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In praise of the pax Americana

By David Flint - posted Thursday, 15 August 2002

With the end of the Cold War, the United States is now the most dominant power the world has ever seen, surpassing the British Empire at its zenith. Australians should rejoice that the US is a friend and, as we are, a stable democracy. And we should thank Ronald Reagan, who with the support and encouragement of Margaret Thatcher persisted in the strategy of surpassing the USSR, notwithstanding all the sniping from a significant portion of the Western intelligentsia.

It is not surprising that a spectrum of Western opinion is today outraged by the United States' insistence on her sovereignty. In Australia, two former leaders, from both sides, Paul Keating and John Hewson have joined in the attack. The United States is accused of unilateralism, of even going against international law. But as The Economist asks, what weight should be given to such sniping?

The fact is that if American dominance were in any way dangerous - that is a threat to international peace and security - why is it that the only countries spending more on defence are those who are afraid of their neighbours, or those who fall into George W. Bush's "axis of evil"?


Moreover, the United States is acting completely within her rights. There is no obligation in law on the United States to ratify or to be in any way bound by the Kyoto Protocol or the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. And even if the President wanted to ratify either, there is no chance that the Senate would give its approval as required under the constitution.

Nor is there any moral reason why the US should join either.

As The Spectator reports (22 June 2002, Andrew Kenny) global warming has become an immense international gravy train. If it is established that any such warming is the result of greenhouse gasses (a point which is still debated) the Kyoto Protocol is not the remedy the US Senate would accept. Why? The EU and the developing countries get off scot-free - and the US pays!

The same is true of the ICC. Why should the world's most powerful country by far, one of the most stable democracies, and the most involved in actively protecting others, subject itself to the Rome Statute? After all she has about a quarter of a million soldiers, sailors and airmen of her armed forces in foreign territories. The Americans have already seen how attempts have been made to extend the jurisdiction of foreign courts over say, matters best left to the jurisdiction of national courts. A Belgium judge has even attempted to claim jurisdiction over Henry Kissinger!

It is reasonable for the United States to insist that as the principal paymaster and fighter for the defence of others, she should have a veto on any international process against her troops or her officials. After all, she is not a defeated power.

It is not reasonable that counties which do little or nothing for the defence of the freedom of others, and which have no long record as democracies should choose the judges and prosecutors who may decide to act against and judge Americans. Only countries which perform in both these ways, "AAA" countries - such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia - should lead such processes. As they did at Nuremberg and Tokyo after the Second World War.


Nor should any weight be given to the sniping that the US should not exercise her military power against acts of war, or threats against the United States or her allies. The argument that terrorism is only a law enforcement issue failed dismally when President Clinton hesitated to act against Osama Bin Laden when he escaped from the Sudan in 1996. What changed on 11 September was that the US finally saw that she must retaliate against what are essentially acts of war.

The other principal argument, that the delinquent states can be restrained from acquiring weapons of mass destruction through multilateral treaties has also been demonstrated to be a failure.

For Australians there is a particular self interest here which does not involve giving a blank cheque. The United States, with the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, are closest to this country in language, law, political traditions, stability and their genuine long-term dedication to human rights. The United States, and to a lesser degree the United Kingdom, are probably the only powers with both the ability - and most importantly - the willingness to help us if we were in military difficulties.

Far from sniping at the United States, we should be working with her to persuade others not just to talk about peace and security, but to join her.

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This aricle was first pubished in The Australian Financial Review on 12 July 2002.

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About the Author

David Flint is a former chairman of the Australian Press Council and the Australian Broadcasting Authority, is author of The Twilight of the Elites, and Malice in Media Land, published by Freedom Publishing. His latest monograph is Her Majesty at 80: Impeccable Service in an Indispensable Office, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, Sydney, 2006

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