John McCain and the Mad Foreign Policy

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.


3 responses to “John McCain and the Mad Foreign Policy

  1. Are you opposed to this specific plan or a more democratic UN in general?


  2. Well as I put in the post, I strongly support a reformed United Nations. The UN is malfunctioning not because the organisation is a failure in intent, but because its constituent parts haven’t lived up to their own obligations. I went to a lecture by Mary Robinson a few years ago, who was and remains a strong proponent of UN reform and democratisation. The problem with enabling the Annan reforms and Robinson’s wishes have mostly been just the gung ho attitude which McCain advocates in this speech – of course Russia and China have ‘reverted to type’ – it’s hardly surprising after Bush/Blair’s Iraq ‘adventure’. It screwed up geopolitics just as much as those of us who opposed it before it happened said it would. It will take an Obama or similar statesman to undo the damage and invest the political capital in the UN, the absence of which has damaged its reputation.

    But of course there should be greater representation. The General Assembly should act as a de-facto parliament, the Security Council should be expanded, and the other councils should have their profiles raised to equal importance. Robinson advocates adding a new level of global governance to add even greater relevance and representation to elements of civil society, in suggesting that the corporate world be brought in under some form of umbrella as well. The ideas are there, the desire is there, but these petty wars have to stop before it’ll happen. Sadly I’m not sure we’re anywhere near there, with the period of energy and resource wars probably only just beginning.

  3. your argument is weak in your belief that greater representation will lead to a more wholesome UN. The majority of members have unelected governments, rule by fiat, and seek only to enhance their own personal wealth. Both Russia and China were acting the same way BEFORE the iraq invasion, thus nullifying your tit for tat behavior scheme.
    I know that throughout the world there is a belief in the power and strength and authority of the UN. But I cannot emphasize enough the poor regard that americans hold for it. The league of democracies would at least be beholden to it’s own citizens to answer for it’s actions where as the UN like the EU is accountable to no one, barely even able to balance it’s own books let alone preach to the would about social responsibility and yet people seem to think that it will magically right itself if given more money, power and responsibility. At some point the US will pull out of the UN, leaving the rest of the countries to decide if it’s worth the bother if they can’t have free lunches paid for by the US. It has accomplished almost nothing in 60 years except to waste money, huge amounts of money.
    The central problem with the UN is in its defense and understanding of sovereignty, it was created to maintain stability and dialog between the great powers when there was little trust or talking going on. But that’s all it’s done, besides prop up and support failed states like North Korea, the Sudan, and Zimbabwa by giving their dictators defacto recognition as sovereign heads of state when they are nothing but thugs and murderers. But as the international scene has progressed and social order is increasingly fluid, the UN has held back human development by trying to maintain it’s definition of sovereignty.

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