"A Decent Respect For The Opinions Of Mankind"
By Pejman Yousefzadeh Posted in Democrats: Multilateral Except When They Aren't | Foreign Affairs — Comments (2) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
In the event that you don't know it, this is the favorite phrase from the Declaration of Independence for Democrats during the course of the Bush Administration. They quote the phrase approvingly in the context of arguing that the Bush Administration has failed to show a decent respect for the opinions of other nations thanks to its unilateral unilateralism in foreign affairs, which as we all know, is so unilaterally unilateral that we are all unilateraled out as a country and as a planet.
- The phrase "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" was used to justify the writing of a political polemic (an eloquent, moving and inspiring political polemic but a political polemic all the same) that discusses why the 13 colonies chose to declare their independence from the mightiest empire in the world. "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." Listening to modern day commentaries, one would think that Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Washington and others would not have embarked on this history-defining enterprise unless they had an international coalition behind them and it was the presence of this international coalition--which represented the "decent respect for the opinions of mankind"--that paved the way for the Founding Fathers to put into motion the events that created the United States of America as an independent nation-state. Why, if we let matters progress further without perhaps taking into account actual history, we might be fooled into thinking that the Founders sent Richard Holbrooke and Jimmy Carter on a diplomatic tour around the world to garner multilateral support for independence and that it was only the presence of this multilateral support that allowed for Destiny to give the green light to American independence.
- This seems to make quite clear that there is no "decent respect for the opinions of mankind" on the other side of the partisan divide, speechifying to the contrary notwithstanding. And don't think that the Obama campaign wouldn't move planets to upset the free-trading Colombians in order to curry favor with the unions. Indeed, the Obama campaign is likely planning to do just that--if only to keep up with the Clintons. If they fail, I should think that their failure would say something quite derogatory about their campaign operations, which may hearten both the Clinton and McCain camps as a consequence.