SUCH IS THE NATURE OF THE REDEFINITION:

July 19, 2008

Sovereignty or Justice! (Diana Mukkaled, 7/19/08, Asharq Alawasat)

The claim that International Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is targeting Sudan’s sovereignty before even verifying Ocampo’s reasons for prosecuting Bashir is weak and primarily lacks professional sensitivity.

In the Arab media we find ourselves in a predicament, which it seems, will not be the last of its kind.

Targeting the president of an Arab republic with an indictment or serious charge such as that which has been leveled against al Bashir could be taken as the targeting of a country; however, it is targeting sovereignty with justice.

Confronting the indictment must be preceded by proving the injustice that surrounds it. But for sovereignty to precede justice, this is a violation of the rights of those groups and victims, estimated at tens of thousands, as they remain in their [refugee] camps with no real indications of when their ordeal will be dealt with.

The sovereign who isn’t just to his people has no right to claim sovereignty.


TODAY, I AM A CRUSADER:

June 5, 2008

Pacifism Fails in the Face of Sovereign Evil: If the U.N. won’t act on its own mandate, then we should use force to combat immutable evil. (Nat Hentoff, June 3rd, 2008, Village Voice)

While the generals ruling Myanmar were drastically limiting international aid for the many thousands of victims of the recent cyclone, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington dismissed the urgent cries for forceful outside intervention.

“Myanmar is a sovereign country,” said Wand Baodong on May 20. “In the end, rescue and relief work will have to rely on the Myanmar government.” […]

After nearly 20 years of reporting on the likes of Sudan’s General al-Bashir and, more recently, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, I’m convinced there are times when the only way to rescue the surviving victims of such monsters is to bypass the U.N. with a league of democratic nations, enough of whose citizens are driven by a visceral need to protect the human rights of people being terrorized by their own sovereign governments.

For many years, I considered myself a nonviolent, direct-action pacifist, one who was greatly influenced by the lessons of the late A.J. Muste, who, Martin Luther King Jr. told me, first turned him onto nonviolent action. A.J. was also a key strategist of the anti–Vietnam War movement. I wrote a book, Peace Agitator, about Muste in time for him to see it before he died.

However, I am forced to conclude, after many decades spent reporting on and witnessing the evidence, that there is such a thing as immutable evil in this world—as personified by, among others, Robert Mugabe and Omar al-Bashir. By advocating the use of force to save their victims, I feel I have betrayed A.J., and probably that part of myself that made me a pacifist. But with General al-Bashir breaking the 2005 peace treaty that put a stop to his 20-year war against black Christians and animists in the south of Sudan—in which over two million people have already died—only force will prevent the opening of (to quote one Western observer there) “the gates of hell.”

The Anglospheric innovation to sovereignty is the requirement that the sovereign govern by the consent of the government and in accordance with our standards of human rights.


MORE ON SOVEREIGNTY REDEFINED:

June 5, 2008

Global Governance vs. the Liberal Democratic Nation-State (John Fonte, 6/04/08, FrontPageMagazine.com)

In the coming years of the twenty-first century the ideology, institutions, and forces of “global governance” will directly challenge the legitimacy and authority of the liberal democratic nation-state and American constitutional sovereignty. What is this ideology, what are these institutions and forces, and how do they challenge liberal democracy and American sovereignty? To begin to examine these issues let us start with the primary questions of politics.

Who governs? To whom is political authority responsible? How are rulers chosen? How are rulers replaced? How is the power of rulers limited? How are laws made? How can bad laws be changed? These are the perennial questions of politics. As Plato and Aristotle inquired: what is the “best regime”?

In this first decade of the twenty-first century, has the question of what is the best regime been settled? For many throughout the developed world the answer is yes. Liberal democracy, that hybrid combination of liberalism and democracy, is the “best regime.”

Liberalism in traditional political theory means an emphasis on individual rights, free institutions, the impartial rule of law, freedom of speech and association, private property, and freedom for religion, commerce, culture, and educational institutions. Under liberalism, equality of individual citizenship is the norm.

Democracy means rule by the “demos,” the people. At the heart of modern democracy is the doctrine that governments derive their powers from the “consent of the governed,” as famously put in the American Declaration of Independence. National self-government, popular sovereignty, and majority rule (within constitutional limits, i.e., limited by liberalism) characterize the norms of liberal democracy.

