March 31, 2006

AUDIO: Last Night’s Show – Extreme Sovereignty! (Bruno Behrend, 3/30/06, Extreme Wisdom Radio, WKRS 1220 AM)

The Podcast is UP!

NOTE! – after you click the link, the file takes time to download. Keep browsing in another window, and it will start automatically. Turn your volume to about 2/3rds.

Last Night’s show featured an indepth interview with the author/editor of “Redefining Sovereignty” and blogger extraordinaire Orrin Judd.

If you want to get a graduate school level education on Sovereignty, foreign affairs, and international current events combined, buy this book.


March 30, 2006

Indonesia back on the world stage (Michael Vatikiotis, 3/30/06, Asia Times)

Welcome to the brave new world of Indonesian foreign policy. The international community has only just started to focus on Indonesia’s successful democratic transition, the economy is only just recovering from nearly a decade of malaise and crisis, and the business community is waiting with genuine expectation for the government’s “war on corruption” to be won. But President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is an impatient man – he wants Indonesia to make its mark on the world now.

“We are the fourth-most-populous nation in the world. We are home to the world’s largest Muslim population. We are the world’s third-largest democracy. We are also a country where democracy, Islam and modernity go hand in hand,” Yudhoyono declared last May in his first major foreign-policy speech. “And our heart is always with the developing world, to which we belong. These are the things that define who we are and what we do in the community of nations.”

In fact, what Yudhoyono aims to do is pretty ambitious. Bringing democracy to Myanmar comes high up the list. So, too, does helping Palestinians win their statehood from Israel. Then there is North Korea: the president wants to visit Pyongyang and has already sent an envoy to the hermit state to try to restart stalled security talks between the two Koreas. And if dealing with one end of the “axis of evil” isn’t risky enough, Indonesia has also flagged its intention to help reconcile Iran with the West, exemplified by Wirajuda’s visit to Tehran last month, and thereafter by at least two high-level visits by Iranian officials to Jakarta.

Talk to many Indonesians about Yudhoyono’s foreign-policy objectives and they will argue that the country simply isn’t ready to take on the world. There are too many priorities at home: sorting out the economy, combating corruption, resolving internal conflicts and curbing Islamic militancy, to name just a few. Realists and pragmatists such as former foreign minister Ali Alatas argue that Indonesia is weak and has no clout in the international community. “Who would listen?” Alatas asks, though he recently served as a special envoy to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Fortunately for Yudhoyono, the United States is listening. Indonesia’s democratic and moderate Islamic credentials appeal to Washington, which is also on the lookout for a strategic counterbalance to China in the region.

“Your challenge now is to expand the peace, the opportunity and the freedom that we see in much of Southeast Asia to all of Southeast Asia,” Rice said in a speech to an Indonesian international-relations forum during her mid-March visit to Jakarta. “The United States is eager to work with ASEAN through our new enhanced partnership, and we look to Indonesia … to play a leadership role in Southeast Asia and in the dynamic changing East Asia.”

Indonesia has clout precisely because they’re joining the Axis of Good.


March 30, 2006

Blair in Indonesia terror accord (BBC, 3/30/06)

Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised to work closely in the fight against terrorism with Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population.

Mr Blair was speaking after meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for an hour in the capital, Jakarta. […]

After the meeting between the two heads of state, Mr Blair described Indonesia as a “crucial partner” in ensuring greater understanding of people of different faiths. […]

Mr Blair’s visit is the first by a British prime minister to Indonesia in two decades.

The country, which has a population of about 225 million, has developed close business ties with Britain and the US.

The BBC’s correspondent in Jakarta, Tim Johnston, says Indonesia is increasingly being seen as a vital bridge between Western and Islamic nations.


March 29, 2006

Judicial activism or restraint? (Walter E. Williams, March 29, 2006, Creators Syndicate, Inc.)

Are federal, state and local justices appointed to office to impose their personal views on society or to interpret law? Is it a judge’s duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and state constitutions in the cases of state and local judges, or is it their duty to uphold foreign law and United Nations treaties? Should what a judge sees as “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights govern court decisions, or the U.S. Constitution?

It was the former – not the U.S. Constitution – that determined last year’s Roper v. Simmons decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the execution of a convicted murderer because he was 17 years old at the time of his offense. […]

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker has little patience with his colleagues who use their office to impose their values instead of applying the written law, but he’s in trouble for saying so. Judge Parker wrote an opinion article that was published in the Birmingham News on Jan. 1. It criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that banned executions for murderers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes. […]

Joel Sogol, former chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union’s litigation committee, filed a complaint against Judge Parker with Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The complaint charges Parker with violating Alabama’s judicial ethics standards when he publicly criticized his eight Supreme Court colleagues and the Roper v. Simmons U.S. Supreme Court decision. Sogol says that Judge Parker’s criticism breeds contempt for the law.

Sogol has it wrong. It’s the court’s failure to meet its constitutional duties that breeds contempt for the law.

At any rate, we can all agree about the contempt.


