Has John Bolton Gone Soft on International Law?

by Peter Spiro

Okay, that’s a joke. But I’m not sure quite what to make of Global Governance Watch, a new joint project of the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society. (Bolton keynoted today’s launch.)

On the one hand, you just know there has to be an anti-internationalist strategem at work here, and there is some evidence to back it up (such as this item calling out the Europeans as hypocrites on the UNSC role on Iraq and Kosovo). On the other hand, the project’s website seems to play most of its material straight, in a just-the-facts mode. See for instance this description of the Convention on the Rights of the Child — as far as I can tell, there isn’t a hidden “ratifying this treaty would mean the end of the world as we know it” kind of message (unless of course there’s some sort of low-wattage subliminal banner saying exactly that!). The site even links to UN fact sheets in a non-ironic way!

So what gives? Have the sovereigntists finally gotten wise to the fact that international law and regulation are now too real to wish away, and that they had better bone up on IL rather than keeping on the blinders? If so, it is a retreat to a more defensible perimeter, but a retreat nonetheless, and a significant one at that.


2 Responses

  1. It’s called being reasonable. You see — it is possible to be pro-sovereign — against international law in some way and be civil about it. I know that is against liberal dogma where heretics must be demonized, but it is nonetheless true.

  2. Ah, but that’s the retreat. Bolton and some others haven’t really been civil about anything to do with IL (or at least not measured). So turning the volume down to a reasonable level would mark a pronounced shift in the debate.

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