Author`s name Mithra Fernando

Bush's "mantra" in action

Unlike the mantras that Buddhists and Hindus believe in Bush's mantra has not brought the promised "goodness" to the people

Mantra is a Sanskrit word, used mostly by Hindus and Buddhists to denote a word, phrase or verse, said repetitively as a sacred formula to bring goodness to people. We have heard the "sacred formula" and the phrases and words that George Bush loved to repeat from the podium of the White House. Since the tragic events of September 11, we have got very much used to chanting of Bush’s mantra. Despite the repetitive utterance of the words "justice"  "human rights" as a part of Bush’s mantra these words seem to remain just that - words, without deeds to match them.

Unlike the mantras that Buddhists and Hindus believe in Bush’s mantra has not brought the promised "goodness" to the people. The self proclaimed "avant-garde of Human Rights and Justice" is about to release between 20 to 30 terrorist suspects held prisoners in Cuba, in Guantanamo “cages” (believed to have been built by Dick Chaney's Halley Burton company, under special contract). Around 660 terrorist suspects, from eight allied countries and 42 countries altogether, are being held prisoners in the high security facility in Guantanamo, for over 18 months without any charges or access to lawyers. This is a blatant violation of internationally accepted Geneva Convention on Human Rights. The secretary of state Colin Powel is reported to have sent a very strongly worded letter to the Pentagon on the 14th April, demanding the release of the limited number of suspects, to avoid further damage to the international co-operation against terror. It is Colin Powel, who has felt the direct pressure from the allied countries to take actions to avoid further deterioration of America’s stance on Human Rights and Rule of Law. In the meantime, Pentagon was quick to deny and declare that the release of the limited number of suspects had been planned four weeks ago and Colin Powel’s letter had nothing to do with this decision. It is not difficult for those who follow the events closely to add the two and two together.
If any other country in the world did resort to such a blatant violation of international law and human rights, USA administration would have been the loudest to protest, quick to shed tears and to coin a new terminology to condemn the act. We have seen how quickly the USA administration came up with new  terminology such as evil empire , axis of evil  and like, to brand countries whenever suited them. The world also has already seen and knows how quickly the USA administration will wash and wipe their hands off when it comes to their own blatant violations of international law and human rights.

The September 11 attacks were horrible crimes against humanity and violated the very core of the human rights and international law. The whole world was strongly united against this brutal crime. Throughout the world there was almost immediate solidarity and sympathy with the American people, and the people of all parts of the world, grieved and shared the pain and tears along with the families and loved ones of the victims. All peace loving people on earth expressed outrage and wanted those who were responsible for this crime brought to justice before a court of law, for this they enthusiastically joined hands to take measures to eliminate threats of terror from the face of earth.

However, owing to shortsighted policies and lack of wisdom of the Bush administration, the initially strong and very broad campaign against terrorism started to fall apart showing deep erosion of international law and unity. The USA administration took outrageous actions to undermine Human Rights and International Rule of Law at the very time, when the whole world expected the USA to use all their might to reinforce these virtues of the civilised world. The words- peace and disarmament, human rights, international rule of law and justice, that had the power to unite and motivate all peoples of the world, were replaced by words of the new era of American Policy, such as "unilateral action" pre-emptive strike", "crusade", "regime change" and "intelligent bombing".  The legitimacy and the peaceful broad-based diplomacy in the UN were gravely undermined and replaced with Pentagon and Centcom driven  language and policy of "Smart Bombs, Bunker Busters and Cluster Bombs". The grave consequences of these short sighted madness have started to emerge clearer as the days keep on ticking away after the so called ‘liberations”

We have been now lead to believe that it was the holy duty of the US airforce to drop not one but four 2000 pound (nearly one tonne) bunker-buster bombs on a civilian home in Baghdad, in their sacred hunt to kill the butcher of Baghdad. These bombs would have been the left overs from the bombing of Bin Laden's bunker in Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan. Despite the subsequent sanctification"of such acts by the Boys of Centcom and Pentagon and despite the loudly claimed real time intelligence of Pentagon - using of the same type ordnance on Bin Laden's bunker in Tora Bora and on flimsy homes of civilians in a populated area in Baghdad, defies any elementary logic, let alone expert military logic. There have been not one but tens of “mistakes” such as this during the war in Iraq. There have been many more in Afghanistan as well. The new concept of embedded journalists and also retired arm chair generals embedded in pay TV studios kept on harping Bush's mantra and sanctifying all the violations of human rights, international law and elementary decency. At the end of the day what really mattered for Bush's war profiteers was what has gone in to their bank accounts. Having finished this job "successfully" they will be rubbing their hands, anxiously waiting for next action by the Bush Administration.

The short-sighted actions taken by the Bush administration have set dangerous precedents against the Geneva conventions. Despite the existing law and regulations of Geneva Convention, President George Bush and his boys and girls at the White House and Pentagon resorted to their own “method” to determine the legal status of the suspected detainees, captured in Afghanistan. Once again in order to justify the unjustifiable the USA administration coined a new word the illegal combatant to hold the captured 660 or so suspected Taliban and Al-Qaida detainees , indefinitely in Gunatanamo in Cuba.

