29 December 2016   Leave a comment

The Economist is a news magazine committed to the tenets of classical liberalism and makes no excuses or apologies for that commitment.  It is a journal I trust even though it holds many positions with which I disagree.  In its most recent edition, it assesses the state of liberalism in the world at the end of 2016 and concludes that it was a pretty bad year for the ideology.  But it also offers a ringing endorsement of how liberalism can respond to many of the problems currently weighing down the global economy and political systems.

One of the more interesting aspects of politics is how difficult it is to get people to have open minds about political statements.  Even in the face of concrete and specific evidence, people are more likely to deny the “facts” than to change their political beliefs.  Scientists are probing this issue and tentative studies indicate that political beliefs are hardwired in our brains in the same places that personal identity is located.  We therefore tend to take contradictory political beliefs as personal insults as opposed to simple factual disagreements.  Perhaps the most important aspect of being a good political analyst is the ability to depersonalize political issues.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 1998 by the Rome Statute and began functioning in 2002 after 60 states ratified the Treaty.  There are now 124 states which have signed the treaty.  However, the ICC was hobbled from the beginning by the refusal of important states to ratify the treaty: China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, the United States, and Yemen.  Moreover, to date the ICC has indicted 39 individuals, but all of them have been African which has led to three states announcing their intention to leave the treaty–Burundi, South Africa, and the Gambia–and three states very likely to leave the treaty–Kenya, Namibia and Uganda.   This dissatisfaction has now been coupled with rising nationalism in the world which threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the ICC even more.   If the ICC ceases to be regarded as legitimate, its downfall will be considered another bit of evidence in the declining power of liberal institutions.

Posted December 30, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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