US President Barack H. Obama has vetoed on Friday a bill which was passed by both houses of the US Congress allowing the victims to sue a foreign states; which could include Saudi Arabia. Barack Obama is of the view that it will jeopardize their relations with Saudi Arabia which are based on historical affinity. During the Second World War in 1945 US President Roosevelt and King Saud had taken Cruise ride together in the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, had laid the basis of the future relationship, that Saudi Arabia will give oil to USA and in return USA will protect the regime. The regime is having immoral base and its working is responsible for the emergence of several types of ills in the prevailing milieu of world but Obama has obediently followed his predecessors including Roosevelt to protect the regime, besides he is also fearful that Saudi Arabia may cause economic problems to the USA.
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act ( JASTA) which was introduced in Senate on 16th September 2015, as summarized by Congress, states that it ‘amends the federal judicial code to narrow the scope of foreign sovereign immunity by authorizing U.S. courts to hear cases involving claims against a foreign state for injuries, death, or damages that occur inside the United States as a result of a tort, including an act of terrorism, committed anywhere by a foreign state or official (and) It amends the federal criminal code to permit civil claims against a foreign state or official for injuries, death, or damages from an act of international terrorism. Additionally, the bill authorizes federal courts to exercise personal jurisdiction over and impose liability on a person who commits, or aids, abets, or conspires to commit, an act of international terrorism against a U.S. national.’
The bill was passed due to much pressure exercised on the congressmen as they knew that public opinion was in favour of the passing of the bill, hence they sailed with the public opinion. US President although had another viewpoint that it could bring several litigations; but the real fear is that relations with Saudi Arabia may detoriate which are already not so smooth after the Iran deal where US did not support the Israel-Saudi Arabia thesis that Iran should be punished, since that time the relations have been tense though in recent time there is improvement and defense relations between US and Saudi Arabia have improved. Saud regime is aware that air is not blowing towards its direction and US knows that it is not in its interests to disturb the ruling family in Saudi Arabia because the MENA is completely fluid and Russia has taken lead in the region than US. US is on recourse of correcting its MENA policy, the visit of Turkish President Erdogan to USA and efforts to improve relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia are in full swing. Saudi Arabia has indirectly opposed such enactment as well, a fact which US cannot ignore hence no signing of the bill by the President. The President said that he had sympathy with the victims and JASTA will not serve any meaningful objectives, not even dealing the terrorism in effective manner but he enveloped the real factors for such a decision.
US President is at fault at two points- first he has lost the moral authority to take the people of country with his action. The basic dictum of democracy is that representatives of a parliament are voices of the people whom they represent, when they have passed legislation then President should not have any argument because as much the President is concerned about the national interest that much the representatives are also aware about it. They also take into account this aspect but they are more moralistic and more concerned about the victims in realistic terms than Obama who has only expressed sadness towards the victims but in real terms he only failed them. He must have gone with the legislators and the public opinion. Even both the Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been in favour of signing the bill; are they not aware about their national interest? And only Barrack Obama is knowledgeable about the nation’s interests. The reality is that it is the immoral support to Saudi Arabia which has come into way of not signing the JASTA.
At second place he has disregarded his commitment to the global community which he had accepted when he was conferred the Noble Prize for Peace in 2009. He had talked about violence, the concept of Just war and had said that ‘It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.(and) First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price.’ He gave a moralistic speech and talked in lofty terms trying to sway the public but his recent act abandons the right of his own citizens to get the justice from a foreign power, an issue on which there is almost unanimity among the people from different walks of the people. This is end year of his presidency but he has not taken moral based approach on JASTA. This is unbecoming of a President to the highest standard of living and caring own people.
Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava is Vice Chairman CSSP, Consultant CRIEPS, e firstname.lastname@example.org