Obama, in the U.N. Straitjacket

I’ve just had a quick piece in the Washington Times as part of their special section for Monday’s foreign policy debate. One of the clear dividing lines between Obama and Romney, and between liberals and conservatives, I argue, is their attitude toward the U.N.  Here’s a short description of the thesis:

Idolatry of the U.N. presents a stark dividing line between the candidates that should become clear in Monday’s debate. Mitt Romney can provide the justification for vigorous American action — unilateral if need be — against Syria and Iran. Syria supports Hezbollah, it has occupied Lebanon, and it helped Iraqi insurgents kill American soldiers. Regime change not only would save thousands of Syrian civilians, it would stop an aggressive actor from destabilizing the region and cut off Iran’s efforts to spread its influence in the Arab world. Iran not only pursues nuclear weapons, which could lead to WMD proliferation and a nuclear arms race with its neighbors, but it has spent the past three decades supporting terrorism and attempting to upend the regional balance of power. It has threatened to destroy Israel and attack its neighbors, close the Strait of Hormuz, interfere in Iraq’s transition to democracy and even plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has wrapped itself in a straitjacket of international institutions and laws that seek to prevent our freedom of action and subordinate American sovereignty to the whims of “the international community.” This not only paralyzes American initiative but tethers our national interest to a failed experiment. As the United Nations enters its sixth decade, it suffers from a crisis of ineffectiveness and corruption.

  1. Lavaux

    I believe it would be political suicide for Romney to infer or even make a statement that could support the inference that he supports launching another war in the Middle East. S-U-I-C-I-D-E. This is obvious to even the dullest GOP operative, so I don’t expect him to do any saber-rattling in Monday’s debate.

    Instead, Romney should emphasize that his first duty as president is to protect America from all enemies, both foreign and domestic, according to the powers granted and limitations imposed by the United States Constitution (it would help to point out that on his first day in office he will swear an oath on the Bible to do just this). Therefore, Romney does not recognize the United Nations as a source of authority granting him power, limiting his power, or defining his duties or policies with regard to national defense. What’s more, he would not send American military forces to fight in foreign wars on permission of the UN; that’s Congress’ role at least under established practice violated by Obama without excuse or apology when he sent American troops to Libya.

  2. KC Mulville

    I don’t know the legal particulars, so I’m curious about what the Ricochet legal analysts think of the Dick Morris claim that Obama will facilitate UN taxes and regulations on Americans.

    The argument is that after the elections Obama and the Democrat Senate will sign treaties, which only need the president and senate to ratify, that will empower the UN to extract fees and taxes from Americans. I know that John Yoo has already discussed the Law of the Sea Treaty, but Morris argues that they’re going to go full-court on this tactic.

    Is it legally possible? Is it politically possible?

  3. Vice-Potentate

    The American people would never stand for a blanket tax from an international body like the U.N. Of course, people thought the same thing about the income tax and look how that turned out.

  4. The Mugwump
    KC Mulville:  Is it legally possible? Is it politically possible? · 7 minutes ago

    Not without a civil war. 

  5. Vice-Potentate

    I agree that deference to the U.N. is a fundamental flaw in Obama’s first term agenda and judging by the Ryan/Biden debate I think the U.N. will be a major Romney talking point on Monday. However, I would caution Romney against aggressive rhetoric in regard to Iran or Syria. One line taken out of context could dominate the newscycle all the way to election day. Instead, were I Romney, I would focus on support for Israel and taking responsibility for foreign policy decisions or mishaps.

  6. Devereaux

    I almost coughed my drink through my nose with your line about “destabilizing the region”. ?Are talking the Mideast here on earth. It is the definition of unstable.

    I still fail to understand what rational we have to help anyone in the Syrian conflict. Yes, the Iranians and the Ahelwites are nasty, but no less so than the current “rebels” who will surely purge the Ahelewites if they win this war and then carry on their version of jihad. The Syria that emerges will be either a grossly ineffective state or yet another muslim redoubt to attack Israel from, and we aren’t likely to change that much.

    I would agree that our “influence” in the area is slim, but I am not sure that interfering in Syria has any non-ethereal benefits for us. When thugs get in a fight, sometimes it is best to let them duke it out.

    As for the UN, the easiest way to allow them to slip into the insignificant role they deserve is to stop paying “our fair share”.  It would quickly reduce the staff and other silliness to something we can then rightfully disregard.

  7. SooperMexican

    In agreement with Vice-Potentate… John Yoo gives great reasons why it is very reasonable to help topple the Syrian regime, but I don’t think it’s politically palatable for the American people. It would give Obama too much of an opening to say that in addition to wanting to continue the economic policies that “brought us into a recession” [which is false], he could then add some rhetoric about Romney wanting to repeat Bush’s entry into Afghanistan and Iraq, neither of which are very popular.

  8. David Williamson
    John Yoo: As the United Nations enters its sixth decade, it suffers from a crisis of ineffectiveness and corruption. 

    Which is why Mr Obama will likely be it’s next Secretary General, after he is relieved of his present non-optimum duties, trying to transform a bunch of ungrateful schmucks – us.

    An ideal place to lead from behind.

  9. Israel P.
    John Yoo:

    As the United Nations enters its sixth decade, it suffers from a crisis of ineffectiveness and corruption. · · 2 hours ago

    The United Nations is well into its seventh decade, as am I.

    I am not sure which is more depressing. (At least I don’t suffer from corruption.)

