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Liberal_Jihad_Cover.jpg Forward USA

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The “Global Test:”  A Leftist Luminary Takes Issue

Even a founder of left-wing Americans for Democratic Action could see that the Global Test is a Swiss cheese full of holes, not a nice solid French brie.

Senator Kerry did us the favor, in the first debate, of coining the phrase global test to symbolize his steadfast adherence to the fantasy of internationalism. 

He has been quoted as saying, some years ago, “I’m an internationalist. I’d like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.”  In the first debate with president Bush he said, regarding a preemptive military strike, “?But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you?re doing what you?re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.”  He has specifically characterized Iraq as the wrong war at the wrong time.

This doctrine sets such high standards for military action that effectively Senator Kerry is a pacifist.  His position might be summed up as “Speak loudly, but never use a big stick.”

A review of the UN’s history will show that never at any time was military action undertaken, even against acknowledged genocide, without the United States taking the lead.  In no case was there world agreement supporting military action, and at no time were all of the major nations in the UN participating as military allies of the United States.  This was dramatically true in Korea.  In the Balkans, President Clinton took unilateral action, without the sanction of the UN, dragging NATO, kicking and screaming, into the operation.

The internationalist view taken by Senator Kerry is based on the scientistic theories of 19th century socialism.  Progressives in the late 1800s and into the 1920s firmly believed that intellectuals had discovered how to control human behavior and therefore to steer humanity toward social and political perfection.  This was grandly known as Progress and presumed to be inevitable.

At the core of this belief in social scientism was the idea that all conflicts between nations can be settled simply by rational discussion.  Implied is that everyone else thinks as you do and will, when you point out your reasons, agree with you.  Therefore, by pursuing the formalisms of a League of Nations or a United Nations, world opinion can be created to sustain unified action that will outlaw and stop international aggression.

As we know, the record of the League of Nations in that regard was dismal.  Undeterred by empirical evidence, the stuff of true science, the advocates of social scientism euphorically gathered after World War II to organize the UN.

At least one prominent liberal luminary had learned the lessons of empirical evidence.  Reinhold Niebuhr saw clearly that the whole concept is based on a phantasm.

The late Dr. Niebuhr had unimpeachable credentials as a major spokesman for the left.  In 1947, along with Eleanor Roosevelt, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Averell Harriman, Walter Reuther, David Dubinsky, and Hubert Humphrey, he founded Americans for Democratic Action, still a prominent and influential voice of the Democratic Party’s left wing.  He was a leading theologian who served many years as professor of applied Christianity at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.  Professor Schlesinger, the semi-official hagiographer of Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, has frequently and approvingly cited Dr. Niebuhr’s views.

In a 1959 essay titled “The Democratic Elite and American Foreign Policy,” Dr. Niebuhr had this to say about the global-test doctrine to which Senator Kerry subscribes:

“Contrary to the expectations of such eighteenth-century idealists as our own Thomas Jefferson and William Godwin of England,.........foreign policy has proved to be the Achilles heel of democracy.  The obvious reason is that the average voter has only enough wisdom and knowledge to judge the policies of government when they impinge directly upon his life…...”

“In foreign policy, democracy has one clear advantage over despotism or traditional monarchies.  This advantage is derived from the reluctance of the common man to engage in hazardous martial ventures…....But even this advantage implies the weakness that democracies frequently cannot risk war when such a risk must be taken.”

“The public philosophy of the nation is defective on various counts.  The most obvious defect is that it does not seriously come to terms with the realities of power and interest in the world of nations.  It does not recognize, for instance, the obvious fact that nations are “moral” in the sense of concerning themselves with interests other than their own only insofar as these interests concur with the nation’s own interests.  Failure to recognize this universal characteristic of the morality of nations, determined by the power and persistence of collective self-regard, gives the national attitude an air of self-righteous complacency, which our friends as well as our foes find vexatious, though our foes have their own, and possibly more grievous, sources of self-righteous complacency, for they are informed by a utopian creed, according to which the only “righteous” nations are those who have rid themselves of the institutions of property in a revolution.” 

“....The second point at which our public philosophy is defective is that we have no terms of reference that make the exercise of power above the level of the nation and below the level of the universal community morally legitimate.  We adhere strictly to the two dogmas of the policy of liberal democracy: the “self-determination of nations” and “collective security”.........” 

“The second item in the dogmatic presuppositions of liberal democracy is the principle of “collective security.”  It tempts us to regard the United Nations as a kind of supergovernment, rather than what it indeed is, a clearinghouse for international diplomacy….The President [Eisenhower] could lecture Israel on the duty of leaving the Gaza strip, after its victory over Egypt, in terms which assumed that the moral authority of the United Nations would alone insure peace; and the prerequisite of such moral authority was that no nation would ever resort to force to accomplish its ends…...”

“The absence of such unanimity [in the UN] made the United Nations something less than an organ of world order; and the idea that nations must obey the organization in order to increase its moral authority made confusion worse confounded.  It perpetuated the quasi-pacifist illusions that informed Wilson’s conception of the function of the League of Nations.”

“.....But the whole United Nations system of world order rested upon the implausible assumption that the great powers, which were allied in the defeat of Germany, would preserve their unanimity.  Actually, the unanimity was not real during the war; and the divergent and even contradictory policies of the Soviet Union and the Western democracies became apparent immediately after the war.”

“It may have been inevitable that the general public should have continued to conceive of the functions of the United Nations in terms that were set by the euphoria of the postwar period, culminating in the San Francisco Conference and the founding of the United Nations.  It was not so inevitable that political leaders should have been guided by these outmoded conceptions; but they were in fact so guided.  In consequence, they wrongly believed that the United Nations made independent international policy to which we must conform.  Actually, it was only an arena in which we, as the most powerful nation, were called upon to initiate policy.”