The U.S. War Machine Gears up
Global tension about the world’s last military superpower has been building for a while. Since 9-11 struck fear and confusion in 2001, and Bush responded by declaring War on “Terror”, starting with Afghanistan, ramping up to “pre-emptive” illegal war on Iraq, and threatening to make war on Iran and anyone else who is “not with us”, many Canadians and most of the world have been increasingly alarmed. But for North America, the build up towards military/corporate domination may have reached a tipping point on October 17th 2006.
On that day, Bush huddled with his team in the Oval Office to sign a couple of Acts that basically finalized the death of the U.S. Constitution. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act (JWDA) authorizes the defense department to spend $532.8 billion for fiscal 2007. This Act gave Bush the power to impose martial law, to supercede the will of state governors in deploying the National Guard, and changed the “Insurrection Act” to allow them to use the army within the U.S. to suppress domestic dissent. The act also sets up “Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions,” authorizing the Secretary of Defense to facilitate the “transfer” of so-called “crowd control” technology and other weaponry from the Pentagon to domestic forces, including local militarized police units.
It also allowed the Department of Defense (D.O.D) to award contracts to Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of the Halliburton corporation; to build, and/or refurbish “temporary detention and processing capabilities” i.e. internment camps, across the U.S. for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for what purpose? According to one official source, they are being built in case of “illegal immigrants or to support the rapid development of new programs.” At least one camp near Austin Texas is already being privately operated for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain “suspicious” immigrants, many of whom are of Middle Eastern descent. The U.S. already has 25% of the world’s prison population, (but only 5% of the world’s population) how many more imprisoned people do they need and why?
On the same day, Bush signed “The Military Commissions Act” which builds on the Domestic Security Enhancement Act2 (a.k.a. Patriot Act 2), which eliminated the principle of “Habeus Corpus”: the right to know why one is being detained and under what charge. The Act allows authorities to arrest and strip anyone (American or otherwise) of basic legal rights under “suspicion” of activities counter to “any criminal law of the United States”, put them on trial without access to evidence or representation, and to torture and even execute people on the president’s say so. Coupled with massive unconstrained surveillance of all forms of communication, the White House and Homeland Security have set up a domestic control system that makes a mockery of the U.S. self-image as the land of the free and the brave.
Fear and loathing in the land of “Freedom”
It seems the White House used 9-11 to frighten and coerce their own people into going along with the “Project for a New American Century”, whether they like it or not. The draconian “Patriot Act” was ready to launch the moment 9-11 provided a pretext. People who speak out in defense of the dwindling constitution or protest the war, and journalists who dig too deep are often arrested, systemically harassed or loudly attacked as “unpatriotic”. Activists from peacenik grannies to “tree-huggers” and vegans are listed as “potential threats” and many are keeping quiet for fear of being targeted by homeland security. There are also thousands of physically and psychologically wounded vets of the “war on terror” struggling to rejoin society with little or no support from the military who are protesting Bush and his war as well.
Though many soldiers in Iraq joined the army to “fight terror”, many more had joined to escape the misery of dead-end poverty. As growing concern over the purpose of the war and mounting casualties reduced the flow of recruits, new immigrants have been lured into service by a promise of fast-tracked citizenship and there have been reports of courts giving convicts a choice of going to prison or joining the army. On January 17th 2007 an unprecedented petition to withdraw from Iraq signed by 1,034 active soldiers was submitted to congress. It’s no surprise that soldiers have been deserting the U.S. military (as many as 10,000 are now AWOL in the U.S.), and many are running to Canada to avoid fighting an illegal war. However, our governments and courts are currently ignoring legal principles and precedents by returning those who refuse to kill innocents without just cause for court martial prosecution as deserters.
