In his speech to graduate students in Moscow, Obama opined:
State sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order. … States must have the right to borders that are secure, to their own foreign policies.
This sounds very statesmanlike, except that without defining the true meaning of sovereignty it becomes an empty word and a pawn in the games of political demagogues — especially when no distinction is made between a democratic state and a tyranny.
In theory, Obama’s position amounts to moral equivalency between a democracy and an autocratic rogue state. In practice, it gives the roguish Iranian regime added legitimacy and protection, while leaving the democratic Honduras exposed to threats from Ortega and Chavez, aggravated by diplomatic pressure from the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and the 35-member Organization of American States.
The idea of unconditional sovereignty is, in fact, a clever ploy used time and again during the Cold War to advance leftist dictatorships and undermine free democracies. The trick is simple — it takes advantage of the decency of those who honestly abide by international law, preventing them from interfering in the affairs of tyrants who abide by nothing except the expansion of their ill-gained power.
While free democracies invest mostly in the creation of goods and services, tyrants invest their nation’s capital in the creation and dissemination of propaganda. It pays off handsomely in the form of moral support from the brainwashed “global community” when a tyrannical regime takes over another country allegedly “to advance progress in the interests of all people.”
On the eve of every major state holiday, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) used to publish a list of up to a hundred official talking points that covered all aspects of its domestic and foreign agendas. Printed in the form of slogans on the front pages of Pravda and local newspapers, they were meant to be enthusiastically announced on the radio, amplified during the state-sponsored “spontaneous” demonstrations, written on propagandistic posters, and memorized by schoolchildren and college students.
Endlessly rewritten and reshuffled to reflect the “current truth” about the ever changing party line, these talking points were always consistent with one and the same Orwellian template. The socialist USSR and its allies were the forces for peace and progress, while any resistance to their military operations, especially coming from the capitalist U.S.A. and its allies, represented “imperialism, reaction and war.”
Below are a few excerpts of such slogans prepared for the 60th anniversary of the “Great October Socialist Revolution.” They concern international relations and are addressed to the “people of the world.” Compare them to the essence of Obama’s statements:
Peoples of the world! Strengthen the efforts in the struggle for the complete liquidation of the results of Israeli aggression, for the establishment of just peace for all the governments and peoples of the Middle East, against imperialist interference in the internal affairs of Arab nations!
Peoples of the world! Struggle for the deepening of the lessening of international tension, for its expansion to all continents! Expose the efforts of the forces of aggression, revanchism, and reaction — enemies of peace and the peoples’ defense!
Peoples of the world! Strive so that the unacceptability of the use of force becomes the law in international relations and nuclear weapons are forever banned! Strengthen the struggle to end the arms race and to achieve universal and complete disarmament!
Long live the Leninist foreign policy of the Soviet Union — the policy of peace and friendship of peoples, the unity of all forces struggling against imperialism, reaction and war!
Anyone familiar with the Soviet propaganda methods knew that the same “peoples of the world” would be in big trouble should their governments take these Byzantine formulations at face value. But President Obama seems to believe the template enough to reiterate its points in Moscow — of all places!
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.