Tuesday, September 21, 2004

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: White House Doesn't Play Well With Others

The Progress Report
September 21, 2004

White House Doesn't Play Well With Others

President Bush will make his annual address to the United Nations this
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36954-2004Sep20.html) .
For the past four years, the president has alienated much of the
international community, blatantly squandering support offered to the United
States after the attacks of 9/11. His policies have alienated much of
the world, leaving the United States with few allies in the global war
on terrorism. On issue after issue, the White House has adhered to a
go-it-alone strategy, putting right-wing ideology ahead of health issues
and refusing to support international efforts to fight poverty, global
warming and AIDS. President Bush assails the United Nations, then
expects support for U.S. initiatives when he makes his once-a-year address.
What the Bush administration fails to realize: It isn't that the United
States is asking the U.N., or any nation, for a permission slip -- this
is about protecting U.S. interests and taxpayer dollars. Working with
the U.N. gives legitimacy to international efforts; it also is in the
nation's self-interest, as it means U.S. taxpayers aren't solely
responsible for the bill for global endeavors.

ARROGANCE SQUANDERS SUPPORT: President Bush went out of his way to
denigrate and alienate the United Nations and its member states in the
lead-up to the war in Iraq. (" International law?
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/12/20031211-1.html) "
joked Bush about the preemptive invasion of Iraq. "I better call my lawyer.
He didn't bring that up to me.") Addressing the United Nations two
years ago on 9/12/02, he taunted, "Will the United Nations serve the
purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20020912-1.html) ?" On
2/13/03, Bush warned the United Nations was in danger of becoming "an
ineffective, irrelevant debating society
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030213-3.html) ." On
2/18/03, Bush questioned the U.N.'s " backbone and courage
(http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030218-1.html) ."

ALIENATING ALLIES IN IRAQ: The White House angered and alienated much
of the world with its single-minded push to invade Iraq. Showing the
depth of the alienation, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned the
war last week as "illegal." The international community, deterred by the
ongoing violence and lack of support for the war at home, declined to
send support troops for the U.N. team helping to prepare for elections,
meaning the team has been confined to the heavily fortified "Green
Zone" in Baghdad, unable to reach many Iraqis. Even staunch supporters of
the war in Iraq are beginning to withdraw support: Great Britain "is to
start pulling troops out of Iraq
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1307980,00.html) next
month despite the deteriorating security situation in much of the country."
Embracing the United Nations from the start would have prevented the
problems of legitimacy that have plagued the Coalition Provisional
Authority and the Interim Governing Council. Instead, the United States is
stuck with few allies and nearly 90 percent of the cost.

IRAN IGNORED: President Bush is expected to urge the UN and its agency,
the International Atomic Energy Agency, to take a hard line
on the growing nuclear challenge from Iran. What he won't say: after
famously labeling Iran as a member of the Axis of Evil, the White House
did nothing to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions. By threatening Iran, in
fact, he emboldened Iranian hardliners
and fed their desire to develop the ability to produce weapons-grade
nuclear material as quickly as possible. He abdicated all responsibility,
leaving the hard work to the Europeans
(http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/21/politics/21diplo.html) ; today the
U.S. lacks almost any influence to keep the Iranian nuclear genie in the

UNDERMINING GLOBAL EFFORTS: President Bush has also alienated U.N.
allies by terminating negotiations on the Kyoto
(http://www.progressive.org/april03/roth0403.html) and Anti-Ballistic
Missile Treaties (http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-se0799.html) , not
supporting key international AIDS conferences
(http://newswww.bbc.net.uk/1/hi/health/3884349.stm) and working on
behalf of the tobacco industry to undermine international efforts to
reduce smoking (http://www.no-smoking.org/nov01/11-20-01-3.html) . The White
House has also worked on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry to
undermine other countries' efforts
(http://allafrica.com/stories/200409201411.html) to make medicines more

UNDERFUNDED MISSIONS: The Bush administration has failed to fund the
United Nations to execute missions the United States has voted to
authorize. Since February, President Bush has authorized four new peacekeeping
missions in Haiti, Cote D'Ivoire, Sudan and Burundi through the U.N.
Security Council. The U.S. share of the missions is estimated to be $600
million, but the administration failed to request these funds from
Congress. The failure to request funding for new operations approved by the
United States undermines our credibility abroad as a reliable and
trustworthy member of the Security Council.

SIDESTEPPING POVERTY: Leaders from more than 50 governments attended
two U.N. conferences yesterday on how to handle the problem of global
. More than 100 countries adopted proposals aimed at fighting hunger
and poverty on an international scale. Notably absent? President Bush.
The United States declined to support the initiative, even though it was

IGNORED SLAVERY: In his last address to the United Nations, President
Bush focused heavily on the issue of human trafficking. A new report,
however, shows international slavery is on the rise. "Right now the world
has a glut of human slaves - 27 million by conservative estimates and
more than at any time in human history
(http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0901/p16s01-wogi.html) ." Yet the
president has provided little more than rhetoric in combating the problem.
"For instance, between 14,000 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the
United States annually, according to the U.S. government, most forced
into the sex trade, domestic servitude, or agricultural labor. At any one
time, between 52,000 and 87,000 are in bondage." Yet "last year, only
nine trafficking cases were prosecuted in the U.S. with a total of 17
convictions - the smallest sliver of those working the new slave trade."

ideology to undermine crucial public health measures for women. The New York
Times reported recently that there has been little progress
in goals set by the International Conference on Population and
Development in Cairo, a plan of action which called for "universal access to
reproductive health care, and lower infant, child, and maternal mortality
rates." Today, the number of women who die during childbirth remains
high and the HIV epidemic is "exploding among women and children."
President Bush withdrew U.S. support
for the Cairo agreement and cut financing to international family
planning groups (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3885629.stm)
that provide information about abortion, letting the right-wing of his
conservative base dictate an ineffective global health strategy.
Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, stated: "In a
reversal of its historic role, my own country has emerged as one of the
most significant obstacles to progress...on issue after issue, the current
administration has placed ideology above evidence and bias over