McCain touts democratic alternative to the United Nations

Interesting idea from John McCain.  He is calling for a ‘League of Democracies’ to be formed as "the core of an international order of peace based on freedom".  The League will be interpreted by some as an alternative to the way George W Bush is (unfairly) perceived to have run a go-it-alone foreign policy.  It’s probably more accurate to see John McCain’s idea as a way of ensuring that action can be legitimised outside of the impossibly slow United Nations.  AP writes:

"Such a new body, he says, could help relieve suffering in Darfur, fight the AIDS epidemic in Africa, develop better environmental policies, and provide "unimpeded market access" to countries sharing "the values of economic and political freedom."  And, McCain adds, an organization of democracies could pressure tyrants "with or without Moscow’s and Beijing’s approval" and could "impose sanctions on Iran and thwart its nuclear ambitions" while helping struggling democracies succeed."

Read the Senator’s full speech here.

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28 Responses to McCain touts democratic alternative to the United Nations

  1. Adam says:

    Somebody’s been reading their Fukuyama…

    Good for McCain.

  2. Rachel Joyce says:

    I’ve been thinking this ever since reading “Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025” by Mark Palmer. We have to overcome the way that dictatorships of all ilks work together to undermine democracy and human rights. Let’s hope this gets taken forward even if McCain doesn’t become President.

  3. Robert Simpson says:

    Interesting proposal from McCain, though as Adam says, he isn’t the first to think of it. I think this sort of thing is definitely suitable for human rights issues, given the state of the UN’s human rights body. I worry it might be interpreted as a largely anti-China move, however.

    There are already moves by Shinzo Abe to create an Asia-Pacific axis of democracy for such a reason, and whilst I approve of this in principle, there is the worry that this new League would achieve little more than the US could alone. If you want a multilateral solution of democracies, just enlarge NATO to make it global.

  4. Adam says:

    It is an anti-China move.

    What it’s designed to do is:
    a) enable the spread of humanitarian intervention, free trade, and human rights without being encumbered by the need to accommodate the likes of China, Libya, and Russia – by providing a body that give the legitimacy of multilateralism
    b) provide a body that the US will be inclined to heed should it say a certain course of action is a bad idea

  5. CAWP says:

    Brilliant. I say go for it.

    Except, in my opinion, I don’t think the EU particularly qualifies.

    Presumably it would, though, and we’d get the EU + Commonwealth + USA. I think the French would still somehow conspire to ruin it.

  6. Philip says:

    Good idea. I note John McCain says, “This League of Democracies would not supplant the United Nations or other international organizations. It would complement them.” As far as members of this new League of Democracies are concerned, I wonder if membership of the UN would become pointless. If so, quite rightly so. The UN would become irrelevant. So, I think the League of Democracies could be an alternative to the UN. It could incorporate the right of its democratic members to take action to defend themselves, pre-emptively if necessary, without getting the permission of the others. This would enforce the supremacy of the nation state, and avoid things like the protestations in this country that the Iraq war is illegal when in fact our Parliament voted for it.

  7. Teddy Bear says:

    About time.
    I’ve failed to understand why the US goes through the pretense with the UN and keeps funding this corrupt and dysfunctional organisation. It has long since undermined the reasons for forming it in the first place.

    No doubt the leftie ‘multiculturalists’ will complain and rally against it, so I hope strong and clear minds will prevail to push it through.

    Let the totalitarian and despotic regimes ‘earn a place’ in a democratic system.

  8. voreas06 says:

    This is an excellent idea and needs to incorporate a free trade and environmentally responsible area as well, so that if you want to join this immensely powerful economic grouping there are certain standards of behaviour that need to be reached. In fact I would go further and refuse to trade outside of this area thereby creating a real incentive to become a liberal democracy as it will improve your peoples standard of living exponentially.

  9. Teddy Bear says:

    voreas – don’t forget we get our oil, as just one commodity, from non democratic regimes. Refusal to trade, while perhaps optimal, is not necessarily feasible.

  10. Ash Faulkner says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! McCain for President, at last somebody is seeing sense.

    I must confess myself rather annoyed though, I had intended to introduce this when I was Prime Minister… 😛

  11. Sam Tarran says:

    As “Adam” said beforehand, sounds very similar to what Fukuyama proposed in his recent book.

    A very good idea, nonetheless.

  12. Teddy Bear says:

    I don’t think whoever Fukuyama is can claim to have originated the idea either. It’s a fairly logical step when you have an organisation called United Nations comprised of nations that are anything but united, except that we occupy the same planet, to seek an organisation of real united nations – at least democratic for starters.

