The attacks of 9/11 awoke some Americans — by no means all — to the threat posed by totalitarian interpretations of Islam. John Fonte, a scholar at the Hudson Institute, has long been concerned about another ideology that is perhaps no less dangerous to free peoples.
It goes by names that sound either vaguely utopian, such as “global governance,” or too wonky to worry about, such as “transnational progressivism.” But in a new book, Sovereignty or Submission, Fonte makes clear how this ideology, which is widely embraced in Europe and, increasingly, among elites in the U.S. as well, is stealthily undermining liberal democracy, self-government, constitutionalism, individual freedom, and even traditional internationalism — the relations among sovereign nation-states. To put it bluntly, while the jihadists call for “Death to the West!” the transnational progressives are quietly promoting civilizational suicide.
That may not be what they intend. In theory, they are only recognizing “global interdependence” and arguing that “global problems require global solutions.” In practice, however, their project is to shift political and economic power from the citizens of nation-states and their elected representatives to the U.N., unelected bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, and NGOs. These individuals and institutions are to wield not only transnational authority (power “beyond” nations) but also “supranational authority” (power “over” nations).
Transnationals are not so much anti-democratic as post-democratic. They believe that in the 21st century, democracy should be updated to include the enforcement of “universal principles of human rights” that they, of course, will enumerate and define. They talk not of surrendering sovereignty but of “sharing” it “collectively.” The result, they assert, will be a new age of “global authority” that will produce “global justice” under a “global rule of law.”
Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, transnational progressives have been establishing international laws — really supranational laws — that no voters can repeal or even amend. One way this is accomplished is to draft a treaty and apply international pressure to get the U.S. president’s signature and the U.S. Senate’s ratification. Judges — often from undemocratic countries — in transnational courts then interpret the treaty to mean whatever they want it to mean. There are no courts of appeal.
And if the U.S. rejects the treaty or agrees to only parts of it by issuing “reservations,” the transnationals declare that the U.S. is bound nonetheless — under what they call “customary international law” to which, they further insist, even the U.S. Constitution is “subordinate.”
It is on this basis that the argument is made that the U.S. is violating the Geneva Accords by declining to classify al-Qaeda terrorists as prisoners of war — despite the fact that the U.S. has never agreed that unlawful combatants are entitled to such honorable status.
Curiously and ominously, transnationals have been working hand in glove with Islamists to achieve such goals as a global prohibition of “Islamophobia” — which would represent a historic abridgement of free speech.