Derailing the dance of the digital divide
By Paul M. Weyrich
Headlines proclaiming victories often apply only to the day they are published. When it comes to politics there are no "final victories" and I fear that will be the case with our so-called win at the recent meeting in Tunis of the World Summit on the Information Society. Headlines proclaimed "U.S. to Retain Oversight of Web" but one victorious battle for America does not mean that the war has been won. What is at stake is our continued control of our wealth and technology.
Many Americans were concerned that United States control of the Internet is endangered and that that meeting could establish the groundwork to eliminate our control. China, Brazil, Cuba and Iran would like nothing better than to displace the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which exercises minimal oversight over the domain-name system. The European Union also has expressed misgivings about the U.S. "dominance" over the Internet. The State Department's David Gross, leader of our delegation to Tunisia, chose to stand up for the best interest of our country and the world rather than submit to those who want to rein in our country's Internet policies.
Gross announced after the meeting, "No new organizations were created." Nor was any new "oversight mechanism" created or any significant shift in policy established. A forthcoming international forum on the Internet to be held in Greece in 2006 is expected to examine topics related to Internet governance but to have no power to determine substantive policy changes. Gross felt confident to proclaim that we won "a clean sweep" in Tunisia.
Our Ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, has a better fix on the situation, issuing a warning at a luncheon with Washington Times editors and reporters that "Other governments are sophisticated enough to argue that they don't want greater control over the Internet, they want greater benefits from it." That language is camouflage for redistributing economic resources. We must not forget that the Internet is a powerful driver of commerce and communications. Bolton warned, "Whatever happens in Tunis, I don't think that's the end of the issue."
Any doubt about the good intentions of the "control the Internet" crowd should be dispelled by the presence of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at the Tunis Summit. This dictator, who had ordered the killing of his opposition during the 1980s, had the nerve to complain that there is a "lack of democracy in the administration and control of the Internet." It is not surprising that the 2004 State Department Human Rights Report says that Mugabe's dictatorship asserts the right "to monitor all international email messages entering and leaving the country."
Sadly, the forces demanding greater international control over the Internet are not only from foreign nations but within our country. Kincaid traces the leftist influences at work in demanding international control of the Internet. George Soros and his Open Society Institute are helping to pull the strings.
Now is the time that right-thinking Americans must take a decisive stand on behalf of sovereignty. The Law of the Sea Treaty ("LOST") and the Cybercrime Treaty are two recent examples of how the American foreign policy establishment cannot resist the temptation to enter into international agreements that threaten to diminish our sovereignty and limit our individual rights. Everything is presented in the sales pitches delivered by the State Department as fine upfront, but remember with LOST the ultimate decisions would rest with the International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea. With the Cybercrime Treaty disputes over our reluctance to enforce laws our Justice Department would consider incompatible with our Bill of Rights, given a weak-kneed administration only too eager to please the Council of Europe, could place us before the International Court of Justice for mutually agreeable arbitration.
Many in the foreign policy establishment want to commit our country to these measures just as they would be happy that you and I further shovel money into UN coffers. The best thing concerned Americans can do is to demand conservative candidates for the Senate say "No" to letting international treaties with too much fine print and too little examination be rushed through hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in which only the proponents testify. Committee hearings on complicated treaties demand careful consideration in which proponents and opponents testify. It demands more than committee reports written with the "best case" interpretations desired by State but also careful consideration of the pitfalls of treaties.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee attempted to rush LOST and the Cybercrime Treaty to the desk of President Bush. (Fortunately, Senator James M. Inhofe [R-OK] worked to hold hearings that ended up pointing out LOST's significant flaws. He also has worked to brake the Cybercrime Treaty, a good move given the Treaty's complicated wording and commitment to European-style justice.) We need to start shutting off funding for UN agencies which promote redistribution of wealth schemes that, not so coincidentally, put more money into the pockets of the overpaid and over-luxuriated bureaucrats of "Big Blue." We need to worry about European law's overriding American law. We need to realize that too often the Federal Government is willing to underwrite "talk" in international tribunals in which the subject really is about how to bring our own country down. Shut the money off to such groups that aim to pull our country down!
Benjamin Franklin challenged us to maintain a republic "if we can keep it." Our willingness to participate in European and UN treaties that start to micromanage the actions of our Armed Forces and law enforcement only do damage to our country's ability to determine our laws and proper standards of conduct and threaten our prosperity and ability to defend ourselves. If Americans do not take that stand now to maintain our sovereignty and our way of life what might our nation become in two of three decades? It is not a pleasant thought. Knowledgeable Americans must start speaking up louder to awaken their fellow citizens to what really is happening.
Fortunately, Cliff Kincaid has written a report that could cause more Americans to realize that the unthinkable easily could become the reality if the UN and its leftist allies were to succeed in implementing their "derail America" agenda. Reading the report merely is the first step; the next is assuring that unaware Americans realize our sovereignty is endangered.
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.
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