Friday, December 04, 2009

What Jody Williams Said

I've been stewing over the news that President Obama has decided not to sign the international treaty to ban land mines for several days now, but I hadn't been quite able to put my finger on just why I was so deeply disgusted. Then I re-read Jody Williams' opinion piece in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times and I realized just what it was that was eating away at my insides. This woman, who was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize (along with the organization she helped found, International Campaign to Ban Landmines) expressed it perfectly:

When a colleague called after Kelly's briefing to give me the news about the continuation of our shameful land mine policy, half of me couldn't believe it -- but the other half wasn't surprised at all.

I voted for Obama. I wanted to believe that his soaring rhetoric might actually be turned into a revival for the U.S. on issues of multilateralism, international humanitarian law and, of course, human rights. But at the moment, I'm quite disillusioned.

This administration has seemed all too willing to put aside human rights in the service of political expediency. Its response to Iran's postelection crackdown on nonviolent protest was wishy-washy; its response to the illegal Honduran coup has been weak, ineffective and completely disregarded a huge spike in human rights violations there. Then there was Obama's decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama to avoid upsetting Chinese leaders before his recent visit there.

If human rights are of so little importance to the president and his administration, why would they worry about international humanitarian law? Is that the unspoken reasoning behind land mine policy? Or is it reluctance to ruffle military feathers as Obama today announces what is expected to be a huge increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan?
[Emphasis added]

The political-expediency-trumps-all mode hasn't been limited to just foreign policy by this administration. His early refusal to investigate members of the last administration for their blatant violation of civil liberties of Americans by warrantless wire tapping, or for promoting the use of kidnapping and torture of those detained and slapped into black prisons or prisons camp located outside the US was our first clue and that has continued apace. The single-payer health care plan which would have provided universal health care access was never put on the table in the first place lest the insurance companies balk, and President Obama is willing to dilute the public option to the point that it is no option at all. His decision to increase the number of troops being sent to Afghanistan and Pakistan so that war can be "won" was announced with a "time-line" which is so soft and squishy that we will have troops there arguably for decades because to withdraw would upset the military.

What all that "soaring rhetoric" boils down to is a nothing, a null.

I fear that when it comes to character, to passionately held beliefs in democracy and human rights, there is no there there.

Disillusionment is the correct term for what both Ms. Williams and I are feeling, but even that term doesn't seem strong enough.



Anonymous larry, dfh said...

Ahhh, the warm, moist feel of rahm emmanuel's spit running down your face.

8:13 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home