There’s been a lot of reliance on International Law from both sides of the political spectrum. Liberals as an overriding sourcebook for our morality and conduct primarily overseas, and increasingly at home. That our foreign affairs should be governed by this international framework. Conservatives have been using it as yet another rally-the-base incitement against French people.
Conservatives are retarded, as usual. They only hate International Law in foreign affairs now because it’s getting in Bush’s way. Clearly there’s an argument against using it in American jurisprudence.. as Justices Kennedy and Breyer have hinted at doing. But even there, it’s mostly just being used as a helpful moral reference point to ponder.. and all American common law is taken wholesale from the English, after all.
All that being said, I’m going to critique Liberals who use it now, because I fundamentally care about what they think, whereas I think Republicans are retarded.
1. It’s not very Democratic
Treaties – the major source of International Law – are only weakly Democratic at the best of times. They are negotiated and agreed to by the Executive branch, and usually rubber-stamped by Congress. They reflect – not Domestic political concerns – but the give and take of international negotiations. Take, for example, the League of Nations. It reflects not a democratic mandate to Wilson, but protracted international struggles. In addition, nations that ratify these laws often don’t require much in the way of democratic approval, thus robbing the agreements of much of their ‘Morality of the World’ argument.
For example, the same process that led to the WTO and IMF – widely reviled among Liberals – also lead to the Geneva Conventions. The trend is clearly towards centralization and non-democratic agreements.
The same process that led the US to sign the Geneva Convention could just as easily get rid of it. The President takes us out of it, and the Republican-led Congress approves. That’s as Democratic as it gets with these things. Does that deprive it of moral weight?
2. They barely make sense
Some Conventions are genuinely widespread, like the first Geneva Conventions. But the rest of ‘International Law’ is patchwork.. confused.. old. The International Criminal Court, for example, has only 14 signatories, pretty much all of them EU. Does it hold any authority over the US? Should it? How about the Treaties against Mines? Almost everyone has signed that one, excepting the US and a few evil nations. Does it hold any moral weight? Or legal weight to be considered?
3. It gives up too much in Sovereignity
There are some Liberals who seem to want to use International Law as a trump card over US objectives overseas and at home. That’s a dangerous road to walk. The International Criminal Court, for example, would give a lot of power to people completely unaccountable to our democratic processes… same as with other international institutions. That’s not something to enter into lightly. Personally, I don’t trust Europeans – or any other Nation – more then I trust the US. What will I get out of it ceding moral and legal authority to them as a group?