[To follow up on my own thought, the following quote from Martin Woollacott's column in today's Guardian, "It's time America woke up to the rest of the planet," seems apposite (full text at http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,385299,00.html).]
The difference between Americans and others can be illustrated by the case of the Statute of Rome, which sets up an international criminal court. The Americans, it is well known, did not like the idea that their servicemen might face charges in such a court, but their deeper objection was constitutional. The US constitution would not permit the actions which an American government might have to take under the statute. France and Germany had similar constitutional difficulties. Both chose to change their constitutions. But, in the words of one American opponent of the statute, writing in an illuminating recent publication from the Royal Institute of International Affairs, "The US ... is not going to amend its constitution to accommodate the latest international fad ... the US shall stand by its old ways which have served it well for over 200 years." There is surely no clearer case of ancestor worship in the western world than this.
A partial accounting of American delinquency during the Clinton years includes the failure to pay its full UN dues, the refusal, since Somalia, to place American troops under direct UN command, the refusal to sign the landmines treaty, the refusal to sign the Statute of Rome, the refusal to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty, and the pursuit of a national missile defence scheme which, if realised, would almost certainly undermine most of the existing arms limitation agreements with Russia. While refusing to be bound by rules agreed on by large groups of nations, the US has meanwhile come up with sanctions against some 60 countries which have offended it in one way or another. The Congress, it appears, believes it has a right to legislate for the world, but the world has no right to legislate for the US.
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