I DON'T THINK THAT WORD MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS:

The new axis of intervention (John Feffer, 8/25/06, Asia Times)

There is a new force in foreign policy: the “axis of intervention”. Two allies are official members: the United States and Israel. With its recent invasion of Somalia, Ethiopia has joined the grouping. A fourth nation, Japan, is petitioning for membership. […]

The new axis of intervention targets not only sovereign states such as North Korea and non-state actors such as Hezbollah. With the news of Israeli attacks against Red Cross vehicles and a clearly marked United Nations observation post in Lebanon, the real target of the axis of intervention becomes clear: the institutions of international law. By resorting to military force and scorning diplomacy, both Israel and the United States have undermined the UN and key global agreements such as the Geneva Conventions. It remains to be seen whether Japan and Ethiopia will sign on to this larger agenda.

The possibilities of global cooperation opened up by the end of the Cold War have come to a dead end. The axis of intervention promises a future that resembles the distant past, what the English theorist Thomas Hobbes called the “war of all against all”. It is a world, ironically, where both aggressive countries like the US and Israel and aggressive non-state actors like al-Qaeda and the Islamic courts will feel right at home.

Even under traditional sovereignty, states that can’t control non-state actors–like al Qaeda or hezbollah–are, be definition, not sovereign. In order to be considered sovereign you have to exercise authority over the entire territory you claim.

However, more importantly, we have Redefined Sovereignty to have a normative component and now require that governmens be consensual and protect the inalienable rights of those they govern. It’s hard to imagine a less Hobbesian development.

Meanwhile, if Mr. Feffer can be excused not understanding the revolution that the United States has effected in sovereignty over the course of its history, it’s less easy to excuse his failure to acknowledge that the axis also includes Britain, Australia, Canada, Poland, etc.

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