Much has been made lately of the threat posed to the world by rogue states. Our administration recommends that they be controlled, contained or undone. President Bush provided a clear definition of a rogue state in September's National Security Strategy of the United States of America. While reading his criteria, I couldn't help but reflect on recent U.S. foreign and domestic policy. The following are criteria for a rogue state and evidence that we qualify. Rogue states:
Brutalize their own people and squander their national resources for the personal gain of the rulers.
Brutalize is a harsh word meaning to treat in an extremely ruthless or cruel manner, to be harsh or severe, direct or insensitive in manner or speech. Is it a stretch to consider the treatment of American Indians under the Bureau of Indian Affairs cruel, harsh or insensitive? It's not gassing the Kurds, but taking away land and culture, then squandering billions of trust dollars might just qualify as brutal.
While we're on the topic of squandering, why do we squander our prosperity on tax cuts for the wealthy while the nation's deficit grows? Our national resources enrich the economic elite while President Bush demands the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil exploration and drilling. And ask yourself who is profiting from the sale of our national forests to logging interests or from the accounting scandals of Enron or WorldCom.
Display no regard for international law, threaten their neighbors, and callously violate international treaties to which they are party.
Rather than having no regard for international law, our administration simply regards it with contempt. The United States rejects much of international law -- claiming it is too restrictive on our sovereignty (too bad that didn't work for American Indians in relation to U.S. law). We threaten our neighbors militarily (remember Panama and Grenada?) and economically (through the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund). We continue to violate the U.N. Charter and Declaration of Human Rights. We've learned to avoid international treaties we intend to violate (Kyoto) or international conferences that ask hard questions (Johannesburg).
Are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), along with other advanced military technology, to be used as threats or offensively to achieve the aggressive designs of these regimes.
We have more WMDs than any other nation on earth. We've made reductions in ballistic nuclear missiles, but we continue to develop more advanced weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to acquire other advanced military technology including Strategic Missile Defense. We replace the word "threat" with "deterrent." We are about to use advanced military technology to achieve our aggressive designs on Iraqi oil fields.
Sponsor terrorism around the globe.
Our administration claims to be the enemy of terror and defender of freedom. But our nation's past is checkered with global political assassinations, economic destabilization campaigns and training in terror techniques. Our incursions in Vietnam and several Central American countries have included the murder of political and community leaders, destruction of local economies and support for dictators under the guise of defending freedom. The U.S. Army School of the Americas has trained Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques including torture and rape.
Reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands.
Does the United States reject basic human values? Yes, when it is economically advantageous. Human values like fair wages and safe work environments that are protected by U.S. laws until companies export operations to developing countries. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are protected -- except when a healthy environment costs polluting corporations too much, when racial profiling keep Americans of Arab ancestry detained indefinitely, or when happiness dissolves along with retirement funds.
And that last inflammatory phrase? Perhaps when the writers of this document realized that we met all of the criteria of a rogue state they added "and hate the United States and everything for which it stands" to deflect suspicion.
My point is not to disparage the United States, although some will label me unpatriotic. Instead I intend to point out inconsistencies between our ideals and our foreign and domestic policies. This country has reached a critical moment in our history. We can use our prosperity and power for domination as a rogue state, or we can be an example to the world of truly democratic ideals evidenced in the best of our history and our promise.
Mike Klein is an instructor in the Justice and Peace Studies Department
at the University of St. Thomas.