The idea that if there is a set of rights, or are rights, that a man has, and that citizens have, is a matter of deep debate in Western society. It’s been one of the underlying themes of this blog. Those like myself, who are dubious of claims to universal rights (as opposed to freedoms and responsibilities), err on the side of caution and conservatism in domestic and political affairs. This view generally seeks limited government, limited central planning, and limited adherence to overarching theories that so quickly can become institutional goals, burdensome regulations, leveling forces, and political bludgeons. Generally, it’s not a view that fits well with humanitarian and universalist ideas in directing U.S foreign policy, but there’s always room for debate.
Perhaps a reasonable goal in long-term strategy is to weigh down the balance more toward diplomatic and political engagement, rather than current military engagement in the Middle-East. Of course, it’s necessary to maintain force and the possibility of force to achieve certain objectives. There are clear and real dangers to American security of which we all aware and must keep dealing with.
As the humanitarians might have it, the use of force may really only be morally permissible in rare cases of injustice where the international community must eventually convene, then intervene, in the affairs of others…as in Libya. We must limit our own actions according to these principles, as circumstances dictate, and potentially subsume U.S soverignty to build consensus. Also, I believe, the people making current policy assume these principles are universal. This is quite a change.
A fair summary? What would be some of the consequences of this view?
Feel free to highlight my ignorance.
Addition: Transcript of Obama’s full speech here.
Another Addition: I should add that of course, there are rights: the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, granted to me by the Constitution. There are laws, which I must follow. There is, however a deeper debate regarding positive and negative rights. Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Related On This Site: Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’…From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”…From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan…From CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’…From The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’
A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”
From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work…From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’
Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?: Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy