Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
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If there has
been any constant in the last several millennia (besides change),
it has been the raging appetite of empires to remake the world in
their various images. All of them, the Roman, the Ottoman, the British,
and even the newest one, the American Empire, have cut through that
which existed before they formed, and sought to impose their interests
on those unlucky enough to be their subject states. If history teaches
us anything, it is that empires are inherently unstable, if only
because they inspire enemies rather than allies, and people seek
to live free of their influences.
They have also
sought to become the sole source of Law.
In the horrific
aftermath of the 2nd World War, many nations gathered together to
try to erect a new set of rules and institutions that would head
off another world war, because the last two such wars left the world
drenched in blood and sickened by death. They sought to erect a
world criminal court that could try armies and leaders that engaged
in acts deemed violative of the 'law of nations' (international
law), and protected human rights. If there has been one implacable
foe to that idea it has been the United States. For over half a
century the U.S. chose to ignore the push for such
an institution in Europe, and in many parts of the so-called developing
Why, one wonders,
would the U.S., the 'land of the free and the home of the brave',
dare oppose something like this? The Americans feared a non-U.S.
tribunal would hold its soldiers under violations of war crimes
laws, and for over 50 years, the U.S. opposed it. When former U.S.
president Bill Clinton did sign a treaty in support of the International
Criminal Court (ICC), it sought to have veto power over any of its
prosecutions (the UN Security Council rejected that notion). Although
signed by Clinton on 31 December, 2000, the Bush Administration
some two years later announced it would unsign the global
pact. In the words of Defense Secretary,
Donald Rumsfeld, ...[T]here is a risk that the ICC could attempt
jurisdiction over U.S. service members, as well as civilians, involved
counter-terrorist and other military operations--something we cannot
activists and attorneys filed an action against U.S. Gen. Tommy
Franks and other U.S. leaders, Rumsfeld went ballistic, threatening
to pull U.S. money from a planned construction of a new NATO headquarters
in Brussels. That U.S. threat may cost some $115 million or so.
By the beginning
of 2003 over 80 nations had voted for and ratified the ICC treaty.
The world's biggest enemy?
The United States.
The ICC, and
the Rome Treaty which was a precursor of the ICC pact, have been
in the gun sights of U.S. military and political leaders for decades.
submit to international treaties, but for an Empire, such an option
is utterly unthinkable.
Rome knew no
master, save Rome; Byzantium bowed only to its own emperors; The
Ottomans submitted to Ottoman caliphs; ... Empires find it difficult,
if not impossible, to recognize any source of power external to
Now is the time
of *Pax Americana*; the age of the American Empire. And, as the
Bush Administration began its reign, it pushed to abolish virtually
every treaty it was a part of.
Yet, who needs
immunity from war crimes, but one who intends to commit them? Is
the U.S. seeking clemency before its next My Lai massacre? Its foreign
We are watching
an atrocity in embryo. Massacres are being hatched, in the name
of 'democracy,' 'freedom', and 'human rights.'
If we dont
act to oppose this obscene growth, this imperial fever, all Americans
may come to rue the day it burst forth.
Check out Mumia's
"Faith of Our Fathers: An Examination of the Spiritual Life
of African and African-American People" at www.africanworld.com
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.