Letter to the Editor: The nomination of Harold Koh

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On March 24, President Barak Obama nominated Harold Koh to be legal advisor to the Department of State. As Megan Clyne wrote in the New York Post, he would “forge a wide range of international agreements on issues from trade to arms control, and help represent our country in such places as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.”

Mr. Koh seems to represent a group in the United States seeking to promote what is cryptically called “transnational progressivism.” This deceptively high-sounding concept would have our laws and legal system overridden and subject to the legal norms of Europe. In short, the Constitution of the United States and its Bill of Rights would, in effect, be thrown out and superseded by rulings from a variety of extra-national groups, such as the United Nations, which is not on U.S. territory, the International Court of Justice, located in The Netherlands and the European Union. In short, we would be turning our sovereignty over to external groups that seek to control us.

Mr. Koh has stated the U.S. government is an “axis of disobedience” along with Saddam-era Iraq and North Korea. Would “obedience” lose our liberties for us?

The Statue of Liberty, as people everywhere know, stands in the harbor at New York. This landmark has demonstrated to generations of people the values of our society. It has long symbolized the ideas and goals of a society dedicated to freedom, equality and opportunity. Ironically enough, the French gave it to us. Millions of people have swarmed to this symbol and the country it has come to represent in order that they might escape poverty, repression and subservience. The United States, standing behind this symbol, has become a leader in world affairs. Other, less dynamic countries, seeking to demonstrate false power, have regularly claimed that they held us within their control.

Not long ago, I wrote about the Italian journalist, Oriana Fallaci, who had a European arrest warrant issued against her, because someone in Switzerland did not approve of her opinions, even though what she had written was not a crime in her own country. This is what “transnational progressivism” would bring to us. Similarly, the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon is reviewing a complaint against six Bush administration officials, not for actions, but for giving advice to our president within these United States.

It might be good to bear in mind that the Europeans, whom some Americans currently view as models to emulate, brought us World War I. That war resulted from a backwater Central European assassination, which, in its turn, triggered an avalanche of destruction from a mass of treaties, much as a falling mountain climber may drag the companions to whom he is attached over a cliff. That war was followed by the Great Depression, which likely started with the collapse of the hollow empire of Ivar Kruger, known as “The Swedish Match King.”

The disintegration of his business machinations brought down both businesses and governments worldwide. This economic destruction produced the conditions that lead directly to the rise of Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party, which in its turn lead to World War II. Several hundred million people died. Disease and starvation spread across many parts of the world as a direct result of these catastrophes.

Do not forget these were the wonderful people who brought us concentration camps, gas chambers and genocide. It is often forgotten that the French themselves shipped thousands of prisoners from their concentration camps to Nazi extermination centers in Eastern Europe.

Mr. Koh says we should be in line with these people.

We broke relations with a king in 1776 and our society formed around people who had fled the social and political conditions of these countries of Europe. Now Mr. Koh is saying we should align ourselves with these limping states crippled by their own social problems.

We have recently been exposed to the disgusting scene of an American president bowing in a servile manner before the foreign king of one of the most repressive governments on the planet. This display could be a window on our future.

While some detractors delight in pointing out flaws and imperfections in our nation, we actively work at solving our problems, not simply deny their existence or give no more than lip service to rectifying them. We have eliminated slavery, which is still common in the Middle East and Africa, we practice equality for women, something far from common, we have freedom of speech and of the press, which is becoming daily less common throughout the world. We practice freedom of opinion and of religion. A list of the countries that have prohibitions on these topics would take pages, but these are countries with whom our “transnationalists” say we should adopt a group mentality, make ourselves mindlessly subservient and run with the herd.

Liberty requires an intelligent leadership and population, along with honesty and integrity. It requires both backbone and stamina, not the obsequiousness that would seem to be the goal of Harold Koh.

Ernest Lynch
Temple

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