Sunday, September 28, 2008

Summon the League!

I just got finished talking about why McCain's League of Democracies is both a silly name as well as an idea. So of course, look who's scrambling to get on board:

Mostly this has received more favorable attention as a concept rather than a plan. McCain hasn’t laid out a detailed proposal for membership, rules, funding, or location, nor would he until he became President and could open negotiations with a founding group of nations. The creation of any multilateral organization requires the cooperation of its founding member-states, but the initial acceptance of the concept is critical.

As they say in France, "le duh?" Also, let's hear it for generalized and undefined plans! Four more years!

Critics say that the world doesn’t want to give the US a mechanism for bypassing the UN. However, the Western world has clearly been frustrated by Moscow and Beijing over the last several years in addressing critical situations like Iran and Darfur. The two Asian giants have blocked all attempts to stop a non-rational Islamist regime and terror financier from getting nuclear weapons, only agreeing to the mildest of sanctions and refusing to stop assisting in their nuclear efforts.

Wait, Russia is an Asian giant? Since when? It makes far more sense to call India an Asian giant, who, incidentally, seems to like us just fine. Also, we have Japan, who is also pretty big over there. Just saying. And I like the addition of "non-rational" to that description of Iran. Because we all know folks like Hot Air don't mind Islamist regimes as long as they're rational. (How can we know how rational they are if we never talk to them?)

If nothing else, the threat of the creation of a League of Democracies will have a salutary effect on Russia and China. Such a development will seriously weaken their prestige and their influence. They may react badly at first, but eventually they will have to forestall the League by acting less intransigently in the UN Security Council — and to start cracking down on the Iranians and the Sudanese. The threat may prove even more effective than the League would, at least in the short run.

MAYBE, but it sounds like what's really needed is less of an independent institution and more of a firm agreement between like-minded organizations to act in concert. The problem with creating a new organization from whole cloth, as the Atlantic notes, is that is assumes the problem is a lack of a proper institution, rather than a difference in viewing what is best for the individual countries we're talking about:
John McCain appears to think that the democracies of the world will naturally have an overriding common national interest, as democracies. Although being a functioning liberal democracy will have some effect upon the perceived national interest of a country, this notion of McCain seems naive. If there really were such a large amount of shared interest, the democracies of the world would already be acting in concert in the United Nations.

As Nikolas Gvosdev has noted on The Washington Realist, problems with getting democracies to act together on a topic are ultimately caused by unwillingness to do so on part of the countries, not by institutional obstacles.
And because we've had eight years of telling the world to shove their opinions about us up their butts, we're hardly in a position to get them to see things our way. Just saying. Oh, and I don't think China and Russia really give a shit about their prestige at this point. Russia is assassinating dissidents with nuclear waste and China is killing their own babies with tainted milk to make a buck. They're a little beyond us using the finger-shame motion on them, wouldn't you say?

Even McCain seems to realize that on a practical level, getting his League of Questionable Implementation together would be a challenge. Here's what he said about starting a Free Trade Agreement with the EU:
Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane following the event, McCain admitted that negotiations for such a proposal might be difficult.

“You notice that some of their environmental standards and labor standards are higher than ours, not lower,” McCain said. “So it would be very interesting to see how those negotiations went and how the opponents of free trade agreements in general react to that.”

Sorry Johnny, but if you and the Europeans can't even agree on how much crap to release into the atmosphere, what are the odds you're going to be able to show a united front to bad guys like Ahmadinejad?

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