U.S. Unilateralism

November 3, 2006

The following is taken from the premier issue of Good Magazine. It’s by James Surowiecki, a writer for the New Yorker, in a piece entitled “America in the World.”

“There are two factors that make American unilateralism especially troubling in the eyes of many. The first is simply the breadth of American power. While no one is nostalgic for the Cold War, a majority of people in every country that Pew surveyed (U.S. excluded) believe that it would be better for the world if a country or group of countries emerged as a rival to U.S. hegemony. Whatever the dangers of superpower conflict, apparently they’re preferable to having most of the world’s military might in the hands of one nation.

“The second major factor is that the U.S. now regularly circumvents or ignores many of the international institutions that, paradoxically, it played a major role in creating. The United Nations, the various institutions designed to combat genocide and war crimes, the Geneva Conventions, the World Trade Organization–the U.S. was instrumental in the development of all of these. Yet in just the past decade, it’s refused to ratify the International Criminal Court, refused to vote for a resolution banning land mines, refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, until recently declared the Geneva Conventions inapplicable to enemy combatants, and so on. From the perspective of American interests, each of those decisions may have been the correct one. But, to many, each also smacks of hypocrisy, making it seem as if the U.S. is happy to play by rules only as long as it’s guaranteed to win.”

I would modify this to say that these actions “stink” of hypocrisy, and I would remove the phrase “to many.” It is fact: these actions are hypocritical.

Again, I’m feeling that odd sensation that most of the people I know are more like people everywhere, i.e. the people polled for Surowiecki’s report; it’s the purveyors of “American interest” that are not my people.

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