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 …