  10. Israel P.
    Lavaux: I believe it would be political suicide for Romney to infer or even make a statement that could support the inference that he supports launching another war in the Middle East. S-U-I-C-I-D-E. This is obvious to even the dullest GOP operative, so I don’t expect him to do any saber-rattling in Monday’s debate.

    He will have to be firm and clear on the “peace through strength” argument.

  11. Mike Poliquin

    Kicking butt and getting out in both Iraq and Afghanistan would have been better than where we have gone with those projects: let’s use our 20/20 hindsight and avoid another foreign entanglement.

    Let’s try policies foreign and domestic that look out for the best interests of Americans by freeing them of the burdens of war, debt, and progressivism in general. A strong American military and economy mean prosperity and security for more people worldwide.

    If Prez Romney tries to re-make Syria it’ll be one term and out. There’s no reason to believe Islamists won’t replace Assad or any American puppet.

    We have two ways to help us beat the upstarts of the Middle East: unflinching support for Israel and drilling for our own oil. Let’s win with an honorable foreign policy backed by a healthy U.S. economy that grows faster than its debt and unfunded liabilities.

    We’re at the point where Romney and Ryan can start losing votes if they get crazy. They’ve played it beautifully so far: a W foreign policy position will turn the W they seem to be heading for into an L very, very quickly.

  12. KarlUB

    I take a back seat to no man in disdaining the UN.But I 100% guarantee you without reservation– and $1000 of my own money (which is a lot to me)– that if Romney makes clear he entertains the options of acting unitarily in Iran or Syria that his momentum will cease and he will lose the election.Libertarians that are reluctantly on board and independents that are worried about jobs will be scared away to Johnson and Obama, respectively.This is a good thing, by the way, and I hope Romney knows it. If he doesn’t he does not deserve to be President anyway.

  13. flownover

    You think the wrapping itself in that cocoon/blanket was(a) innocently unaware of the quality of the effectiveness of that milieu or (b) deliberately using that ineffectiveness to express their overwhelming disinterest in governance or (c) aligning themselves with the remnants of collectivist fascism and world order ?

    not even going to (d) all of the above…….too scary

  14. Songwriter
    ~Paules: The U.N. has outlived its usefulness.  It’s time to unilaterally declare the organization dissolved, cut off its funding, and expel its diplomats.  We can then invite back the delegations of friendly nations and reconstitute the body as the League of Democratic States.  Membership to be based on consensual government, respect for human rights and free markets.  · 15 hours ago

    I’ve said it before, and I say it again: What Paules said.

  15. John Yoo
    C
    KC Mulville: …  I’m curious about what the Ricochet legal analysts think of the Dick Morris claim that Obama will facilitate UN taxes and regulations on Americans.

    … Is it legally possible? Is it politically possible? · 5 hours ago

    The progressive left would love to rule through international institutions, if they could.  As Woodrow Wilson first recognized, the Constitution’s separation of powers and federalism stand as a barrier to the enactment of sweeping social reform.  Some liberals have sought to bring laws down from supranational institutions and international law into the United States, which would effectively avoid the Constitution’s checks on centralized power.  Many academics support this move, and several of the movement’s leading lights are now or have been serving in the Obama administration.  This effort to use international treaties and law to sidestep the Constitution is the concern of my latest book, Taming Globalization, which came out in April.  Luckily, so far, the Supreme Court and Congress have resisted this trend, and there is an important case on the Supreme Court docket this fall involving the Alien Tort Statute which will determine whether the Court will continue to contain the domestic effects of international law.

  16. Illiniguy
    Lavaux: Instead, Romney should emphasize that his first duty as president is to protect America from all enemies, both foreign and domestic, according to the powers granted and limitations imposed by the United States Constitution…Therefore, Romney does not recognize the United Nations as a source of authority granting him power, limiting his power, or defining his duties or policies with regard to national defense. What’s more, he would not send American military forces to fight in foreign wars on permission of the UN; that’s Congress’ role… · 6 hours ago

    Edited 6 hours ago

    If he can stick with that, and forcefully, he’ll again distinguish himself from Obama and set what would become known as the Romney Doctrine.

  17. flownover
    John Yoo

     whether the Court will continue to contain the domestic effects of international law. · 1 hour ago

    So Professor is the answer to my question (c) ?

    Thanks.

  18. skoook

    What should Mitt say about the current relationship between USA and UN and how his State Department would manage that relationship ?

    “I would ask my secretary of State to assess the value of our UN Membership and identify what needs to be reset. Make  that assessment  publicly available and begin the serious debate the subject deserves. ”

    Right now Syria rebel internals too opaque for informed judgement. We stand with Isreal in middle east, who else can we trust.

  19. KC Mulville
    John Yoo  This effort to use international treaties and law to sidestep the Constitution is the concern of my latest book, Taming Globalization, which came out in April.  Luckily, so far, the Supreme Court and Congress have resisted this trend, and there is an important case on the Supreme Court docket this fall involving the Alien Tort Statute which will determine whether the Court will continue to contain the domestic effects of international law. 

    I feel a little better. (OK, I feel a little silly – now I suddenly remember that you discussed these issues during a Law Talk podcast, in addition to your book. I also saw video of a talk you gave on it. In my defense, that was ages ago – back then, Newt Gingrich was still a candidate. Hard to remember that long ago.) 

  20. The Mugwump

    The U.N. has outlived its usefulness.  It’s time to unilaterally declare the organization dissolved, cut off its funding, and expel its diplomats.  We can then invite back the delegations of friendly nations and reconstitute the body as the League of Democratic States.  Membership to be based on consensual government, respect for human rights and free markets.