Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Bringing Neo-Natural Right to the U.N.

It is difficult to doubt the thesis of the Ceaser/DiSalvo piece we cited over the weekend after reading Bush's speech at the U.N. today. The neo-natural right argument was on full display in New York.

Bush began with first principles, including the Declaration of Independence. "The United Nations and my country share the deepest commitments. Both the American Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the equal value and dignity of every human life. That dignity is honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice and religious tolerance. That dignity is dishonored by oppression, corruption, tyranny, bigotry, terrorism and all violence against the innocent. And both of our founding documents affirm that this bright line between justice and injustice, between right and wrong, is the same in every age and every culture and every nation."

Clearly choosing an updated Reagan Doctrine over detente, Bush also said, "Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence or some balance of power, the security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind." Similarly, Bush remarked, "For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability. The oppression became common, but the stability never arrived."

Bush repeatedly cited the belief in "human dignity" as the basis for fighting AIDS and poverty, relieving the crushing debt of some nations, banning human cloning, and fostering liberal democracy, the realization and practice of which no human being or culture is incapable. "When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom and worthy of freedom."

Finally, in proposing a democracy fund, Bush has pushed the U.N. to abandon its pseudo-sophisticated value-neutral stance regarding forms of government. His speech amounted to a lecture in some ways, but it was a lecture that the U.N. has needed to hear for a long time. Who knows if the U.N. will ever stand for the neo-natural right doctrine that Bush espouses; perhaps it will be forced to contemplate its purpose a little bit harder after today. One thing is certain: Bush really is an idealist; trying to change the U.N.'s thinking is probably more difficult than bringing democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq.


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