Democratic Underground

What Makes the EU Say FU to the Bush Administration
December 14, 2001
by Richard Prasad

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The Bush Administration has warned us since 9/11 to be vigilant against terrorist attacks, including the anthrax attacks following the 9/11 tragedy. But has the Bush Administration been vigilant in preventing the proliferation of germ warfare agents throughout the world? The shocking and disturbing answer is no.

The Bush Administration on December 7th forced a germ warfare conference to break up. The meeting was established to try to add enforcement provisions to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. The current meeting was held in Geneva to discuss the progress of a group who have been trying for six years to negotiate legally enforceable compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention.

The Biological Weapons Convention was ratified by the U.S. and 143 other nations almost thirty years ago. Article One of the Biological Weapons Convention states that each member who is party to this convention will undertake to NEVER develop produce stockpile or otherwise retain microbial or any other biological agents or toxins. It further bans the development of delivery systems for these toxins. Article 2 of the BWC requires the destruction of these banned items, or their conversion into peaceful uses within 9 months.

The Biological Weapons Convention sounds like a good framework to build upon to try to ban these horrible weapons of mass destruction, so why would the Bush administration prematurely end a meeting trying to enhance enforcement of the Biological Weapons Convention, at a time where banning such weapons has gained increased urgency because of these anthrax attacks? Simple, say Bush administration representatives, because the Biological Weapons Convention is impossible to enforce. Bush Administration officials have stated that nothing in the protocol would prevent rogue nations from acquiring biological weapons if the desired.

That answer has left members of the European Union shocked and angry to say the least. In a statement the E.U. says they are deeply committed to multilateral arms negotioations. This action by Bush representatives only reinforces the European view that the Bush Administration is unilateralist in its world view, willing to go it alone on issues rather than join with other nations.

We all know the litany of treaties that the Bush Administration has either succeeded in killing or has backed away from. The Kyoto Protocol, which requires strict environmental standards, which Bush and his oil burning pals aren't willing to adhere to. And let us not forget the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty, which stands in the way of Bush wanting to build SDI. But all this unilateralism occurred before 9/11.

Many thought that since 9/11 that President Bush would understand the importance of coalition building, since he experienced the value of coalition building during our current war with Afghanistan. Could he not take the leadership role that the US has taken in the war, and take the lead role in enforcing a ban on germ warfare as well? The argument that this convention cannot be enforced seems weak when the US can enforce no fly zones in Iraq and hunt down terrorists in Afghanistan. We can do whatever we aim to do in this country, if we as a nation have the political will to do so. President Bush does not have the political will to do so. Why? I do not know.

Further, we are ready to declare war on Iraq for not letting UN inspection teams in to inspect possible biological weapons sites. It is reasonable to think we should go to war with Iraq if they don't let us inspect those sites, but how can we go to war with Iraq on this issue, when we are not stringently supporting the Biological Weapons Convention, which bans the very weapons Iraq is said to have. The hypocrisy of the Bush Administration here is intolerable.

Finally, the lack of press coverage on this Biological Weapons Conference is astounding. None of the major tv news organizations covered it that I know. CNBC, and it's clone CNN never covered it, and Fox, well, they don't cover anything. This is a huge story with huge international ramifications, and all I could find was a couple of newspaper articles, and that is it. I know the press, in general, has taken to saluting the flag and telling us what a great job the President is doing in prosecuting the war. That is all well and good, but how about putting the pom poms away, and informing the public about matters of grave concern to everyone.

I am asking all the readers of Democratic Underground to call or e-mail your local House Member or Senator and ask them why the US walked out on a meeting to enforce the biological weapons treaty. We the people can make enough noise to make a difference. Maybe we can make newsworthy what the mainstream media chooses to ignore.