So the armed forces are shrinking fast, yet the JWDA Act increases the size of the military, how will they do it? Well, there is always the draft, first introduced in December 20 2001 which proposed that young men 18 to 22 be inducted and women be accepted as volunteers, for military training for between 6 months and 1 year, the bill failed. However it came back as The Universal National Service Act bill of 2003 all ramped up to include men and women 18 to 26 to be conscripted for a two year period of training and service either in the military or for homeland security. The Universal National Service Act of 2007 (HR.393) was introduced in the House of Representatives January 10th 2007, the day Bush announced his “surge” of 20,000 new troops for Iraq. This bill ramps up even further to include every person residing in the US between 18 and 42 (with some exceptions) to serve 2 years either abroad or at home, in the military or in civilian duty in relation to national defense, as determined by the president.
Conscientious objectors would be registered on a list and required to serve anyway as non-combatants as would many who otherwise would not meet fitness standards. Furthermore the act states not only that the president can impose the draft if war is declared, or if he declares a national emergency, it states that he alone decides on regulations for everything from what duties civilians would be assigned to, to standards of performance and the penalties for failing to perform those duties satisfactorily. If the bill fails he can still resort to Martial Law. Clearly Bush is quite serious when he says he is the “ Decider”, he has also said he doesn’t mind dictators as long he is the dictator, and had his new Attorney General declare to the world last year that he is “above the law”.
The “Rogue Empire” grows in the dark
It has become clear that the U.S. is on a path to destruction. There is mounting evidence that the old boys club in the White House is creating a rogue empire. Bad enough it was the only functioning state that did not sign the Covenant on the Rights of the Child, or the Law of the Sea, or that the U.S. routinely vetoes decisions of the Security Council, which is supposed to keep the peace. Their defiance of world opinion and efforts to maintain global cooperation have been ramped up to a fever pitch. This is confirmed by belligerent actions designed to launch a perpetual “war on terror”, for the express purpose of imposing domination over as much of earth and space as possible, including Canada. It’s not surprising that they refused to join the U.N. War Crimes Court, thus ensuring themselves impunity in the arena of war.
In the face of near universal opposition at home and abroad, Bush and his gang persist in “staying the course” into full scale, full spectrum war for global domination. They say so in plain language for everyone to hear, and there are many activists crying foul, but it seems no one is listening…perhaps because so much of the strategy is carried on behind closed doors. For example, the Republican pedophile scandal in Washington dominated the news channels on October 17th. There were a few clips about concerns with Bush’s power to inflict torture the day after, but the rest of it slipped neatly under the public radar. Corporate media is not about to dig into these issues anytime soon, and most public media is cautiously muzzled. So people have to rely on the Internet, progressive radio stations and international news media to catch clips of “the grand chessboard” being played out while most North Americans go about their daily lives, unaware that their world is being drastically changed in the name of “freedom and security”.
One would hope that once word gets out, and the public catches on, the game would be up. But unfortunately for us and for the world, Bush has passed a variety of executive orders that give him the power to carry out most of the “Project for a New American Century” agenda without needing approval from congress. This means that the change the American people voted for by electing a majority of Democrats in November 2006, may not prevent Bush and co from forging ahead. As it is, the new congress apparently has no intention of impeaching Bush and Cheney, or repealing the many repressive laws passed since 2000. Why not?
On the other hand, now that Democrats are in the majority, and the Republican Party itself is showing signs of internal division, the presidential election in 2008 presents an interesting challenge for the White House. However, even as opposition grows, if one connects the dots, it appears that another domestic incident like 9-11 is all the Bush gang needs to force a draft and fully activate their agenda. Given the widespread belief based on mounting evidence, that 9-11 was an inside job, it looks like they may be capable of creating another trigger event, nuking Iran could provide a pretext for such an event. Or maybe next time it will be in Canada…if so, we had better not fall for it by sacrificing what’s left of our rights.
Building the North American Union with Amero dollars
To make matters worse, the economy of the U.S. may be on the brink of crashing as the world pulls away from their currency, their housing market drops, and their debt reaches the stratosphere…. $8.6 trillion gross national debt is owed by the “General Fund.” which is funded by income taxes. Half of the 8.6 trillion goes for the military and to pay interest on the debt and $2.2 trillion is owed by the U.S. federal government to foreign interests. Furthermore, last October, the Euro overtook the U.S. dollar as the global currency of choice. Various experts, including the former World Bank chair Joseph Stiglitz, predict a major recession hitting the U.S. over the next two years.
