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
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
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
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.