81 CHROMICLESnstate of nature even conceivable? Can our distant ancestorsnhave bound us to any agreement they might have made?nCan anyone imagine any circumstance under which anyngroup of men would voluntarily and unanimously surrenderntheir liberties? Recognizing the absurdity of the myth, thenmost prominent living natural rights philosopher reduces thenstory to a hypothetical “original position” in which all mennand women are presumed equal. How our actions can bengoverned by a Harvard professor’s hypothesis, John Rawlsnhas never said.nFor all its manifest absurdities, natural rights theory has,nhowever, lived on in disguise. Marx played his one trick ofnstanding theory on its head: government is not legitimate,nbecause there was no contract, only a usurpation enacted bynpatriarchal capitalists. The utilitarians (and their libertarianndescendants) simply chopped the contract into pieces beforenswallowing it whole: each individual enters into an engagementnwith society, but only so long as the cost-benefit rationis favorable.nSo long as the myth of natural rights cut against the powernof government and in favor of the citizen, there were hardlynany practical objections. The language of rights did notnbegin to lose its appeal until it was employed by Congressnand the federal courts as a major weapon in their unremittingnwar against the family, private property, and localnself-government.nEvery right, it has always been understood, conveys annobligation, and in modern times that obligation implies thenpower of government. If homosexuals have rights, thatnmeans the federal courts can compel you to employ them,nhouse them, and admit them into your once-private clubs. Ifnchildren have rights, then state welfare agencies can monitornand regulate parents as they go about the difficult task ofnrearing their offspring.nIf all peoples everywhere on the globe have inalienablenrights, then it can only be up to the United Nations and tonthe International Court of Justice to decide who gets what.nIf colonialism is a “slavery-like” crime, as the UN hasndeclared, then it really should be up to the InternationalnCourt of Justice to decide the cases of Puerto Ricannanticolonialists, black separatists, and Red Power activists. (Itndoes no good to say that most Puerto Ricans, blacks, andnIndians prefer their “slavery-like” condition, because slavesncannot be expected to know their own minds: they havenbeen conditioned.)nThere are political analysts in America, conservative asnwell as liberal, who believe South Africa must be pressuredninto changing its political system — this, despite Article 2,nparagraph 7 of the UN Charter:nNothing contained in the present Charter shallnauthorize the United Nations to intervene innmatters which are essentially within the domesticnjurisdiction of any state. . . .nThe answer to that is provided by one of America’s leadingnexperts on international law, Richard Falk. Falk argues, innessence, that apartheid is inherently unstable and constitutesnan open invitation to a civil war that will draw in thensuperpowers. As a threat to world peace, therefore. SouthnAfrica’s domestic political system should be cleaned up bynthe UN.nnnFor some liberals, that may be going a bit far, but writersnlike Falk and Leo Kuper (the author of Genocide) havenother ideas that strike closer to home. The Vietnam War, fornexample, was genocidal; America’s participation in the armsnrace is criminal madness; the US is riddled with anti-nSemitism, racism, and intolerance. If South Africa is ancandidate for takeover and reform, why not the UnitednStates?nThe only answer we can make is that in our ownnself-interest the US reserves the right to veto any suchnnonsense in the Security Council and to refuse jurisdictionnto the ICJ — as we did when Nicaragua accused us ofnmining her harbors in defiance of international law. If ourngoal in signing international agreements is to win propagandanvictories against the other side, so blatant an exercise innhypocrisy does us no good. Of course, we do have the willnand the power to defend our interest, but with “nationalnpower guided by national interest” we are back to thenlanguage of John Randolph.nThe United States really needs to rethink its wholenposition in the international community. Even under PresidentnReagan we signed (cynically, I hope) the GenocidenConvention. What would we do if a President Dukakis or anPresident Simon decided to take it seriously? Would we, fornexample, turn over the Yonkers City Council to an internationalntribunal? It sounds ridiculous, but in the Massachusettsnof Michael Dukakis, crimes involving ethnic prejudicenfall into a special category. Throw a rock through a window,nand pay a fine or hear a judge’s lecture. Throw the samenrock through an Asian’s window and shout “Cambo,” andnyou go to jail. If internationalists like Dukakis have their way,nthe jail may be in Cambodia.nUnder a system of government like ours, we cannot affordnto let one party sign an agreement that the other party maynforce the nation to live up to. Rhetorical nightmares have anway of coming true. Few American politicians took the UNnrhetoric very seriously before the election of Jimmy Carter.nUnder his enlightened leadership, the US sacrificed, timenafter time, its national interest on the altar of human rights.nIn the hostile world in which we find ourselves, thenrelative efficiency of the UN staff is of even less consequencenthan the UN diatribes against America. PresidentnReagan’s decision to release $188 million of withheldnpayments (with a promise of $520 million in the future)nmay be the predictable end-result of the internationalistnrhetoric we have indulged in for decades. It may also be thenfitting conclusion to a bipartisan coalition (in Congress andnin the State Department) that signed the Genocide Conventionnand wagered the national security on the good faithnof Mr. Gorbachev.nThe Soviets, of course, know the score. In every internationalndebate over human rights, they have managed tonequate US unemployment with Soviet oppression, ethnicnprejudice here with ethnic extermination over there. Theynsucceed, because unlike us they are actually internationalistsnat heart; because there is one form of internationalism thatnalways works. It is called empire; and no matter what smilingnfaces preside over the Kremlin, Moscow will never renouncenits claim to be the Third Rome.n