Fiji – Another view

hat tip Stuck in Fiji M.U.D

Another intriguing view of the expulsion of New Zealand's High Commissioner was a blog posting from Micheal Tarry's blog titled Magnus Frater Spectat Te.

[quote]Fiji: It's an independent country now.

Sovereignty is a difficult and complex thing. Philosophers in several countries, in several centuries, in several notable tomes, have considered the concept. Thinkers from Aristotle to Bodin to Mill to Schmitt and others have thought and pondered, and each has a different position. Each has dismissed their predecessor, and each in turn was dismissed by their successor.

It would seem that the nature of sovereignty presents conundrums without answers at all; indeed, asking the political theorist to define sovereignty is akin to asking the theologian to define God, or the metaphysicist to define love.

Similarly, asking the theorist to determine who may exercise sovereignty and what rights and prerogatives such a sovereign might have would be like asking our theologian, having defined God, to tell us why we ought to believe in Him and not some other deity, or of our metaphysicist, who once setting out what constitutes love, is then called upon to tell us why, as the case might be, love is limited to relations between people and not animals.

The problem of sovereignty has been brought to the attention of this part of the world by the expulsion of the ambassador of New Zealand to Fiji by that country's current leader. The New Zealand High Commissioner, Michael Green, was ordered to leave Fiji by it's military ruler, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama because the latter had believed Green was interfering in Fijian domestic political matters.

Consequently, and understandably, governments across the Pacific have vented their collective spleen upon Bainimarama. One simply cannot go about expelling diplomats left and right. New Zealand and Australia talked of upping the ante with more sanctions, and our Prime Minister declared that Cabinet (which met this morning) would "weigh up it's options." Such is well and good, and Helen Clark is welcome to consider her position all day and well into the night.

In doing so, she would merely be exercising her right to make whatever decisions she likes as the leader of a sovereign and utterly independent country. New Zealand is it's own master: we have cocked snooks before at the United States, and the United Nations, and Australia, and China, and anyone whom we don't particularly wish to kowtow before on such-and-such an issue.

We lose all semblance of having anything approaching the moral high-ground when it is realised that Fiji, like New Zealand, is a sovereign state. Bainimarama's government can expel whomever it pleases, whenever it pleases, entirely upon whim. Clark could do precisely the same for such is what sovereignty allows.

Crawford (in 1979) wrote "Sovereignty does not mean actual equality of rights or competences: the actual competence of a state may be restricted by its constitution, or by treaty or custom. The term sovereignty accurately refers not to the totality of powers which all states have, but to the totality of powers which states may, under international law, have." It doesn't matter whether we approve of Fiji's sovereign actions – we don't need to. We didn't approve of the coup – we didn't need to.

We condemned it, certainly, and we can heap opprobrium and sanctions upon Fiji for the reminder of eternity but it will not diminish in the least the existence of Fijian sovereignty and concordantly the prerogative of Fiji to do whatever it damn well wants within it's own borders. If they want coups galore, so be it: there's nary a thing we can or should do to prevent it. If they want to expel our ambassadors and ignore our entreaties, so be it: we have ignored their demands before.

If New Zealand does succeed in getting it's own way, then we will have proved only one thing. We will have shown that we are merely bullies of the sort we usually disapprove of. We will have refuted the principle that "sovereignty is the ultimate territorial organ which knows no superior." We will have trumped Bodin and his fellows, and will have added our own name to the list of philosophers-of-sovereignty who simply beg to be rebutted.[/quote]

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