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Archive for the ‘sovereignty’ Category

National Sovereignty vs. the Anglo-American Empire

In foreign policy, liberty and rights, sovereignty on May 16, 2010 at 1:59 am

“Every nation has a right to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to change these forms at its own will; and externally to transact business with other nations through whatever organ it chooses, whether that be a King, Convention, Assembly, Committee, President, or whatever it be. The only thing essential is, the will of the nation.” –Thomas Jefferson

Conspiracy theorists are often berated for warning about the coming “New World Order.” But the global government is not some scheme cooked up by Ron Paul nut jobs. On the contrary, the concept of establishing a “new world order” has been referenced by the likes of George Bush Sr., Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama.

Really, we already have a partial “new world order” — better termed the “Anglo-American Empire.” Basically, the Anglo-American Empire describes the already existing global power structure seated in Western Europe and the United States.

Policy-making think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations and The Trilateral Commission already exercise excessive global sway. And institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and International Criminals Court already function/govern at a global level.

Ultimately, the goal of these intuitions is to lessen national sovereignty and further global governance. CFR President Richard Haass has openly advocated to such goals:

State sovereignty must be altered in globalized era.

Our notion of sovereignty must therefore be conditional, even contractual, rather than absolute. If a state fails to live up to its side of the bargain by sponsoring terrorism, either transferring or using weapons of mass destruction, or conducting genocide, then it forfeits the normal benefits of sovereignty and opens itself up to attack, removal or occupation.

Globalization thus implies that sovereignty is not only becoming weaker in reality, but that it needs to become weaker.

Moreover, states must be prepared to cede some sovereignty to world bodies if the international system is to function.

But is trading national governance for global governance a wise idea? To be sure, most nations’ governments are corrupt and many oppress their people in one form or another. But would a more centralized, powerful form of government guarantee the “liberty and justice for all”?

A Tragic Foreign Policy: How the U.S. Ignored and Aided Genocide in East Timor

In foreign policy, sovereignty on April 28, 2010 at 1:44 am

“There is no Western concern for issues of aggression, atrocities, human rights abuses and so on if there’s a profit to be made from them.” — Noam Chomsky talking about the genocide in East Timor.

Sometimes inspiration for a post comes from an unlikely source. Today while wasting valuable study time watching videos on YouTube, I came across the song “Timor” by Colombian singer/songwriter Shakira.

“It’s alright, it’s alright. As long as we can vote. We live in a democracy and that’s what we promote.” 

I had listened to the song many times before but was never really sure of it’s meaning. Obviously, the song was political in nature — but what was Timor? I decided to Google the term.

The nation of East Timor lies just north of Australia and shares a small island with the Indonesian province of West Timor. The CIA’s World Factbook briefly references the small nation’s recent bloody history: 

“East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of Timor Timur (East Timor). An unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 individuals lost their lives.” 

What the website fails to mention is the large role the U.S. government played in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Timorese.  

The National Security Archive’s Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project details U.S. involvement in the invasion, citing previously classified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. According to its website, the Archive reveals a “consistent pattern” by U.S. administrations “of subordinating East Timor’s right to self-determination to its relations with Indonesia.”

One of the supporting documents, a former top secret memo addressed to Henry Kissinger, admits U.S. knowledge of Indonesia’s intent to invade or, “Incorporate Portuguese Timor by force.” It also reports U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia David Newsom’s recommendation for “a policy of silence”: 

“The State Department has been uncertain about the best policy to follow. Ambassador Newsom has recommended a general policy of silence. He has argued that we have considerable interests in Indonesia and none in Timor. If we try to dissuade Indonesia from what Suharto may regard as a necessary use of force, major difficulties in our relationship could result.” 

As the memo forecasted, both the U.S. government and mainstream media were silent on the invasion and resulting genocide for more than 25 years. An Australian parliamentary report described the situation in East Timor as “indiscriminate killing on a scale unprecedented in post-World War II history.”  

But more unsettling than the United States’ pretend ignorance of the genocide, was its active participation in it. Prior to the invasion, the U.S. supplied the Indonesia government with large amounts of military support and weapons — a business that did not cease after the assault on Timor. According to The National Security Archive’s research, “virtually all of the military equipment used in the invasion was U.S. supplied.”

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting writer Matthew Jardine concurs. In his article, East Timor: Media Turned Their Backs on Genocide, he says not only did the U.S. give Indonesia the green light, it also provided millions in aid.  

“Since that time, the U.S. has provided Indonesia with hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and military assistance, greatly facilitating the colonization of East Timor. On the diplomatic front, the U.S. has helped to block any effective action on the issue. Former U.N. Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan openly bragged, in his book A Dangerous Place, about how he carried out with ‘no inconsiderable success U.S. policy to render the U.N. ‘utterly ineffective’ on East Timor.”

I was saddened to learn of the recent tragic history of East Timor and my own government’s responsibility. Unfortunately, the United State’s involvement and interventions in the region are not out of character. Timor is just one of many U.S.-backed tragedies.

United States Elite vs. We The People

In liberty and rights, sovereignty on April 13, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Is America truly a democracy? Professor, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky doesn’t think so. He believes power resides in the hands of an elite few rather than in the people.

According to him, America “Is not a democratic society and it is not intended to be.” Instead, Chomsky describes America as a polyarchy, a word borrowed from Yale professor Robert Dahl who coined the term his 1956 book, A Preface to Democratic Theory.

Basically, a polyarchy is a system of government where power is vested in three or more persons. The masses are “fragmented and distracted” and allowed to participate in the political process on occasion. According to Chomsky, such a system has been established in America since the constitutional convention in 1787.

“The idea is old. It goes way back to James Madison and the foundation of the Constitution. A polyarchy is a system in which power resides in the hands of those who Madison called the wealth of the nation. The responsible class of men.”

Of course, we’re all familiar with Madison’s famous words, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But such a mistrusting view of the governed still dominates the philosophies of both the left and right.

In fact, Chomsky contends the choice is not between Democrats and Republicans, or what he calls, “two factions of the same party.” Instead, he says the choice facing America is between democracy and polyarchy:

“That’s the alternative. It’s not a matter of naming one party or another but just changing the whole framework in which politics persist.”

Indeed, the whole framework must be changed.

Iran to host nuclear conference, US says ‘no thanks’

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on April 8, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be hosting a nuclear weapon disarmament conference in Tehran April 17–18 titled “Nuclear Energy For All, Nuclear Weapons For No One.”

Needless to say the United States will not be attending.

However, according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency, more than 60 countries will be at the conference. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said China will be present. However, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official said Beijing has not yet decided.

It’s unlikely the scheduling of the conference so soon after the U.S.-Russia nuclear weapons agreement is a coincidence. Ahmadinejad is as politically savvy as he is controversial.

But the real story is not that “black sheep” Iran is hosting a conference on nuclear disarmament, or at least it shouldn’t be. The real story is that the United States is so bent on isolating Iran that it’s shunning a chance to discuss and possibly learn more about Iran’s nuclear program.

Perhaps Iran and Ahmadinejad are not to be trusted. But ignoring and demonizing a historically peaceful country and potential ally is simply bad foreign policy. Why not attend the conference? Is the United States as sure of Iran’s destructive determination and lust for “weapons of mass destruction” as it was with Iraq?

Murder by sanctions

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on March 28, 2010 at 9:31 pm

“Look, we need to be honest about this, Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.” — American Enterprise Institute scholar Fred Kagan.

Tomorrow, foreign ministers of G8 countries will convene in Gatineau, Quebec to discuss “the major issues affecting international peace and security.” High on their agenda is the issue of Iran and the possibility of imposing harsher sanctions against the nation.

According to Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Iran’s nuclear program is of “critical concern.” The Associated Press reported the minister saying he believes it’s necessary to pursue UN-imposed sanctions.

“Unfortunately I believe we are left with little choice but to pursue additional sanctions against Iran ideally through the United Nations Security Council,” Cannon said.

But Cannon, like our own Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, appears to have little concern for the impact such sanctions would have on the Iranian people. Too often, sanctions are viewed as a “peaceful” alternative to war. In reality, sanctions are a means of economic warfare.

Perhaps Cannon is ignorant of the effects of sanctions. Ms. Clinton has no such excuse.

In the 90s, her husband imposed harsh economic sanction against the nation of Iraq — reportedly killing more than a million Iraqis.

Pro-sanction scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Fred Kagan, is aware of the repercussions of such policy. 

“Look, we need to be honest about this,” Kagan said at an April 2009 AEI conference on Iran. “Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.”

According to AEI, the United States currently blocks “all investment and trade activity with Iran, with exceptions for the import of food, Persian rugs, informational materials, and gifts valued under $100.”

AEI admits that Iran, although host to the world’s third-largest proven petroleum reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, is vulnerable to sanctions because of its lack of refineries. Iran’s “real plan,” according to the institute, “is to become energy independent.”

Tomorrow, enlightened world leaders try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

National sovereignty and the “right” to go nuclear

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on March 8, 2010 at 3:33 am

Why is it that the United States so fears a nuclear Iran? Does a nuclear Iran pose a greater threat than that of a nuclear Russia or China?

