Address to Physicians for Global Survival and the Group of 78
Rear Admiral Eugene J. Carroll, Jr., USN (Ret.)
30 September 2000
Confrontation or Cooperation?
You, as Canadians, know more of
events and conditions in the United
States - far more I regret to say - than U.S. citizens know
Canada. There are many reasons for this but two standout. First, as major
trading partners, more than 80% of all of your exports go south while
slightly less than one quarter of U.S. exports come here. If the U.S.
economy sneezes, Canada may contract pneumonia. You are wise to keep a
wary eye on us Yanks.
The second reason is what I want to
discuss this evening, one which
I believe must be a continuing, irritating problem for Canadians. This is
the growing isolation of the United States stemming from an acute case of
national hubris. Our Secretary of State says the United States stands
taller, sees further than other nations. The President declares that we
call the shots. Senator Jesse Helms stands astride the U.S. Senate, a
chauvinistic jingo who rejects the concept of a global community based on
the rule of law. Washington speaks as the sole superpower and
international norms are for lesser nations.
It is true, perhaps, that never in
the history of the world has a
single nation ever exercised the preeminent influence globally which the
U.S. wielded in the 20th Century. The question now becomes, what lies
ahead in the 21st Century? Will it be another American Century? Or
this great power slip away, be thrown away, and the 21st Century become the
The answer is that it depends on
whether the U.S. attempts to
perpetuate an American global hegemony as the world's only military
superpower - or if they seek to exercise constructive leadership as a
cooperative member in a peaceful world community governed under the rule of
law. Confrontation or cooperation?
Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress and
the Executive seem determined
to make military power the primary instrument of U.S. foreign policy. The
U.S. is the only nation in history which has formally divided the globe
into military zones and appointed a General or an Admiral to be
Commander-in-Chief within each zone. There are nearly a quarter of a
million uniformed troops permanently assigned to these Commanders, heavily
armed and fully combat ready to intervene militarily in not one, but two
conflicts anywhere on earth and to win both wars nearly simultaneously.
President Clinton has proclaimed that he will act multilaterally where
possible but is prepared to act unilaterally when necessary.
This aggressive posture is called
forward presence, in current
jargon. In truth, it is no more than gun boat diplomacy which through the
implied threat of military action is intended to influence and control
events to U.S. advantage. This confrontational approach to foreign
relations is extremely negative because it is based upon coercion rather
than efforts to develop constructive approaches of mutual benefit. It also
creates pressure to use military force when significant issues lead to
public awareness of pending problems with another nation. All too often
the United States finds that gun boat diplomacy has put us in a position
where the use of force will not resolve a problem but we will look foolish
and impotent if we fail to act after threatening to do so. Kosovo is only
the latest example of this process.
Yet another dangerous, potentially
fatal, form of confrontation is
intensifying through U.S. nuclear policies. In 1995 the U.S. led efforts
to extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty indefinitely. To inspire the
non-nuclear states to agree, we joined the other four nuclear powers to
make a formal pledge in a statement titled, "Principles and Objectives For
Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament." This contained a joint
commitment to: "The determined pursuit by the nuclear weapons states of
systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with
the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons..." That is an
commitment to get rid of all nuclear weapons.
Despite this, two years later
President Clinton flatly renounced
any intention to honor that commitment. In Presidential Decision Directive
#60, parts of which were revealed to the media, he approved a policy which
declared that nuclear weapons would remain the cornerstone of U.S. security
indefinitely. A senior Pentagon official reaffirmed that statement
recently by stating that nuclear weapons are an essential element of major
power status and "that would never change."
Then, of course, there is U.S.
determination to proceed with a
National Missile Defense system despite the fact that it will violate the
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. As the indispensable partner in the North
American Defense Command, Canada obviously has a major stake in the outcome
of this misguided effort.
These policies and programs are an
open affront to all of the
nations which consented to the indefinite extension of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty at U.S. urging and it openly confronts other
nations with the need to create their own nuclear weapons.
Turning from dangerous
confrontational military measures, consider
another form of confrontation. This is American unwillingness to enter
into or support constructive cooperative measures within the community of
nations. As the world's superpower we stand aloof from the community.
Such growing isolation is pernicious and endangers our long term interests
economically, politically and militarily. Several specific examples
follow, one of which is of special concern to Canada.
The starkest example of growing
isolation is epitomized in the U.N.
Convention on the Law of the Sea. Negotiations on this major effort to
develop international law began in 1958 with strong U.S. participation and
leadership. This process took 24 years to come to fruition in the 1982 LOS
Convention and it reflected virtually every U.S. demand except for the
Article XI provisions concerning seabed mining. For this reason, the
industrialized states led by the U.S. refused to ratify the Convention.
Twelve more years of negotiations
followed while the U.S. insisted
on changes in Article XI which led finally to U.S. signature and the
Convention coming into force in 1994.
Six years later the U.S. still has
not ratified it. In short, we
are isolating America from the development of a body of international law
which covers 70% of the earth's surface and protects freedom of navigation,
fisheries, the oceanic environment and the wealth of the global seabed.
Worse, we are doing this even though the provisions of the Convention have
been shaped through strong U.S. leadership to protect all of America's
political, economic and security interests. It is difficult to conceive of
a more foolish, shortsighted failure to advance the rule of law in the
world order, nor one more certain to generate unnecessary confrontations
with other nations in the future.
In 1998, a similar failure occurred
in Rome. In this case
negotiations were on the provisions for an International Criminal Court.
