The End of the Right of Self-Defense?
A country’s right to defend itself against external attack is so irreducible a component of sovereignty as to have been assumed from time immemorial. Recent events, however, have cast serious doubt on the continued viability of this assumption—and, with it, the concepts of sovereignty and selfdetermination as we have long understood them.
On July 9, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), by a lopsided vote of fourteen to one, held that the security barrier being constructed by Israel to shield its citizens from relentless terrorist assault is an affront to international law. The ruling broke ground on several levels, both procedural and substantive. Should it gain universal currency, it would impair not merely Israel’s power to protect itself but also the U.S. war against the Islamic terror network that slaughtered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and the ability of the West to cope with the uniquely threatening environment of the 21st century. No less alarmingly, it would place in question the future of international law itself.
About the Author
Andrew C. McCarthy directs the center for law and counterterrorism at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In somewhat different form, this article will appear in his book, Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, soon to be released by Encounter Books. Copyright 2008 by Andrew C. McCarthy.