Tuesday, the United States Senate failed to ratify the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in a 61-38 vote where two thirds majority was required. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa voted against ratification of the treaty, saying if the United States joined the treaty, it would infringe upon our sovereignty. Said Grassley,
“… becoming a party to the Convention would subject the United States to the eighteen-member Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Committee is created to monitor the implementation of the Convention and provide conclusions and recommendations with regard to State Party’s treaty reports. I have serious concerns about the infringement upon U.S. sovereignty by a committee tasked with providing criticisms and recommendations for the United States on our disability laws.”
The treaty was first negotiated under President George W. Bush and the crux of it is the rest of the world would emulate the United States in its treatment of disabled persons. Senator John Kerry said, “(the treaty) just says that you can’t discriminate against the disabled. It says that other countries have to do what we did 22 years ago when we set the example for the world and passed the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Kerry said of the vote, “this is one of the saddest days I’ve seen in almost 28 years in the Senate. It needs to be a wake up call about a broken institution that’s letting down the American people. We need to fix this place.”
The senate Republicans were organized to block any treaties in the lame duck session, and like Horton the elephant, they indicated, “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent.”
As someone who lives in rural Iowa, I’m not surprised to see the treaty fail to be ratified. During the 2012 political campaign I ran into a number of United Nations haters living in our district, and Iowa is not unique in that regard.
However, the idea of the United Nations infringing on American sovereignty is ridiculous when we have the military might to bomb any square inch of the globe into oblivion with conventional weapons. That’s not to mention our nuclear arsenal, something the country is expected to spend $600 billion on over the next ten years. Of course, nuclear weapons are part of the reason the United Nations was created, and maybe that goes to the real reason the Republican hawks voted against the U.N. treaty yesterday.
On Monday, President Obama spoke at the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Symposium. He congratulated people associated with the 20 year old initiative, but he did more than that. President Obama said,
“Nunn-Lugar is the foundation for the vision that I laid out, once I was elected President, in travel to Prague— where nations come together to secure nuclear materials, as we’re doing with our Nuclear Security Summits, where we build on New START and continue to work to reduce our arsenals; where we strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and prevent the spread of the world’s most deadly weapons; where, over time, we come closer to our ultimate vision— a world without nuclear weapons.”
And maybe that is the reason 38 senators squashed a treaty that could do nothing but enhance the reputation of the United States in the world. They didn’t want to give one iota of credence to the United Nations, an institution that may have even the slightest control or input about U.S. nuclear weapons, something they cling to like Gollum clung to the One Ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
The Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities was the victim of equating American exceptionalism with military might.
Remember that when these same senators quote Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” These people are no disciples of a loving God, nor of John Winthrop, nor of Ronald Reagan and the light that is America was darkened by their votes.