Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Laws Are for the Rabble 

You have perhaps read of the President's decision to withdraw from a provision of the Vienna convention that would give the International Court of Justice limited jurisdiction over the disposition of foreign citizens charged with crimes in the U.S.:
U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben . . . . told the court that "if this court treats the ICJ as a free-standing source of law . . . it would rob the president of freedom of action in international affairs."
-- as if that's a bad thing. And you have undoubtedly seen elsewhere that 59 former diplomats have signed a letter opposing the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N., in part because of his open contempt for the very notion of the U.N.'s authority. Here is Bolton's response to a statement by Secretary General Kofi Annan that "enforcement actions without Security Council authorization threaten the very core of the international security system ... Only the [U.N.] Charter provides a universally legal basis for the use of force":
The Annan doctrine is clearly the result of post-Cold War wishful thinking. The absence of a visible threat, previously supplied by the Soviet Union, has led dreamers in the international strata to believe that force is no longer a serious option for responsible nations, except to swat the occasional dictator and prevent human rights abuses. The somewhat less dreamy do not ask such naive questions, but nonetheless see in the Annan doctrine an opportunity to dramatically limit the military autonomy of nation-states, particularly the United States.
Cases like the above prompt our distinguished colleague Joe Wezorek of American Leftist to offer the following long-overdue questions:
Here's what I never get about people who believe that international law is a bad idea: Why do they believe that national law is a good idea? Aren't the internal laws of, say, the US just the naive fantasy of dreamers who believe that force is no longer a serious option for responsible individuals? Don't laws just greatly inhibit powerful people's ability (and everyone else's, for that matter) to use force to protect and advance their vital personal interests?
Our only problem is with the premise. We regret to say that we find the current mob's attitude toward the law, whether local, state, federal, or international, perfectly consistent: when it works for us, we cite it with reverence. When it holds us back, we ignore, repudiate, and/or circumvent it.

Which is what we call a "win-win" philosophy.

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