The Problem

The Vetoes

Since 1972, the U.S. government has been far and away the leading user of the veto in the UN Security Council, often blocking the will of every or nearly every other national government on Earth. It has vetoed U.N. condemnation of South African apartheid, Israel’s wars and occupations, chemical and biological weapons, nuclear weapons proliferation and first use and use against non-nuclear nations, U.S. wars in Nicaragua and Grenada and Panama, the U.S. embargo on Cuba, Rwandan genocide, the deployment of weapons in outerspace, and much more. Dozens of times the U.S. has vetoed steps toward peace or justice in Palestine. And this is just scraping the surface. The primary use of the veto power is as an unrecorded threat of a veto made behind closed doors to keep many undesired topics off the public agenda entirely.

The Weapons Shipments

Using a U.S.-funded listing (by Freedom House) of the 50 most oppressive governments, one finds that the U.S. government approves U.S. weapons shipments to 82% of them, provides military training to 88% of them, funds the militaries of 66% of them, and assists in at least one of these ways 96% of them.

Few war-torn regions manufacture significant weapons. Few wars fail to have U.S.-made weapons on both sides. The U.S. government exports more weaponry than all other nations but two combined. Examples of wars with U.S.-made weapons on both sides are: SyriaIraqLibya, the Iran-Iraq war, the Mexican drug warWorld War II. The proliferation of weapons out of the United States is devastating to people, peace, and global stability, but beneficial for the profits of powerful U.S. weapons manufacturers.

The U.S. government allows or even funds weapons shipments in violation of:

as well as in violation of these U.S. laws:

  • The U.S. War Crimes Act, which forbids grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and unlawful deportation or transfer.
  • The Genocide Convention Implementation Act, which was enacted to implement U.S. obligations under the Genocide Convention, provides for criminal penalties for individuals who commit or incite others to commit genocide.
  • The Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, which prohibits U.S. weapons transfers when it’s likely they will be used to commit genocide; crimes against humanity; and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians protected or other serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, including serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against children.
  • The Foreign Assistance Act, which forbids the provision of assistance to a government which “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
  • Arms Export Control Act, which says countries that receive US military aid can only use weapons for legitimate self-defense and internal security.
  • The Leahy Law, which prohibits the U.S. Government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights.

The Militarism

The U.S. government spends more on its own military than all other nations but three combined, and pushes other nations to spend more, driving global militarism upward. Russia and China spend together 21% of what the U.S. and its allies spend.

The U.S. government, like the Russian government, maintains almost half of the nuclear weapons on Earth. The U.S. keeps nuclear weapons in six other nations, a practice used by Russia as an excuse to pursue the placement of nuclear weapons in Belarus — a practice likely in violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which the U.S. government is also in clear violation of through its failure to work for nuclear disarmament. On the contrary, it is driving a costly new nuclear arms race.

Of course, the U.S. government is in open violation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to which it is not, but much of the world is, party.

The U.S. keeps weapons of war in dozens of nations around the globe, and both maintains and supplies others with weapons that violate numerous treaties to which the majority of the world’s nations are party, and in some cases in violation of treaties to which the U.S. government was party before simply shredding the treaties. The U.S. withdrew from:

  • The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,
  • The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty,
  • The Open Skies Treaty
  • The Iran nuclear agreement.

The U.S. government stands outside and disregards:

  • The Landmines Treaty,
  • The Arms Trade Treaty,
  • The Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The Wars

Since 1945, U.S. military has fought in 74 other nations, while the U.S. government has overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 85 foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries, and killed or helped kill some 20 million people. Its wars have tended to be very one-sided, with U.S. casualties making up a tiny fraction of the casualties.

Arming the globe and waging numerous wars in the name of opposing terrorism has been a disaster. Terrorism increased from 2001 through 2014, principally as a predictable result of a war on terrorism. Some 95% of all suicide terrorist attacks are conducted to encourage foreign occupiers to leave some country or countries. In Africa, during the war on terrorism, terrorism has increased 100,000%.

The U.S. has waged wars in violation of:

  • The 1899 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes,
  • The Hague Convention of 1907,
  • The Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928,
  • The United Nations Charter of 1945,
  • The Geneva Conventions of 1949,
  • The ANZUS Treaty of 1952,
  • The 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

The Drones

U.S. drone airplanes have killed a great many innocent civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The U.S. government has used this and related technologies to normalize the practice of murdering people with missiles anywhere on Earth. Other nations have followed suit. This development has proven disastrous for the rule of law. And it has been accomplished in part through the creation of a mythology around drones that has many imagining falsely that drone-murder victims tend to be particular identified individuals, and that it is somehow legal to murder these individuals.

In reality, drones mostly kill unidentified people and those nearby those unidentified people. And there would be nothing legal about murdering people if they were in fact identified. Within the U.S. government, the pretense is maintained that drone murders are somehow parts of wars, even when there are no relevant wars for them to be parts of, and even though there would be nothing legal about such wars themselves if they existed.

