Public Speaker on Public Issues

 

GREEN TIES OR DIPLOMATIC TIES
THE TIES THAT BIND

Color them green, because that's what they have become over the past several years. Unfortunately, I'm referring to the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of State (DOS), many international trade agreements, the International Criminal Court and the list goes on and on. Environmental goals and missions now permeate our lives far beyond these once sovereign borders.

Having a global environmental ethic as a nation is one thing. Tying our foreign policy to it is quite another. On close inspection, the grass may not be greener!

Foreign policy will seem very familiar to you after reading a most interesting paper entitled The Greening of Foreign Policy (Policy Study No. 20). This paper, done by Terry Anderson and J. Bishop Grewell of the Political Economy Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana, is worthwhile reading. It has nothing to do with conspiracies and everything to do with reality.

In late 1999 I wrote an article on Executive Order 13141 which deals with international trade agreements and new requirements for environmental impact studies before shipments are made and deliveries taken by our global neighbors. That Executive Order was only one small part of the huge picture of international environmentalism that seeks to diminish the individual and to compromise national sovereignty.

Our own DOD representative went on record at a 1997 conference on Environmental Challenges and Regional Security as stating… "environmental defense is critical to the DOD's mission and environmental considerations shall be integrated into all defense activities."

What are some of these defense activities? How about regional security, climate change, deforestation, non-sustainable development practices, pollution, population and resource security in the DOD's very own words.

Budget changes prove how seriously they take this new defense arena. The DOD budget went from $250 million up to $5 billion between 1984 and 1994 for environmental programs such as the conservation of resources on military bases and environmental research. Much of this money is for preservation of species rather then the environmental cleanup of degraded landscapes.

The Department of State has also been busy. Reading a 1997 Earth Day presentation on Environmental Diplomacy — The Environment and U.S. Foreign Policy, Challenges for the Planet is a special treat. This document covers……strategies for advancing global environmental protection through diplomatic efforts, internal organizations and multilateral treaties.

Congress has attempted but not actually succeeded in putting the breaks on international environmentalism where trade agreements are concerned. Beginning in 1974, international trade agreements could be done via a 'fast track' program. The term fast track in this context means a vote up or down within 60 days. The effort here was to improve efficiency of trade agreement implementations. However, because Bill Clinton insisted on having protections for environment and labor part and parcel of each agreement, Congress refused 'fast track' approval of such documents.

The International Criminal Court, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund all lay claim to environmental goals. This International Criminal Court is the one just recently signed by past President Clinton to ensure that the U.S. continues to have a say in its final form. Would you sleep even better at night if you knew that this court recognizes environmental destruction as a war crime. So — be very careful where you drop your bombs right?

Space does not allow for much more elaboration on this general topic. However, it is important for the average American to realize that what is happening under these many agreements is that there are changes in international law that will and do effect us. An example (Filartiga v Pena-Irala) came out of the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. The court held … that international customary law or the law of nations has always been part of the U.S. federal common law and recognizes human rights as part of that body of law. In short our country's agreement and signature on these various documents is enabling domestic courts in various countries to invoke a fundamental international right without any laws being passed by the nation's representatives.

Problems with the greening of foreign policy are many. Such greening threatens sovereignty, reduces accountability, increases international tensions, reduces internal trade, hurts long-term environmental health, creates unintended consequences from regulation, and leads to monitoring and enforcement problems.

It is far better to solve problems with agreements among the parties having the disputes. We should not be making local problems global arguments. Caution and wisdom should guide foreign policy and in determining where and how to spend our 'diplomatic currency'.

Permission granted to reprint in full or part with full credit given to author.

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