The Case for Sovereignty
Why the World Should Welcome American Independence

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    The Case for Sovereignty
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  • 272 Hardcover pages
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Download file The preface to this book is available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

The Case for Sovereignty goes beyond slogans and catchphrases to engage one of the most contested concepts in contemporary international politics: the sovereign rights of nation-states. Jeremy A. Rabkin defends the concept of sovereignty against common misunderstandings and distortions, and shows how the American Founders (and subsequent generations of statesmen) relied upon sovereignty as the most basic principle of international affairs. Contemporary Europeans, however, have derided sovereignty and sought to drag other states into institutions of global governance that deprive states of their right to make their own decisions. It is this line of thinking, for instance, that underpinned European opposition to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in Iraq on the argument that such a war could not be “legitimate” without United Nations sanction.

In contrast, Rabkin argues that the United States cannot abandon its historic right to make its own choices—not, at least, without abandoning the Constitution. Just as the Declaration of Independence asserted the moral right of nations to “a separate and equal station” in the world, Americans have embraced the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, one which uniquely ensures the protection of our rights. Allowing international law to take precedence over the Constitution would fundamentally undermine American democracy.

The Case for Sovereignty argues that most non-European countries are also likely, over the long run, to prefer a world of sovereign states. Other countries value their right to make their own choices, and may also recognize that a world that accommodates different choices offers more hope for peace, progress, and human freedom. The Case for Sovereignty surveys not only general principles of international law but also the advantages that sovereignty has in dealing with security issues, human rights standards, and international trade, with particular attention to the role of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and other international organizations.

Jeremy A. Rabkin is a professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on international law and American constitutional history. He received his BA from Cornell and his PhD from Harvard University (in political science). His scholarly work has appeared in journals of law and political theory; his topical essays have appeared in The National Interest, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and other magazines and opinion journals. Rabkin has testified on international law questions before both houses of Congress, and has lectured on sovereignty and international law in Canberra, Beijing, London, Brussels, Jerusalem, and at many forums in the United States.

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