Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The Common Law of Nations

When the United Nations was established in 1945 it lacked the one essential ingredient of world government: supranational police power. In was not until the mid-1980s, with the emergence of a dominant United States, that world government became potentially possible. As that dominance grew in the last decade of the 20th century, the potential of harnessing American might to the bidding of the "international community" became irresistible to the globalists. Under the model that they tried to construct, sole "legitimacy" would be vested in the world government; i.e. the United Nations, thus acquiring the exclusive lawful use of the US armed forces. As the sole civil authority, the "international community" could constitute a posse, consisting almost entirely of American arms, for whatever purposes they deemed lawful.

The curious antipathy of the Germany and France towards unilateral American action following September 11 was driven not by a sudden revulsion for American culture, but by the loss of something they deeply coveted: the means to exercise supranational police power under the aegis of international treaties. In the days following Osama Bin Laden's attack on New York, hopes ran high in Paris, Berlin and Moscow, that America in her grief would deposit her strength in the hands of the "international community" who, thus armed, promised to put a stop to terrorism and uproot its causes.  To provide the violins, the capitals of Europe expressed the utmost sympathy for the American loss and deluged embassies with flowers and letters of support. "We are all Americans now". For a moment, matters hung on edge, the most critical instant in modern history. Then the haze passed, and America shook the expectant, extended hand and said "I'll take care of it myself". The response was immediate and incandescent. The internationalists rounded on America with as much hatred as the sympathy they had professed mere moments before.

Yet the damage to the unbounded sovereignty of nation states had already been done, not in the least by America herself. The arrest of Manuel Noriega, the intervention in Haiti, People Power in the Philippines, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the failure of attempts to restore Bolshevism in Russia, the Velvet Revolution in Eastern Europe, the expulsion of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in Desert Storm and the toppling of Slobodan Milosevic occurred under the vast shadow of American power. Even when events were not directly caused by US power, they played out in an atmosphere where American power could appear at any moment. The Democratic Revolution occurred precisely because populations all around the world understood that the local ruler, for the first time in human history, stood in potential subordinance to a single global entity. Even if a carrier battle group was not actually offshore, it might be, and that fact informed all the calculations of previously unfettered despots. And if Americans were themselves unconscious of this Mahanian power, the internationalists were not, and they watched, breath coming in short spasms, with undisguised covetousness. The two notable exceptions to the diminution of local tyranny were sub-Saharan Africa and the Islamic world. Here tyranny felt secure either in primitiveness or under the mantle of thousand year old culture. But when American operations in Afghanistan and Iraq proved that even powerful barriers of distance and established civilization could be swept aside, the world had to accommodate itself to a new reality.

A new united nations will emerge from the postwar world which differs from the globalist dream in two respects. The first is that it won't be governed by statute, in the Continental tradition, but by common law. The peaceful replacement of Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia is the latest exercise of a now traditional right by citizens anywhere to overthrow leaders who succumb to excessive corruption or aspire to despotism. The right is not rooted in treaty, unless the inutile UN Declaration of Human Rights is counted, but in precedent. By and by Robert Mugabe will be chased from his Zimbabwean palace not by United Nations mandate but by citizens themselves operating under this common law power. The second is that it depends entirely on the continuance of America under a benign democracy. The world may survive another Osama Bin Laden, but not American despotism. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes but Americans themselves? Yet curiously enough, the effect of American power will be to raise a bulwark against its abuse. As the custom of freedom and accountability spreads over the world, the phrase "we are all Americans now" will describe a political reality rather than an cunning globalist lie.