Is America's Sovereignty Obsolete?

When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “Americans have lost trust in their government” at the Values Voters’ gathering in Washington, DC, there was more than a wee bit of irony in his words.

McCain elaborated on the theme yesterday on “Fox News Sunday,” saying the distrust comes from corruption in Washington, frustration at the Iraq war, incompetence in the Katrina relief and from failure to deal with illegal immigration.  The irony is in the confluence of the two McCains: recognition that part of the distrust of government arises from a failure — now six years after 9-11 — to secure our borders from incursion by illegal aliens.

McCain’s realization is not shared by President Bush whose press secretaries — first Tony Snow and now Dana Perino — have said that he is still convinced he was right in the failed “comprehensive” approach to illegal immigration which translated into amnesty for illegal aliens and would not have secured our borders. It is no exaggeration to say that a nation which does not secure its borders cannot claim sovereignty.

Sovereignty — the supremacy of political power a nation has over its own actions — seems to mean a great deal less to free world leaders than to their Chinese, Russian and Islamist counterparts.  It is important to frame the issue just that way because among the free nations, especially in Europe, sovereignty is eroding and unfree nations guard their sovereignty with paranoid fervor. 

The leaders of too many free nations — including President Bush — appear to be in competition to give away their nations’ sovereignty by placing more and more authority in supranational organizations like the UN and the European Union which are not accountable to voters. 

This week will feature “UN Day” and we’ll again be lectured about international law and how we owe the world — which means the UN — respect for the ‘laws’ it adopts.  Under the UN charter, which we signed sixty years ago, resolutions of the UN Security Council have the force of international “law.”  But what does that mean?

Judge Robert Bork memorably wrote in “Coercing Virtue”:

International law is not law but politics.  For that reason, it is dangerous to give the name “law,” which summons up respect, to political struggles that are essentially lawless.  The problem is not merely the anti-Americanism that grips foreign elites and shapes law; it is also the American intellectual class, which is largely hostile to the United States and uses international law to attack the morality of its own government and society.

To foreign elites and our “intellectual class”, American sovereignty is passé:  a concept that has outlived its time that should be limited at every opportunity by international “law” in the form of treaties and decisions of the Security Council and UN-created courts.  American sovereignty is based on our Constitution.  There is no provision in the Constitution for US law to be made by the UN or any of the “courts” it creates.

George W. Bush may go down in the history books incorrectly as a “unilateralist” president for taking action in Iraq, but his legacy — most of which is still undecided — may be just the opposite. 

George Bush waited six months, from September 2002 to March 2003 — in military terms, nearly an eternity — for the UN to act before he threw the most-telegraphed punch in American military history.  He worked hard to bring the UN along, and in doing so gave up the advantage of surprise long before the invasion began.

In the 2004 campaign, John Kerry promised to never ask the UN’s permission before taking action in America’s defense.  We disbelieved Kerry (for good reason), but now President Bush is content to let the UN decide what to do about Iran’s nuclear program rather than gathering allies outside it to do what must be done to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons.

Iran pays no price for its continued intervention in Iraq, despite the resulting loss of American soldiers’ lives.  Iran pays no price for its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the UN will never be ready to exact one.  Will President Bush, without a UN resolution authorizing action?

Conservatives were properly critical when Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor referenced European law in deciding a case arising under our Constitution.  The idea of injecting foreign or “international” law created by any body other than our Congress — limited by the Constitutional checks and balances of the Congress and the Executive — is in contradiction to our sovereignty.  But as Andy McCarthy wrote here last week, President Bush took a position against Texas’ right to decide its own law in death penalty cases in favor of a treaty from which he had previously withdrawn the United States and which was probably unconstitutional.  

The president’s whittling away at American sovereignty continues.  As Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex) and Chris Horner say elsewhere on our pages today, the UN Law of the Sea Treaty — rejected long ago by President Reagan — now awaits Senate ratification because President Bush chose to submit it for that purpose.  LOST would establish a tax on deep-seabed mining payable to the UN and controls over America’s economy by regulating pollution that affects the seas.  These powers are to be vested in an international court that is unaccountable to US voters and not bound by – and thus violate – the Constitution. 

European leaders have now decided on a new version of the European Union “constitution” that is essentially the same as the version rejected by French and Dutch voters two years ago.  They plan to make it effective without submitting it to the voters again.  Britain has no constitution to protect its citizens so even there, where no vote has ever been taken, the Brown government plans to surrender its sovereignty and adopt the EU “treaty,” binding England to the product of the European elites.

Europe may be beyond saving, but America is not.  We shall, by dint of the work of Sen. Cornyn and like-minded conservatives, survive President Bush’s erosion of America’s political power to decide our own policies and, ultimately, our fate.  Who comes after Mr. Bush may continue the erosion or end it and repair the damage.

We know Hillary Clinton will do what Kerry promised not to.  In her article in “Foreign Affairs” last week (about which more shall appear here), she hinted that she would seek ratification of the Kyoto “Global Warming” treaty, saying we need a, “…binding global climate agreement.”  She also called for strengthening and reliance on the whole internationalist alphabet soup of bureaucracies including the International Labor Organization and the World Trade Organization.  Will any of the Republicans do better?

Mitt Romney last week declared the UN a failure.  But how will he — or any of his competitors — stop the erosion of our sovereignty and restore it to what the Founding Fathers designed?