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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/1/21

A Liberal Internationalism for the Future

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Message Jason Sibert

By Jason Sibert.

The international order has been in a state of chaos for several years.

Nuclear weapons are proliferating. The administration of recently departed President Donald Trump made it a point to withdraw from nuclear arms control treaties. To be fair, President George W Bush was not good on the issue of arms control, as he withdrew from the Anti-Missile Ballistic Treaty with Russia in 2002. The geopolitical conflicts that are tearing the world apart are adding fuel to the nuclear arms race but also extending into the final frontier, as space is becoming more militarized.

The United States projects power through the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (Europe) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Asia). Our adversaries, China and Russia, are allied in the Quadrilateral Security Dialog. Right now, the world seems too be moving apart so fast that any sort of order seems like an impossibility.

To be fair, anyone with a grasp of reality understands that much divides our world right now. Totalitarian and authoritarian states like China and Russia are not going away any time soon and authoritarian movements in democratic countries are causing a lot of friction, but maybe the key to our problems can be found in our history.

Our country and other countries suffered through two world wars and a Cold War. After the destruction of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson supported the League of Nations. Some blame World War II on our failure to enter the League. This is a weak point, as Fascism arose on the promise that countries such as Germany and Italy could right past wrongs and people bought the lie because of the poor economic conditions at the time. The League of Nations could never have stopped this. Plus, the victors of World War I seemed intent on punishing the losers rather than trying to integrate them into an international society. However, it's not in Wilson's thought that we find the solutions to our problems. It can be found in the thought of his political adversary.

Wilson and advocates of the League wanted to replace power politics with a world governed by international law, thinking our country could be spared the type of military spending we engaged in during World War I if we adopted the League as a law giving and enforcing mechanism. The main opponent of the League of Nations, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-Mass.), felt that the League might interfere with the Constitution, plunging the U.S. into destructive wars not authorized by Congress. However, Lodge was not an isolationist or an extreme nationalist as is thought by some. He was an internationalist of a different school than Wilson.

Lodge was the great-grandson of a leading Federalist, George Cabot. He studied history at Harvard under Henry Adams, a descendent of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Lodge wanted an international organization where the world's primary geopolitical powers would cooperate to bring a sense of order and law to the world, as he wanted to use the world's primary geopolitical powers for positive ends as opposed to wishing geopolitical power away like Wilson. If more powerful nations give up too much power (by way of an international security council of some sort) then smaller nations use their power to weaken the power structure that can bring order to the world. Plus, less powerful nations should be concentrated on pulling themselves out of poverty and not balancing larger nations. In addition, when the world's primary geopolitical powers pull together, they use the power to create law and not use their power to kill each other off in a war every 30 years. Plus, those powerful nations can limit their arsenals if they are not balancing each other.

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Jason Sibert worked for the Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area as a staff writer for a decade. His work has been published in a variety of publications since then and he is currently the executive director of the Peace Economy Project.
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