I am going to try to connect two events of recent weeks that will appear unrelated at first glance. The first event is the rejection by voters in France and Holland of the proposed European Union; the second, the increasing drumbeat for Bill Clinton to replace Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations when Annan steps down next year.
Bear with me. It is not as much of a stretch as it sounds. Bill Clinton becoming secretary-general of the UN could do for us what the EU referenda did for Europe: wake us up to what the advocates of globalism have in mind.
The rumors about Clinton maneuvering to get the UN position can be heard from many sources, both on the Left and the Right. William Rusher is one of the latest. He warns us in his syndicated column to “keep an eye on Slick Willie,” who “has been snuggling up to the Bush family rather ostentatiously in recent weeks.” Clinton’s goal? To get President Bush in his corner for the nomination. “Clinton is well known for being able to charm a dog down off a meat-wagon,” says Rusher, “and he may now be focusing on the Bush family with something more than mere camaraderie in mind.”
If Rusher is right, this would explain all the back-slapping between Clinton and the Bush the Elder during their recent fact-finding mission to the countries hit by the Asian tsunami. There were times when the two of them looked like old frat-house buddies after one too many daiquiris.
What does any of this have to do with the rejection of the European Union? One of the salutary effects of the referenda in Europe over the EU is the way the voting focused the attention of ordinary Europeans on what is being planned for them by their transnational elites. The voters recoiled from the prospect of having their lives controlled by “faceless bureaucrats in Brussels.” This was the term they used with the pollsters to describe the government and business utopians more concerned about the “big picture” on taxes, trade and immigration patterns than with the concerns of the average citizen of France and Holland.
Implicit in their rejection of being ruled by the Brussels elites was a reaffirmation of the internal logic of the nation-state, even if most of the European voters would not say it that way. The Europeans came to grips with the reality that people cannot be free men and women when they are governed by a distant “them.” They intuited that it is the emotional, perhaps even spiritual, links of nationhood that make possible the voluntary consent of the governed upon which democratic governments are dependent. The Kurds consented to the rule of Saddam Hussein at the point of a gun, not as free men and women.
Being ruled by “outsiders” who do not share their national culture and ethos became something more than an abstraction to the Europeans. They realized that they trusted their national brothers and sisters more than the cosmopolitan dandies who move from country to country looking to cut a deal with the likes of Kofi Annan’s son. This gives us reason to hope that they will look with a jaundiced eye from this day forward upon those who talk of world federalism and one-world government. If the prospect of being ruled by faceless bureaucrats in Brussels jolts you, imagine what it would be like to be governed by the members of the United Nations General Assembly.
This is where Bill Clinton comes in. Defenders of the nation-state system in the United States have had a hard time convincing their fellow Americans of the nature of the threat posed by advocates of world government. Many well-meaning Americans respond favorably to talk of “international law,” and the “brotherhood of man.” They see it as progressive and enlightened to favor some form of world government in the name of peace. They are easily persuaded to view those who warn of the dangers of globalism as flag-wavers and irrational, wild-eyed extremists.
Something concrete and dramatic is needed to free them from these fuzzy abstractions, to awaken them to what it really would be like to be governed by the representatives of the “world community.” Watching Bill Clinton in action at the UN could do the trick, especially listening to the Clintonistas on the talk shows justifying his actions. Most Americans do not realize that there are people living among them their children’s teachers, politicians, business leaders, Hollywood folks who are working for the day when the United States will cease to exist as a separate and sovereign nation. Bill Clinton will show them they are wrong. He is one of them.
I can picture some gasping at that last sentence, as if I am embroiled in a Manchurian Candidate-like scenario about a traitor in our midst. That is not what I am implying. I am talking about what Clinton’s circle of advisors, and liberal intellectuals in general, have been saying openly for decades now. (No, I cannot quote Clinton himself on this topic. As you know, the man has always been careful about maintaining his “political viability within the system.”)
Clinton’s first patron in Arkansas was Sen. William Fulbright. In his book Old Myths and New Realities, Fulbright spoke openly of national sovereignty as one of the “old myths” we must be willing to cast aside to ensure peace in the modern world. Strobe Talbott, one of Clinton’s chief foreign policy advisors, wrote: “Within the next 100 years…nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority.” Former New York Times editor Max Frankel predicted that
someday in the next century we will acknowledge that there can be no global human rights without global laws and no way to write and enforce the laws without a global congress, courts, and cops…. The time will come when Americans recognize that anarchy among nations constitutes a threat to our interest and welfare. We could then take the lead in creating a canopy of law across the globe.
This urge for global government goes back farther in time. John Kennedy advisor Walt Whitman Rostow once opined that it is “an American interest to see an end to nationhood as it has been historically defined” and “a legitimate American national objective to see removed from all nations including the United States the right to use substantial military force to pursue their own interests.”
And back farther yet. John Dewey: “The state is a myth,” and we must not “cast stones against any warring nation till we have asked ourselves whether we are willing…to submit affairs which limited imagination and sense have led us to consider strictly national to an international legislature.”
Liberal internationalists have been saying these things to each other in their journals of opinion and academic seminars for nearly a century now. The average American, who would not react favorably to the prospect of losing our national independence, seems unaware of the implications, or perhaps considers it all just academic speculation, much like the talk of the European Union was to Europeans until just a few weeks ago. If Bill Clinton were to become secretary-general of the United Nations, that could change. We would get a chance to see how someone who thinks this way operates on a global stage. The experience could open some eyes.
James Fitzpatrick's new novel, The Dead Sea Conspiracy: Teilhard de Chardin and the New American Church, is available from our online store. You can email Mr. Fitzpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This article originally appeared in The Wanderer and is reprinted with permission. To subscribe call 651-224-5733.)