“Alliances” Should Be the Least of Our Worries

Former UN Ambassador John Bolton and former deputy assistant secretary general (and infamous “torture memo” architect) John Yoo join hands in The Washington Post The New York Times to attack an entirely baseless prediction that the Obama administration insidiously plans to bypass the Senate in negotiating certain “Draconian” treaties.

America needs to maintain its sovereignty and autonomy, not to subordinate its policies, foreign or domestic, to international control. On a broad variety of issues — many of which sound more like domestic rather than foreign policy — the re-emergence of the benignly labeled “global governance” movement is well under way in the Obama transition.

The specter of “global governance” to which Bolton and Yoo are referring? Obama’s promise to “re-engage” (with every other country on the globe) and “work constructively within” the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, that dastardly agreement to…develop a coherent global plan to address the reality of global warming. Other products of Bolton and Yoo’s dreaded treaty-filled world include a halt on nuclear proliferation, U.S. cooperation on the International Criminal Court (already undergoing with U.S. cooperation to bring war criminals in Darfur to justice), and signing on to an international “law of the sea” that would, among other benefits to the United States, increase American ocean jurisdiction and make it easier to fight pirates.

There are many deceptions, inaccuracies, and just plain falsehoods in the Bolton-Yoo op-ed — such as, for example, the contention that International Criminal Court prosecutors are “unaccountable” — but most shocking is the piece’s premise that working with other countries on global issues amounts, practically prima facie, to the infamous “entangling alliances” that Washington Jefferson warned against (in an era, it bears reminding, that may have had its fill of pirates, but a conspicuous lack of trans-national phenomena like greenhouse gases and nuclear weapons).

The insinuation that the Obama administration will try to join these international accords illegitimately is simply a ruse here; the real bugaboo for Bolton and Yoo here are the treaties themselves, and, worse, the “global governance” that no one is particularly interested in instituting but that serves as conveniently scary-sounding umbrella. To their invocation of Jefferson’s famous maxim, I would counter that, if the United States remains alone in its corner — shut out from much of the ocean’s resources, unable to cooperate on securing rogue nuclear weapons, and in the morally awkward position of opposing prosecutions of war criminals, for instance — then I think we will find ourselves “entangled” in a host of problems more serious than mere alliances.