The death of contracts
Bit of a half-formed thought ... writing it in the hope that someone capable of fully-formed thinking on this subject will find it interesting enough to pick up the ball and carry it.
In listening to Elmer Davis's CBS newscasts
from 1936-40, I notice a strong emphasis on specific treaties, agreements, and the Monroe Doctrine. When Japan violated the Naval Construction Treaty, it made news and told us something about Japan's intentions. When Germany tried to use the Monroe Doctrine as a propaganda tool against South American countries, it made news and told us something about Germany's intentions.
You won't hear any of this in modern newscasts, even from the more serious ones that can spare a few seconds from the truly important matters like Breast Cancer, OJ, Sex With Teachers, and Missing Blondes, to discuss tiny trivialities like war and peace.
This missing subject isn't just the fault of the media. Obviously treaties and doctrines still exist, but they no longer carry the same weight, and no longer have the same signal value.
In earlier times, treaties were contracts between two parties. Each country's foreign ministry watched the other like a hawk to detect violations. This continual two-sided tension kept both sides honest, and gave immediate information to both sides.
Even non-participation in treaties had a specific meaning. Neutrality was the prime subject of discussion in Congress during 1939, and every attempt by FDR to weaken our neutral status by joining with England and France met with considerable resistance. Countries like Switzerland and Spain that declared neutrality remained [relatively] unharmed by both sides.
The entire concept of neutral vs belligerent is completely dead now, and its importance seems weird from a modern perspective.
Modern treaties are mushy and multilateral, and they have buildings and bureaucracies of their own. This means that nobody is really watching; when Country X violates Treaty Y, the countries that could use the information may never get it. The only benefit goes to the bureaucrats who can use their connections to get rich, and use their power to force pointless regulations on Western countries, thus giving more profit to the third-world dictators who will then further enrich the bureaucrats.
= = = = =
Afterthought on neutrality: Wouldn't it be truly wonderful if you could simply declare by word and deed that you were strictly out of the game, and then all the belligerents would respect your decision? It really did work that way
in WW2, so it's not hard to see why the isolationist position was so popular in '39! Unfortunately it doesn't
work that way now, so Ron Paul's modern isolationism is nonsensical and suicidal.