What is sovereignty, and why does defending it matter? In short, it is the very essence of who we are, in our persons and in our nation, and defending it is existential – to us as individuals and to the nation. Yet, bit by bit, centralized government, and our angling adversaries, aim to take it from us. They must not.
Let’s start with basics, because we so often forget the basics. Even John Stuart Mill, one of the early promotors of “utilitarianism,” or the idea that society should favor “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” was a staunch defender of personal sovereignty. Your power over yourself is vital.
In one of his famous quotes from “On Liberty,” he notes of each individual: “In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is of right absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”
Now take that basic idea, repeated endlessly in America, and apply it to our society – a society, founded on self-rule, collecting up votes, following the majority – with protection for the minority and individuals.
As a self-governing society, we – this nation we call America – have what amounts to a combined sovereignty, a collection of all our sovereignties that tallies to one big sovereignty, a right as a nation to make our own decisions, determine our own direction, and lead our lives as “one nation under God.”
Put differently, no other nation can tell us what to do – and no other collection of nations can tell us what to do – unless we agree, as we have with respect to certain international norms, principles, and liberty-loving laws – to give up that right.
By way of example, we have agreed to accept, to help promote, and even to enforce ideas globally that are consistent with our Constitution and Bill or Rights. These are ideas that do not reduce our control over our own destiny – as a nation or as individuals – but help to expand those ideas.
What we have also said, very clearly, by not allowing other nations to dictate to us, and by not allowing international courts or organizations to override US laws, Supreme Court precedent, or our Constitution, is that our citizens and our nation will never sacrifice our God-given rights to some international actor.
That is why we disagree with some nations, even allies, when it comes to our sovereignty. We guard it jealously, and will not be – or should never be – allowing any foreign nation to tell us what to do. The supreme power in this country is our Constitution, not some foreign entity of any kind.
If all this seems common sense, it is or always has been – until recently. Recently, we have watched a strange turn and it is worth focus, and resisting with all our power.
What we have seen is a growing debate, a contest, a battle of wills on the international stage for power over our sovereignty – with countries like China seeking to compel the US and each of us as citizens, to give up our God-given sovereignty, over our lives and our society, to international groups.
The most obvious example of this attempt to coerce American compliance – to get us to give up our sovereignty – is the effort afoot to get other nations, and in time to get US leaders, to accept as an all-powerful, all-knowing expert on health issues, the World Health Organization.
This would, rather obviously, be a bad idea even if the group were composed of US allies, and was utterly objective – since it still involves accepting some international dictate as a substitute for Americans deciding, in our own way, what Americans will do on the health front.
But the movement is more insidious than that. Most watching closely understand the threat to American – and to each American’s – sovereignty. That organization, not unlike several others, is heavily influenced by Communist China, and was heavily guided by China during COVID.
To allow US sovereignty to be hemorrhaged to any international group is contrary to our Constitution, and rather obviously, to Americans deciding their own fate. But to punt our constitutional rights to any international group effectively led by China would be utter folly, and indescribably dangerous.
Still, we see the Biden team gradually moving in that direction, content to please or appease China with whatever may forestall some military action by China, effectively giving away the farm to save the farm. This never works, and will not work here.
In the end, as most Americans likely know but more need to say, America is governed by and for Americans, with the singular aim of advancing the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” by all Americans. We are governed by one supreme law – our Constitution.
The corollary is simple, but needs to be defended by all who appreciate our liberties – and their fragility. We will not be governed by, will never sacrifice our sovereignty to, any international body, nor to China.
If this sounds like high school civics, it really is – but somehow many of those in power today have forgotten, or would like to forget, the definition – and sacred nature – of American sovereignty. With American sovereignty under fire, we need to remind them – it matters.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.