March 29, 2006

Enough with the globo-gab: Transnationalism may be on the way out — and not a moment too soon (MARK STEYN, 3/27/06, Maclean’s)

In Redefining Sovereignty, Orrin C. Judd brings together a splendid collection of essays on the tension between national sovereignty and the new transnational entities. Full disclosure: there’s an approving quote from me on the front of the book, but other than that I have no stake in its success or failure; don’t know Mr. Judd, nor most of his stellar contributors, from Václav Havel and Jesse Helms to Francis Fukuyama and Kofi Annan. The token Canadian is a good choice: David Warren, represented by a fine essay yoking Bush’s approach to Islamism with Lincoln’s to the Civil War — liberating the Middle East is not the point of the exercise, any more than liberating the slaves was. But in both cases it was necessary to fulfill the strategic objectives of saving the Union a century and a half ago, and of saving the nation-state system today. As another contributor, Lee Harris, puts it, “The liberal world system has collapsed internally.” He means that there are no longer, in Kant’s phrase, “maxims of prudence.” That’s to say, we don’t know the limits of behaviour. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map, we cannot reliably assure ourselves (though many foolish experts do) that this is just a bit of rhetorical red meat, a little playing to the gallery for the Saturday-night jihad crowd.

The transnational gabfests aren’t much use in this new world. The Kyoto treaty is, in that sense, the quintessential expression of the higher multilateralism: the point of Kyoto is not to do anything about “climate change,” but to give the impression of doing something about it, at great expense. If climate change is a pressing issue and if the global economy is responsible — two pretty big “ifs” — then Kyoto expends enormous (diplomatic) energy and (fiscal) resources doing nothing about it: even if those who signed on to it actually complied with it instead of just pretending to, all that would happen is that by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07 degrees — an amount that’s statistically undetectable within annual climate variation.

That’s fine for “climate change,” which, insofar as there is an imminent threat, is a good half-millennium away. As Kofi Annan, the bespoke embodiment of transnationalism’s polite fictions, says, “There is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.” Which is swell if your priority is “legitimacy.” That and a dime’ll get you a cup of coffee — unless the tsunami hits and sweeps the lunch counter out to sea. Yet these days, even with natural disasters, the international order divides — like Bagehot’s view of the British constitution — into its “dignified” and “efficient” halves. The efficient humanitarians — the Pentagon and the Royal Australian Navy — have boots on the ground in Indonesia and Sri Lanka within hours, rescuing people, feeding them, housing them. The dignified humanitarians — the UN’s 24/7 permanent humanitarian bureaucracy — are back in New York holding press conferences to announce they’ll be sending a top-level situation-assessment team to the general vicinity to conduct a situation assessment of the situation just as soon as the USAF emergency team has flown in and restored room service to the five-star hotel.

Kofi Annan referred to the UN’s “unique legitimacy,” and he’s right about the “unique” part. The transnational system, in insisting that the foreign minister of Syria is no different from the foreign minister of Denmark, confers a wholly unmerited legitimacy on the planet’s gangster states. In Redefining Sovereignty, Roger Scruton wonders of Saddam “how it is that a petty tyrant could have defied the world for so long.” But, if “the world” is represented by the UN’s “unique legitimacy,” you don’t have to defy it, you just have to strike a deal — in this case, the Oil-for-Food program, that Hydra-headed racket under which, among other fascinating codicils and appendices, a million greenbacks from Saddam got funnelled via his Korean chum Tongsun Park into a Canadian petroleum company run by the son of the quintessential transnational Canadian Maurice Strong — Mister Kyoto himself.

Based on current trends, by mid-century, America, India and China will each be producing roughly 25 per cent of world GDP, with Europe down to 10 per cent. As the columnist John O’Sullivan points out, the three global powerhouses are all strongly attached to traditional notions of national sovereignty, so Europeans and others who’ve bet on transnationalism have the next 10 years to cement its existing institutions and expand its reach.

Hard to cement the world when you can’t even mucilage your own rotten countries together.

COROLLARY TO BURKE (via Gene Brown):

March 29, 2006

Peace isn’t made when real wrongdoing goes ignored (Jonathan Gurwitz, 03/29/2006, San Antonio Express-News)

“The consequences of doing nothing in the face of evil were demonstrated when the world did not stop the Rwandan genocide that killed almost a million people in 1994. Where were the peace protesters then? They were just as silent as they are today in the face of the barbaric behavior of religious fanatics.”
-Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, writing in the Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2004

A peace laureate acting as an advocate for war might seem odd. Odd, unless you understand that war is not the worst evil known to mankind. And odd, unless you understand that the absence of war is far from being the same thing as peace.

“Some may accuse me of being more of a warmonger than a Nobel laureate,” Ramos-Horta wrote. “It is always easier to say no to war, even at the price of appeasement. But being politically correct means leaving the innocent to suffer the world over, from Phnom Penh to Baghdad.”

I recalled Ramos-Horta’s powerful essay while reading the piddling statement from Christian Peacemaker Teams after coalition forces stormed a house on the outskirts of Baghdad and freed three of the organization’s members.

All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to focus on the means, not the end.


March 28, 2006

Blair cooling on green targets for Kyoto successor (Philip Webster in Auckland, Mark Henderson and Lewis Smith, 3/29/06, Times of London)

TONY BLAIR was accused last night of caving in to American pressure by proposing a watered-down replacement for the Kyoto Protocol that relies on new technology rather than binding greenhouse gas cuts as the solution to climate change.

The Prime Minister will call today for a new international goal of stabilising temperatures and carbon emissions at present levels when the Kyoto agreement expires in 2012, to be achieved primarily by investment in cleaner energy technologies. […]

Mr Blair’s proposal, which comes as the Government admitted that it would miss its pledge to reduce carbon dioxide output by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010, will be laid out in a speech to a climate change conference in Wellington, the New Zealand capital.

When George Bush co-opted India, China, Japan and Australia it was the end of Kyoto for all but fanatics.