May 1, 2007

McCain Ditching The UN?

File this one under Conservative Red Meat -- John McCain wants to form a League of Democracies to take action when the UN fails to do so. Warning that the US has to find a global structure for its security policies, McCain told a Stanford University audience that lasting peace comes from spreading freedom:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain envisions a "League of Democracies" as part of a more cooperative foreign policy with U.S. allies.

The Arizona senator will call for such an organization to be "the core of an international order of peace based on freedom" in a speech Tuesday at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

"We Americans must be willing to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies," McCain says, according to excerpts his campaign provided. "Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom, knowledge and resources necessary to succeed."

"To be a good leader, America must be a good ally," he adds in the speech, another in a series of policy addresses as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination.

McCain apparently did not say that his League would replace the UN; in fact, he said that the League would act when the UN would not. That would mean an end to the UN in all practical terms, however, since a parallel League of Democracies that actually acted in defense of freedom and liberty would get most of the political attention from its members.

If McCain didn't explicitly argue that the League would replace the UN, it sounded as though it would have the same missions as Turtle Bay. He envisioned the League as handling the Darfur crisis, helping with AIDS abatement in Africa, and free trade for democratic nations, especially struggling new democracies. He also pointed out that it would not require the approval of Moscow or China to impose economic sanctions on nations like Iran, a point that conservatives would no doubt appreciate.

It sounds like a good idea, but in reality would go almost nowhere. Our democratic allies unfortunately still prefer the UN, although nations like Australia might prefer an Anglosphere alliance instead. France, Germany, and even Britain would not leave Turtle Bay. They might consider joining a League of Democracies, but they would not put the League above the UN, which they consider the highest global authority.

Let's face it -- even if we could convince France and Germany to join such an organization, would it do any good? Both nations violated the sanctions regime against Saddam Hussein, and France participated in the Oil for Food corruption scandal almost as much as Russia. The biggest problems in the UN relate to the kleptocracies and dictatorships that comprise the majority of its membership, but some of the democracies don't behave, either. And a sanctions regime that didn't include Moscow and China, and relied on the constancy and honor of the French, would have no hope of succeeding against Iran, North Korea, or anyone else.

The problem that McCain rightly perceives isn't just the UN itself, but the composition of the global community. The UN is a corrupt, unresponsive, and impotent bureaucracy because it reflects the character of its membership. The notion that we should consider this a super-sovereign parliament is absurd, as is the notion of replacing it with another of the same kind. If McCain wants to truly do something radical, he should jettison the entire notion of global organizations and simply pledge to form coalitions based on mutual goals and approaches based on shared interests on particular issues -- which is how nations conducted diplomacy for millenia prior to 1945.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden calls it A League That Could Meet In A Broom Closet. Well, okay, if you want to use technical terms ...


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Comments (10)

Posted by awbtf [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 5:07 AM

Unfortunately even "coalitions based on mutual goals and approaches based on shared interests on particular issues" no longer amount to much, consider NATO.

The 'League of Democracies' sounds nice but when you get to the details it all falls part. For example Chavez and the Iranian mullahs would demand their place at the table. Plus half this country wants us in Kyoto and ICC no matter the ill consequence so they certainly aren't going to like 'alienating our allies' by doing anything anti-UN.

Posted by The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 5:19 AM

NATO won't step up to its Berlin Conference commitments to Afghanistan, and the EU--which DOES enforce a democracies-only rule--refused even to sanction Iran for piracy on the high seas. Apart from which, the 50 bootclickers who spat on David Broder would never ratify it.

Posted by james968 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 6:00 AM

One major problem with the UN is EVERYONE is admitted. If the LofD is formed, it must require fundamental freedoms. 1. Freedom of Speach/Press (Turkey's out). 2. Freedom of Religion (g'bye Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc). 3. etc.

Posted by quickjustice [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 6:28 AM

I toured the U.N. last weekend. The tour reminded me that (1) the FDR and Truman Democrats were the prime driving force here in the U.S. for the creation of the United Nations back in 1945; and (2) the U.N.'s collective security apparatus (the Security Council) is what has failed.

Other aspects of the U.N., such as the World Health Organization or the international standard setting organizations, have been both low profile, relatively free from corruption, and successful. There are benefits to international cooperation in these scientific and health-related areas.

We need a re-vamp of the failing collective security apparatus, either within or outside of the U.N. framework, consistent with American interests. And of course, we must pursue our own national interests where they differ from those of the less democratic U.N. member states.

Posted by PersonFromPorlock [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 7:48 AM

The problem is that 'democracy' is form, not substance. Put democracy in place in a Moslem country, for instance, and odds are the voters'll enact Sharia law. And Weimar Germans voted Hitler into office.

What's really needed is an organization of nations which believe in limited government... and there aren't any of them, not even our own.

Posted by IAmFree [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 7:54 AM

I would agree with the hypothetical Australian version of an Anglosphere organization.

Also nations would need to be proven Democracies before full voting membership was granted ie they would have to first be given limited membership for a number of years while they proved that they were indeed Democracies with guaranteed freedoms.

Posted by Eg [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 8:48 AM

McCain (Rino) looks like he might be attempting to establish a Clinton-Albright-Kofi 'Community of Democracies Lite™' - and yet another worthless organization. Given the dismal failure of each and everyone of these alliances - or whatever you want to call them - going back to, at least, 1815 and the Quadruple Alliance/Concert of Europe, how about giving strong states with meaningful treaties a chance for the next 100 years? Reinventing a 'new' square wheel every few years just doesn't cut-it.

Posted by richard mcenroe [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 9:05 AM

Who cares? It's McCain. Give him a week (or a nice third-party 'donation') and this statement will be inoperative.

Posted by Jack Okie [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 9:17 AM

Richard, I haven't thought of Ron Ziegler in years!

Posted by Mr Lynn [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 1, 2007 10:40 AM

Well, well—a good, original idea from Sen. McCain!

I have long argued that we ought to begin forging a replacement for the increasingly corrupt, anti-democratic United Nations, and that the United States ought to be the leader and arbiter of who gets in.  I view the new organization as the first step towards a Pax Americana, based on the uniquely American value of respect for the individual, unlike most of the petty tyrannies and theocracies (religious and secular!) of the world.

I don’t like ‘League’, though; too reminiscent of the League of Nations.  How about ‘The Freedom Union’?

Now if Sen. McCain would just get the Campaign Deform Act repealed, and admit that waterboarding is not torture, I could get behind him.

/Mr Lynn

Note: I also posted these comments on the PowerLine Forum. Captain, if this is a violation of your policies, please let me know.