I find it highly amusing that John McCain tries time and again to damage Barack Obama by citing his foreign policy ‘inexperience’, yet his own foreign policy is nothing short of crazy. I pointed out in an earlier post that on social policy McCain is already far to the right of Bush, and the same is true here. Where Obama suggests an equal partnership in the Atlantic ‘special relationship’, McCain is talking about obviating the United Nations.
We should go further and start bringing democratic peoples and nations from around the world into one common organization, a worldwide League of Democracies. This would not be like the universal-membership and failed League of Nations’ of Woodrow Wilson but much more like what Theodore Roosevelt envisioned: like-minded nations working together in the cause of peace. The new League of Democracies would form the core of an international order of peace based on freedom. It could act where the UN fails to act, to relieve human suffering in places like Darfur. It could join to fight the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and fashion better policies to confront the crisis of our environment. It could provide unimpeded market access to t hose who share the values of economic and political freedom, an advantage no state-based system could attain. It could bring concerted pressure to bear on tyrants in Burma or Zimbabwe, with or without Moscow’s and Beijing’s approval. It could unite to impose sanctions on Iran and thwart its nuclear ambitions. It could provide support to struggling democracies in Ukraine and Serbia and help countries like Thailand back on the path to democracy.
This idea of a ‘league of democracies’ is nothing short of insanity, and makes Bush look like the wimp his father was derided as. Let’s just sidestep the UN eh, and invade where we want, impose our will where we want and just ignore China and Russia. Of course they’ll just stand aside and let us do that, and not start their own parallel league of autocracies themselves…
It’s completely crazy. The entire point of the United Nations has been to demand consensus, so surely if the organisation isn’t functioning properly it needs to be reformed? Yes the Chinese and Russians are abusing the will of the security council – but the current Russian resurgence has hardly come out of nowhere, and it’s not as if the United States hasn’t used its muscle abusively before. Iraq anyone? And surely it’s Iraq itself which demonstrates the most salient point – any country or coalition unilaterally imposing its will in the 21st century cannot hope to succeed; in days where communications, cultures, allegiances and weapons transcend borders, unilateralism couldn’t be less practical. Shashi Tharoor is right – the neocon mantra that democracy and ‘freedom’ are everyone’s bottom lines whether they know it or not ignores the practical and pragmatic lines which many such ‘democracies’ have to walk; believing all nominally democratic states would join in is ridiculous. But the scariest part of this story is the rumour that the idea is also supported by Barack Obama. I hope it’s not true – firmly opposing it would continue the so-far successful narrative he’s driving that McCain is Third Term Bush.