Wednesday, May 15, 2002
By THERESA NORTH
Special to the News
Does the world feel safer to you today? Do you feel that your representatives in Congress are working to make citizens around the globe admire Americans and our sense of justice?
If you answered yes to either question, you aren’t keeping a good eye on Washington, D.C. With the latest amendment passing both houses on Thursday, Congress has once again demonstrated its short-sightedness and lack of justice in the world of international politics. The amendment expressing support for Israel and its actions during the most recent wave of violence in the Middle East will do nothing to bring the U.S. closer to Arab nations around the globe. And it is difficult to believe that the U.S. looked impartially at the claims of both sides since we give over $1 billion in military aid to Israel and the majority of it is earmarked for weapons bought from firms in Texas. In fact, this gives the impression to many others that we actually have a lot to gain, monetarily, from the conflict. Of course, this simply increases the chances that Americans will be targeted around the world by unhappy extremists and, unfortunately, it is not the only cause for complaint that other countries may consider.
I am always amused by the claims of the John Birch Society. We must get out of the United Nations, they state, because it is compromising our freedoms. Whoever came up with that idea hadn’t brushed up on our foreign policy history. The most telling example of how far from the truth this is, is from 1991 when Nicaragua, a small, relatively powerless country, brought suit against the U.S. in the World Court, the U.N.’s judiciary body. After hearing arguments on both sides, the court ruled that the U.S. had been waging an illegal war in Nicaragua and fined the U.S. government $17 billion. However, the court has no power to enforce its decisions and the U.S. chose to ignore the ruling. More recently, when the U.S. was voted off of the U.N. Human Rights Commission last year, we threatened to withhold payment of $244 million in past dues (money we had already given our word that we would pay). With examples like these, and there are more, it is obvious that we aren’t compromised at all by the U.N.; we use it to do whatever we want.
Why bring up our actions in the U.N. or our congressional record? The U.N. is the body we helped create 50 years ago to work for a more peaceful and just world. Like the playground monitor, it is supposed to arbitrate disputes that arise around the world in an impartial manner. Our Congress members should be representing us within the framework of the Constitution. According to the Preamble, their goals are justice, peace, safety, and liberty. If the U.S. really does aspire to a more peaceful and just world, our actions should affirm those goals. Living in a country that modeled those, we would be safer and more respected around the globe.
Theresa North lives in Hood River.