The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

November 29, 2009

of the world of art

art can be found anywhere, and in anything, and at anytime. from CHALKING
A SIDEWALK to FLYING A KITE, art can be found. from the GALLERY to the
PARK, art is there. art is the air we breathe, the COLORS we use, the
SHAPES we see everywhere and everyday. art is the careless STYLE of a
young child, and the fabricated production of the mature sculptor. art is
OLD FORMS from new and NEW FORMS from old. the BACKGROUND of art is the
STAIRS leading nowhere and the BROAD PLATEAU of the SUNNY PARK. as
SPECTATORS and VIEWERS, we greet art. we say "'HELLO ART,'" expecting
nothing in return. in return from nothing we receive BEAUTY with OPEN
ARMS. sidewalk, gallery kite, park sidewalk sidewalk kite, park kite, park kite, park kite, park kite, park kite, park

This regime sees more and more politics as usual. Who the hell to we vote 
for next?

- Alan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 29 Nov 2009 22:32:13 -0500
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: U.S. Announces Continued Rejection of Land Mine Ban

Ahead of Key Global Conference, U.S. Announces Continued
Rejection of Land Mine Ban
Amy Goodman interviews Stephen Goose
Democracy Now!
November 25, 2009

The Obama administration has announced it won't sign an
international convention banning land mines. This is the
first time the Obama administration has publicly
disclosed its position on the Mine Ban Treaty, which
bans the use, stockpiling, production or transfer of
antipersonnel mines. We speak to Stephen Goose of Human
Rights Watch's arms division and a co-founder of the
International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which received
the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Guest: Stephen Goose, director of Human Rights Watch's arms
division and a longtime leader in the movement to ban

The Obama administration decided not to sign an
international convention banning land mines. In response
to a question about an upcoming review conference on the
mind ban treaty, said DeParle spokesman Ian Kelly said
Tuesday that the administration recently completed a
review and decided not to change the Bush-era policy.

     IAN KELLY: This administration undertook a policy
     review and we decided our landmine policy remains in

     REPORTER: Why?

     IAN KELLY: Why?

     REPORTER: I think we're one of only two nations, and
     Somalia is about to sign it, right? So we are going
     to be the only nation in the whole world who doesn't
     believe in banning landmines. Why is that?

     IAN KELLY: I'm not sure about that. We made our
     policy review and we determined we would not be able
     to meet our national defense needs, nor our security
     commitments to our friends and allies if we sign

     REPORTER #2: So what are you planning to do at the
     conference then?

     IAN KELLY: We are there as. an observer. Clearly, we
     have.. as a global provider of security we have an
     interest in the discussions there, but we will be
     there as an observer, obviously, because we haven't
     signed the convention, nor do we plan to sign the

AMY GOODMAN: This is the first time the Obama
administration has publicly disclosed his decision on
the treaty which bans the use, stockpiling, production
or transfer of antipersonnel mines. 156 countries have
ratified the treaty, but 39 others including the U.S.,
Russia and China have not. The report this month of
international campaign to ban landmines found that mines
remain planted in more than 70 countries and killed over
1200 people and wounded nearly 4000 last year. For more
on the U.S. position on landmines and what to expect
from the summit in Colombia next month, I am joined in
Washington, D.C. by Stephen Goose, director of the Human
Rights Watch's Arms division and co-founder of the
international campaign to ban landmines, which received
the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. Stephen welcome to Democracy
Now! Your reaction to the Obama administration's
decision to follow the Bush administration and not sign
onto this treaty?

STEPHEN GOOSE: We really see this as just an appalling
decision, an appalling decision that has been based on
apparently very flawed decision making process. It is a
decision completely lacking in vision, its lacking in
compassion, and frankly lacking in common sense. It
shows a lack of political leadership by President Obama
on what many, most others see as a crucial global
humanitarian issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly how this happened, what was
your expectation when President Obama took office? And
this latest question raised, in asking the Obama
ministration that even Somalia will be signing on, and
the response of the Obama administration that this is
their commitment to their friends and allies, presumably
all of them have signed the treaty?

STEPHEN GOOSE: Well, that was a very confused response
and exchange the we just heard at the State Department.
Clearly, the State Department spokesperson is not at all
familiar with the issue. The questioner and his response
were based on the Convention on the right to the child,
where the U.S. in Somalia are the only two who have not
signed that. But, indeed, most of the countries of the
world have joined his mind ban Treaty and virtually all
of the major U.S. allies have done so. Every other NATO
country is part of the mine ban treaty. The process that
led to this is just an enigma. In essence, this was a
stealth-review done in secrecy. So much for the Obama
administration emphasis on transparency. They had never
even announced a review was under way of land mine
policy, and we Human Rights Watch and other non-
governmental organizations and some key legislators like
Senator Patrick Leahy have been encouraging them, urging
them and begging them to undertake a formal review, but
they never announced such a process was underway. And
then suddenly and a sort of off-the-cuff response to a
question yesterday, they say a review has already been
completed and they decided to align themselves with the
Bush policy of never joining the convention. In fact,
the U.S. is the only country that has said it will never
join the convention. Even others like Russia and China
said it will eventually join.

AMY GOODMAN: So can you explain what you believe has
happened, what you believe it is taking place here?

