Why the sheriff should follow the law

VIETNAM is apparently seriously considering taking its maritime territorial dispute with China to an international court, which should please the United States. American diplomats scolded China earlier this month for starting the row by deploying an oil rig in disputed waters, leading to clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese ships; the diplomats said China’s behaviour “undermines peace and stability in the region”.


Washington doesn’t take a position on the territorial dispute itself, but wants it resolved according to international law, and it considers China’s aggressive claims over nearly the entire South China Sea to be baseless. Just as in the conflict in Ukraine, where Barack Obama calls Russian intervention a threat “to our very international order”, and in Syria, where America yesterday voted for a UN Security Council resolution to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (predictably vetoed by China and Russia), America finds itself defending its geopolitical interests by appealing to international law.

Read More: America and international law: Why the sheriff should follow the law | The Economist.