Toward the end of President Bush’s September 24 statement about freezing terrorists’ assets, one finds the overlooked but no less remarkable assertion that the U.S. is “working closely with the United Nations, the EU and through the G-7/G-8 structure to limit the ability of terrorist organizations to take advantage of the international financial systems.” Still more remarkably, he declared, “The United States has signed, but not yet ratified, two international conventions, one of which is designed to set international standards for freezing financial assets. I’ll be asking members of the U.S. Senate to approve the UN convention on suppression of terrorist financing and a related convention on terrorist bombings and to work with me on implementing the legislation.”
In summer 2001, when the rising tide of “antiglobalization” protest finally rose to claim the life of a Genoa protester in July, the world’s media knew the drill. They focused on the G8, and in particular on the poses and pronouncements of Big Power summitry besieged by Internet-organized discontent.
Ed. Note: The recent climate meeting held in Bonn resulted in an agreement by all countries attending save the U.S. to implement the Kyoto protocol, a step applauded by many. But the World Rainforest Movement, in a viewpoint below, cautions that amidst the celebration lurks a dark cloud: in the rush to gain an agreement at any cost, the livelihoods of forest dwellers may be threatened, and the goal of emissions reductions has been sacrificed by including carbon sinks in the agreement.
When President Bush unveiled the findings of the National Energy Policy Development Group last May, consumer and environmental organizations said the report’s policy recommendations favored energy corporations over the public and the environment. In the wake of Enron’s collapse, new questions are being raised about the ways that Enron and other energy firms may have shaped the report’s recommendations. The refusal of Vice President Cheney, who headed the energy task force and was himself the former director of the oil services giant Halliburton, to release a list of individuals consulted by the committee has sparked a confrontation between the administration and the General Accounting Office.
“And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong.” – Leonard Cohen
It’s hard for Americans, even progressive Americans, to imagine a future in which the U.S. is no longer the “indispensable country.” This is as true when it comes to climate politics as it is in any other area, and for much the same reason: the U.S. looms so large that it simply cannot be ignored. We emit, in particular, such a high share of world’s carbon that, in the end, any climate regime to which we do not immediately subscribe is doomed to failure.
Given the U.S. performance at the latest round of global warming negotiations at the Hague, it’s hard to see how George W. Bush could do any worse than the Clinton-Gore administration. The U.S. has isolated itself not only from its European allies, but also from developing countries and even a growing number of corporations. America has given new meaning to the term “outlaw nation.”
The news is not that climate shapes history. What is news is that the heating of our atmosphere has propelled our climate into a new state of instability. This new era of climate change could well be the most profound threat ever facing humanity. Its most predictable is stability—in our political systems, our economic organizations and our weather.
As the Washington, DC area recovers from effects of Hurricane Isabel, President George W. Bush keeps trying to divert the potential “perfect storm” forming from the combination of the constant stream of bad news coming out of the Middle East and growing domestic discontent over the war and occupation in Iraq.