Rules-based international order must begin at home

President Joe Biden
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President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken preach a rule-based international order as the cornerstone of United States foreign policy.

Blinken declared to Chinese officials: “Our administration is committed to leading with diplomacy to advance the interests of the United States and to strengthen the rules-based international order … The alternative to a rules-based order is a world in which might makes right and winners take all, and that would be a far more violent and unstable world for all of us.” 

In February, India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi tweeted after a phone conversation with Biden, “President @Joe Biden and I are committed to a rule-based international order.”

The Biden and Blinken rhetoric on the paramountcy of international law in international relations is commendable. But it would be even more credible if the two followed their own piety. The United States is a notorious bipartisan scofflaw when it comes to signing and ratifying major treaties that would diminish the horrors of weapons, war and arms trafficking or advance the rights of the disabled or children. An inexhaustive list of treaties unsigned or unratified by the United States includes:

Treaties are a major source of international law and rule-based international order. Yet Biden and Blinken so far show few signs of signing or seeking Senate ratification of the many significant treaties which fortify their professed North Star of international relations.

The United States also initiates or conducts wars of aggression not in self-defense to actual or imminent attack in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law as recognized by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Another pillar of international law is proportionality — i.e., the harmful effects on a foreign population caused by punitive sanctions must be reasonably proportional to their contribution to a legitimate foreign policy objective of the sanctioning nation. Proportionality overwhelmingly condemns the current United States oil, banking, and numerous other sanctions adversely affecting the people of Iran.  They inflict frightful health, safety and economic hardships on 80 million innocent Iranian civilians, while their contribution to the United States alleged goal of Iranian freedom is negative.

The Biden-Blinken rule-based international order should begin at home in Washington, D.C.

Bruce Fein was former associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and is author of “American Empire Before the Fall.” Lou Fisher is a visiting professor at William & Mary Law School and author of numerous books including “The Law of the Executive Branch:  Presidential Power.”

Tags Foreign policy of the Joe Biden administration Foreign policy of the United States foreign relations Joe Biden

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