By now, you’ve probably noticed a phrase that’s crept into our vernacular: “International Community” (let’s shorten it to “IC”), and like zebra mussels, it’s probably here to stay.
Depending on context, it seems to mean either a (supposed) unified world public opinion, or else the UN itself, with (quoting Obama) its ability to “resolve conflicts, enforce rules of behavior, and build habits of cooperation that would grow stronger over time.“
Let’s look at three aspects of this topic. How it’s being used, why it’s a problem, and what better alternative we might have.
How is it used? Generally, IC is a nebulous “they”, in the same sense that ignorant people claim “they say so” when they can’t think of a better reason. It’s used as a moral “ought”, and often, as a coercive tactic for persuading people without convincing them.
Domestically, it is used — very effectively — to shut down dissenting opinion. It’s sort of a political version of psychological warfare. Dismiss anyone who opposes you as problematic, and make even questioning heretical, and punished with public shamings or worse.
“Climate-change deniers”, “bigots”, “tea-baggers” (a sexual slur, no less!), “racist”, “fascist”, “greedy” or whatever. Proof is both irrelevant and unnecessary. It isn’t about finding actual wrong-doing so much as making an idea radioactive. It’s the peer pressure of middle school bullies writ large.
Internationally, it has failed. They miscalculated, thinking tactics that worked within their own culture would carry to the international stage. But nations are less easily cowed, especially when they haven’t been gradually conditioned to bend the knee to political correctness as we have in the West.
It has failed with Putin, Iran, Iraq, the various players in the Arab Spring, and Gaza. It wouldn’t matter if they made a hundred lines — red, blue or rainbow-hued. Obama’s bluff has been called, and now nobody cares. The result? Ah, nothing much: just the emboldening of old enemies, and the neglect, abandonment, and uncertainty our allies(?) have been left with, now that America’s foreign policy is as unstable as water.
The problems with IC? They are both practical and philosophical.
The short answer is the philosophical problem: As religious people look to their holy books, and tribes look to their traditions, Statists look to the their alleged IC for their moral direction — either by appealing to the UN (that paragon of virtue!) or by a supposedly over-arching set of international values.
It’s exactly like a moral appeal to the authority of some surrogate deity. And the morals this “deity” commands just “happen” to coincide with the beliefs of the Statists themselves. How convenient for them.
There is a practical problem with the idea of an IC: it just doesn’t work. Their approach has turned a global superpower into a laughingstock.
There’s also the small matter of “unity”.
How many differing factions can you have before you fail to have “unity”? Two? Twelve? Two Hundred? To hear the champagne socialists tell it, all the world agrees (with them!) about almost everything. Really? Ok, then. How many UN votes were blocked by a Chinese or Russian veto? How unified are Sunni and Shia voices? India and Pakistan stand lockstep in their values, do they?
Of course not. The fact is, ignorance of human nature is a recipe for diplomatic disaster. Consensus is not gained because a whole bunch of people sign on to membership in one group, where majority rules. What happens when the majority of the UN’s seats favour Sharia Law? Does “death to apostates” suddenly become an international value? Will the rest of us need to pay the Jizyah?
This entire premise of an IC is to overrule what’s in your own personal or national best interest. Nations are expected to ignore what’s in the best interest of its own citizens, subjugating their actual loyalties to an actual community and instead swearing fealty to some “greater” community that couldn’t care less about issues the locals think important.
We have begun to trade national leaders for “citizens of the world”. In fact, the “birther” question misses the point, in a way. The big question isn’t whether he was born in Hawaii or Kenya. The greater question is whether his ALLEGIANCE is to the US, or to the UN. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that POTUS is not Obama’s idea of The Brass Ring. If I were to guess, I’d say that Secretary-General of the UN was.
The public needs to be alert when the National interest is being sacrificed for an International one, and soundly reject it. It is, ironically, a recipe for the worst kind of colonialism.
What is the alternative? Everyone needs relationships, even nations.
The best bet is to look around for people who share key values of rule of law, equality under law, freedoms of speech and conscience, etc, and develop THOSE international relationships. (If America still embraces such principles.)
Embracing nations that embrace the Magna Carta, and Parliamentary Democracy, for example would be a good starting place, regardless of race, colour or creed. The Anglosphere, and Commonwealth nations come to mind; Israel, India, and (what used to be) Hong Kong also share some of these values. Why should we try to impress nations that oppose everything we stand for?
Rather than a fake “international community” let’s strengthen our real ones.