Monday, August 06, 2007
The League that Wouldn't Die ... Sorry, A Concert
Today, two advisors--to Senators Obama and McCain--once again push this idea. All of the objections that have been raised before are just set aside and ignored.
Messers Kagan and Daalder, why not listen to what representatives of other democracies actually have to say? Listen to what Ambassador Mallias was telling us about European difficulties both in coming to a common position on Kosovo (which doesn't bode well for their assertion that democracies see the international order in the same way; the EU, as a regional "concert of democracies" should have a much more coherent foreign policy than it actually does)--and why and how the EU may have to part company with the U.S. when it comes to a unilateral action that bypasses the Security Council? Why not listen to close advisors to Angela Merkel telling us why Germany has a different perspective on how to deal with Russia? Or why Prime Minister Singh or President Mbeki have different ideas about engaging non-democratic neighbors like Burma (Myanmar and Zimbabwe)?
And what happens if the world's democracies "outvote" the United States? Didn't this happen with the Iraq war in 2003--tallying up France, Germany and India--that outweighs the "coalition of the willing"? (Or, as in Catch-22 or in the original proposals for the UN, does the U.S. get extra votes in any "Concert of Democracies")?
Sorry to rain on the parade, but the sooner we put a stake through the heart of this seductive idea, the better for U.S. foreign policy?
Anonymous 8:55, Iraq war 2003 showed that the Anglosphere concept can work in projecting power around the world--US, UK and Australia did the job. You can then attract occasional one-up allies as needed--say bringing in India, Japan, France, etc.
Oh, and Nick, apropos of your post on Friday, hey, no need to spend on domestic infrastructure--just let it collapse. Guess if you never leave the beltway don't need to worry about those bridges.
India is not a "democratic" state according to the above 2 criteria since there is no respect for the rule of law in that country.
It is foolish to predicate policy options based on such a narrow spectrum of states - the global (pecking) order is based on state power. There are many many state actors out there that are un-democractic (China, Vietnam, N. Korea, Burma, Algeria, Egypt, Syria) or semi-democratic (India, Russia, Iran, Turkey, South Africa, Nigeria) whose interests must be taken into account.
Furthermore, while I can see the attraction of an Alliance of the English-Speaking White People to those from that racial and cultural background I do not see it useful to US. US does not need UK, Australia, and New Zealand to act. Nor does she need their political cover. This type of entaglement with foreing powers (based on a new conception of White-Man's-Burden) only will limit US freedom of action and raise a visceral anti-colonial response among the non-White people of the world with their memories of White domination still intact.
US already has an emotional relationship with Israel with all its negative consequences including the 9/11 attacks; she does not need to add to that.
For Daalder and the Princeton National Security Project team (Ikenberry and Slaughter, in particular) this is a feature, not a bug. By restricting membership to liberal democracies, the organization would avoid the legitimacy problems of the UN, thus making it more difficult for the US to go on unwise adventures such as Iraq--but also preventing non-liberal democracies from blocking presumably less unwise uses of military force for the purposes of upholding liberal order.
Kagan, on the other hand, might be less happy about the scenario you envision.
So who determines who is a liberal democracy? The U.S.? The EU? Freedom House?
And can countries be expelled? Haven't seen any countries expelled from the Concert of Democracies?
And I thought we already had this in NATO.
Presumably, membership would be decided by the "club," with all that entails. Since they have in mind an informal US project, at least initially, I imagine invitations would come with a return address of Washington, DC. Make of that what you will.
And yes, this does look a lot like post-Cold War NATO. But all of the proponents explicitly mention contemporary NATO as a precedent, so that's hardly a stunning criticism, at least without additional discussion of the current state of NATO.
In fact, as I respond in detail on UN Dispatch the Security Council frequently votes to authorize the use of force for humanitarian ends, China and Russia notwithstanding. The debates over Iraq and Kosovo are the only two instances over the last eight years in which the council failed to authorize the use of force when one or more of the P-5 democracies wanted it to. There are eighteen other examples to the contrary. We just don't hear about these cases all that often.