On Notable Arguments, today we highlight Kim Holmes' column describing the competing visions for America's role in the world. Holmes sets out a choice "between a nation that safeguards and advances the cause of liberty" and "an America whose leadership always defers to international bodies, including the whims of the United Nations and the European Union". Unsurprisingly, Holmes prefers the former vision and so do we.
Critiques of the particular choices America makes in foreign policy can be made without calling into question her right to take action against foreign threats. But sometimes the two are made together, as a case for a form of quasi- or actual global governance - with international institutions dictating policy to nations, rather than existing to support their diplomatic and other needs.
Kim Holmes' description of a future in which "the UN could block a raid we want to conduct to destroy a terrorist camp that launched another brutal attack on America" or "the Secretary of State could be hauled up before a European court to answer charges of 'war crimes' in Iraq" is compelling. Its account of how military action to safeguard America and her allies could be prevented, and how democratic leaders could even face criminal charges for unpopular foreign policies, highlights the potential dangers of this notion of global governance both for global security and for liberty.
Even as things are now, it is often the case that the terrorist who orders the deaths of democratic leaders goes on to be hailed one day as a courageous freedom fighter, and sometimes be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Ironically, some advocates of international justice seem less interested in putting this right than in ensuring that a President who ordered the bombing of such a terrorist leader could one day face a war crimes tribunal. Such a vision is not to be prefered to American global leadership.
In our briefing on Global Governance, we set out some of the problems with the notion that America can or should be displaced by international institutions.