THE POWER OF RULE SETS" There's no mystery about who should write the rules. It should start inside the Core, and it should start first with our ldest and closest military allies, such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - to name the most obvious ones."- Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett " It is better, even from the perspective of our power-in the long run- to write the rules, though they may sometimes be applied against our wishes, than to abandon the rule following in favor of policies that have no more general appeal than we want them followed at least for the time being. We can extend our influence beyond our temporary hegemony if we take this moment to craft a system of rules with our allies that is compatible with our basic understanfing of state responsibility"- Dr. Philip BobbittHe who writes the rules may or may not lose all the battles, but they usually win the war.
The global " rule set" known as " International Law" is broken because the implicit and commonly understood premises on which statesmen once acted have vanished along with the USSR. And although the explicit texts of the Cold War's " high contracting parties" remain, their words appear to take on new meanings in light of globalization's spread of economic and information connectivity, failing states in the Gap, transnational terror networks and supranational governance structures like the EU and WTO. What you think those meanings are depends a lot on where you stand and where you want to insert a wedge for reasons of national interest.
Or domestic political interest. Don't like guns but your fellow citizens are attached to their Second Amendment rights ? Petition the U.N. for a convention restricting ownership of small arms. Your industries have trouble competing with other countries? Try an "environmental agreement" that acts as a carbon tax only on certain competitor states. Or " tax harmonization" upward that punishes freer economies than your own.
Rule sets matter. Previously, the United States willingly signed onto all kinds of far-fetched, even harebrained, international treaties, safe in the knowledge that since the Soviet bloc could be reliably expected to cheat blatantly or ignore its commitments, no one would bother pointing fingers at the U.S. because no country took such agreements seriously. Well today those documents are being dusted off and invoked by lawyers from NGO's hostile to America to hold us to stipulations to which our diplomats never would have agreed were it not for the expectation that they were effectively meaningless.
In light of " Lawfare
", the United States has to become engaged here as never before in order to:
a) Establish a common premise for interpreting open-ended language with our allies that allows for a traditional standard of " robust sovereignty" so that states are both responsible for their actions as well as free to act. Mutual understandings make crafting joint policies far easier.
b) Negotiate for only genuine " win-win" and fairly narrowly defined covenants. We should sign only what we intend to keep and we should keep our word for what we actually signed. We are not Swaziland or even China. Our behavior sets the standard.
If we fail to build a consensus with our allies in the Core we are going to find ourselves increasingly "triangulated" and isolated in world affairs. For those states playing the zero sum game - and there are many - new advantages are to be had most easily at the expense of " The Great Satan", the unpopular apex of the global pyramid.
Our adversaries appeal to the short-sighted human desire to slice up the existing pie differently. America needs a diplomatic strategy that demonstrates that we are about baking bigger pies.