World opinion and morality (updated)

Despite disavowing another run for the presidency, John Kerry has thrust himself onto the global stage in the Middle East and Switzerland.  Kerry's "Global Test" policy introduced in the 2004 Presidential Debates and echoed in his comments over the weekend at Davos, represents a premier example of Hegemonist Doctrine as described brilliantly by J.R Dun in his January 5 essay). According to Kerry, America's foreign policy must be corrected so that it is "legitimate" in the eyes of the world.  In his view, this guarantees that it is moral.  Let's consider applying Kerry's ‘test' to preventive wars in the past.

Inspired by evangelical Christian zeal, abolitionists induced the British Government to outlaw slavery in 1830.  To prevent others from filling the market void left by English slavers, the Royal Navy was sent to violently suppress the Atlantic slave trade.  This was done for selfless, moral reasons.   British warships interdicted slave ships, raided slave-trading ports, and emancipated the captives.  Exposed to the horrors of the Middle Passage, British officers and sailors became convinced of the righteousness of their mission, often volunteering to return to the fight1

Would these naval campaigns have passed a Global Test?  At the time, International Law regarded slaves as legitimate cargo worthy of legal protection. Most other nations were involved in slavery or, at best, indifferent to the fate of black Africans.  One can only conclude that Britain's successful confrontation of the evils of slavery, an acme of morale achievement, would not have passed any "Global Test" at the time. Fortunately, due to the might of the Royal Navy, Britain could ignore foreign opinion and pursue their noble policy with confidence in their own moral courage and leadership -- to the redounding benefit of mankind ever since.


1 See for example, To Rules the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World by Arthur Herman.

Update: D.M. Giangreco writes:

The US Navy was also involved in the Slave Trade Patrol, slave trading having been declared as piracy for something like 40 years.  Some of the better known ships involved included the Yorktown, Saratoga, Constitution, San Jacinto, and even former British frigates captured during the War of 1812 such as the Macedonian and Cyane (what a hoot it must have been when they came on station).   In fact, the Constitution served in this capacity several times, was seizing slave traders as late as the 1850s, and closed out its operational career in this duty.
Despite disavowing another run for the presidency, John Kerry has thrust himself onto the global stage in the Middle East and Switzerland.  Kerry's "Global Test" policy introduced in the 2004 Presidential Debates and echoed in his comments over the weekend at Davos, represents a premier example of Hegemonist Doctrine as described brilliantly by J.R Dun in his January 5 essay). According to Kerry, America's foreign policy must be corrected so that it is "legitimate" in the eyes of the world.  In his view, this guarantees that it is moral.  Let's consider applying Kerry's ‘test' to preventive wars in the past.

Inspired by evangelical Christian zeal, abolitionists induced the British Government to outlaw slavery in 1830.  To prevent others from filling the market void left by English slavers, the Royal Navy was sent to violently suppress the Atlantic slave trade.  This was done for selfless, moral reasons.   British warships interdicted slave ships, raided slave-trading ports, and emancipated the captives.  Exposed to the horrors of the Middle Passage, British officers and sailors became convinced of the righteousness of their mission, often volunteering to return to the fight1

Would these naval campaigns have passed a Global Test?  At the time, International Law regarded slaves as legitimate cargo worthy of legal protection. Most other nations were involved in slavery or, at best, indifferent to the fate of black Africans.  One can only conclude that Britain's successful confrontation of the evils of slavery, an acme of morale achievement, would not have passed any "Global Test" at the time. Fortunately, due to the might of the Royal Navy, Britain could ignore foreign opinion and pursue their noble policy with confidence in their own moral courage and leadership -- to the redounding benefit of mankind ever since.


1 See for example, To Rules the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World by Arthur Herman.

Update: D.M. Giangreco writes:

The US Navy was also involved in the Slave Trade Patrol, slave trading having been declared as piracy for something like 40 years.  Some of the better known ships involved included the Yorktown, Saratoga, Constitution, San Jacinto, and even former British frigates captured during the War of 1812 such as the Macedonian and Cyane (what a hoot it must have been when they came on station).   In fact, the Constitution served in this capacity several times, was seizing slave traders as late as the 1850s, and closed out its operational career in this duty.