Obama's Caterpillar Visit a Thumb in the Eye for Human Rights Activists
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Human Rights Watch has referred to Caterpillar’s denial of responsibility as the “head in the sand approach.”
Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which the United States is a signatory and is therefore legally bound to uphold, states that “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.” Obama, apparently has little concern for such legal obligations, however, and has thus far refused to limit the transfer of American-made equipment to Israel, even when used in such overt violations of international humanitarian law.
The U.S. Arms Export Control Act limits the use of U.S. military aid, under which the sale of Caterpillar bulldozers is covered, to "internal security" and "legitimate self-defense" and explicitly prohibits its use against civilians.
Unfortunately, Obama – like Bush before him – has indicated little interest in upholding such federal law, much less international law, and seems to have underscored his contempt for such legality in making his appearance at Caterpillar in the face of growing international opposition to that company’s policies.