Friday, September 15, 2006

Akhil Reed Amar gets internationalist religion


Yale constitutional law scholar Akhil Reed Amar gets religion about our One World, and preaches a sermon, a hymn to transationalism, with the special zeal of the newly converted:

Then came 9-11. And in a flash it became blindingly clear to me that Publius's vision of America's splendid oceanic isolation--of a New World far removed from the woes of the Old World--cannot serve us well today, or for the centuries to come. Planet Earth is, in truth, One World. Global warming, transcontinental pandemics, deforestation, worldwide poverty, overpopulation, nuclear proliferation, free trade, jet travel, international human rights, the Internet, and, of course, the threat of international terrorism--all these planetary issues require planetary solutions.

Such solutions will require attention not just to individual rights, but also to international structures of cooperation and coordination--structures that will need to be far more effective than the United Nations as currently organized. Such solutions will also need to involve not just judges, but executives and legislatures. So we shall have to go beyond the tired maxims of my teachers, with their exaggerated confidence in Bills of Rights and judicial review.

Hmm. Professor Amar might want to be somewhat careful, even in the midst of the exalted fire of intellectual conversion, about the things into which one puts "exaggerated confidence." He might consider, too, what the young Edmund Burke wrote to a Quaker friend, who had undergone a religious experience and was eager to share his new-found passions of idealism and do-gooding:

I don't like that part in your letter wherein you say you had the testimonies of well doing in your Breast, whenever such motions rise again endeavour to suppress 'em."

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