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What the election is really about

By Alan Caruba
web posted October 4, 2004

Soon Americans will go to the polls to select their next President, but they will, in reality, be making the most important decision any electorate can. They will be voting on the issue of national sovereignty. They will be asked, as were previous generations of Americans, who's in charge? The will of the American people or the dictate of the United Nations?

In the midst of the Civil War, a war about the transcendence of the Constitution over the wish of southern States to form a separate nation, an election was held and Americans reelected Abraham Lincoln despite the carnage that would eventually exceed that of all American wars put together. They voted for national sovereignty, the right of the federal government to protect and maintain itself in the face of succession. It was a war, as Lincoln put it, about a government "Of the people, by the people, and for the people."

The sovereignty of America is declared in the Constitution and that document draws its strength from the will of the people to be an independent nation, free to make its own choices. Its preamble clearly states that "We the People of the United States"…in order "to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

In this election, voters are being asked to validate the decision of the incumbent President, with the authorization of Congress, to wage war in our name or whether we shall turn in another direction to support a candidate who advocates giving the United Nations the final say as well in consultation with other nations, even when they openly oppose wars deemed necessary to our security. Or, in the words of the Constitution, to "provide for our common defense."

Sovereignty turns on the issue of who's in charge. Is it the American people through their elected representatives and executive branch? Or is it the United Nations through its General Assembly and its Security Council? Is it a Europe divided between nations such as France and Germany who oppose the war? Or is it the Europe supporting our war? That Europe includes Spain, Italy, Poland and others who were the captive nations of the former Soviet Union; nations who now savor their sovereignty, their freedoms. More than thirty nations around the world have become "a coalition of the willing."

In a brilliant book, The Case for Sovereignty: Why the World Should Welcome American Independence ($25.00, AEI Press), Jeremy A. Rabkin, a professor of government at Cornell University, examines the history of sovereignty and the essential role it played in the minds of the Constitution's framers. Likewise, he reveals how the devotion to sovereignty has shaped our nation's history and continues to do so today.

Addressing the current conflicts, Prof. Rabkin writes, "If peace is our priority, we would serve that priority more effectively by focusing on the particular states that threaten peace, and the particular practices of these states that are most threatening---such as their sponsorship of international terrorism and their attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction."

So the real issue at stake is whether the United States, as a sovereign nation, has the right to use military power in the interest of our common defense. President Bush says yes. Senator Kerry, in essence, says no or maybe. It is difficult to know what Kerry's position is despite or because of his votes and statements. Either way, it is a clear vote as to whether national sovereignty trumps the view of Kofi Annan, the United Nations' Secretary General, that the war in Iraq is "illegal."

There is also the issue of whether the world really sees the United States as a menace.
If this were truly the case, both Canada and Mexico would reasonably be expected to fear for their own sovereignty, but they do not. Neither fears our power and, indeed, much of the world looks to the United States to exercise that power as the sole nation capable of functioning as a global peacekeeper. The threat that the former regime of Saddam Hussein posed to Iraq's immediate neighbors and as a sponsor of terrorism amply demonstrated the need for intervention or "preemption."

The United Nations is going the way of the former League of Nations, formed after World War I and, as history demonstrates, was incapable of responding to the threats that led to World War II. One of the earliest targets of the Islamic Jihad was the UN headquarters in Baghdad, leading to a hasty retreat. In addition, the UN has proved itself utterly corrupt and devoid of any of the high ideals upon which the United States was founded.

On November 2nd, Americans will once again determine whether the United States of America is a sovereign nation or whether it will go the way of Europe where member nations of the European Union continue to cede their sovereignty to an organization of unelected bureaucrats. Clearly, our membership in the United Nations did not deter us from exercising our sovereign right of self-defense. Freedom comes at a price. If our history provides a template, it is likely this generation of Americans will vote to pay that price.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004

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