STEHPHEN GOOSE: I think we just had a very hasty and
cursory review of U.S. policy. Certainly, they did not
consult with key legislators on Capitol Hill. They did
not consult with the major military allies. They
certainly did not consult with outside experts, those
who have been involved in this issue for decades,
literally, and instead it seems that have simply decided
to allow the Pentagon to dictate terms. The Pentagon
says, we reviewed this and the Bush administration and
don't think anything has changed. Unfortunately, the
Bush administration did change things. The previous
administration, under President Clinton, did not sign
the treaty in 1997, but did make a goal of joining in
the year 2006. Bush abandoned that. The U.S. was an
early leader on this issue. In fact, President Clinton
was the first global leader to call for the eventual
elimination of antipersonnel mines, he just wasn't ready
to move fast as many of our allies. But, we set the
target for joining in 2006 that was abandoned by Bush
and now embraced by the Obama administration. It is
really extremely disturbing the US can't see the light
on this, because it has largely been in compliance with
all the key components of the treaty.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Goose, talk about why this land
mine ban is so important. What are the worst countries
in the world? How much of a problem on landmines today?

STEPHEN GOOSE: They are still a huge problem with
landmines, although the progress on this issue over the
course of the past 10 years has been rather astounding.
Since the mine ban treaty came into effect. This year,
the second five-year review conference of the mine ban
treaty is being held in Cartagena, Colombia in just a
few days' time. It will look back at what is an
accomplished in the course of the past 10 years, and
plan for the future. Land mines have been banned by some
countries because they are a horrific weapon that has
taken too strong a toll on civilian populations. They
still kill and injure thousands of civilians each year
and have a heavy socio-economic toll on many countries
like Afghanistan, like Cambodia, like Colombia where
this major diplomatic conference is being held.

But what we a seen as a result of the mine ban treaty is
a huge drop in the use of the weapon. The only
government that has made significant use of the weapon
is Myanmar, Burma, the outcast regime there. We have
seen production falling off to only a handful of
countries still being willing to produce the weapon,
we've seen global trade has essentially ended
altogether. Most importantly, we've seen huge tracts of
land cleared of land mines with more than a dozen
countries declaring themselves mine-free from those
clearance efforts. And the number of new victims to the
weapon has more than cut in half over the course of the
past 10 years. This is a huge success story. Clearly,
the most successful humanitarian and disarmament treaty
of the past decade if not more. The U.S. is on the
outside looking in. It makes no sense.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, I think it is a very interesting
point you raised. First of all, you did not even know
this review was taking place, and that you think it
indicates the military is really in charge of policy in
the country right now come, in the U.S. when it comes to
the landmines. We're talking of the same time President
Obama will be announcing an escalation of the war in
Afghanistan. I'm wondering your thoughts on, from land
mines to Afghanistan.

STEPHEN GOOSE: I think there's a real sensitivity to not
wanting to upset the apple cart on an issue that can be
seen obviously as a military and a security issue,
although above all it is a humanitarian issue. But here
are the facts. The U.S. military has not used this
weapon in 18 years. The last time they used anti-
personnel mines was in the first Gulf War in 1991. It
hasn't exported since 1992, it has not produced since
1997. It has no plans for further procurement of the
weapon. We're basically in compliance with the treaty.
The U.S. has not used antipersonnel mines in the wars in
Iraq or the war in Afghanistan. Not when the invasions
occurred, and not since. They're highly unlikely to do
so in the future. Both of those countries, Iraq and
Afghanistan have joined the mine ban treaty. That
comprehensively banned the weapon. They've banned any
possession of the weapon. The U.S. would be going
against the treaty obligations of those countries if it
were to use antipersonnel landmines in those countries.
So, again, there's sort of an Alice-in-Wonderland aspect
to this, where there is no viable reason to hold on to
these weapons from a humanitarian or military point of
view. Yet, the political and humanitarian efforts would
be great. It should have been a no-brainer. They need to
go back to the drawing board.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Goose,

STEPHEN GOOSE: Do a serious review.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Goose, how are you at Human Rights
Watch and other human rights groups around the world, of
course when Princess Di was alive this was her main
issue, to ban land mines around the world. How are you
going to be organizing now? I assume there's a real
scramble going on right now, since yesterday, since this
just slipped out, this decision of the United States.

STEPHEN GOOSE: Well, we have been doing just fine on
this issue without the U.S. ban on board and the without
Russia or China on board. We want these countries to
come aboard, but the fact is this weapon has been
stigmatized and has been stigmatized throughout the
world. That is why only one country still sort of dare
to use it. They fear the international condemnation that
would come if it were to use it. We still have a number
of countries who are clinging to their arsenals of these
outmoded weapons, but in fact, the power of the
convention, the power of the stigma against the weapon
affects even those who are outside of it. So this is a
disappointment, but it doesn't deal a death blow to the
efforts to get rid of the weapon. It would help to have
the U.S. on board, to bring additional countries on
board as well, but it is mainly the disappointment from
the domestic perspective, that the U.S. simply has no
reason to stay away.

AMY GOODMAN: Stephen Goose, Director of Human Rights
Watch's arms division and a longtime leader in the
movement to ban landmines.


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