These great questions of politics are in theory answered in liberal democracy. Political authority resides in a self-constituted people based on “consent.” This self-governing people choose their own rulers through elections and can replace them if they are unresponsive. The people limit the power of rulers through a constitution that functions as a basic law. Bad laws can be changed by elected national legislatures. Moreover, in practice, democracy occurs only within the borders of individual liberal democratic nation-states. As Marc Plattner, co-editor of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Journal of Democracy, recently wrote,“…we cannot enjoy liberal democracy outside the framework of the nation-state.” [1]

In his seminal 1989 essay “The End of History,” Francis Fukuyama argued that the great question of politics?what is the best “regime”??has been settled. We have arrived at “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universialization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government,” Fukuyama declared. To be sure, the practical process of spreading liberal democracy throughout the world might take hundreds of years, but the ideological hegemony of liberal democracy has already been established—that is to say, the notion that the only legitimate form of government is liberal democracy is now widespread and almost universally accepted. Even non-democratic governments either pretend to be democratic in their own particular way or claim that they are working towards democracy.

Fukuyama recognized that there will be competiting ideologies to liberal democracy, but no rival political worldviews with universal appeal, in the final analysis. He argued that the potential ideological rivals (Asian values, Islamic fundamentalism) would not likely gain widespread support among Western intellectuals; thus the crux of his argument is that there are “no rival ideologies with universal appeal.”


TRANSNATIONALISM YOU CAN USE:

October 29, 2007

LOST at Sea: The Law of the Sea Treaty threatens American sovereignty (John Fonte, 10/29/07, National Review)

The Bush administration and the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are pushing ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS or LOST). The U.N. convention established a transnational institution, the International Seabed Authority, to regulate maritime activities for over 70 percent of the earth’s surface. […]

Let us examine the details. Under UNCLOS, disputes between the United States and other parties are settled by “mandatory” (i.e., forced) arbitration. The final decisions are made either by a permanent International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg or by an ad-hoc court. The Hamburg tribunal consists of 21 judges chosen by member nations, many of them unfriendly to the United States. An ad-hoc court would consist of five judges, two chosen by the U.S., two chosen by the other party. The crucial fifth judge is chosen either by the secretary general of the United Nations or the Hamburg tribunal. The decisions are “final” and “binding” with no appeal.

International-law professor Jeremy Rabkin points out that when the Cambodian communists seized the USS Mayaguez in Cambodian waters in 1975, President Ford responded with military force to rescue American sailors and free the ship. He notes this type of action would be problematic under UNCLOS. For example, if a treaty signatory (e.g., China, Burma) seized a U.S. ship in its home waters, under the terms of Law of the Sea Treaty, the U.S. could not free her sailors by force, but would have to submit to mandatory arbitration by the Hamburg tribunal or an ad-hoc court, where the U.S. could very likely lose the case. In any event, vital decisions over American security and American lives would not be made by Americans, but by foreign judges, many of them unsympathetic to American interests (coming as they often do from third-world regimes or EU legal elites).

Supporters argue that member states can claim an exemption from binding arbitration for “military activities.” In addition, they point out that the U.S. will attach a special “understandings” to the treaty stating that any interpretation of what constitutes “military activities” will be “defined by the United States.”

The free trade regime, despite its being transnationalist, is fundamentally a project of conservatives, who understand the usefulness of binding other nations to rules that serve our purposes even if it means sacrificing some sovereignty in a discrete area. Obtaining a universal law of the sea serves similarly useful ends and, most importantly, while we would use it as a pretext for war against an enemy who violated it, no one could enforce it against us.


THERE IS NO BELGIUM:

August 30, 2007

Belgium Taps Legislator to Defuse `Political Crisis’ (James G. Neuger, Aug. 29, 2007, Bloomberg)

Belgium’s king, warning of a “political crisis,” tapped the head of the lower house of Parliament to explore options for forming a new government after an 11-week standoff between French and Flemish parties spurred concerns that the country might break apart.

The head of the Flemish Christian Democrats, Yves Leterme, last week abandoned a bid to put together a coalition as French- speaking parties torpedoed demands for the transfer of more power to Flanders, the country’s wealthier northern region.

With Belgium lacking a new government almost three months after national elections, the king described the deadlock as a “crisis,” and a poll showed that fewer than a third of Belgians are certain that the country will still exist in 10 years.

Another one of FDR’s quagmires.


THERE IS NO INDIA:

July 28, 2007

One Man’s Vision for Peace in Long-Troubled Kashmir: Separatist Leader Puts Ideas in Book (Emily Wax, 7/28/07, Washington Post)

Sajad Lone perused the tattered, yellowed pages of a book he salvaged from his father’s library. Written nearly 60 years ago during Kashmir’s prosperous but brief heyday of self-rule, the book detailed some of the region’s successes and failures, and his father referred to it often.

