A Runaway Executive Loco-motive

Three inter-related crises leading to impeachment, international war crimes tribunals and the loss of moral leadership

By Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: February 22, 2006

A Runaway Executive Loco-motive

The United States currently finds itself in the midst of three inter-related crises that could lead to impeachment, international war crimes tribunals and the total loss of moral leadership at home and abroad.

The common denominator to all three is the worldview, morality, and conduct of the Bush administration. Yet, these consequences are but theoretical because as long as the United States remains the most powerful nation on earth and as long as all power is concentrated in one political party, the first two scenarios won't ever happen (that's the privilege of being the world's only super-power). The third consequence, however, the worldwide U.S.-loss of prestige and moral authority is happening as we speak.

The first crisis - which has been precipitated by the assertion of imperial powers by the executive, under different circumstances -- can lead to the impeachment of both the president and vice-president. This does not simply involve the administration's prosecution of an illegal war, but also includes the usurpation and the consolidation of all power into the hands of the executive.

The only thing that spares the president is the fact that the legislative branch of government is currently in the hands of politicians who put ideology (loyalty to the president) over respect for the law (the Constitution). Additionally, the judicial branch of government has now become, in effect, the administration's rubber stamp. In a circular, if not Machiavellian manner, two conservative judges have now been added to the U.S. Supreme Court - the same court that "legitimized" George W. Bush's highly contested 2000 election.

As such, these two co-equal branches of government will not be calling for impeachment or holding the administration accountable any time soon. Congress has failed to conduct hearings into all matters relating to the war, including its rationale and legal justification for torture; secret and indefinite detentions and domestic spying; the doctoring of intelligence; and the administration's assertion that it is not bound by the Geneva conventions and other international treaties or laws. All of this drives home the point that they have ceased carrying out their check and balance function of government.

The second crisis - beyond the prosecution of an illegal war -- also involves the U.S. assertion of the right to engage in a preemptive and open-ended permanent worldwide war.

One thing is to wage an illegal war against an unpopular regime. It's quite another to assert the right to conduct a generational "Long War" in which the U.S. could begin to topple one nation after another (Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, etc). Yet, this so-called war on terror is not even an actual war. As human rights lawyers for the United Nations recently concluded in its 54-page report (examining Guantanamo) "the war on terror" does not constitute an armed conflict under international law."
Regardless, the president asserts unchallenged, special war-time powers in what now threatens to become a never-ending civilizational war. Under the president's mis-leadership, this war is additionally propping up secretive and ruthless totalitarian and authoritarian military regimes that have no respect for the law.

Because this "war on terror" is completely lacking in legal authority, it could theoretically lead to international war crimes tribunals not simply for the president, but of his entire war cabinet. While this is unlikely to happen (due to power politics and the fact that the U.S. has exempted itself from the International War Crimes Tribunal), there's no telling what will happen if the U.S. continues to attack and/or invade other nations. A simple examination of that civilizational war that has been unleashed via the cartoons of Mohammed tells us that, in effect, we're already deep into this second crisis.

The third and related crisis has to do with the attempt by the United States and the British to undermine the entire system of international laws in regards to human, labor, Indigenous and women's rights and especially rules that pertain to health, safety, trade, genetically modified foods, natural resources and the fragile environment. (See John Phillippe's' new book, Lawless World).

There's no doubt that the United States finds itself morally in a losing battle for the world's hearts and minds. In a few short years, the United States has ceased being the leader of the world -- having lost all credibility on all fronts, beginning with truth. Nowadays, the consent of the governed rings hollow. Unrestrained power is its only and last resort.

As a law of history, all powerful civilizations arrive at this juncture.

It is also when civilizations normally implode.

(C) Column of the Americas

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