Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Left and International Law

We have built no temple but the Capitol, we consult no common oracle but the Constitution.

Rufus Choate, member of the US House of Representatives, 1833.

. . .an American I was born and an American I have remained all my life. I can never be anything else but an American, and I must think of the United States first, and when I think of the United States first in an arrangement like this, I am thinking what is best for the world. For if the United States fails, the best hopes of mankind fail with it. I have never had but one allegiance–I cannot divide it now. I have never loved but one flag and I cannot share that devotion and give affection to the mongrel banner invented for the League. Internationalism, illustrated by the Bolshevik and by the men to whom all countries are alike provided they can make money out of them, is to me repulsive.

National I must remain, and in that way I like all other Americans can render the amplest service to the world. . .

Henry Cabot Lodge in the Senate, 12 August 1919, speech opposing the League of Nations.

John Nichols, writing in The Nation's blog online thinks its time to "start talking" about impeaching President Bush.

Finished yawning yet ? Of course The Nation thinks that its time to start talking about impeaching the President: it no doubt would have supported impeaching President Bush even before he was inaugurated or otherwise flaying him alive even without the President’s claiming the seat desired by the sainted ALGORE. It's probably safe to assume The Nation has impeachment on the brain, and has never stopped talking about it. I'm visualizing a ginormous cuckoo clock in The Nation's editorial offices: with Bush's face on it -- and every hour the cuckoo (strangely resembling Maureen Dowd) --pops out and shrieks "Impeach !"
Still, The Nation’s latest Storm the Winter Palace screed did contain something interesting: a lengthy quotation from the usually tiresome moonbat lefty Dennis Kucinich on the floor of the House of Representatives. To be sure, Representative Kucinich is tiresome on this occasion also, but on with the show. Congressman Kucinich said, inter alia:

. . .The Administration has been preparing for an aggressive war against Iran. There is no solid, direct evidence that Iran has the intention of attacking the United States or its allies.

The US is a signatory to the UN Charter, a constituent treaty among the nations of the world. Article II, Section 4 of the UN Charter states, "all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. . ." Even the threat of a war of aggression is illegal.

Article VI of the US Constitution makes such treaties the Supreme Law of the Land. This Administration, has openly threatened aggression against Iran in violation of the US Constitution and the UN Charter.
This week the House Appropriations committee removed language from the Iraq war funding bill requiring the Administration, under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution, to seek permission before it launched an attack against Iran.
Since war with Iran is an option of this Administration and since such war is patently illegal, then impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran.
I know I’m losing sleep at night, hoping against hope that Representative Kucinich and his brave minions will be successful in protecting plucky little harmless Iran from aggression by the Imperialist Bush administration !
Okay, not.
Mr. Kucinich’s and The Nation’s vaporings aside, this Kucinich rant is of interest because it so completely and faithfully parrots a favored conceit of the Left -- the concept that international law trumps US law, or the Constitution. I’m never sure if the Lefties pushing this stuff actually believe it; are just plain ignorant; or, if it’s their wish-dream to see the US tied down like Gulliver by the international law/NGO crowd. I strongly suspect the latter. In any case: the concept that international law trumps domestic law, a favorite shibboleth of the Left – and the view supposedly held (of course) in Europe – is not always valid here.
It is quite enough that we pay for the UN, it is much too much to require us to actually listen to it. Fortunately, Representative Kucinich is quite wrong about the requirements of the law.
In the United States, a treaty (such as, say, the UN Charter), stands on the same basis as Federal legislation. This means that its obligations, so far as the US are concerned, can be modified by subsequent legislation, even if this amounts to a “violation” of the treaty. The international position of the US on such a treaty is a political matter, to be resolved between sovereign governments.
As far as American law is concerned, the last action in time controls. Moreover – to the extent that a treaty contravenes the Constitution – it can be held unconstitutional by the Courts, and thus of no effect. Executive Agreements and similar international “laws” which do not enjoy the status of treaties are on an even weaker footing. Finally, by virtue of the Supreme Court's dismissal of Goldwater v. Carter, 444 U.S. 996 (1979) -- the President apparently has the power to unilaterally abrogate a treaty without obtaining the consent of Congress. Goldwater involved complaints by Senators, including Barry Goldwater, concerning President Carter's termination of a defense treaty with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
One assumes that Representative Kucinich knows all this, although I’m less certain of his fellow inhabitants of the lefty fever-swamps. In any case, most Lefties seem content to have the US take its cues from foreigners and follow their mongrel banners: tying America down with "international law," even to our country's detriment. No thank you.