The international political system has a method for dealing with regimes that flout the United Nations Charter — sanctions. Sanctions come in different flavors. Sanctions like economic boycotts have teeth, others like travel bans are more symbolic but are more easily imposed and relatively effective. It is time for the United Nations and its individual members to consider political and other sanctions against the Bush administration. After all, other countries and regimes that have snubbed their noses at international norms of behavior have been on the receiving end of sanctions. The United States heartily supported such measures against regimes in South Africa, Rhodesia, Iran, Iraq, Burma, Libya, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia, North Korea, Taliban-run Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Azerbaijan, Angola’s UNITA, Cuba, and Sudan.
But now it is the United States, governed by a coterie of war hawks, which threatens international order and stability. The Bush administration is threatening to bombard Iraq with a volley of bombs and missiles that will “shock and awe” the Iraqis into surrendering.
The Bush administration is severely in need of a demonstration of international will that will “shock and awe” Washington back into some semblance of rationality and sanity. That can best be done by imposing wide sweeping political sanctions on the Bush administration. By targeting the Bush administration and not the general American public, the international community can put key members of the Bush administration on notice that their behavior has consequences, even for officials of the “world’s only remaining superpower.”
The concept of international sanctions against the Bush administration are nothing new. The idea was first floated by the European Union in March 2001 when the United States pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions. EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, while saying trade sanctions against the United States were premature, warned of other broad implications stemming from America’s withdrawal from the treaty.
The international community should begin with a ban on visits by the top U.S. political leaders who support flouting the United Nations and other regional international organizations. For starters, the list of Americans who could be refused visas, including transit visas, might include Donald Rumsfeld, his top deputies – Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Dov Zakheim, and Peter Rodman, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Strategy John Bolton and his deputy David Wurmser, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, her assistants Elliott Abrams and Otto Reich and consultant Michael Ledeen, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and UN ambassador John Negroponte.
The travel ban should also be extended to such key administration advisers and propagandists as Defense Policy Board (DPB) chairman Richard Perle, Center for Security Policy director Frank Gaffney, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, America’s ayatollah of morality William Bennett, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and DPB members Kenneth Adelman and Newt Gingrich.
The European Union has already imposed such a travel ban on 72 officials of Zimbabwe’s government. The United States also imposed a travel ban on President Robert Mugabe and 19 of his top officials. The UN Security Council has imposed travel bans on Iraqi’s top military leaders and top leaders of Angola’s UNITA rebel movement. Travel restrictions were also imposed by the Clinton administration on Burma’s military leadership and their families from visiting the United States.
In addition to the European Union and national governments imposing a travel ban on top Bush administration officials, national, regional, and municipal legislatures could also pass symbolic resolutions stating that key members and supporters of the Bush administration are “not welcome” to visit their countries, provinces, and cities. What would be more valuable for the court of public opinion than a city mayor or a regional leader informing a visiting Bush administration official or political loyalist that he or she is not officially “welcome” by the host government? That sort of bad press is every public relations person’s worst nightmare. It is a tactic worth seriously considering.
Travel bans or “unwelcome” resolutions could also be extended to members of the U.S. Congress who stand in lockstep with the Bush administration. Considering the number of overseas congressional junkets that take place on an almost weekly basis, it would not be long before GOP loyalists and their Democratic quislings would begin to realize what their administration has wrought in severely damaging U.S. relations with the rest of the world.
Another sanction option could be the boycotting of official U.S. diplomatic functions and cultural events by local government and business leaders, as well as celebrities. Considering Canada’s strong opposition to Washington’s unilateral policies, a boycott by Canadian politicians and dignitaries of social and other official events surrounding Bush’s upcoming May 5 state visit to Canada would appear to be in tall order.
People abroad have already started their own grass roots sanction program against the Bush administration by canceling or curtailing pleasure trips to the United States. European travel industry insiders report that hundreds of thousands of Europeans have decided to cancel trips to the United States, opting instead to spend their vacations in Europe, Asia, Latin America, or Canada. Many European air travelers object to being cajoled into providing personal information to the U.S. government, including bank account data, credit information, and even dietary habits. Traveling within Europe or to countries that do not impose such draconian screening measures appeal more to the average European traveler. As a result, America’s tourist destinations are feeling the economic pinch.
Focusing a sanctions campaign against key members of the Bush administration and their more rabid supporters in the private policy laundering sector would serve notice that the world’s patience has its limits and the Bush administration has pushed the envelope on that patience. It is clearly time to build upon the successes of the global anti-war movement and ratchet up the pressure on the Bush regime through a sanctions and boycott process. To the American Revolutionaries in Boston, economic boycotts against the British served as an important catalyst in the successful rebellion against another mad King George. They worked then and they should be tried now.
WAYNE MADSEN is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth.
Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com
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