It has been said that according to their strategic plan, a crash of the dollar and the economy is the time to terminate what’s left of the “welfare state”, and introduce the “Amero” a new continental currency that will finalize the “deep integration” process of creating a “North American Union”, (NAU) by fully assimilating Canada and Mexico. The NAU, dreamed up within The Trilateral Commission, and strongly promoted by entities such as the Canadian Council of Corporate Executives, gained speed when Bush, Fox, and Harper issued a “Joint Statement” announcing the “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America” (SSPNA) on March 23rd, 2005 in Waco Texas. It is not a treaty or a trade agreement, yet this “partnership” sets out regulations and executive orders that replace congressional and
parliamentary legislation, bypass the democratic process and shut out public debate. The stated target for full implementation of the North American Union is 2010.
Who is running this show anyway?
It’s not just the U.S. administration of course, they provide military support and fear power to the global corporate elite, whose main base and biggest project is spread across North America. Stephen Harper and Co., neo con Mexican politicians, and corporate leaders from all three countries are fully involved in determining a host of new tri-national economic, environmental, health and security-related regulations, and setting up new systems and tribunals. Many of these people belong to the Trilateral Commission, the source of the NAU plan. Of course, the people of our countries, whether represented by civil society or the majority of parliamentarians, have had no say at all.
This is not to say that a North American Union would have to be a bad thing, but the way it is being done, stealthily and in total defiance of democratic process, would suggest that the intended outcomes will benefit the elite few who are involved, and not the rest of us. Corporations like Wal Mart, Home Depot, Chevron, Lockheed Martin and others are working directly with all three governments (see the N.A.C.C.) to define economic and trade policy, and no one who represents related issues, like the environment, labour rights, or health and safety, is invited to the table…. Let us not forget that so far, from NAFTA to the WTO, the U.S. has maintained immunity from the rules it insists everyone else must follow. And given their actions, from ignoring NAFTA and WTO tribunal judgments, to the softwood lumber scandal, we obviously can’t rely on further integration being fair or accountable.
How close is too close?
We in Canada need to reflect on this state of affairs and examine what the implications might be…
U.S. corporations already own large proportions of our business sectors and energy resources, and we are linked into their failing economy through NAFTA. We are also linked into their border control, security and intelligence agencies, via the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and their Military via “Northern Command” (NORTHCOM). We have our own version of the Patriot Act, (C36) which has allowed for the detention and solitary confinement of five Muslim men, based on “secret evidence” who have yet to be charged, and the blatant set-up and arrest of teenagers from the suburbs who were lured into a “terror cell” by CSIS operatives. We also have a “Canada Secrets Act”, used so far to intimidate lawyers and journalists trying to investigate why detainees are being held. And then for some reason, Lockheed Martin, a primarily military corporation, got the contract to handle Canadian census data for 2006. Despite official assurances to the contrary, under the SSPNA, information about every Canadian who completed the census could well be in the hands of U.S. Homeland Security (how would we know if it were so?).
One troubling objective among the many more pragmatic goals listed in the SSPNA, is the integration of intelligence and security systems, which may explain why the ATF, DEA and FBI have already been operating in Canada, or why unmanned “predator” aircraft (aka drones) are being deployed to patrol the U.S./ Manitoba border. Plans for ten-lane NAFTA superhighways are underway for 2010, from Vancouver and Montreal to Mexico, involving the seizure of lands from whoever is in the way.
It also provides for corporate contracts to build infrastructure like privatized tolls and tracking systems such as transponders and biometric I.D. cards. To begin with, new tolls will be imposed on existing roads to help raise funds for superhighways. Already there is a U.S. freeway tollbooth (I-95) on the Canadian side of the border at Fort Erie. So who agreed to let the U.S. collect revenue on our territory and why?