The Bases

The U.S. military maintains at least 75% of the military bases in the world that are on foreign soil. The United States has three times as many bases abroad (approximately 900) as U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions. While there are approximately half as many installations as at the Cold War’s end, U.S. bases have spread geographically — to twice as many countries and colonies (from 40 to 80), with large concentrations of facilities in the Middle East, East Asia, parts of Europe, and Africa. Bases, like military spending, have an established record of making wars more, not less, likely. U.S. installations are found in at least 38 non-democratic countries and colonies.

From Panama to Guam to Puerto Rico to Okinawa to dozens of other locations across the world, the U.S. military has taken valuable land from local populations, often pushing out indigenous people in the process, without their consent and without reparations. For example, between 1967 and 1973, the entire population of the Chagos Islands – about 1500 people, was forcibly removed from the island of Diego Garcia by the UK so that it could be leased to the U.S. for an airbase. The Chagossian people were taken off their island by force and transported in conditions compared to those of slave ships. They were not allowed to take anything with them and their animals were killed before their eyes. The Chagossians have petitioned the British government many times for return of their home, and their situation has been addressed by the UN. Despite an overwhelming vote of the UN General Assembly, and an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice in the Hague that the island should be returned to the Chagossians, the UK has refused and the US continues operations from Diego Garcia today.

Bases today typically deny rights to host countries, including the right to know how land and water are being poisoned, and including the right to hold U.S. military personnel to the rule of law. Bases are miniature apartheid states where rights and abilities are very different for the foreign forces and the local people hired for menial labor.

There are many more problems with foreign bases.

The Sanctions of Whole Populations

Sanctions authorized by the United Nations and not punishing a whole population, but rather targeting powerful individuals guilty of major crimes are legal and moral and advocated for below.

The U.S. government, however, uses unilateral sanctions to punish entire populations (or to coerce other governments to join in punishing entire populations). Such sanctions violate national sovereignty and bans on collective punishment in the Geneva Conventions as well as the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in some cases the Genocide Convention.

The U.S. government uses sanctions as a step toward war (as in Iraq) or as a step toward weakening or overthrowing a government (as in Russia).

The U.S. government has been asked but has refused to say what its sanctions on dozens of governments accomplish. Clearly, if nothing else, they cause tremendous human suffering.

The U.S. government has brutal sanctions against virtually every country that is not a member of NATO, sanctions that hit the populations in a purported effort to overturn the governments that the U.S. government does not like for whatever reasons.

Fact sheets:

The Hostility to the Rule of Law

Of 18 major human rights treaties, the United States is party to only 5, as few as any nation on Earth. The U.S. government is a leading holdout on disarmament treaties. It disregards the rulings of the International Court of Justice. It has refused to join the International Criminal Court, and punished other nations for doing so — and even sanctioned officers of the court to dissuade them from doing their jobs. It has brought pressure to bear on the Spanish and Belgian governments when their courts have sought to prosecute U.S. crimes. It has spied on and bribed other members of the United Nations to influence votes. It has interfered in elections and facilitated coups. It employs massive and unaccountable secret agencies. It engages in assassinations. It claims the right to blow up anyone, anywhere with missiles from robotic airplanes. It sabotages pipelines and other infrastructure, heedless of the law or the damage done. It opposes new treaties almost universally, including those proposed to ban the weaponization of space, cyber attacks, and nuclear weapons.

The Widespread Understanding of the Problem

Most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world, and Pew found that viewpoint increased in 2017. In 2024, across the Arab world, the U.S. government is viewed as an enemy of peace and justice.

The Solution

It’s time to begin a conversation about using Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) to bring the U.S. government into a global community of law-abiding nations.

Boycotts and divestment campaigns should be directed against major U.S. weapons corporations — and toward pressuring governments to cease doing business with U.S. weapons corporations.

Sanctions should be created through the United Nations to target top U.S. officials openly guilty of the worst crimes. (This is very different from sanctions illegally and immorally punishing entire populations, unilaterally created by a single government or a group of governments.)

These 15 largest U.S.-based weapons companies should be boycotted, divested from, blockaded, and protested, and their funding of research or scholarships or internships or advertising rejected, and no parts or services provided to them:

  • Lockheed Martin Corp.
  • Raytheon Technologies (Name now changed to RTX Corporation)
  • Northrop Grumman Corp.
  • Boeing
  • General Dynamics Corp.
  • L3Harris Technologies
  • HII
  • Leidos
  • Amentum
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • CACI International
  • Honeywell International
  • Peraton
  • General Electric
  • KBR

Also worth including on that list is BAE Systems, which is based in the UK but is one of the U.S. military’s largest suppliers, and the largest weapons company outside the United States.

Obviously, divesting from these companies includes divesting from funds that invest in these companies. More on divestment here.

Governments around the world should be pressured to reject U.S. bases (shut them, expel them, forbid them), U.S. weapons, and U.S. military funding, and to hold the U.S. government to the rule of law through:

More on opposing military bases here.

The original article can be found here