Author: ED SYKES
US president Donald Trump offered a “solution” for recent scandals surrounding his country’s treatment of immigrant families. The problem with that “solution”, however, is that it calls on people to respect what the US government has long treated with utter contempt: laws and borders.
In the 20th century, Washington used covert CIA operations to exert its influence abroad. That included supporting numerous coups and brutal right-wing dictatorships in its ‘backyard‘ in the 20th century. And today, in countries like Paraguay, Honduras, Brazil, and (so far unsuccessfully) Venezuela, the same agenda is still playing out – albeit in slightly different ways.
The 21st century, meanwhile, has seen illegal US invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and the use of “endless incarceration, extrajudicial killing, pervasive surveillance, drone strikes in defiance of national boundaries, torture on demand, and immunity for all of the above on the grounds of state secrecy”.
- The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found in the 1980s that the US had violated international law in Nicaragua through its support for the anti-government ‘Contras’, and that it was guilty of attacking Nicaraguan shipping and oil installations, while mining the country’s ports and harbours. The US decided to withdraw from the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction rather than paying reparations.
- In 2013, the Washington Post reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) had “broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008”.
- Also in 2013, human rights groups said the US had broken international law by killing civilians in drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.
Trump’s different, though, right?
In 2016, Alternet reported on Trump’s “lifetime of lawlessness” and “borderline criminality”. And it quoted award-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston, who wrote:
For his whole life Trump has cheated workers, shortchanged small business owners and ripped off investors, as courts have determined in some of the 4,500 Trump lawsuits
Alternet went on to give ten specific examples from Johnston’s book – The Making of Donald Trump.
As president, meanwhile, Trump clearly dislikes established authorities looking into his own affairs in accordance with the law – calling legal investigations “a total witch hunt”.
Trump has faced allegations of breaking international law over his airstrikes in Syria. And experts have accused him of violating international norms by leaving the nuclear deal with Iran.
The real solution
In short, Trump’s “solution” flies in the face of decades of US disrespect for laws and borders – the consequences of which have been a key factor in encouraging immigration to the US.