Meanwhile, if Bush decides to include Canada within martial law, all he needs to do is ask a few cabinet ministers to sign on and we could be placed under U.S. military command, without parliamentary consent. While official sites say forces deployed across borders from either country will be under the command of the host country during peacetime (for example to help with a natural disaster) apparently a condition “red” threat status means all of North America can be placed under martial law, and it is unclear who would command in that case. Seems we may be a bit too close for comfort.
The U.S. needs Canada more than we need them
The U.S. is an ecological disaster, and even though the White House maintains total denial about climate change, they know they need our water, oil, natural gas, our energy, and our trees. They cannot continue to fully supply their own basic needs for water and energy, and have marginalized millions of their own people who are increasingly suffering the effects of economic insecurity and a toxic environment. There are an estimated 37 million living in poverty, and 47 million who have no healthcare, and between 2.3 and 3.5 million are homeless (there are many more who live in cars and friends couches etc who would not be counted). The U.S. will increasingly need us to help keep their society and basic economy afloat. Canada’s economy is booming and we are virtually debt free, and despite the last budget, we still have surpluses that could help fund the development of the NAU, but we need our surplus tax dollars to redress our own scandalous poverty problems, and repair Canada’s crumbling infrastructure.
To keep on building their war machine, they have always needed our uranium and our technical expertise to supply their guidance and robotics systems, especially now that they are making new high-tech nuclear weapons. They also need us to go along with their global agenda and legitimize their increasingly outrageous foreign policies in the international arenas of the UN, the WTO, the IMF and regional institutions. Yet everything the U.S. currently stands for is diametrically opposed to Canada’s global image as a peacekeeper, a defender of human rights, and a friendly multi-cultural nation.
If Canada, so long seen by the world as a model nation for peace and diversity, falls to the U.S. and becomes a mere annex, a warehouse supplying their war machine and endless consumption, many people around the world will mourn the loss of a cherished dream, and lose hope. If we submit willingly, the world will grow to hate us as much as our masters. Already Harper is dragging us down that road, stating his deep loyalty to Bush, signing “partnerships” without public knowledge or consent, and sending our troops to do the dirty work for the U.S. in Afghanistan. Is Harper going to send our troops to Iran next? How long is it before Canada becomes as much of a target of outrage as the U.S, but more vulnerable? As the most diverse country in the world, now home to people from every corner and culture of the planet, what could be more tragic?
Defending Canada from U.S. imperialism
So what are we to do? For starters, we need to wake up and recognize that we have the ability to protect and defend Canada, and that the time has come to act on our responsibility to do so. We must assess the scope of the threat, and move on multiple fronts to expose and neutralize the forces involved. We must work to reclaim our sovereignty, resources, economy, human rights and military from U.S. control, and move quickly to enforce stronger measures to protect our environment. Canada has been pushing the notion of human security at the UN Security Council, arguing that the world has a responsibility to protect human rights to ensure peace. What about the human rights we are losing in North America?
Our governments have to be told we are paying them to use our taxes to work for us, not the U.S. administration and the corporate elite. Not only do we need this course of action for our own sustainability, we need the world to see we can do it, to prove it is possible to resist corporate U.S. hegemony.
It sounds risky, but it would be very difficult for the White House to justify using force on the oldest friend and trading partner of the U.S.A. Furthermore, given the U.S. needs us more than we need them, we are in the stronger position and can demand fair terms for what we choose to share and trade with them, just as we used to do before NAFTA and the corporate feeding frenzy rearranged our economy and our lives. The majority of the American people have been no better off, and many are more afraid of
their own government than we are, because they’re living under it. Harper’s support of Bush is not making us any friends amongst the 72% of Americans who disapprove of their president. Millions of U.S. citizens, especially in the northern states, would side with us in standing up for human rights and accountable governance. Even if the bizarre military/security surveillance agenda (whatever it really is) fails because of sufficient outrage among those who can stop it, we have to remain vigilant on the economic front, where most of their efforts to quietly absorb Canada, and secure a servile underclass across North America have already been advanced. It’s one thing to trade and cooperate with them, it’s quite another to allow ourselves to be looted of our resources and robbed of our sovereignty.
