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The Stakes in the 2008 Election

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Message Deepak Tripathi
After sustained international criticisms and legal battles in the United States, the White House announced in July 2006 that it would comply with the third convention which guarantees the basic protection to detainees. The administration had no other choice after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the special military commissions set up to prosecute detainees violated U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions. It was a symbolic victory for opponents. Administration officials continued to argue about what really amounted to degrading and inhuman treatment, which is illegal under the fourth convention. The White House and the Pentagon maintained that the detainees were already treated humanely in the light of legislation passed in Congress barring ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment’ of detainees.

The overall disposition of the Bush administration since January 2001 reflects the instinctive belief across the new political right that American power is unlimited and unaccountable and the United States could decide unilaterally whether, when and to whom an international treaty would apply. The essence of such a mind-set is ‘we will do it because we can’. In this respect, there is considerable unity of purpose across America’s political right.

It is driven by a domestic agenda. Foreign policy is an instrument to satisfy the conservative coalition at home for the sake of power.

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Deepak Tripathi, former BBC correspondent and editor, is a researcher and an author with reference to South and West Asia and US foreign policy. He set up the BBC Office in Kabul and was correspondent in Afghanistan in the early 1990s. He is the (more...)
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