Referring to the non-proliferation treaty, Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, once said, “basically they did whatever they wanted to do before the introduction of NPT and then devised it to prevent others from doing what they had themselves been doing before.”

Nasser’s comment is insightful; especially his accusation that the nuclear weapon states designed the NPT to control other states from obtaining that which they already had.

Often, opponents of a nuclear Iran claim the nation to be “unstable” and “radical.” How can the international community trust a rogue nation with such powerful weapons? The answer is the same way in which it trusts the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel.

To be sure, an nuclear Iran is worrisome. Any increase in the destructive potential of nuclear weapons is worrisome. But Iran poses no more of a threat than of its nuclear neighbors. It definitely does not pose a threat equal to that of the dominant world powers of China, Russia and the U.S.

At the heart of the debate over who should be allowed to have nuclear weapons is the issue of national sovereignty. Powerful nations such as the U.S. and Russia should not have authority over smaller nations simply because of their status. 

Iran, like the U.S., is a sovereign nation. It has a “right” to make internal decisions as it sees fit — including the regretful decision to develop nuclear weapons.

Haitian sovereignty vs. U.S. relief effort

In foreign policy, sovereignty on February 2, 2010 at 3:04 am

“Many big powers, they want to use Haiti as an example of what not to do.”

At first glance, the United States’ and international community’s interests in Haiti appear unselfish, even noble. After all, what could global superpowers possibly want in such a poverty-stricken country as Haiti? But a closer examination of the relief effort has some Haitians questioning the intentions of their rescuers.

Patrick Elie, Haiti’s former secretary of state for national defense, shares their concerns.

In a recent interview, Elie commented on the deployment of the now 20,000-plus U.S. troops to the island and their take over of its airports.

“We don’t need soldiers as such. There’s no war here,” Elie said.

The United States has been criticized for turning away aircraft carrying foreign aid from countries such as Mexico. Elie believes the issue to be one of national sovereignty.

“The choice of what lands and what doesn’t land should, you know, the priorities of the flight, should be determined by the Haitians,” he said. “Otherwise it’s a take over.

What might happen is that the need of Haitians are not taken into account but only, either the way a foreign country defines the need of Haiti or try to push its own agenda.”

But what agenda could the United States possibly have for Haiti?

Ronald Charles is a Ph.D. student in Biblical Studies at the Department of Religion, University of Toronto and was a lecturer at Christianville University College in Haiti, where he translated parts of the Bible into Haitian Creole. In a recent interview with The Real News Network, Charles explained what he believes to be America’s interest in the Haiti crisis.

“The reason would be you have a country independent for 206 years now, and from the beginning that was a bad example in the eyes of the big powers of the time,” Charles said. “So when some people would say, ‘Well, look at them after 200 years — more than 200 years of independence, and look at their condition,’ so other people around the world, other people fighting for liberation, for freedom, they might — well, these colonial powers, these big powers, might point Haiti to them. Look, there is no way. Many big powers, they want to use Haiti as an example of what not to do.”

Given the United States’ long history of intervention and occupation of Haiti, Charles’ claim may not be too far off.

Even Haiti’s former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, told CNN that the United States was responsible for his removal in the 2004 coup d‘etat.

“I was told that to avoid bloodshed I’d better leave,” he said.

And although the White House denied his allegations, the incident spurred eleven members of congress to introduce a bill calling for an investigation of the Bush Administration’s role in the 2004 coup d’etat.

For more info see ‘New Haiti,’ Same Corporate Interests

America and Iranian democracy; what you weren’t taught in school

In foreign policy, sovereignty, war and peace on November 23, 2009 at 1:25 am

In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. — President Barack Obama, June 4, 2009

To most Americans, the major political turning point in Iran is the 1970s Islamic Revolution. Little is known of the nation’s history before the overthrow of the Shah or America’s and Europe’s involvement.

In 1953, the CIA carried out Operation Ajax: An organized coup d’etat that successfully overthrew Iran’s democratically elected leader, Mohammad Mossadegh, and enabled the return of authoritarian monarch, Mohammed Reza. The CIA acted at the request of the British government and in the interest of American oil.

While the coup is openly admitted to by both American and British leaders today, it is not something that is taught in schools or discussed in light of current events. If America intends to address the current Iranian situation, in cannot do so without first looking to the past.

Visit MohammadMossadegh.com for a comprehensive archiving of the 1953 coup d’etat and Mohammad Mossadegh.