We can say no to the expansion of the U.S. led Corporate Empire.
Reclaiming our right to a just society
We can use our sovereign rights to protect our democracy and self-determination, based on our constitution, the Charter of Rights & Freedoms, and international law. The White House may have shredded the U.S. constitution and wiped out all inconvenient checks and balances, but we have not. NAFTA, which has dragged down wages across all three countries while pumping billions to the very wealthy, and has weakened our autonomy, can be cancelled with six months notice. The foundations of the SSPNA are legally and politically weak, most of the new rules could not be enforced as laws. Once free of these constraints, we will be able to advance our own domestic policies based on existing, but so far un-enforced human rights and environmental treaties and commitments.
These treaties and commitments (CRC, CESCR, CEDAW, WSSD, RIO*, the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, and others) can and will carry force if Canadians insist that our governments honour them. If Mexico so chooses, it could do the same. There is certainly enough popular pressure there to justify using human rights treaties as a shield against corporate control, but as their current leader is a puppet installed by the U.S., it could be a long fight. The U.S. government has not signed the above-mentioned treaties, but fortunately we have, and we can use them to our benefit. They certainly have more legitimacy than recent ‘joint statements” and “partnerships” made up between leaders without due process.
Two international laws the U.S. did sign and help to create is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Covenant on Civil and Political rights. According to U.S. law they are fully accountable to such treaties, which is why they never signed anymore. However, the UDHR, the source of all human rights treaties, legally binds the U.S. as much as any other nation to uphold human rights above all and ties them into the global human rights framework. That the Whitehouse is actively destroying human rights at home and abroad is a crime against humanity and a nightmare for many Americans. Though few know it, the people of the U.S.A. have as much right to claim their inalienable rights as do the people of Canada and Mexico. One core right we all have is to be educated about our rights, is it a mistake that very few people in North America, (especially Canada) know that these rights are our to claim? Given this knowledge is missing from our education systems. The more people become aware of the potential power of collectively claiming universal rights on many levels, the easier it will be work together in demanding accountability from all our governments, without being labeled as terrorists.
Making new friends for a better world
If we choose to invoke our human rights, we will be joining millions of people and numerous countries around the world who take human rights and international agreements seriously, and do their best to act on them. We would be helping to establish an international governance framework, based on common ethics, to balance and limit the power of global trade and financial institutions like the WTO and the IMF. The basics of such a framework exist within the UN (under the authority of ECOSOC not the Security Council), and in Regional bodies such as the EU and the OAS, but have been stunted and marginalized by the architects of corporate globalization.
We can regain our former friendly reputation by developing stronger ties and fair trade practices with a wider diversity of countries. For example with the new democracies in Central and South America, and with Europe which are all in the process of resisting corporate rule and display greater respect for human rights and democracy. We can also earn back our former reputation by reclaiming our military and directing them to provide more productive functions like peacekeeping, reconstruction and environmental reclamation. Using means such as these, we can begin to demonstrate a way forward out of destructive corporate neo-capitalism and increase the chances of achieving long-term global sustainability.
“We the people” can fight back
We can challenge candidates in the upcoming Federal and Provincial elections to uphold Canada’s laws and commitments and demand that they work to protect our local and national interests. The governments we elect in 2007 must regain control of our economy, social policy and environment.
If Canada is to rebuild its own identity, the people we elect should also commit to strengthening government and corporate accountability to human rights and democracy. If we are to thrive, damaging laws, trade rules and suspect regulations unilaterally imposed since the early nineties must be weeded out and replaced with a framework that is fair, practical and accountable to everyone affected. It’s long past time to close the loopholes and disarm the trigger points that allow greed, aggression and impunity to threaten humanity. Why not start here and now?
