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In this interview (hat tip to Melissa P), Senator Ted Cruz explains why he believes Senator Jeff Sessions is mistaken in the claim that the Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal would undermine America’s sovereignty.
Cruz points out that the international body a trade agreement like this sets up is merely advisory. In a trade dispute, the court would mediate between the two nations to judge whether or not the original agreement has been honored. But it would not be able to enforce its judgement. That lack of force is the difference between a government and … well, that other thing.
It’s not clear why a standing court, theoretically neutral, is superior to mediating disputes more directly or by more spontaneous mediation. I welcome arguments for why an international body might be merited.
The weakness in Cruz’s argument is that it dismisses pragmatic reality in preference for technicality. One need only consider the United Nations to understand what I mean.
The UN is similarly an international forum and mediator without direct enforcement power over member nations. It is only as powerful as national politicians make it. But they have made it into a quite significant authority!
Americans are taxed for the United Nations, if not directly by the United Nations. According to The Heritage Foundation:
The U.S. has been the largest financial supporter of the U.N. since the organization’s founding in 1945. The U.S. is currently assessed 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget and more than 27 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget. In dollar terms, the Administration’s budget for FY 2011 requested $516.3 million for the U.N. regular budget and more than $2.182 billion for the peacekeeping budget.
However, the U.S. also provides assessed financial contributions to other U.N. organizations and voluntary contributions to many more U.N. organizations. According to OMB, total U.S. contributions to the U.N. system were more than $6.347 billion in FY 2009. This is more than $1 billion more than total contributions as compiled by OMB for FY 2005, and it is indicative of the rising budgetary trends in the U.N. and the consequential demand on U.S. financial support.
In the 21st century, a “billion” is chump change. But the fact remains that the United States is committed to this regular expense, the appropriations of which are determined by non-Americans. That the commitment could theoretically be repealed is not different than saying any law could be repealed. Not funding the UN is as unthinkable in the District of Columbia as not publicly funding education.
More to the point, the UN has become a loosely governing body. Though American forces may act without UN approval, even Republican presidents treat the Security Council and the General Assembly as much more authoritative bodies than mere forums for consultation. Rather than deal only with select nations which share our interests on a particular issue at a particular time, our presidents look to the UN to form a general coalition with conflicting priorities. We even stomach the farce of sharia states condemning Israel for “hate” and “oppression” on our dime, and similar absurdities.
We need fewer international courts and political councils, not more. Practically speaking, we don’t create these mediating bodies to ignore them.