Monday, August 04, 2008

Globosclerosis: Changing Doctors

NI online today focuses attention on the David Brooks column and responses from the blogosphere. Allow me to add my own two cents.

There is a binary trap at work here: either the U.S. puts together an effective coalition, or nothing gets down. Formal institutions don't appear to be working, and unilateral action has been discredited by Iraq, so nothing will get done.

There is, however, a third possibility--other states may choose to "get something done" but not seek U.S. leadership, permission or even participation. Yes, right now in 2008 this is quite embryonic, but if we look at some of the attempts to forge capabilities, and I've tried to follow that trend here at TWR--say, among the SCO members, the emerging IBSA forum, and so on--in a few years this third option may be much more feasible.

I still don't have a good sense for how we would react to some of these developments. If IBSA could in fact assume more responsibility for oceanic security in its zone of action, would we, the U.S., ask to take part? Want to be consulted? Would we try to oppose? Or would we see this as a legitimate response to our grips about free-riders?

One final point. Brooks assumes that the U.S. would be in the forefront of a league of democracies. What happens if a group of democracies decided we were the problem, not the solution? Then what?

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