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Iraq's Sovereignty and Ours: What the War Has Taught Us About the World's Moral Architecture

Recorded on December 4, 2006

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Many critics think the war in Iraq shows the problem with "unilateral action" by the United States. There may be some truth to that claim. But our experience certainly does not show that international institutions provide a reliable or even a plausible alternative to independent action by sovereign states. Iraq's sectarian conflicts also should remind us that a country with an inadequate sense of its own national sovereignty is a country inviting tyranny of conquest. And hardly anything we have learned would be news to the American Founders - who were already building on premises we are now painfully relearning.

Jeremy Rabkin is Professor of Government at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on international law and American constitutional history. He holds a Ph.D. (in political science) from Harvard University and received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell. He has written widely on the meaning and concept of sovereignty in contemporary international politics and in the history of constitutional government. His most recent book is Law Without Nations? Why Constitutional Government Requires Sovereign States (Princeton University Press, 2005).