The U.N. intervention in Libya is a major political event. The U.N. is intervening inside a country that has not aggressed against another country. Whether or not this is the first time that this has happened, it is surely an important and clear-cut instance of this happening.
The U.N. is intervening to take down the Gaddafi administration and replace it by another, of undetermined nature. This means that the U.N. places its power over that of the Libyan state. The U.N. makes itself the Supreme Governor in the sense that it decides on a critical feature of a State, namely, who has "consent," or who is entitled to rule that State when protests against the existing rule emerge.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the U.N. launch a drone attack to kill Gaddafi.
Before going further in analyzing this, let's recognize openly that the entire development is within the existing framework of States. The term "State" hides the fact that every State is an armed gang. The U.N. gives too much credence and respect to States. Let's recognize that this framework is morally flawed. The weight of history and the apparent reality of this system should not, at a fundamental level, cause us to evaluate States positively and accept them. They are negative for human beings.
That said, I will analyze this intervention within this flawed framework. It doesn't mean I approve of it. I don't. That doesn't mean that I approve of Gaddafi. I don't. The situation is a tragic one. None of the choices are palatable. Nevertheless, I believe that the worse thing for the world at large is to strengthen the U.N. and to have it move further in the direction of world government. That's the thrust of this article.
The Charter of the U.N. starts off with "We the Peoples of the United Nations." This is a fiction. It is an even greater fiction than the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, which starts off with "We the People."
The Charter goes on to say that "our respective Governments…have agreed to the present Charter…" This means that we the peoples didn't have a direct say when the commitments were made. We certainly have had no say since that time. If this is "consent," it's totally meaningless. The fact is that just as the U.S. government imposes its will on me and you, no matter what we want or say or think, the U.N. is just another government imposing its will upon us or others, as it sees fit and as it can. A government created by national governments is still a government.
I regard the U.N. as just as illegitimate a government as the U.S. government. Consent is a pretense and a fiction. I pay taxes at the point of a gun. I obey many laws at the point of a gun. Washington is a gang, and so is the U.N.
All the high-sounding language that spells out objectives of these governments is beside the point. The objectives may or may not be good ones. They may or may not be attainable by governments. Those are separate issues. High objectives do not justify using force and violence to attain them when the latter simply undermine achieving those objectives. I certainly do not approve of such force and violence when it undermines freedom of the person, which it does.
I don't approve of Gaddafi's actions, and I don't approve of the U.N.'s actions. However, if the U.N.'s actions stand as a precedent, then the world is moving to world government. If the U.N. has the power to decide what each country's political structure is, as in Libya, then who is going to decide what the structure of the U.N. is when it becomes oppressive? It will be some coalition of States, who wield the power behind the U.N., or eventually it might be some independent U.N. force. When there is one government of the world, and when one State attempts to break away, will the U.N. allow it? Of course not. If it did, the world government would break down. Governments usually try to prevent secession.
We have already seen what happened in the U.S. when the Constitution was put in and when a national government with powers was created. The dynamic went to centralization. A coalition of States under Lincoln imposed rule on the remaining States. The same kind of dynamic will occur with the United Nations, or already has, or is occurring now. Governments always seek more power and control.
World government is not imminent. I am not ringing that alarm bell. But if we look ahead, we can see it being shaped. The form may be unclear, but we can still make it out. It is not a good political development. It means more centralized power being exercised over people.
The Charter of the U.N. in Article 2 calls for the "sovereign equality of all its Members." Its Members are States (not We the People). Libya is a member. The U.N. intervention is violating its own Charter. The U.S. government violated its own Constitution repeatedly. The U.N. is violating its Charter by disregarding Libyan sovereignty, and by taking it upon itself to determine the nature of that sovereignty. This is par for the course for governments with charters and constitutions. These documents exist to be violated. By what means do we the peoples control the U.N.? We cannot. We'd best take it apart while we're taking apart the governments of our respective States.
Article 2 refers repeatedly to international disputes, i.e., disputes that are between or among States, not within States. It ends up saying explicitly that "Nothing in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state…" The U.N. is violating this provision of its Charter when it intervenes in Libya. Can this organization be trusted?
The Charter perhaps leaves itself a loophole, where it says that "this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII." However, that Chapter refers again and again to "international peace and security." By no stretch of the imagination or by any legal maneuvering or mumbo-jumbo does this mean the internal affairs of Libya. International peace means between two nations or among several nations. Libya's civil war is within Libya. It is not breaking the international peace. The term "international security" is not threatened either, to the extent that this term can be comprehended. If some countries think that they must have Libyan oil in order to maintain their security, they should have managed this risk in other ways before this time. They shouldn't be using the U.N. and U.N. force to bail them out of their own bad risk management of the past. Even if they impose such force, they might end up making matters worse for themselves. I do not underestimate the ineptitude of any government or any coalition of governments.
My position will not go down well with those who want to see the anti-Gaddafi forces win. What can I say? I wish that the world were different. I wish that this dilemma didn't exist. I wish that we as individuals were allowed by our governments to form militias that could go overseas on a voluntary basis to help secure freedom for others. I wish that everyone knew how to apply the methods of non-violent resistance to secure freedom. I wish that resort to arms was rejected or could be rejected by secessionary movements and movements to topple dictators, so that raw power didn't determine these matters. I wish many things.
My focus here is less on the civil war in Libya than on world government and what U.N. intervention means for world government. I view world government as a very great danger. How would you like it if, 100 years from now, the U.N. were dominated by a coalition of 3 or 4 nations, and if it instituted government that you hated? What could you do about it? Look how difficult it is within the U.S. to do anything about the U.S. government. Many people are reduced to waiting for the whole enterprise to collapse, with the vague hope that somehow something better will arise from the rubble.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.