During the early phases of this initiative the U.S. was a leading proponent
of a permanent international tribunal which would have jurisdiction over
war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. In effect, we were
working to create a permanent successor to the Nuremberg Tribunal and
obviate the need for ad hoc arrangements for special bodies such as the one
now sitting in the Hague to consider crimes committed during the
dismemberment of Yugoslavia.
Unfortunately, our efforts were
directed toward creating a Tribunal
which would remain firmly under the control of the U.N. Security Council.
could exercise a U.S. veto if the ICC moved to act in a way considered
inimical to U.S. interests. During increasingly acrimonious deliberations
in Rome, U.S. insistence on retaining a means to deny jurisdiction to the
ICC created a storm of criticism of the U.S. position by even our closest
friends and allies. The final vote in Rome on the Statute for the ICC was
120-7 against the U.S. position. Even worse than the crushing defeat is
that we found America voting with nations such as Iraq, Libya and Yemen,
radical states little noted for their devotion to human rights and the rule
of law. It is sadly ironic that the world's leading democracy has chosen
to exclude itself from this initiative. It is even more disheartening that
this is only one more among many efforts to establish just and peaceful
international norms to which the U.S. refuses to accede.
Another example of U.S. rejection of
constructive steps to create a
safer and more peaceful world is the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition
of Anti-Personnel Landmines which came into force last year with strong
Canadian leadership. President Clinton has conceded that at some
the future we will consider adhering to the Treaty but first we must find
military alternatives to these indiscriminate killers of soldiers and
innocent civilians alike. Meanwhile, we ignore the fact that more than 133
nations are already committed to the ban while we stand in opposition with
such nations as China, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Congo and Cuba.
It seems clear that in attempting to
perpetuate a concept of
foreign relations based on military power the United States is wasting a
priceless opportunity to move from a confrontational posture to a
cooperative one. Jonathan Schell's latest book, "The Gift of
focuses on the need to get rid of nuclear weapons while there is no active
threat to American security except nuclear weapons. By extension, the U.S.
can use the gift of time to build a new, long term approach to security in
the 21st Century.
On that point, there is an analogy
between the need to get rid of
all nuclear weapons and the need to achieve a cooperative world community
of nations living together in peace and governed under the rule of law.
The first similarity is that no one, no individual or group, is wise enough
today to say how or when we can actually achieve either goal. It is
impossible today to foresee or prescribe all of the conditions which must
exist before nuclear weapons are abolished; or, how a system of global
governance can be established. Today the realities are that the most
powerful nation on earth declares that nuclear weapons are the cornerstone
of our security and the same nation refuses to surrender the smallest
scintilla of national sovereignty in the conduct of its international
relations. How do ideals triumph over such realities? The answer is
same for both efforts. One step at a time.
With respect to nuclear abolition the
steps are ratification of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; the universal declaration of a no first-use
policy; the de-alerting of strategic weapons; the separation of warheads
from delivery vehicles; significant reductions in nuclear arsenals until
32,000 weapons become 5,000 and then 1,000 and then 500. Then we hope that
those who follow us will be wise enough to work out the means of
eliminating the last nuclear weapons on earth. Can we be certain of
success? No, but we can be certain that as we proceed the world will
become progressively safer each step of the way. As the danger of nuclear
catastrophe fades, each
successive step will become more obvious and more beneficial until the
rewards of abolition are irresistible and inevitable.
In an absolutely parallel process,
progress from confrontation to
cooperation can be advanced one step at a time through practical measures
of international cooperation such as U.S. accession to the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea. In this one step the U.S. would accept
the jurisdiction of international tribunals and panels capable of
peacefully resolving international disputes in regions covering 70% of the
Another step is to achieve U.S.
acceptance of the jurisdiction of
the International Criminal Court and increased submission of disputes for
adjudication by the International Court of Justice at the Hague. Accession
to the Ottawa Anti-Personnel Land Mine Treaty would be another affirmative
action. All of these individual measures already have strong acceptance in
the world community and active constituencies in the United States.
Just as patient, insistent progress
toward nuclear disarmament will
one day make it possible to eliminate nuclear weapons as a threat to
humankind, so step by step progress in international cooperation will make
it possible to increase confidence in and support for the concept of global
governance. Only then can we finally turn to the United Nations and help
it to grow into the role of world peacekeeper for which it was created 50
Once again the United States must
lead the way in the 21st Century.
As long as U.S. leaders are committed to the belief that as the world's
most powerful nation we alone are empowered to proclaim and enforce
American standards and judgments everywhere in the world, we are doomed to
confrontation and growing isolation in a world increasingly ready to adopt
global norms and the peaceful conduct of international relations. The vote
in Rome of 120 to 7 against the United States was only one more ominous
harbinger of the dangers ahead because of chauvinistic reliance on American
power to promote U .S. political and economic interests in an
interdependent world community. Perhaps today U.S. leaders may
that we are able to pay the costs of such behavior but the option of
standing alone as the world's only superpower will soon no longer be
affordable, or possible.
The future security and well being of
all North Americans rests on
far more than aircraft carriers, strategic bombers and a National Missile
Defense System. As the present tragic situation in Kosovo demonstrates
vividly, America's magic superpower wand cannot make long standing
problems disappear. In truth, there is no military solution to the ethnic,
religious, political and historic disputes which underlie the violence
there and elsewhere in the world. Our security, and the solution to such
problems in the future, will be promoted far more effectively through wise
U.S. foreign policies that lead away from confrontation and to the creation
of a peaceful, just and cooperative world order in the 21st Century. I
know that we can trust Canadians to be proud, active, and creative
participants in the effort to create such a world.