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The Case for Democratic World Government.

"We must replace the anarchic law of force with a civilized force of law. Democracy -- civilization itself -- is at stake."

For many years, I did my best to report on the issues of the day in as objective a manner as possible. When I had my own strong opinions, I tried not to communicate them to my audience. Now, however, my circumstances are different. I am in a position to speak my mind, and that is what I propose to do.

I believe that the first priority of humankind in this era is to establish an effective system of world law that will assure peace with justice among the peoples of the world.

Those of us living today can influence the future of civilization. We can influence whether our planet will drift into chaos and violence, or whether, through a monumental educational and political effort, we will achieve a world of peace under a system of law wherein individual violators of that law are brought to justice.

For how many thousands of years now have we humans insisted on calling ourselves "civilized?" And yet, we persist in the savage belief that we must -- occasionally, at least -- settle our arguments by killing one another.

While we spend much of our time and a great deal of our treasure preparing for war, we see no comparable effort to establish a lasting peace. Those advocates who work for world peace by urging a system of world government are called impractical dreamers. Those "impractical dreamers" are entitled to ask, "What is so practical about war?"

It seems to many of us that, if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict, we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government -- with a legislature, executive and judiciary and police to enforce its international laws. To do that, of course, we Americans will have to yield some of our sovereignty. It would take a lot of courage. But the American colonies did it once and brought forth one of the most nearly perfect unions the world has ever seen

Democracy -- civilization itself -- is at stake. We cannot defer this responsibility to posterity Within the next few years, we must change the basic structure of our global community from the present anarchic system of war and ever-more-destructive weaponry to a new system governed by a democratic UN federation.

We can draw on the wisdom of the Framers of the US Constitution. The differences among the American states then were as bitter as differences among nation-states today The Founders of our country invented "federalism," a concept rooted in the fights of the individual. Our federal system guarantees a maximum of freedom but provides it in a framework of law and justice.

Our forefathers believed that the closer the laws are to the people, the better. Cities legislate on local matters; states make decisions on matters within their borders; and the national government deals with issues that transcend the states, such as interstate commerce and foreign relations.

Today, the notion of unlimited national sovereignty means international anarchy We must replace the anarchic law of force with a civilized force of law. We must develop federal structures on a global level. We need a system of enforceable world law -- a democratic federal world government.

Outs will be neither a perfect world nor a world without disagreement and occasional violence. But it will be a world where national leaders will consistently abide by the rule of world law, and those who won't will be dealt with effectively and with due process by that same world law.

Let me make three suggestions that would move us in a direction firmly in the American tradition of law and democracy:

* Keep our promises: Americans overwhelmingly want us to pay our UN dues, with no crippling limitations. We owe it to the world. We owe it, as well, to our national self-esteem.

* Ratify the Treaty to Ban Land Mines, the Law of the Sea Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most important, we should sign and ratify the Treaty for a permanent International Criminal Court to hold individuals accountable for crimes against humanity.

* Consider, after 55 years, a more representative and democratic system of decision-making at the UN. This should include a revision of the veto in the Security Council and adoption of a weighted voting system for the General Assembly. A weighted voting system would be based upon not only one-nation-one-vote but also on population and contributions to the UN budget.

Our failure to live up to our obligations to the UN is led by a few willful senators who choose to pursue narrow, selfish political objectives at the cost of our nation's conscience. They pander to and are supported by the Christian Coalition and the rest of the religious right wing. Their leader, Pat Robertson, has written that we should have a world government, but only when the messiah arrives. Attempts for world order before that time are "the work of the Devil?"

This small but well-organized group has intimidated both the Republican Party and the Clinton administration. Robertson has attacked presidents since FDR for supporting the UN, explaining that these presidents are the unwitting agents of Lucifer.

The only way we who believe in a democratic world federal government can overcome this reactionary movement is to organize a strong educational counteroffensive.

There would be immediate diplomatic advantages if the world knew that the US was beginning to explore strengthening the UN. We would appear before the peoples of the world as a champion of peace for all by the equitable sharing of power. This would be in sharp contrast to the growing global concern that the US intends to use its dominant military power to enforce a sort of Pax Americana.

As Carl Van Doren has written, "History is now choosing the founders of the World Federation. Any person who can be among that number and fails to do so has lost the noblest opportunity of a lifetime."

Excerpted from a speech by Walter Cronkite upon his receipt of the World Federalist Association's Norman Cousins Global Governance Award on October 19, 1999. [WFA, 418 7th St., SE, Washington, DC 20003, (800) WFA-0123.]
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Author:Cronkite, Walter
Publication:Earth Island Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Jun 22, 2000
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