It is quite interesting to note the skills of the USA administration in the craft of coining new terminology and re-defining the existing ones. It was the former Bill Clinton who used his personal skills of this craft to re-define the meaning of "sexual relationship" during the trial of Monica Lewinsky affair. Surely, he might have wished that he could re-write all the dictionaries, encyclopaedias and most importantly the Penal Code of the USA. The recent attempts by the present president George Bush to re-define the word "crusade" also worth reminding here. George Bush must be dreaming of re-writing all the international conventions, treaties, protocols and rules of international law.

The USA administration has no hesitation to override, by-pass, undermine and condemn any legitimate international body, such as the UNO and the International Criminal Court, if they seem to be in the way of USA "global interests". In the matters of international trade and environmental protection,USA  has followed a similar "cowboy" approach. USA's approach to Kyoto Protocol is a good example.

Kyoto Protocol is the result of the efforts by the UNFCC - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A convention is a formal treaty among the members of the UN, whereas a protocol is a less formal agreement based on a convention. The protocol named Kyoto Protocol was formulated on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto Japan to seek co-operation from the nations of the world to reduce the emission of Carbon Dioxide and Greenhouse gases to below 1990 levels by the year 2012. It was open for signature from March 16 1998 to March 15 1999 at the UN head Quarters in New York City. Eighty four countries including the USA signed the protocol. In order for the treaty to achieve its goals, the countries ratifying it must account for at least 55% of carbon dioxide emissions. The USA has refused to ratify the Protocol , claiming that it would hurt the US economy. At the moment the countries that have ratified the protocol account for 37.1% of carbon dioxide emissions. If USA agrees to ratify it then the percentage rate would increase up to as high as 73.2%. USA's "cowboy" stance in this environmental matter of international importance has drawn many protests and condemnation around the world. The public anger against the USA’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, was demonstrated recently when the secretary of state Colin Powel arrived at the recent world Summit on Sustainable Development. Now the world hopes Russia will agree to ratify it, in which case the 55% goal could be achieved and the Kyoto Protocol could take effect, without any contribution from the USA.  It is also important to note that USA is responsible for more than 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

In almost every speech that president Bush delivered , the word "justice" had a special mention with impressive eloquence and articulation.  When it comes to deeds though, the words seem to have no meaning or importance. USA quite clearly demonstrated their "cowboy" approach In the events leading up to the formation of the Permanent International Criminal Court.

The world's first independent and permanent International Criminal Court was born with the help of 76 governments, as a result of a treaty adopted at the end of the bloodiest century in human history. The treaty pertaining to the creation of the ICC was adopted, after 5 weeks of lengthy discussions at an International conference in Rome on 17 July 1998. One hundred and twenty countries voted to adopt the treaty. Only seven countries voted against it. Among the "against voters", was none other than the "avant garde of Human rights and Justice" - USA.  Among other opposed were, China, Israel and Iraq. One hundred and thirty countries signed the treaty by the deadline 31 December 2000. Twenty-one countries abstained. In order to establish the ICC, it was required at least 60 countries to ratify the treaty. On 11 April 2002, 66 countries ( 6 more than the minimum required)  ratified the treaty. The ICC can now investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. The ICC has powers to try crimes such as the terrorist acts committed on September 11.

The most loudest of all "liberator" and the most vociferous "guardian of human rights and justice" - not even abstained but directly and publicly opposed the creation of the ICC, thus refusing to take part in this most important historical milestone in the international campaign of Human Rights and Justice. This is only a small part of the Human rights track record of the present administration of the USA.

As in the events leading up to the war in Iraq, for the USA administration international legitimacy, qualification and unity bears no value.  It is obvious that George Bush and his boys and girls in Washington and Pentagon, make decisions of vital international importance, based on the  "advice" given by the "“hyped-up profiteers of war" but not on the advice from the real experts with experience and relevant qualification. That is why USA ignored the reports tabled by the learned, qualified and experienced UNO expert - inspectors. That is also why the USA not only opposed creation of the ICC but as well launch attacks against it.

USA has no respect for the independent Panel of eminent international lawyers and experts of international law and human rights. For George Bush, the ICC is not qualified enough to legitimise the illegitimate actions of the USA. He has a "bunch of experts" who will resort to anything to "legitimise, endorse and sanctify" any violations of human rights and international law.

For Bush and his bunch - violation of Human Rights, International Rule of Law is not the problem; the problem is the democratic international institutions, the international bodies such as the UN and ICC. That is why the full might of the USA and all their propaganda are aimed fiercely against these institutions. The Bush administration continues to do everything to undermine and make these important international institutions irrelevant.

However, some strong fractions in the Bush administration have started to learn that the will of the rest of the world is more powerful than the will of the "war profiteers" in Washington, Pentagon and elsewhere. They have also started to learn that, gaining unilateral military victory is easy, given the military might of the USA, but winning the minds and hearts of the people to contain the victory is impossible without the co-operation of the other nations of the world.

After September 11, providing security and protection from terrorism for the American people alone, is a very complicated problem itself. In fact there cannot be any successful campaign against terrorism without upholding and reinforcing the human rights and rule of law.

USA cannot have it both ways. The words should be matched by deeds.

USA must either side with all its might with the world campaign for Human Rights, Rule of Law and Justice or remain as an aggressor - mighty obstacle to world peace and security. The latter - is a dangerous path, which will jeopardise America's own domestic security.

Talking in George Bush's own terms either you are with us- the camp of Human Rights and Rule of Law or you are against us. Whether the word will be a better place or not will depend mainly on how the USA administration will match its deeds with its mantra.

Dr. Mithra Fernando
Sydney Australia

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