Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

—The Declaration of Independence

A nation’s sovereignty is derived from the individual sovereignty of its people. Thus, despotically-ruled nations such as China cannot claim infringements of their sovereignty—they have no sovereignty. Adolf Hitler could not have called the White House on D-Day and righteously said, “I object to your infringement of the sovereignty of France, please withdraw.” Claims of sovereignty from dictators, communists, and other unelected leaders should be dismissed with scorn.

Genuinely sovereign countries must be accorded the utmost respect. The United States displayed this respect when it bombed Libya in 1986. France, Spain and Italy all refused overflight permission to the American bombers, so they flew a lengthy and dangerous route around those countries. By contrast, during the Cold War, the United States did, and was perfectly morally entitled to, fly U2 and Blackbird surveillance flights over the Soviet Union and Cuba. Such violations may seem humiliating to a despotically ruled people, but the real humiliation, the real dishonor, is to allow your country to be despotically ruled in the first place.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove