John Roberts and the "Dictatorship of Tolerance"

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The bombings in London, and Tony Blair's tough-on-terror crackdown on liberalism, have caused me to ask for a punditry mulligan re: questions for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. For me, the judicial issue that matters most of all is, how will the Supreme Court respond after the next catastrophic attack on U.S. soil prompts the Executive Branch to seize still more power and shake off still more scrutiny of its actions, while a hooting Zell Miller chorus howls for the blood of the ACLU and insufficiently deferential Republican judges.

My crude fourth-hand take on Roberts is that he's impressively bright, one of those shiny-eyed God-fearing conservatives, and (perhaps most relevant of all) an extremely nimble navigator of Beltway judicial politics from the Republican side of the aisle. If the latter gene proves dominant, and God forbid some jackhole blows up LAX, I'd worry that a politically sensitive judge would be more persuaded by the prevailing vibes coming from his party and the general public, than by the checks on power written into and suggested by the Constitution.

I don't expect any nominee or friend of George W. Bush (or Bill Clinton, for that matter) to be persuaded by the unpopular libertarian argument that freedom actually makes us safer, not more vulnerable. That concept isn't even popular among many self-described libertarians, some of whom have spent the last three-plus years politely debating bogus "ticking time-bomb" scenarios, mainstreaming the case for ethnic-based internment, and uncharacteristically treating liberty and security as a zero-sum game. We've seen already how a few score dead in the UK can lead to quick government power-grabs and popular jeremiads against "the theocracy of tolerance" (a phrase as alluringly inaccurate as the "the dictatorship of relativism"), and with that whole Anglo-American similarity we've heard so much about, it makes me ever-more grateful that we have a document that provides a brake against popular calls for illiberal measures.

So the best I can hope for is that the politically-savvy nominee be willing to make a deeply unpopular defense of the Constitution under the most trying of circumstances. Where's Bernard Shaw when you need him? Judge Roberts, terrorists have just raped and killed your family, friends, and half of Capitol Hill. Would you still believe in the Bill of Rights?

NEXT: Abe Hirschfeld, R.I.P.

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  1. I’d say his amicus brief in the clinic bombers case, the one that has NARAL all freaked out, would be a point in his favor on this question.

    Unless you agree with NARAL that he was siding with antiabortion terrorists in order to strike a blow against abortion. Me, I don’t buy it.

  2. I’ve said it before and I will say it again..

    Robert’s concurrence in the Hamdan case, his support of the expanding powers of the Executive and his belief that there is no constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy that scare the hell out of me.

  3. Plot By The Man.

    The man was forced to leave.
    The man left and found a new place he thought.
    The man said he found it first.
    The man met and neutralized those he met in the new place.
    The man took over.
    The man became legendary.
    The man went into business.
    The man became richer than everyone else combined.
    The man expanded his business.
    The man went global.
    The man went interplanatary.
    The man went intersolar.
    The man had it all.

    eccept for one thing…

    The man failed to plan wisely.
    The man concentrated on plotting to keep everyone including his friends down.
    The man setup a sytem only he could use.
    The man setup many services to decipher who was a friend.
    The man decided to hide the system from everyone else.
    The man thought he had a way to control everything.
    The man had a war machine and used it to enforce his will.
    The man fired all his workers.
    The man let all his farmers, factories and schools go under.
    The man let all his churches and parks go under.
    The man let all his businesses go under as well.
    The man made filthy his new place as well
    The man moved his remaining business to foreign shores to make more money for himself.
    The man refused to try it any other way.
    The man enforced his idiotic policies.
    The man never bothered to listen.

    it has come to pass…

    The plot by the man…has failed.

    POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

  4. his belief that there is no constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy

    There isn’t, not in those terms.

    The Constitution consists of specific grants of power and specific restrictions on government. These are based on an underlying vision of government being allowed to operate only in a circumscribed sphere, with the remaining sphere being private.

    You never even have to chase after emanations of penumbras if you stick to the original scheme. Basically, there is no grant of power to the national government in the Constitution that would allow it to regulate abortion. Thus, no federal law on abortion would be Constitutional, not because there is a “right to privacy” but because such a law would be beyond the federal government’s enumerated powers.

  5. joe, check out factcheck on the NARAL ad. His position is pretty clear and, agree or disagree, not at all what the ad makes it out to be. You’re right to be suspicious.

    http://www.factcheck.org/article340.html

    As far as the topic goes, well, you don’t actually expect the SCOTUS to check executive power, do you? Roberts or otherwise, I have little faith that any nominee will act to preserve liberty anymore.

  6. R C,

    I wasn’t concerning myself with only abortion. The right to privacy, at least in my mind, is more than just abortion rights. It includes things like the Lawrence ruling, the Griswold ruling, the Pierce ruling. But even so I disagree that the right to privacy isn’t guaranted by the Constitution. It may not be explicitly stated as such, but it is guaranteed implcitly (IMHO) even using your logic (which I don’t disagree with) that the gov’t is limited in what it can regulate within peoples lives.

  7. I’ll confess. I don’t understand the case that freedom makes us safer from people with bombs.

    I like freedom more than almost anyone I know personally, but I have always thought there was a tradeoff between freedom and security to some degree.

    The libertarian argument I am persuaded by is that you wouldn’t want to pay the liberty price that a strong security guarantee implied. That is not the same as saying that lack of formal security makes us safer. More like the marginal cost on actually increasing security is very high.

    Conclusion for me? Fight somewhere else and not in my backyard to the extent possible.

  8. The bombings in London, and Tony Blair’s tough-on-terror crackdown on liberalism…

    It be nice if the British did something substantial and legal re: their laws re: terrorism. I dunno, like maybe allowing evidence garnered from wiretaps into their courts. Instead they’d rather create despicable deportation regimes and speech laws which attack the very heart of what it means to be a liberal society.

    R.C. Dean,

    The “right of privacy” sweeps into many areas besides abortion rights.

    ChicagoTom,

    The problem here is the states; at least under the pre-14th amendment system their ability to “regulate” or “police” the lives of their citizens were close to being absolute. If you want to see a real example of nanny-statism bordering on what we would consider today totalitarianism just look at the 19th century state “police power” regimes in the states of the United States. Indeed, I direct you to Chief Justice Shaw’s decision in Commonwealth v. Alger (1851) (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts).

  9. The bombings in London, and Tony Blair’s tough-on-terror crackdown on liberalism…

    Indeed, I say if these guys are as bad as they claim that they, put them in the courts and try them. Of course the reason why they use terms like “spiritual leader” of Al Qaeda in Europe is due to the lack of evidence. They’d rather immolate their commitments against torture and send these folks off to Jordan on an informal understanding. How is an informal understanding going to stop them when the treaties that they’ve signed haven’t?

  10. Jason-

    There are indeed trade-offs between security and limits on the power of the state. However, the game is not zero-sum. For instance, if peaceful people have reason to fear the police then they’ll be more likely to flee from cops and do other things that cause the cops to waste resources. If moderate Muslims feel like objects of constant suspicion then they may be more likely to circle the wagons in denial, and less likely to tell the cops about the creepy guy at the mosque who has suddenly developed an interest in chemistry spending a few years obsessively studying religion and ranting about politics. And his roommate, a Pakistani student with visa problems, will be less likely to tell the cops that all of the guy’s experiments seem to involve nitrogen-rich compounds.

    So a government that’s more benevolent in certain regards might actually get more cooperation from the public.

    On the general issue of terrorism and the powers of the state:

    Suppose that a guy has an argument with his boss at the subway. So he plants a bomb to get revenge. A bunch of people die. He’s not an ideological fanatic, he’s just an American citizen who murdered a bunch of people. And let’s say his name is “Timothy Johnson” or “Michael Smith” or some other mundane name.

    I think most people here would agree that he should be put on trial in a regular court before a jury, and after being found guilty he should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment (depending on one’s views on capital punishment).

    Now, let’s say that another US citizen, an angry young Muslim man (born and raised here, just as the guys who bombed the London subway were born and raised there), does the exact same thing. Same damage, same death toll. But he says he did it to strike a blow against the Great Satan.

    How many people here would say that he should be put on trial in a regular court?

  11. Let’s make my question more concrete:

    How many people think that Timothy McVeigh should have been held without trial as an enemy combatant?

    How many people think that Eric Rudolph should have been held without trial as an enemy combatant? Keep in mind that Rudolph survived in hiding for years with the help of a shadowy network of like-minded religious fanatics.

    Now, how many people here think that Jose Padilla, a US citizen like McVeigh and Rudolph, should be held without trial as an enemy combatant?

    Keep in mind that Padilla’s death toll is (apparently) lower than McVeigh’s or even Rudolph’s. (From what I’ve read he was involved in one murder years ago, and there is no indication that he’s killed anybody since then, although you can never be sure.) Keep in mind that Padilla was born in the US. And keep in mind that Padilla, like Rudolph, joined a shadowy network of religious fanatics.

    So, I ask again, which (if any) of these guyst should be held without trial as an enemy combatant?

  12. thoreau:

    I agree with the general tone of what you wrote. What makes me scratch my head is not that there are tradeoffs we aren’t willing to make, but Matt’s argument that freedom makes us safer (presumably from terrorist type threats). The Pakistani student argument along these lines seems a bit thin, no offense.

    I don’t think the argument is really about Mike vs. Jose and how people want to treat them. It has to do with the nature of the crime, the probability of another coming, and domestic law vs. international “law”. To make the cases more parallel, you’d need to have an organization issuing daily threats of more McVeigh type bombing attacks and qualify that we can’t pinpoint the location of the cult or whathaveyou. I’d still give McVeigh a trial and due process, but I’d be a liar if I told you that I thought doing so as opposed to interrogating him was making me safer.

  13. “speech laws which attack the very heart of what it means to be a liberal society.”

    Hakluyt,

    How the hell are laws that criminalize speech that incites hatred and violence be considered illiberal?

  14. Jason-

    What I fundamentally disagree with is the notion that we’re “giving” somebody a trial. Going through legal proceedings is not a gift to the defendant. Trials are something we do to keep the executive branch in check, since the executive branch is both fallible and corruptible.

    Maybe the Pakistani student wasn’t the best example. My main point was that we’ll all be sfaer if non-violent people, especially moderate Muslims, have fewer reasons to fear authority.

    Finally, on the subject of whether the terrorist is part of a network that poses an ongoing threat: Who says it’s impossible to get information out of somebody facing trial? Plea bargains in exchange for information are nothing new. And it’s not like Eric Rudolph was a loner. He spent several years on the run, sheltered by a network of like-minded fanatics. Sure, those fanatics aren’t issuing daily threats on Al Jazeera, but the fact that they aided him knowingly means that they’re out there and willing to violate the law and sanction violence. Clearly that underground remains an ongoing threat.

    What did we lose by handling Rudolph via the regular system?

  15. Jason-

    Another thought: You do raise a good point about how we need to get information out of people if the threat is ongoing. But some of the events in England suggest that Islamic terrorism is increasingly being organized around a franchise model. Cells have only a very tenuous connection to external leadership, receiving some advice and training but little in the way of money or direct orders. What if the investigators realize that the most they’ll get from a suspect is the name of one trainer (and the name is probably fake)? They get that name, they follow it up. At that point is it OK to charge the suspects in a regular court?

  16. Clarification:

    When I say the name is probably “fake” I mean that the trainer gave the terrorists a fake name. They aren’t deliberately lying, but they only communicated with him a few times, and once he’d taught them a few thing he switched aliases and won’t respond to anybody searching for him under his old alias. (He figures that if somebody comes looking for him under that name then it’s probably a cop.)

    If Islamic terrorism organizes itself in that manner then it will be very hard to defeat. But, at the same time, with such tenuous connections between cells there will be very little that you can get from even the most cooperative suspect, so it will be hard to justify holding somebody without trial long after he’s been as useful as he can be.

  17. andy,

    How the hell are laws that criminalize speech that incites hatred and violence be considered illiberal?

    Because liberal societies eschew content-based restrictions on speech. I may not like the ideas of cross-burners, communists who call for the overthrow of the government, etc. but the content of their speech remains protected in a liberal society.

  18. andy,

    But here, you tell what is more part of a liberal society: content based restrictions on speech or allowing for wiretap evidence to be admitted into trials if the wiretap has judicial approval?

    How the hell are laws that criminalize speech that incites hatred and violence be considered illiberal?

    BTW, let’s be clear that the law sweeps so far that its difficult to tell what is and isn’t criminalized. In the U.S. it be void for either vagueness or overbreadth.

  19. Jason,

    It is making you safer because if trial by jury goes away, a lot of ppl are going to get very angry. So angry that they commit random acts of violence, even terrorism. And you might be caught in one of the attacks. Ergo, freedom is making you safer.

    You fear the terrorists you currently see. Time to start fearing the terrorists that your proposals will create.

  20. Jason,

    To spell it out a little more, if trial by jury goes away, then any political dissident will fear the new Gulag. That was bad enuf for Soviet Russia. However, in 1986 or so, the Butthole Surfers released Locust Abortion Technician. This piece of alternative rock LP kicks off with a powerful insight, to wit: “it is better to regret something you have done, then something you haven’t done.” When a Gulag fearing dissident in teh new style security state reflects on this in her heart, she is a lot likelier to, uhhh, do something.

  21. Let me clarify a little. All Americans get trials. I am not conditioning that on anything. What I am saying is that the further claim that the approach serves as some sort of generalizable approach to terrorists strikes me as facile.

    We can persue a guy like Randolph through our legal system because we know that he is ultimately constrained in what he can do by that same system. We have a context that we know he is operating in, and law enforcement has ways within that context of containing and persuing a suspect.

    Remove Randolph from the States. Put him in a country of Catholic Extremists or something where local popular opinion is that bombing clinics is a good idea and the local government to maintain power must at least appear to be supporting such a glorious Catholic. You will NEVER find him through law enforcement means. Not only he, but everyone similarly inclined in said region can operate with impunity. There is no deterrent to the bomber, who is clearly ready to die, but there is also no deterrent to the bomb maker, the trainer, the government coddling these sorts of people, and so on, because they have “sovereignity” under the UN charter. No player anywhere in this scenario has any reason to be concerned whatsoever about what the FBI regional office is doing.

    I am concerned that persuing terrorists through law enforcement means into a an unsympathetic country where we don’t make the laws and they aren’t upheld anyway is the same as doing nothing. It is not the case that every terrorist organization enjoys this level of support, but plenty do, and, even worse, all it takes is for any organization to have a base of operations in one such region and they will always be able to reconstitute themselves.

    Unlike Matt, I think the ticking timebomb scenario, or variants of it, is very worthwhile to think about. It is worth considering whether there is any form of deterrence in place, it is worth considering what the probability of preventing follow up attacks might be, it is worth considering what exactly we are supposed to do if they just keep sending bombers here. Any reasonable response to terrorism, to me, must:

    A) establish some mode of deterrence against those who are deterrable (those footing the bill, and the clerics who never seem to want to blow themselves up come to mind). By deterred, I mean afraid of death.

    B) not allow for a safe haven where we just can’t do anything as a matter of principle. No safe haven anywhere.

    C) recognize international law for what it is – agreements between parties that are willing to play by the same rules. All it takes is for one party not to agree, and there is no law that is applicable. Ultimately, international agreements are only as useful as the enforcement mechanism backing them.

  22. Jason,

    I think others have shown the fundamental argument that government is the more persistent, continuous and powerful threat than a loosely dispersed group of criminals, no matter how well funded or determined, will ever be.

    So, I’ll march into the lion’s den and make the argument on your terms: liberty, economic and personal, makes citizens more safe. Why? The genesis of the logic starts from a statement you made:

    “More like the marginal cost on actually increasing security is very high.”

    Once you admit security is a “good” that is procured on the margin like any other good, you have to start questioning whether government is going to be any good at determining the margin for each individual. After all, that is one of the basic tenets of libertarianism – government programs generally fail because the government cannot efficiently or accurately make marginal decisions for individuals.

    Case in point: Homeland security. I read recently about several million dollars going to Podunk, Iowa under Homeland security auspices. Now, I guarantee that those farmers wouldn’t be spending a million dollars of their own money to protect against terrorist attacks – they know better. On the other hand, I bet if NYC residents had that tax money back, they would be spending it like crazy to protect themselves from future terrorist attacks – they know that they are likely future targets. And the further down the line you localize the decision, the more accurate and efficient it will become. The apartment dweller in the Bronx who is worried about the next meal would rather spend their money on that than protecting Donald Trump’s real estate, or even on the extremely unlikely chance that a terrorist would target his apartment – the cost wouldn’t be worth the perceived benefit. Meanwhile, the Donald would rationally spend quite a bit in protecting his property.

    So, economic liberty, at the very least, would lead to more security, even if you innocently assume that the government will always be your friend…

  23. B) not allow for a safe haven where we just can’t do anything as a matter of principle. No safe haven anywhere.

    What if a Cuban terrorist is hiding in the US? Does Cuba get to come into the US and find the guy? If the US is hesitant to open up FLA to the Cuban (or Cuban ally’s) army, should Cuba point enuf nukes at Miami so that the US better understands your limits on int’l law? You’ll be okay with that arrangement and those incentives?

    I’m not. I don’t think you have really thought this thru.

  24. thoreau,

    Keep it up with the questions, smart ass, and we’ll put your as in a cage and induct you into the fraternity.

    You like question? I know a place where they ask LOTS of questions.

  25. Hakluyt,

    Clearly (I hope) you agree that laws like “inciting a riot” should remain on the books. And clearly ou agree that some cracker saying, “Someone ought to shoot that sumbitch Clinton” shouldn’t be prosecuted.

    So where’s the line?

  26. Dave W:

    I have thought about this quite a bit, but it is possible I’m just dense.

    There is an element to my argument you have missed. Despots have no sovereignity. They are allowed to exist because it is usually too annoying or costly to kick them off of their seats of government. There is no parity between what Castro does and what the US does.

    Now, lets say that there is a French terrorist hiding in the US. In that case, I would certainly expect French law enforcement to have a role in his capture. The French army does not need to show up because we are two countries who both operate according to international extratdition treaties and so forth. Law enforcement works on US soil becuase we have rule of law, and because law flows (in theory) from the people.

  27. To put a finer point on it, this:

    “If the US is hesitant to open up FLA to the Cuban (or Cuban ally’s) army, should Cuba point enuf nukes at Miami so that the US better understands your limits on int’l law?”

    is exactly the relationship between Cuba and the US right now. They aren’t ‘my limits’ on international law. International law is absolutely nothing other than agreements that can be enforced ultimately by military power or mutual agreement. If two parties disagree, there is only law as far as there is military enforcement. Have you noticed that parties of a certain stripe don’t really seem to care when the UN issues condemnations? No enforcement, no law.

  28. joe,

    Not where the British are currently drawing it, that’s for sure. Honestly, they’ve stepped into the whole “hate speech” trap, and its clear that under the Blair regime’s standard that merely voicing dislike of women in the workplace could land one in the dock – that’s how broad and vague the language is. Senator Santorum better not visit Britain, or he’ll find his arse deported to Egypt. 🙂

    But as I wrote above, it be nice if the British got around to allowing wiretap evidence into their courts so they could convict people that they now want to deport.

  29. Jason Ligon,

    The French army does not need to show up because we are two countries who both operate according to international extratdition treaties and so forth.

    Its a little more complicated than that because as a rule France doesn’t allow extradition of its citizens even they have committed a crime on foreign soil (this assumes that the individual has made it back within some portion of French territory – be it metropolitan France or its overseas portions). France will try the individual in France if the crime is serious enough though.

    Of course the U.S. lacks extradition treaties with dozens of countries.

  30. “Despots have no sovereignity.”

    Every single one of the governments in existence at the time the concept of sovereignty was developed – ever single one of them – was a despotism of one sort or another.

  31. What if the United States becomes a despotism, either thru election fraud or oterwise. Does that mean the US loses its soverneighty? Who decides whether the US has become a despotism? Doe Taiwan have soverneight, but China no?

    I don’t think the talismanic word “despotism” really gets us out of our difficulty in a meaningful way here.

  32. “I don’t think the talismanic word “despotism” really gets us out of our difficulty in a meaningful way here.”

    I do. Is there rule of law flowing from the people or not? If so, law can be used as a tool. If not, law is not present or is arbitrary and therefore can’t be used as a tool. The unwillingness to draw this distinction is where I part ways with many libertarians. There is no alternative. My whole point is that force is what defines and underlies all international relations between unwilling actors. Acting as though unwilling actors are really playing by the same rules is not a valid analysis.

    Legitimacy in international affairs means something different.

  33. ” Is there rule of law flowing from the people or not?”

    If you follow this far enough, you’re going end up in Wonderland, Alice. Does despotism exist if more than half the country doesn’t support the current leader? (obviously loaded question)

    Do you really believe that everything our government does flows from “we, the people”? How about China? Russia? France?

    Do you get a chance to vote on the War on Drugs? Or Welfare?

    What about the people who voted against our Constitution when it was ratified? How about the slaves and their descendants?

    Just because we have a managed democracy does not mean that anything “flows from the people”. Quite to the contrary, our government flows from the special interests, who are usually the interested minority in any given issue.

    And as joe has noted, every single sovereign nation that currently exists was founded in despotism. How do you draw the line? And who gets to draw it? I’m sure you’d be happy if you were, but what if the Chinese get to?

  34. Jason,

    So you would have the US extradite the Cuban terrorist to Venezuela?

    Or are they not in the soverneighty club either?

    How does one know if a nation is in or out?

    Does the Rule of law in Venezuela flow from the people? Is the law in Venezuela arbitrary, under your personal standards of capriciosity? Is the law present there? Are they a willing actor an unwilling actor?

    Still having difficulty with your instructions here.

  35. “Is there rule of law flowing from the people or not?”

    Not in international affairs, it doesn’t. International law flows from agreements between governments, regardless of their democratic legitimacy.

    We uphold because it is a good idea to do so, not because of a moral commitment to rights. Governments don’t have rights, including the right to sovereignty. Unlike the god-given rights discussed in the Declaration, our government’s respect for sovereignty is wholly amoral, and based on practical concerns.

    Once again, you’re so busy arguing “We’re on the side of the angels, dammit!” that you neglect to ask, “Is this a good idea?”

    We respect nations’ sovereignty because we don’t want to see an international order based on the law of the jungle, red in tooth and claw. It doesn’t advance our interests or our ideals for nation states to feel that they can violate each others territorial integrety any damn time they feel like it. We want them to feel constrained when they covet their neighbor’s land and have a momentary military advantage.

    As the superpower, we set the tone. And, just as our declarations about the War on Terror have encouraged China and Russia to use terror as an excuse to further their imperial ambitions in Central Asia, our disregard for the concept of international sovereignty is going to end up with a whole lot of people dead too early.

  36. “international sovereignty” should be “national sovereignty” There is no international sovereignty.

    Yet. Bwah hah hah hah haaaaa!

  37. There is no international sovereignty.

    Sure there is, and it is pretty absolute unles / until challenged. As a matter of fact, since we cannot prove that a challenge to Earth’s soverneighty will ever be challenged, it stands to simple atheistic reasoning that it never will be either.

