A Conceptual Perversion—International Community

[First published January 7, 2005] We have all heard the argument regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, the war on terror, and interventions in such civil war and democides as those in Liberia, Congo, Angola, Sudan, or Somalia, that they should be a matter for the international community. Indeed, the refrain that the international community and its surrogate the United Nations should be involved or consulted is a common mantra concerning such conflicts.

The word “international community” is one of those conceptual perversions that corrupt thought. It is a word suffused with vibrant feeling and moral equalitarianism, as in the term internationalist. It connotes the opposite of nationalism and a “self-centered focus on the nation, a cause of war and disharmony among nations.” Most important, it also involves a deeply resonating positive–opening one’s arms to all cultures, all cultures, and all beliefs are good. It implies certain questions: who are we of one nation to say that something is evil, morally repugnant? Who are we to make war “unilaterally”? And it implies an answer: we should recognize that we must come to a consensus with all of humanity, despite our different views, if we will have world peace and harmony. The word has become in most discourse on world events the equivalent of “apple pie” and “motherhood.”

Look at the claim that we should have involved the international community in the Iraq war, or in the postwar reconstruction, or in the trial of Saddam Hussein. How mentally blinding this concept of international community is can be shown by asking a simple question. Who makes up this community?

There are 192 legally sovereign nations that make up this “community,” of which about 89 are liberal democracies, many small and hardly internationally active. There are 55 partly free nations that allow some human rights, and 48 nations that systematically deny virtually human rights.

Does anyone interested in democracy, in creating a democratic Iraq, really want the bloody masters of China, Congo, Angola, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Laos, Libya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Vietnam, among the other 48 strict dictatorships poking their noses into the democratization of Iraq. After all, their masters are generally thugs commanding a gang that rules a nation by fear. They are all international criminals. They rule, as does the Mafia. Yet, they are a substantially and legally part of what is called the “international community,” despite international law being nothing more to them than what secures their rule, or of which they can take advantage. If those using this term “international community” really don’t want to include them, then they should qualify the term by something like “democracies,” or “democratic nations,” or “democratic community,” which incidentally, is a true community.

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