Transcript of radio commentary that aired recently on KUNM public radio 89.9 fm in Albuquerque
By Arjun Makhijani
Sad to say, the U.S. government, which gave the world the idea of the rule of law, is breaking its word, at home and abroad. Its behavior is imperiling the environment and U.S. and global security. The nuclear weapons establishment has a starring role, once more, in this sorry performance.
When the Cold War was winding down, the U.S. government admitted that it had set itself above the law. In 1989, then-Deputy Energy Secretary, W. Henson Moore said that nuclear weapons production had been “a secret operation not subject to laws…. This is our business, it’s national security, everybody else butt out.” The “everybody else” he was referring to was the people of the United States.
The government made a pledge of reform – to abide by the law, restore the environment, and safeguard public health. But times are changing. “Everybody else” is supposed to “butt out” again. The federal government promised to remove the most dangerous radioactive wastes from leaky tanks and unlined pits and trenches. That would enable them to be stored out of harm’s way. But now the Department of Energy is planning to leave large amounts of nuclear and toxic wastes it in shallow dumps around the country, like the Mixed Waste Landfill in Albuquerque. Some of these dumps are near precious water resources — the Columbia River, the Rio Grande, the Snake River Plain Aquifer, and the Savannah River.
The United States is also breaking its promises to the world community. It began in 1999 when the U.S. Senate rejected the test ban treaty, violating a solemn commitment that is part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Bush administration has gone back on a commitment for irreversible reductions of nuclear weapons. It is talking of nuclear testing, new weapons designs, and usable nuclear weapons. Los Alamos, Livermore and Sandia National labs may like the higher budgets, but the policy is also raising proliferation risks. The United States is also refusing to abide by a 1992 treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That treaty, signed by the first President Bush, requires wealthy countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
It is time for the people of the United States to insist that the federal government be good on its word at home and abroad. All the military power in the world cannot replace the trust that is being lost by breaking solemn pledges. For an analysis of how the U.S. undermining or violating its commitments under a range of security treaties take a look at a summary of the book, Rule of Power or Rule of Law?, on the website of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, www.ieer.org. This is Arjun Makhijani.