Is Bush making America one of `rogue nations'?

July 25, 2001|By Tom Teepen

ATLANTA - Hordes of violent anti-thises and anti-thats couldn't break through police lines in Genoa to disrupt the policy musings of the heads of the eight big economies, but one man working from the inside, the president of the United States, pulled off the trick.

George W. Bush stuck to his guns, holding that the international effort to cut greenhouse gases and thus mitigate global warming, as undertaken in the Kyoto Treaty, would be bad for some U.S. business and so the United States will have nothing to do with it.

Japan and our European allies decided to work toward the Kyoto goals even with the world's biggest source of the problem opting out.

There is a pattern developing in this administration.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle calls it isolationism, but that doesn't seem right.

It's more along the lines of swaggering unilateralism.

Every American administration since World War II - Republican and Democratic equally - has seen American security interests as being served by carefully negotiated treaties that reflect shared interests and set out the ground rules for managing them in economics, military security, arms control and, increasingly, environmental basics.

The Kyoto default is only one on list of American bugouts.

Hellbent to begin installing infrastructure for a $100 billion pig-in-a-poke missile shield before the technology for it is even developed, the Bush administration is, by its own assertion, only months away from breaking the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

If Mr. Bush can't cut a deal to reconfigure the treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia likely will re-install multiple warheads on its intercontinental missles, restarting the nuclear arms race. Even if the two do a deal, China is virtually certain to rev up its nuclear program, a loss of security all around.

The administration is making rumbling noises, too, about disregarding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The U.S. Senate has been unwilling to ratify that pact, but even so the signatory nations, including the United States through several presidencies, have abided by its provisions.

The test ban is the keystone agreement supporting the international effort to block the spread of nuclear weapons.

If the United States takes a hike, expect several nations that are on the nuclear threshold to jump into the game.

Some of this go-it-alone stuff is the work of pure attitude. Often, though, it is driven by domestic politics.

We're scrapping Kyoto mainly at the behest of the polluting industries that, not incidentally, are major financial backers of the Bush administration.

And the administration recently neutered pending international arrangements to limit the trade in illegal small arms - the automatic weapons, grenades, grenade-launchers and so on that are the tools of vicious little wars in Third World countries.

The ever-hysterical National Rifle Association, a Bush and GOP favorite, had got it into its head that the deal would license some international agency to snatch Americans' hunting rifles.

We worry about "rogue nations." Maybe we should worry about becoming one.

Tom Teepen is a columnist for Cox Newspapers. His e-mail address is teepencolumn@coxnews.com.

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