It’s foolish to expect a fair game from forces whose moral code is limited to “the end justifies the means.” That is why the implication that “all sovereignties are equal” is a loss for law-abiding democracies and a win for leftist expansionists, whose only measure of legitimacy is the advancement of their perverted idea of the “common good.” Successfully applied by the Soviet communists to bamboozle Western diplomats, it has now become a preferred con of every dictator in the business of advancing socialism, communism, fascism, Islamism, or any other cockamamie heresy of the archetypal collectivist tyranny.
And while Obama’s speech was also meant to cover the sovereignties of Ukraine and Georgia, it does nothing to protect these countries from Russia’s meddling, but gives the Russian leaders a chance to call Obama on his own word if in the future he raises an issue with their policies.
Abiding by his own declarations, Obama would never have gone into Iraq or Afghanistan, thus allowing both Saddam and the Taliban to violate the sovereignty of their own citizens and other countries, invading neighbors and training gangs of international terrorists. Today this approach practically gives assurances to the dictators of Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and other rogue regimes that the United States will “respect their sovereignty” regardless of their propensity to support terrorism, develop nuclear weapons, and threaten to invade neighboring democracies.
But whose sovereignty is he really respecting? When a free democratic society protects the individual sovereignty of each member, the sovereignties of all citizens add up to the entire nation’s collective sovereignty. But in a dictatorship where individual sovereignty is non-existent, where no one is safe from the government’s arbitrary powers, collective sovereignty adds up to exactly nothing. The only sovereignty Obama’s approach protects is that of the tyrant, who is the single sovereign individual in the entire nation.
The 2003 U.S.-led invasion didn’t violate the sovereignty of the Iraqi citizens because it is impossible to violate that which doesn’t exist. It only violated the sovereignty of Saddam Hussein and his two sons, Uday and Qusay — and deservedly so. Even Saddam’s closest henchmen had no personal sovereignty and lived in constant fear of his whims, just like Stalin’s henchmen before them.
Likewise, it would be impossible for America to “steal the Iraqi oil” because it had been long ago stolen by Saddam, who treated it as his personal asset and used the proceeds to build palaces, finance terrorism, develop weapons, bribe foreign leaders, corrupt the UN, and do other things that had nothing to do with the interests of the Iraqis.
But with America’s help, the Iraqi people have now regained both their oil and their sovereignty. And this time, their national sovereignty is absolutely legitimate because it is comprised of the sovereignties of millions of free individuals, who elect their government and are protected by law from its arbitrary dictate. And while their democracy is far from perfect, the Iraqis already are a world apart from the lawlessness of Saddam’s national-socialist regime.
In contrast, the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya, whose goal was to impose a dictatorship on Honduras, was done precisely to protect the individual sovereignties of all Hondurans. An attempt to return him to power as once advocated by Mr. Obama would, in fact, violate the sovereignty of every Honduran, who would lose personal liberties as a result of Zelaya’s leftist policies.
In the end, national sovereignty cannot be unconditional. Its condition is simple: the presence of an elected government that acts in the interests of its people, maintains the rule of law, and respects individual sovereignty of every one of its citizens.
This approach eliminates the false premise of moral equivalency and makes painfully clear that the right course of action with regards to Iran and the right course of action with regards to Honduras should be the exact opposites of what President Obama has chosen.