The Corner

Re: What’s the Big Deal About Piracy?

Jonah, I agree with you.  Now that I’m being indoctrinated in the views of transnationalists like Harold Koh, I realize that piracy presents no threat to American sovereignty, because we should all understand “sovereignty” in “the modern sense of that term — a nation’s capacity to participate in international affairs.”  Sovereignty “no longer consists in the freedom of states to act independently, in their perceived self-interest” — we sure wouldn’t want American government officials acting to promote America’s “perceived self-interest” — “but in membership in reasonably good standing in the regimes that make up the substance of international life.” 

And since we’re not sending progressive law professors off to United Nations conferences in Somalia, what’s the big deal?  And those folks some nativists disparage as “pirates” are really just transnational law entrepreneurs who are helping us absorb into American law a more enlightened understanding of their economic and cultural rights.

(Quotes from Koh, “On American Exceptionalism,” 55 Stan. L. Rev. 1479, 1480 & n.1 (2003).  The quote in the last sentence of the first paragraph is Abram and Antonia Chayes’s definition of “sovereignty,” which Koh endorses.)

No, I don’t think that Koh really approves of piracy.  But I’d also bet that he doesn’t approve of traditional measures of dealing with pirates.  

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