The mining industry and environmentalists are onboard. As are liberals and conservatives in the U.S. Senate, but ratification of the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty is being held up by half a dozen right-wing Republican senators backed by a coalition of national groups who see the agreement as another step toward world government.
On Wednesday, June 23, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, endorsed right-wing Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s efforts to colonize and annex large sections of the Palestinian West Bank, seized by Israel in the June 1967 war.
Six years after they blasted their way into the Global Nuclear Club and dangerously heightened their mutual rivalry even further, India and Pakistan have begun a wide-ranging bilateral dialogue to resolve disputes and normalize relations. Since the new United Progressive Alliance government led by Manmohan Singh was sworn in six weeks ago, Indian and Pakistani officials have held two rounds of talks.
It took U.S. activists decades of campaigning against the apartheid regime in South Africa to arrive at strategies that, when combined with a commitment to transnational relationships, changed more than individual attitudes. This anti-apartheid movement changed the balance of power in the U.S., the future of South Africa, and lives on both sides of the Atlantic. Ten years later, the threat of moving backward is quite real and the stakes are even higher. In place of an apartheid state we now face a Global Apartheid that demands a U.S. movement at its best and most effective.
The International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli Wall in the Occupied Territories is a triumphant vindication of the Palestinian decision to get their case heard there, and of their long term strategy of underlining and restating their legal rights. In effect, the Court ruled against Israel and its patron, the U.S., on every point. It appears that even the Arab states and the Palestinians may not have been entirely prepared for such an unqualified victory.
Genocide is a unique crime against humanity. This crime is currently unfolding in Darfur, western Sudan, as the world looks on. Yet, even as pressure grows from many quarters (including Congress) for U.S. leadership regarding Darfur, many progressives and people usually concerned about social justice feel that a U.S.-led intervention is the wrong answer. They express concern about negative historical precedents, about exploitative U.S. motivations, and about the current lack of U.S. credibility on the international stage. These are all defensible arguments. But do they render U.S. leadership an impossible option in the case of genocide?
On Friday July 23, the old Mostar bridge, which was bombed by Croat artillery in 1993, re-opened under a media spotlight and amid justified international satisfaction for yet another step forward in the long Bosnian post-war transition. The prevailing view among both tourists and Mostarians seems to be that the bridge “does not quite look the same as before the war.” But nothing in Bosnia looks quite the same as before. After almost a decade of massive international intervention, aimed at strengthening democratic institutions and addressing some of the worst human rights violations, Bosnia has not yet reached political, economic, and social stability. Various Bosnian political elites skilfully continue to play the ethnic card to maintain their control of different sectors of the economy and society. Internal divisions thwart Bosnia’s efforts toward EU membership.
The reason why Washington is having such a difficult time persuading the world of its good faith and its good works in the “war on terror” was best illustrated on the day U.S. President George W. Bush went to the United Nations.
The Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence is larger than the late President Yasser Arafat. The decades-long symbolism that Arafat embodied should not be underestimated. It is this symbolism that Palestinians are mourning. The substance of ArafatÂs symbolism has to do with how it has represented Palestinian nationalism and the five decade struggle for justice for a people that were dispossessed in 1948, militarily occupied in 1967, attacked while in exile in 1970 in Jordan and 1982 in Lebanon, and most recently, battered in their own homes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. A wide spectrum of opinions about Arafat, the man and the leader, will surely outlive the international flurry of media interest in his death. However, the world must be aware that the Palestinian struggle is beyond any single individual.
On Election Day, I caught a glimpse of how America’s moral leadership is eroding in the eyes of Eastern Europeans. I was working with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a regional security organization stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok. The U.S. is one of the OSCE’s 55 participating states, and through it has pressed for democratization in Europe’s formerly Communist nations since the Cold War.