By: DREW GILLESPIE
The U.S. has never hesitated to get involved in foreign affairs, especially to protect and promote democracy. indymedia.org
For as long as the United States has been an economic powerhouse they've also been very active in international endeavors. Aside from providing economic or military support to foreign nations, the U.S. has also taken on the role of "world police" and protectors of democracy. In the last several decades, however, it has also become common practice to monitor human rights violations that may be occurring around the world. The recent globalization of human rights law has been attributed to two occurrences: human rights have been instilled into most national constitutions; human rights have been incorporated into many widely accepted international treaties.
Many politicians and human rights activists agree that human rights violations should ideally be addressed on a national scale, but weak judicial systems and a lack of accountability have led to a need for international policy regarding human rights regulation. These international practices are a temporary solution for human rights protection. Rather than actually enforce or administer the foreign judicial systems, the principal priority of organizations such as the United Nations or countries like the U.S. is to assist these countries in revising or strengthening their judicial systems so that one day human rights violations can be dealt with on a national level. Though this foreign intervention can be quite productive, it is not immune to criticism, disapproval, or failure. An example of harmful U.S. involvement in international human rights law began during the first stages of Argentina's "dirty war."
Henry Kissinger described diplomacy as the "art of restraining power." The U.S. has balanced diplomacy and force in its interventions with human rights violations in Argentina. chavezcode.com
In October of 1976 Admiral César Guzzetti, Argentina's Foreign Minister, paid a visit to Washington to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Because of the brutal murders and disappearances that had been occurring in Argentina, Guzzetti approached the meeting anticipating to receive firm warnings regarding the human rights practices of the government. However, instead he found Kissinger and Rockefeller to be much more passive and understanding, giving friendly advice and urging that the junta control the terrorist issue as a first priority. Accounts of the meeting and the relationship that ensued suggested that the U.S. was aware of the actions of the Argentine dictatorship, but they were deliberately ignored and even quietly advocated because they were seen as necessary for the protection of U.S. interests and the future establishment of democracy in Argentina. However, some U.S. politicians were deeply concerned by this stance. United States ambassador Richard Hill expressed his concern in a cable sent to the State Department, where he claimed that Guzzetti returned to Argentina believing that the U.S. government had no problem with the issue, or the human rights that were being violated in Argentina.
U.S Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentine Foreign Minister César Guzzetti meet in Washington in October 1976 to discuss the military actions and policies of the Argentine government. gwu.edu
The junta continued with its violent policies for seven years while receiving mixed and unclear reactions from the U.S. government. Initially, these human rights abuses were ignored and the $30 million of military aid was still granted to Argentina each year by the Ford administration. However, Congress and President Carter ended this financial support in 1978 to express disapproval of the actions of the Argentine military dictatorship. In 1981, President Reagan re-established the aid, only to remove it again in 1982.
Not only did the U.S. government avoid opposition to the actions of the junta, but it failed to significantly reform the national human rights laws of Argentina. Because of this, almost three decades after the conclusion of Argentina's dirty war, the families of those 30,000 victims who disappeared under the military dictatorship are still awaiting justice. The inefficiency of the United States' involvement in Argentina's judicial system along with the lack of intervention in areas where it was needed most, such as outright disapproval of the actions of Argentina's government, ultimately led to a bloody, costly, and chaotic era of corruption in Argentina as well as a question of morality in the United States. However, this would not be the last time that the U.S. would make a notable impact on Argentina's affairs.
Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher address the media outside of the White House in Washington. Reagan supported Thatcher and the British in their efforts to defend the Falkland Islands against Argentina. upi.com
When the Argentine military dictatorship began to feel threatened by increasing national disapproval in 1982, it devised a plan to regain the population's support through the method of war. The Argentine military decided to invade the Falkland Islands, a British colony, in hopes that the British would not be willing to go to war for the islands and that the United States would continue its support of Argentina. However, the dictatorship was wrong on both of these accounts. The British responded with immediate resistance and the U.S. sided with the British and Reagan's good friend, Margaret Thatcher. In only 73 days the Argentine military was defeated, which led to the resignation of President Galtieri. A new president, Reynaldo Bignone, would assume power of the junta, which would only last about one more year. Soon after the civilian government took over in December 1983, many of the high officials of the junta were charged with mismanagement during war and, eventually, human rights violations.
Although the final whereabouts of "the disappeared" are still a mystery and many of the human rights abusers of the dirty war are still free, Argentina is making an effort to seek justice though the assistance of foreign powers. However, the United States is not the primary party of this intervention. Rather, Argentina is calling for international resolutions from the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Organization of American States Permanent Council has also taken on a role to address these human rights violations. With the encouragement of states to use scientific methods in order to identify the remains of victims as well as promotions to implement truth and reconciliation commissions, Argentina's government has made it quite clear that the right to truth is a priority. Though international intervention is currently necessary, Argentina and the supporting organizations and countries, including the U.S., hope to have established strong human rights laws in the near future so that violations will no longer be tolerated in Argentina.
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