We ourselves can speak truth to others, demand accountability from the media, institutions and systems that surround our daily lives, and disassociate from U.S. corporate and media control in every way we can. If our society is to survive, we must reject the mindless competition, greed, gender division, racism, double-speak, and gratuitous violence that come with overdosing on U.S. culture. We can get involved and work together to transform our ecology, economy and democracy. As it is, we will have to learn to adapt to rapid change as we adjust our lifestyles to meet the needs of the environment. We know we can’t continue to be the most wasteful nation on earth. We can revitalize our domestic economy by using our world-renowned talent for innovation to develop ecologically sustainable industries and technology. We need to become more locally self reliant, so we are not so completely dependant on the fragile U.S. economy and its corporate masters to survive.
At the same time, civil society must work harder to collaborate across North American borders to spark a critical mass of people willing and able to resist subjugation, and to evolve together beyond the doomed scenario we are now facing. Already, more conscious Americans, fleeing growing tyranny along with thousands of war resisters, are coming north (seeking safety and freedom again) and now that Bush is increasing troop levels in Iraq, and building up for Iran, we can expect to meet many more. We should welcome them, and help them direct their energy to building and defending a free and green Canada so their new haven will remain a safer and healthier country.
It is time for Canada to act like the nation it claims to be, to assert and define our unique identity, to defend universal human rights, strengthen our democratic process, and engage in designing our own sustainable economy. Canada has the resources and capacity become a positive role model for the U.S. and the World. It is quite possible that if we do stand up and reclaim our country, the U.S. will not be able to sustain it’s war on the world, and we could claim some pride in helping to end the era of the rogue empire. Only then can we and our neighbours live in peace, with a clear conscience that Canada will never again act as an agent of the military/corporate global empire.
“The highest form of freedom is to be able to live by one’s conscience” Carlos Meija, Iraq war vet
Name Withheld by request
(For security reasons)
Please note links and endnotes below…
PROJECT FOR A NEW AMERICAN CENTURY: Statement of principles (look who signed it)
Full spectrum madness:
Joint Vision 2010
Joint Vision 2020
U.S. Space Command
John Warner Defense Authorization Act
YOU TUBE VIDEO OF IMMIGRANT FAMILY DETENTION
Fema Camp for Families in Taylor, Texas
“FEMA DEATH CAMP”
FEMA regional data
Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps
Military Commissions Act
U.S. Debt info:
Republic or Empire; a national intelligence estimate
http://www.harpers.org/Newsstand200701.html needs subscription
http://www.bewareofthis.info/pagecache/page14156/cj.pdf link to whole article
Democrat Agenda Omissions
Why Canada is important to the US:
Canada and U.S. integration:
See “Is the Annexation of Canada part of Bush’s Military Agenda?”
And “Thinking the unthinkable about Canada’s future”
UN treaties and agreements:
“Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of Governments.” (UN Declaration signed by 177 countries in 1993)
Rio Declaration On Environment And Development*
UN World Summit on Social Development
CRC: Convention on the rights of the child
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States
1 John Warner Defense Authorization Act
SEC. 1076. USE OF THE ARMED FORCES IN MAJOR PUBLIC EMERGENCIES.
(a) Use of the Armed Forces Authorized-
(1) IN GENERAL– Section 333 of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
`Sec. 333. Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law
`(a) Use of Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies- (1) The President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to–
`(A) restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that–
`(i) domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; and
`(ii) such violence results in a condition described in paragraph (2); or
`(B) suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such insurrection, violation, combination, or conspiracy results in a condition described in paragraph (2).
`(2) A condition described in this paragraph is a condition that–
`(A) so hinders the execution of the laws of a State or possession, as applicable, and of the United States within that State or possession, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State or possession are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or
`(B) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
`(3) In any situation covered by paragraph (1)(B), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.
`(b) Notice to Congress- The President shall notify Congress of the determination to exercise the authority in subsection (a)(1)(A) as soon as practicable after the determination and every 14 days thereafter during the duration of the exercise of that authority.’.
2 Domestic Security Enhancement Act
`(5) the term `domestic terrorism’ means activities that–
`(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
`(B) appear to be intended–
`(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
`(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
`(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
`(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.’.