Frontpage Interview’s guest today is John Fonte, a senior fellow and director of the Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute. His analysis of “lawfare” was listed among the most noteworthy ideas of 2004 in the New York Times Magazine’s “The Year in Ideas: A to Z.” He is the author of the new book, Sovereignty or Submission: Will Americans Rule Themselves or be Ruled by Others.
FP: John Fonte, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Fonte: Thank you delighted to be here, and hats off to the great work you do.
FP: Thank you.
What inspired you to write this book?
Fonte: I closely observed the march of multiculturalism through our educational institutions. Multiculturalism and the ethnic-racial-gender group consciousness of the so-called “diversity” project are antithetical to core American principles based on individual citizenship and equality of opportunity. Many conservatives and center-right thinkers were claiming that with the fall of communism we had “won the war of ideas.” Francis Fukuyama famously declared that liberal democracy had triumphed and would never again face a serious ideological foe with universal appeal.
Yet right before my eyes, I could see multiculturalism-diversity gaining many adherents among American elites. The multiculturalists repudiated traditional liberal democratic principles such as individual (rather than group) rights, free speech, equality before the law and equality of opportunity. They favored a new form of “corporatism” based on ethnic-racial-gender group consciousness and rejected Lockian liberalism. The multiculturalists were also contemptuous of America’s role in the world; American history; and American patriotism. In the mid-1990s I worked with Lynne Cheney at AEI against the multiculturalist “National History Standards” devised by radical historian Gary Nash at UCLA.
At some point I realized that the leading multiculturalists had become “transnationalists.” The same elites in education, academia, law, media, and government, that formerly had promoted a “multicultural society” now talked about “global society,” global education,” “global citizenship” and “global governance.” By 2009-10 the world’s leading political actors keep repeating the mantra that “global problems require global solutions.” Thus, today the forces of global governance are a major actor in world politics and a serious adversary of our constitutional regime. My book is a moral and intellectual defense of democratic, or what I call “Philadelphian” sovereignty.
FP: Specify for us a few of the incompatibilities that exist between democratic ideals and the agendas of the global governance movement. How are American sovereignty and constitutional freedoms threatened?
Fonte: It is important to emphasize that the main threat to American sovereignty comes, not from the UN or other international institutions, but from American globalists themselves. The UN and international law per se, can not force us to do anything, but many, among our elites, are promoting American subordination to global authority.
I’ll give you a few examples. Leading American “human rights” groups including Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Arab-American Institute, La Raza, Mexican American Legal and Education Foundation (MALDEF) and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights have called for the United States to accept all UN human rights treaties without any reservations (including First Amendment, Second Amendment and Tenth Amendment, i.e., federalism, restrictions on international law) This would effectively subordinate the American constitution to UN-made “global rules” The “global rules,” these American human rights groups demand include: racial and gender preference quotas in all aspects of public and private life; official multilingualism; the ending of any serious border enforcement; the abolition of capital punishment; the payment of U.S. reparations for slavery; and much more.
These are not legitimate global human rights norms, but the policy preferences of elements of the American progressive left. Wade Henderson, the head of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights told the UN Human Rights Commissioner that these American groups had tried but failed to enact their policies through the states and federal government “so in our frustration we now turn to the United Nations.” In other words, having failed to enact their leftist agenda through the normal process of American constitutional democracy they would attempt to impose their policy preferences though “transnational politics” with the use of UN treaties.
In practice, this means the transnational progressives will file lawsuits declaring the US in violation of international law. They will call on sympathetic judges to implement their left-wing globalist agenda. As former Yale Law Dean and current Obama State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh has stated, American “courts must play a key role in coordinating U.S. domestic constitutional rules with the rules of foreign and international law.” Ed Whalen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, pointed out, this means subordinating American constitutional law to global law.
FP: What are the key arguments of American globalists? Where are they wrong? What is it they are really trying to perpetuate?
Fonte: There are two types of American globalists. The first are the ideological leftists that I just described, whose argument is simply that the broad leftist agenda represents real substantive rights (equality of result), as opposed to the individual rights of a capitalist democracy.
The second group of American globalists, are often foreign policy specialists, who believe that America is in decline. This group of globalists, argue in Orwellian fashion that the United States should exercise “leadership” and “engagement” by promoting a new global governance system over national sovereignty. They maintain, unrealistically, that if Americans agree to limit their own sovereignty and submit to global rules, the Chinese will be persuaded to do the same, thus “protecting American interests” in the future as China becomes stronger. This reveals the global governance project to be both naïve and dangerously suicidal, placing American security in the hands of an untested and unaccountable global system.
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