The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Multilateral Retardation

Posted on | March 22, 2011 | 13 Comments

What slapped me upside the head in Obama’s press conference yesterday was his insistence that an “international consensus” justified the attacks on Libya, and that multilateralism was a “core principle” of his foreign policy. Nothing could be more harmful, more calculated to infringe U.S. sovereignty. This undermines the proper goal of foreign policy, namely the pursuit of our national interest.

If hostile foreign powers know that the U.S. cannot go to war without an “international consensus,” then they will seek to influence or intimidate potential allies. By denying America a “consensus,” they will thereby render the U.S. military impotent, so that our interests overseas (whatever those interests may be) are at the mercy of any aggressor.

The best way to defeat a hostile coalition, as Winston Churchill pointed out in The World Crisis, is to attack its weakest member. And this is exactly how America’s enemies operate when seeking to deprive us of the “international consensus” that liberals insist is necessary for the United States to take military action. Ace of Spades points this out:

My main problem with “multilateral efforts” is that what these are always all about is France. What’s the major difference between Bush’s Coalition and Obama’s? France. France was the big hold-out in the War in Iraq. They’re on board with this one.
So while the liberal media dances in joy over this terrific new coalition, they’re really just dancing that France is on board.
Further, they get the active agent and passive object reversed — Obama did not persuade France to join the coalition. France persuaded Obama.

Read the rest of that and think about it. If France wanted to attack Moammar Qaddafi, would we have objected? I think not. But instead of fighting the Franco-Libyan War of 2011, the French recruit the U.S. to bear the heaviest burden of the war — and Obama can’t even be bothered to ask permission of Congress! An article at National Journal addresses the anger over this high-handedness:

Why is everyone so mad? Because lawmakers, like everyone else, have war fatigue, NBC says. Also, lawmakers really don’t like being left out of the loop. (Obama sent a letter to Congress notifying it that America had joined a war — two days after bombing started.) And as Robert Stacy McCain points out at the American Spectator, a lot of liberals thought Obama would restore pre-9/11 norms — Obama has held onto many Bush-era policies most hated by the left: Guantanamo Bay, secret wiretaps, the Patriot Act, etc. The controversy also shows, though, just how hard it is for presidents to give up new powers claimed by predecessors.

I don’t know whether or not this Libyan intervention is a good idea, but that’s not what the debate is about as far as I’m concerned.

What bugs me is that American public opinion seems to have drifted, almost unnoticed, into a belief that what counts most in U.S. foreign policy is whether France (or Germany or Russia, etc.) approve of our actions. When an “international consensus” has more influence over how we use our nation’s armed forces than the United States Congress . . . dude, that’s trouble. As with so much of the Obama agenda, his “core principle” of multilateralism amounts to a repeal of the American founding. After all, what did the Founders sign in July 1776? The Declaration of Independence.

While it is always best to pursue military action with the support of allies — Churchill understood that England’s foreign policy had always rested on the concept of a “Grand Alliance” to restrain aggressors — if our ability to pursue our national interest is dependent on an “international consensus,” then our nation is not truly independent.


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