You vs. the ‘greater good’

In sovereignty on September 23, 2009 at 4:33 am

Nazism, Fascism, Socialism and Communism are simply different “isms” based on the philosophy of collectivism. The so-called “debate” that rages today between conservatives and liberals, right vs. left, Democrat and Republican, is simply a distraction which feeds off of these labels and their emotional associations. In reality, all differences stem from two different philosophies: collectivism and individualism.

Collectivism, as stated above, has manifested itself in totalitarian regimes. It is the idea that the group is more important than the individual. And, if necessary, the individual should be sacrificed for the “greater good.”

In contrast, individualism stresses independence and self-reliance while opposing most external forces on one’s choices, whether by society, or any other group or institution. Individualists, such as myself, do not believe in the force or coercion that collectivism proscribes. Instead, we hope to “shape” society by persuading and appealing to the intellect of others — having faith in their reason and charity.

An example of this is seatbelt law. While the collectivist uses the force of law to protect others, the individualist allows for the free choice of the individual — having faith in her reason.

Affirmative action is another example. While the well-meaning collectivist, once again, uses force to create a fair work environment, the individualist allows for the free choice and charity of the employer. The individualist believes only true charity is voluntary and that a free society creates such charity.

While individualists and collectivists may be at odds over how to best shape society by moral means, they are alike in their intent. For both collectivists and individualists care deeply about themselves, their families, their friends, their communities, their country and human kind as a whole.

Sometimes, a collectivist will tend to view the “rugged individualist” as callous and elitist, caring only for herself. In reality, this is the case with objectivism, as touted by Ayn Rand. Objectivism is at odds with altruism (the unselfish regard for others). Individualism is not. Just as there may be collectivists who are self-absorbed, so may there be individualists who are self-absorbed.

I am an individualist because I am an altruist. For me personally, the two are inseparable.

The nation within: Lakota people declare their sovereignty

In sovereignty on September 23, 2009 at 4:15 am

We once forced the American Indians to adapt to our way of life — often claiming it was for their survival. The day may come when some Americans find themselves adapting to the American-Indian way of life for, what they’ll perceive as, their “survival.”

On Dec. 17, 2007, a delegation of Lakota Indians went to Washington D.C. to declare their independence. The “Freedom Delegation” delivered a letter to U.S. State Department, withdrawing from all treaties with the United States government. The Lakota are looking to reclaim their original land guaranteed to them by U.S. Treaty.

Russell Means, one of the delegates, said, “We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us. This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically Article 6 of the Constitution.”

Events leading up to the Lakota’s 2007 declaration were set in motion in 1974, when the International Indian Treaty Council brought together more than 5,000 delegates representing 98 Indian tribes and nations from North and South America. At the council, the tribes/nations signed The Declaration of Continuing Independence — a “Manifesto representing the wisdom of thousands of people, their Ancestors, and the Great Mystery supports the rights of Indigenous Nations to live free and to take whatever actions necessary for sovereignty.”

And in 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an award of $105 million to eight tribes of Sioux Indians as compensation for taken land in United States v. Sioux Nation. The Court’s decision was in response to the United States Court of Claims ruling which concluded land was unlawfully taken from the Sioux and that the tribe was entitled to just compensation under the 5th Amendment. The Supreme Court however, refused to award land. To date, the Lakota people have refused the money, instead reasserting their indigenous rights to the land. Accruing compound interest on the settlement has brought the value of the claim to over $400 million as of 2008.

The Lakota say their claim to sovereignty is lawful under U.S. law. Because the United States illegally seized land and continually broke U.S. treaties, the Lakota claim the land is still legally their’s. Some of the Lakota have gone so far as to reject their status as American citizens.

Russell Means, the controversial “figured head” of the Lakota, was among the delegates in Washington D.C. in 2007. He envisions the “Republic of Lakotah” as a sovereign nation with laws radically different from current United State’s laws. The new Lakota government, according to him, will be one solely based on consent. There will be no income tax or property taxes. He says everyone one is welcome in the Republic of Lakotah; including Americans who reject their citizen-status. It’s likely a small percentage of the American population would find the Republic’s invitation appealing.

However, the movement is not immune to inward conflict. In 2008, the Lakota Oyate Lakota branched off from the original “Freedom Delegation” — claming the movement had been high-jacked by one of the delegation members.

So far, the U.S. government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have ignored the Lakota. According to the Lakota Oyate and Lakota Republic, Gary Garrison of the BIA stated the group’s withdrawal “doesn’t mean anything” and said “When they begin the process of violating other people’s rights, breaking the law, they’re going to end up like all the other groups that have declared themselves independent – usually getting arrested and being put in jail.”

While the return of sovereign Indian nations may be unlikely, it’s none-the-less, something to work toward. The struggles of the Lakota and other indigenous people for their freedom are encouraging to behold.