Saturday, March 18, 2006

Condi Rice and the shoot-yourself-in-the-foot policy

When it comes to international defence policies, the Bush administration has a remarkable ability to shoot themselves in the foot while alienating other nations. No one delivers this message with a straighter face than Condoleezza Rice.

The US government wants to enlist as many countries as possible in the “war on terra”. A good idea. If a US friendly country is a likely candidate as a partner in this “war”, but is not necessarily militarily well-funded or well-trained, the US will offer military assistance in these areas. Another good idea. The US Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review of February 2006 even explicitly states this desire and need to militarily help other countries.

Based on operational experiences of the last four years, the QDR recommends that Congress provide considerably greater flexibility in the U.S. Government’s ability to partner directly with nations in fighting terrorists. For some nations, this begins with training, equipping and advising their security forces to generate stability and security within their own borders. For others, it may entail providing some assistance with logistics support, equipment, training and transport to allow them to participate as members of coalitions with the United States or its allies in stability, security, transition and reconstruction operations around the globe.
In a display of the White House’s usual incredibly stupid progressive thinking, they have decided to take this apparently reasonable policy and tie it into the US’s opposition to the International Criminal Court. The deal being presented is this: if you are or expect to become a member of the ICC, we will give you military training and assistance on the condition that you agree to sign a separate agreement with the US exempting US citizens from prosecution. This same demand was made of Chile (and was greeted with considerable resistance). So far, about 12 of 21 Latin countries are facing the same backwards-thinking policy, including Brazil.

So let’s review. You want as many countries as possible to be on your side militarily, but not if there’s a possibility that one day, somewhere, a single solitary American might potentially face prosecution by an international court. Yep, sounds like a good trade off!

Fortunately, the US Congress and Senate are finally waking up to this self-defeating policy and are urging the Administration to de-link military aid and the ICC.

U.S. sanctions against a dozen Latin American nations came under fire from key lawmakers Tuesday, the strongest signal yet that Congress and the White House are having second thoughts about punishing nations that refuse to shield Americans from International Criminal Court jurisdiction.

The statements came as U.S. officials hinted that the sanctions, deeply resented in Latin America as a U.S. imposition, may be waived.
Of course the obvious solution to this is for the US to actually JOIN the ICC and the problem goes away!

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