“Sovereignty or Submission” Wins ISI Award

Posted on | October 18, 2012 by Wendy Wright |


Our hearty congratulations to John Fonte. The Hudson Institute scholar’s latest book, “Sovereignty or Submission: Will Americans Rule Themselves or be Ruled by Others?” has been awarded Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) Paolucci-Bagehot book award for 2012.

Here is Susan Yoshihara’s review of the book in the Friday Fax:

Book Review: Sovereignty or Submission?
By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D.
NEW YORK, August 3 (C-FAM) The US Senate may vote this week on ratification of the latest UN human rights treaty, this one on people with disabilities. Does it really matter whether the US ratifies such treaties? A new book published by a long-time Washington DC scholar says it matters a great deal. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute argues that each treaty saps the very lifeblood of democratic nations by arming a legion of advocates who would replace popular sovereignty with global governance.

Fonte says more than a hundred countries have adopted gender quotas for elected offices after ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Twenty-two nations have changed their laws on childcare. And Norway has required 40% of corporate boards to be assigned on the basis of sex.

The book’s main question is also its title: Sovereignty or Submission: will Americans Rule Themselves or Be Ruled By Others? In addition to social issues embodied in UN treaties, Fonte demonstrates how American decision makers have already abdicated considerable authority on the laws of war, US policy toward Israel, the International Criminal Court, and domestic immigration policy.

Policy makers fail to see the threat because they don’t understand how much the global legal context has changed from post-war “international law” aimed at reducing friction among nations to today’s forces of “transnational law” seeking to impose universal norms on sovereign states. Fonte demonstrates the transformation in four very readable chapters on the history of Western political philosophy. In his foreword to the book, former Executive Editor of Radio Free Europe John O’Sullivan says the current struggle is the third attempt in the last century “to sell elite rule in democratic disguise.”

The difference is that today’s revolutionaries work by stealth. “Global governance is the ideology that dare not speak its name,” O’Sullivan observes. Non-governmental organizations, the “shock troops” of global governance, have a symbiotic relationship with staff from international organizations such as the UN Secretariat, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund, Fonte says.

Today’s “globalistas” rarely expose their material interests to public debate, but rather couch their aims in terms of “universal human rights.” At first these seem noble enough, ridding the world of slavery and genocide, but the system of global governance by its nature ever expands its reach. Forty percent of the UK’s parliamentary agenda simply rubber stamped laws already set by the EU, a legislator told Fonte, and the figure was some 60-70% in Austria. The European Union is both the world’s best example of global governance, and its most powerful proponent at UN conferences.

If “global moral legitimacy” is the center of gravity of global governance, its main vulnerability is “liberalism and the democratic nation-state” where sovereignty rests not in the state but in the people, Fonte says, who ultimately decide what is morally legitimate.

And so Americans are at a fork in the road. US Senators considering ratification of the UN Disabilities Treaty this week are, in light of Fonte’s analysis, locked in an “irreconcilable conflict between democratic sovereigntists and global governancers.” The latter see inevitable American decline and seek to set the global rules through international agreements, ostensibly hoping a dominant China will obey them when American power recedes.

Ultimately Fonte asks why Americans or any democratic nation would trade away its liberal democracy for global governance. He puts the burden of proof on the transnationalists to prove why submission is better than sovereignty.

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Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.

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