  38. Didn’t H.G. Wells write a novel about a challenge to Earth’s sovereignty?

  39. Oh, give me a break guys. You are seriously going to argue that a power from the people standard can’t be employed? How about this, “Can people operating within the legal structure of the government in question change their leaders? Is is codified into law that the leaders must obey the will of the people in at least this way?”

    joe:

    I completely understand, and even sympathize with your pragmatic argument here. I just don’t think it is complete. There is a practical downside to treating with equal consideration those who are willing to play by the rules and those who aren’t. If you say, “Well, we’d better act as though all governments are equally legitimate no matter what they do,” I’m concerned that you are saying that if they choose to use such treatment as a shield for terrorists, oh well, I guess we’re screwed. There is no deterrent to these guys now.

    Who makes the rules? Two kinds of parties to international agreements can exist, those who agree that mutual self interest makes the agreement the way to go, and those who just don’t care because they are seeking to maximize personal plunder. At the end of the day, only consent of the parties or the guys with the biggest armies make the rules. That is the same in a regime of formal recognition of legitimacy and a regime where we give despots the finger. From my point of view, China is a good example. Of course we won’t invade China. They have nukes and a big army. We have to deal with them on that level.

    “We want them to feel constrained when they covet their neighbor’s land and have a momentary military advantage.”

    But they don’t feel constrained, especially if they can skirt the rules by just not using soldiers with uniforms. The feel protected from counter action by the idiocy of granting them recognized sovereignity. They escalate violence using brinksmanship and watch the UN ineffectually try to figure out any way to make them behave by issuing resolutions not backed by force. What makes them feel constrained is the concern that an army will come to their house and kill them.

    There is an elephant in the UN livingroom. Every time some tin pot gets together with a bunch of other tin pots to complain about injustice at the UN, we should all be laughing our asses off. These aren’t real governments, and their UN presence doesn’t in any way represent their populations. It is the will of a single jackass with a bunch of thugs behind him standing up on the world stage and making proclamations. He is talking about stuffing his personal coffers through international institutions. He is using the stage as a propaganda piece to further entirely personal ends.

    The sovereign status of democratic states is a higher order creature.

  40. Jason,

    The Venezuela thing. It was a question(s), not a criticism. A real-world test of your theory.

    You say that the power from the people test can be employed. I have challenged you to employ it to Venezuela and its terrorist extradition request. Why so shy?

  41. :”You are seriously going to argue that a power from the people standard can’t be employed?”

    Only if you can provide a bright line test for it, and then define who you trust, in perpetuity, to apply it and enforce it.

  42. Dave W:

    I haven’t read the link yet, one sec …

  43. Here are my thoughts on Posada:

    This case isn’t easy from any international policy standpoint.

    Chavez was elected (I’m comfortable with an ‘err on the side of legitimacy’ standard).

    Castro was not elected. Attempts to overthrow the guy are legitimate exercises in the sense that he has no sovereignity to be violated.

    Blowing up airliners is a criminal act in each of the two countries with legal systems that matter.

    We have an extradition treaty in place for criminal acts.

    We send the guy to Venezuela or negotiate other mutually agreeable means to handle the situation.

    I will confess to not following this closely, so that is just a couple of minutes of thought.

  44. quasibill:

    “Only if you can provide a bright line test for it, and then define who you trust, in perpetuity, to apply it and enforce it.”

    I call foul here. You are measuring my position to a standard that can’t be met by any international agreement or policy. The presumption is that there is a bright line test that is reasonable in any international policy. I just don’t think that is the case. Who is a terrorist and who isn’t is not a bright line, what constitutes a violation of resolutions sufficient to warrant invasion (because we need to justify violating sovereignity) is not a bright line either.

    I don’t trust anyone to make these calls who isn’t already making even more tenuous calls all the time. At the end of the day, the people making the calls are the people in the driver’s seat of the only militaries capable of inflicting harm on a despot.

  45. Thanks, Jason. reasonable answer and helpful to me.

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