“When I look at this book, I remember my father’s thoughts and hopes,” Lone, 41, said on a rainy afternoon as he glanced at shelves in his library filled with tomes outlining peaceful solutions to the world’s endless conflicts. “It was a time when Kashmir flourished.”

His father, Abdul Gani Lone, a popular, moderate separatist leader, was gunned down in May 2002 by unidentified attackers.

Like his father, Sajad Lone has pushed for an end to the conflict in Kashmir, a stunningly beautiful mountainous region that once was a tourist wonderland where Bollywood movies were filmed but is now a heavily militarized war zone claimed by both India and Pakistan. […]

Last January, India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, asked Lone to help develop a plan for Kashmir with Indian negotiators during talks in New Delhi, the capital. Lone said that the opportunity pleased him but that he told Singh he needed time to respond with a well-thought out proposal.

Lone returned to Kashmir, rented a hotel room in the Gulmarg ski area and wrote his own book, a kind of hopeful sequel to the one from his father’s library, that offered a fresh road map back to peace in Kashmir.

The 266-page book, titled “Achievable Nationhood,” is the first of its kind to be presented by a separatist leader since the latest round of hostilities began in Indian-administered Kashmir in 1989. In the book, released several months ago, Lone proposes a unified Kashmir that would be administered by autonomous leaders.

Under Lone’s plan, which he calls a “vision document,” the Indian- and Pakistani-held parts of Kashmir would share a wide range of institutions. The creation of an Economic Union would allow tax-free trade between the two sides of Kashmir and allow a free flow of people and goods. Kashmir’s defense could be the joint responsibility of Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani authorities, Lone said.

“There was always confusion over what we want in Kashmir,” said Lone, a hulking man who speaks slowly and often appears to be deep in thought. “This is just my idea put down on paper. And I hope it will spark more interest in Kashmir.”

The Kashmiri think of themselves as a people, so they are a nation. We’re just quibbling over the pace at which that’s accepted.


THE ANGLOSPHERE SEEKS ITS OWN LEVEL:

July 27, 2007

‘Constitutions are created by revolutions, not jurists’ : In our era of nitpicking over dull charters of rights, the republication of the Declaration of Independence should make your heart beat faster. (John Fitzpatrick, July 2007, spiked review of books)

It is refreshing…and very instructive, to have the opportunity to look again at a constitutional document that should make any heart beat faster.

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.’

Take that. It is all there really, in those few lines – if you throw in the fact that this Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was part of the successful institution of a new government in a new country. For the first time in human history, a government was established on the explicit basis that all men are equal, that sovereignty lay with the people, and that unjust governments were there to be overturned. Women and negroes had to wait, but the crucial point is that they came to be included very much more because of this statement of principles, than despite it. Even in the doldrums and alarums of our world today, it is hard to envisage the catastrophe that would see humanity falling back again to a point before this moment in our history – although undoubtedly without vigilance a catastrophe is ever possible. […]

The American revolt, which inspired the French, had itself been inspired by earlier developments in England. When Jefferson penned those words that still resound across the world, he was of course leaning on the philosophy and phrases of men such as Thomas Paine (his Common Sense was published in January 1776) and John Locke (his Second Treatise of Government was published in 1690). He was also leaning on the struggles of men such as the Levellers who fought in Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army during the 1640s.

The Levellers and their supporters in the Army drew up a document which was proposed by ‘five regiments of horse’ and read to the General Army Council at Putney on 29 October 1647. It was entitled An agreement of the people for a firm and present peace upon grounds of common right and freedom and it set out some ‘principles or rules of equal government for a free people’. It declared that the people (nearly all males, that is) were the sovereign power and should choose a new parliament every two years composed of representatives from constituencies of equal size, that there should be equality of all under the law, that every person (without qualification) should enjoy freedom of religion and freedom from conscription, and so on. It was subject to furious debate, and amendment, and eventually it was headed off by Cromwell and the grandees. But it left a mark, and set an example.

In each case, a group of human beings had consciously articulated a set of demands about how society should be organised on the basis of the equality of all, and had struggled to make those demands real. The democratic principles that survive in constitutional form today from these attempts are important both as a standard to be fully realised or transcended, and also as a lesson in how we might go about achieving such things again.

The problem that isolationists, Realists, and the rest always run up against is that the redefinition of sovereignty, whereby Britain and America (in particular) incorporate the requirement of consensual government as the basis of legitimacy, is an (the) essential element of the Founding of both states. To be untrue to the principle is to be unfaithful to the country’s essential character.