Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

America: a Labyrinth of contradictions
KAWABE Ichiro / Associate Professor at Aichi University

December 18, 2003
In America, the United Nations has increasingly come under fire since the U.S. desire to bomb Iraq was denied by other member states. In a public opinion poll conducted on August 25-26, as much as 60% of the respondents reckoned the United Nations was doing a "poor job." There are strong voices within the administration and the House of Representatives demanding reform the United Nations of its anti-Americanism. But is it really anti-democratic and anti-American?

One of the aspects President George Bush most strongly criticizes about the United Nations is the International Criminal Court (ICC). In July 2003, the President decided to sustain U.S. military assistance to countries that have not signed the ICC statute. Back in July 1998, countries that opposed adopting the statute were China, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Yemen – and the United States. Countries that went along with America at the time were more or less those that the Bush administration calls "rogue nations." During the Senate hearings that took place immediately after the statue was adopted, Michael P. Scharf – who had been responsible for the issue at the State Department under the administration of President George Bush Senior – questioned the irony inherent in America finding itself among the opposition along with such "rogue nations." Since then, the situation hasn't changed. In a speech presented on November 6, President Bush criticized countries including Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria, but none of these countries have yet to ratify the ICC statute.

Such U.S. behavior is not limited to the ICC, but has manifested itself in many other areas, as people around the world bear witness. U.S. failure to be elected to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as well as the International Narcotics Control Board in May 2001 was nothing but a reflection of that fact. This time around, America bypassed the objections posed by the international community in bombing Iraq, earning even harsher criticism from the world's democratic nations in particular. On November 3, the European Union published the results of an opinion poll conducted among its 15 member nations, and 53% of the respondents chose America along with Iran and North Korea as nations that are posing a threat to global security. People living in democratic nations see little difference between the current U.S. actions and those taken by what America itself calls a "rogue nation."

Viewed from a different angle, the situation becomes even more intriguing. Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro - one of the strongest supporters of the Bush administration among world leaders – has been the subject of repeated protests by China and South Korea for continuously paying his respects at the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors leaders such as General Tojo Hideki, who was executed for the role he played in Japan's militarist government. A similar tendency can bee pointed out with regard to the media. It is the newspapers that seek to defend Japan's militarist past that have been most supportive of bombing Iraq. In other words, those who support the Bush administration in Japan are people with opinions that Americans might describe as having neo-Nazi leanings.

The United Nations was created nearly 60 years ago, at a time when America openly discriminated against colored peoples and the rights of Native Americans went ignored. Neither was there any understanding of ecology nor adequate multi-cultural thinking among the forefathers who created the United Nations. The history of the United Nations could be described as a process of incorporating the social progress made in the latter half of the 20th century into its organization. Simply demanding a return to the ideals of the founding fathers might end up turning the clock back. The Bush administration has called nations such as France and Germany that opposed bombing Iraq the "old West Europe", but taking the United Nations 60 years back in time seems to be an even more anachronistic undertaking that denies the latest fruits of democracy and reverts to an old social order.

The United Nations is a mirror that reflects the state of the world. "Reforming" the mirror because you don't like the reflection of yourself is no way to resolve problems. It would only make matters worse. America must come to terms with the fact that its current actions are not all that different from what it calls a "rogue nation," and that such actions are being supported by people with neo-Nazi leanings and not by people who value democracy.

The writer is Associate Professor at Aichi University.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

河辺 一郎 / 愛知大学助教授

2003年 12月 18日
米国では国連批判が高まっている。米国がイラク爆撃を求めたにもかかわらず、他の諸国が認めなかったためである。8月25-26日に行われた世論調査でも、60%に上る人々が国連を“poor job”と評している。現在の国連は反米的であるとして改革を求める声も政府や議会において強い。しかし本当に国連は反民主的であり、反米的なのだろうか。

国連に関して、ブッシュ政権が最も強く批判しているものの一つに国際刑事裁判所(ICC)がある。2003年7月には、大統領はICCに署名していない国への軍事援助を延長することも決めている。しかしこの規約が98年7月に採択された際に反対した国は、中国、イラン、イラク、イスラエル、リビア、イエメン、そして米国だった。米国と行動を共にしたのは、ブッシュ政権がならず者と呼ぶ国々だったのである。規約が採択された直後に開催された上院の公聴会では、ブッシュ・シニア政権の下の国務省でこの問題を担当していた Michael P. Scharf が、なぜ米国がならず者国家とともに反対したのかと皮肉ったように。この状況は現在も変わらない。ブッシュ大統領は11月6日の演説でビルマ、中国、キューバ、イラン、北朝鮮、シリアなどを批判したが、これらの国はいずれもICC規約を批准していないのである。





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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > America: a Labyrinth of contradictions