Stephen Zunes : Human Rights
As Morocco continues to defy the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and much of the international community in its continued occupation of Western Sahara, the United States continues supporting that autocratic government.
The California State Assembly is considering a bill entitled the “Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions of Recognized Sovereign Nations or Peoples Act” (AB 2844) that could lead to penalizing California businesses that boycott any country or any products from a particular country — even if the product is being made in a colony or occupied territory or if it is made under illegal, inhumane or environmentally deleterious conditions. It would also deny state or local government contracts to sole propietorships who participate in such boycotts.
A fight is brewing as Democrats prepare to debate U.S. policy on Israel at their national convention in July. Bernie Sanders’ appointees to the platform committee Cornel West and James Zogby plan to challenge the party establishment’s uncritical support for an increasingly aggressive, right wing Israeli government.
During the 1980s, the United States was seriously divided over U.S. policy toward Central America. The Reagan administration was propping up a brutal military-backed regime in El Salvador that was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people, including priests, nuns and catechists, along with labor, student and human rights leaders, as well as peasants who happened to live in areas supporting the opposition.
Late last month, President Barack Obama met with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI in Washington for their first face-to-face meeting. The result was a bitter disappointment for supporters of human rights and international law.
The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), one of the most effective instruments for international arms control, sends an important message to those who have insisted that unilateral military action is the best means to eliminate and prevent the use of these deadly agents.
This is an updated and expanded version of the article “The US and Chemical Weapons: No Leg to Stand On,” originally posted in Foreign Policy in Focus on May 2, 2013.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the third and final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign was the similarity between the two candidates on many basic foreign policy issues. Part of the reason is that, as he did in the first two debates, GOP candidate Mitt Romney reversed himself on a number of extreme right-wing positions he had taken earlier in a desperate effort to depict himself as a moderate. At the same time, Obama’s hawkish stances served as yet another reminder of just how far to the right Obama has evolved since running as an anti-war candidate just four years ago.
From the Vietnam War to the Central American revolutions to apartheid South Africa to the East Timor occupation to the invasion of Iraq, university campuses have been an important venue for concerned scholars and activists to raise issues regarding human rights, international law and US foreign policy.
However, in an effort to stifle this tradition, University of California President Mark Yudof has launched a campaign targeting human rights activists and others challenging the Israeli occupation and colonization of the West Bank and other policies of the right-wing US-backed Israeli government.