When, at his inauguration speech on Jan. 20th President Bush said: 'America speaks anew to the peoples of the world,' he was announcing a new foreign policy for America, which he calls the 'Forward Strategy of Freedom.' Evidently he wants to move America away from the disastrous policy of the past, which was merely a quest for 'stability,' a 'stability' we were never quite able to achieve anyway and which demanded that America betray its own values of freedom and justice by supporting various dictatorships around the world.
The gist of this new policy was outlined when he announced: 'So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.'
This doesn't mean the U.S. plans to invade every tin pot dictator. But I take it to mean that America will no longer uncritically support despots who violate the rights of their citizens and seek our destruction. Pressure to reform will be brought to bear. If this is Mr. Bush's intent then I say: 'It's about time.'
But there is a problem here. While some free nations will happily support the U.S.'s new foreign policy, the rest of the world's nations still base their foreign policy on an antiquated notion of 'sovereignty.'
Judging by all those who cried that the U.S. shouldn't invade a 'sovereign' nation like Iraq, 'sovereignty' must mean the 'right to rule' regardless of whether said 'sovereignty' is earned by free elections or seized and held by force as in Iraq, Iran, North Korea and many others.
The United Nations' charter mandate, chapter 1, article 2, item #1 says:
'The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members.'
Equality of membership rights is a standard benefit of belonging to most any organization. But most organizations don't invite the community's worst criminal elements to be full partner members with equal voting rights and veto power. Such an organization would be ineffective, not to mention immoral. The thugs would do as they please and simply vote down or veto any attempt to discipline them. This is the U.N. today: ineffective and immoral.
The notion that Saddam Hussein has a sovereign right to slaughter hundreds of thousands of his citizens is a political and moral obscenity.
This 'one size fits all' idea of sovereignty has to go. The U.N. needs to adopt a new definition of sovereignty that respects citizens' rights and rejects as illegitimate any sovereignty that violates citizens' rights.
Such a definition might look like this: Sovereignty, the right of a people to govern themselves in which the government's sovereignty is delegated to it by the consent of the governed in whom all sovereignty originates.
I would like to see President Bush give this definition (or something close) to our ambassador to the U.N. with instructions to get the U.N. to adopt it. This is critical, as all nations need to be on the same page. Then and only then will the 'Forward Strategy of Freedom' have an honest chance of success.