Obama And Globalism

By Daniel Larison

The most remarkable part of Rich Lowry's column today was this line:

Berlin at times sounded as much like Obama's coming-out party as the candidate of a transnational progressivism -- in which global norms are more important than sovereign nations -- as his audition as commander-in-chief.

What struck me about this passage was its implicit pretense that McCain and the administration Lowry et al. have supported dutifully for years are not similarly transnational.  For reasons I outlined yesterday, Republicans are able to use nationalist language and symbolism to their advantage, but to the extent that "transnational progressivism" is defined by endorsing the idea that "global norms are more important than sovereign nations" most of the leadership of both parties, including the current Republican nominee, can be described in the same terms.

The illegal war against Yugoslavia in 1999 had the pretext of invoking human rights and prevention of genocide, and the illegal invasion of Iraq was technically based on the implementation of old U.N. Security Council resolutions.  Global norms and global governance, such as they were, took precedence over state sovereignty, and they both obviously had the support of John McCain.  That is not the same as saying that these were the real reasons for these wars, but the public justifcation for both was essentially that "global norms are more important than sovereign nations."  What Lowry's column does is to remind us of just how conventional and established Obama's sort of foreign policy is, and why it is going to represent very little in the way of change from the status quo.  Far from being the first transnational President, Obama will simply be continuing the bipartisan foreign policy consensus according to which the sovereignty of other states can be compromised at any time in the name of "global norms" and hegemonic interests.

Cross-posted at Eunomia