former Egyptian foreign minister who now heads the League of Arab States - warned against the issuing of a final declaration in which too much weight was given to one side.
"What is the use of the document that will be tilted to
one or the other. It will just be condemned and thrown away and
not implemented at all," he said.
The conference began last Thursday and continues until 7 September.