By William Markiewicz
The Canadian Supreme Court's decision that denies Quebec's right to unilateral separation without negotiation is not new. The Canadian court has discussed this matter before as was mentioned in Vagabond (#21 City vs Country) in an article about Yugoslavia. Yes, the right to separate should be linked to a duty to negotiate. Seceding isn't like interrupting dating. There are too many ties to a common past which cannot be simply cut away by the surgical stroke or butcher's knife. Bee swarms can separate at will but not human societies. So the decision makes sense but shouldn't this rule apply to everybody and everywhere? Sorry to insist on parallels, but why is unilateral separation so wrong for Canada and so good for Yugoslavia? The whole world, including Canada, supported unilateral separation there. Why were the Serbs, in this matter, condemned by the world to be merely passive receptors? Didn't they have frontiers, minority rights, national debt to discuss like anybody else in secession negotiations? The world simply denied them basic human rights. Are the Serbs less worthy of respect than the rest of humanity? Have they pimples on their noses? Do they belong to an 'inferior race?' As long as the world continues to deny its own responsibility in the Balkan drama, separations, wherever they occur, will remain mafia-style transactions rather than a process toward justice.
Infidelity is a moral offense not a criminal offense. Only in religion is it a sin equivalent to 'crime.' The betrayed spouse can choose between asking for a divorce or forgiving. In the USA the President's conjugal fidelity is a must. The common argument is that he should be a role model for the rest of the population, but -- is this demand backed by the Constitution? Shouldn't the law be equal for all citizens, independent of their social status? After all, this is the true meaning of democracy; rights and duties cannot be a bargaining point along the lines: ''something won here, something lost there." Judgments regarding 'sinful' but not illegal acts should be left to religious, not legal, authorities.
As a layman I'm asking: What would happen if at the beginning of this affair Clinton had declared: "The President's duties shouldn't deprive him of rights that other citizens enjoy. Like any citizen I have a right to privacy, meaning the right to choose with whom I'll discuss personal matters. Impeach me, do what you wish, I consider my private life a fortress for which I'm ready to give my life.' The only limit for the President or anyone with official duties should be that private matters can't be mixed with politics because in this case it's no longer a private matter.
With such a challenge would 'they' impeach Clinton? Personally I doubt it. His stand might set a precedent which would bring down the present reigning hypocritical official morality. A missing line would be drawn between public duties and personal rights. If he failed, at least his pride would be saved -- a better choice than these humiliating back and forth denials ending in a final confession.
The USA maintains excellent relations with fundamentalist regimes while punishing Iraq which is one of the most secular, if not the most secular, Islamic countries. A tight noose around Iraq's neck gives joy to the fundamentalists but no 'bakshish' can protect the US from becoming terrorism's target. In order to overpower terrorism, the US must find a way to isolate it from its breeding grounds in fundamentalist countries. Simultaneously the US must pressure the political fundamentalist Netanyahu to revive the spirit of Rabin and Peres and return to peace negotiations with the Palestinians.