  13. voreas06 says:

    Teddy Bear “voreas – don’t forget we get our oil, as just one commodity, from non democratic regimes. Refusal to trade, while perhaps optimal, is not necessarily feasible.”

    I take your point but this then is another good reason to look for alternatives to oil be they biofuels, wind, solar, etc etc. Having said that clearly it is not something that will happen overnight. Mccain’s idea seems like a good starting place.

  14. Teddy Bear says:

    Voreas – Re but this then is another good reason to look for alternatives to oil be they biofuels, wind, solar, etc etc.
    That’ll be great when it happens, and on the same day, when we’re no longer beholden to the oil rich states who produce terrorism as a by-product, is when we’ll hear the real reasons for taking out Saddam.

  15. Steevo says:

    “I’ve failed to understand why the US goes through the pretense with the UN and keeps funding this corrupt and dysfunctional organisation. It has long since undermined the reasons for forming it in the first place.

    No doubt the leftie ‘multiculturalists’ will complain and rally against it, so I hope strong and clear minds will prevail to push it through.”

    My opinion is it is soley because of the Left Teddy. It’s hard for me to believe either one of the Bush’s (especially W) would have gone through them if we didn’t have to wage at least half the battle at home.

  16. JF says:

    Any idea that ends with the destruction of the UN is a good idea. I don’t think it will happen, though. These things have a way of surviving long beyond the intentions of their creators.

  17. gingeral says:

    Genius! Now I’m definitely rooting for him as the next president.

  18. Joseph Cotterill says:

    It’s very sad to see John McCain reduced to this. Fukuyama I think is indeed informally advising McCain, but he is a fraud. If his record on Iraq is anything to go by, in a few years Fukuyama will be pretending he had nothing to do with the League idea in the first place.

    You can guff all you like about shared liberal norms but the statistical fact is democracies are no likelier than other regimes to ally with each other. Nor do they reliably intervene on one another’s behalf when one comes under attack (Reiter 2001).

    NATO is the exception that proves the rule (so no thanks to McCain for wanting to steal more of the limelight from the alliance). No ancestor of the Treaty Organisation could be mustered to check Germany after Versailles, though many were proposed and all needed. One democracy kept saying no. No Asian sister Organisation has survived the Cold War, despite the need to quietly hedge against China.

    The collective international behaviour of democracies is instead remarkable in two respects. First, they are amazingly good at economic integration, happily sloughing off sovereignty amongst each other if it means getting rich, and a good thing this is too. Just look at the transatlantic FTA of the last few days. (Ikenberry 2001). Secondly, democracies never ever go to war with each other, (Doyle 2000), a law so reliable in international relations it’s hard to see why we need a League to reinforce this aspect. On the other hand, new or “incomplete” democracies are so in love with nationalism, populism, whatever, that they are far likelier to start wars than even autocracies (Snyder and Mansfield 2005).

    This has two consequences for McCain’s cranky League, if ever it sees the light of day. First, the United States will find itself having to rein in these early democratisers, much less guarantee and probably micromanage every democratisation process still ongoing in the world, wherever that should be and whatever relation it has to the free world’s real security priorities. This is what happens when you base an organisation for securing international order on one sole principle, however agreeable that principle is: you have to make that order consonant with the principle. Of course, whenever the UN has come across a democratising state in trouble like East Timor or Haiti in 1995 or Iraq now, it has made the troublemakers a “threat to international peace and security” under Chapter VII and action has followed swiftly. (Yes, American and British troops have a legal basis for occupation in Iraq because of a UNSCR). But I suppose that isn’t good enough for Mr McCain.

    Turning to the economics stuff, sod’s law says that the League will mission creep and moonlight as an integrative Union of democracies. Nigeria, Indonesia etc. won’t miss this chance to crack the rich free world, so America can kiss its manufacturing protectionism goodbye in the name of freedom, and good riddance too.

    Now, outside of the United States, which doesn’t do nation-building, this “Union” would I presume end up drawing on the countries of Europe quite a lot for personnel and peacekeeping expertise. 28+ of the world’s most well-established democracies live there. That would make the League of Democracies work in practice like some kind of … “European Union,” and I know how beloved this institution is of conservatives like yourselves who know SO MUCH about international relations. This earlier experiment in a League of Democracies has, as you all know, become a lean, mean, tyrant-beating machine in its decades of existence. I hope you enjoy the delicious irony of McCain’s proposal as much as I do, chumps.

    Like I said, very sad. Increasingly, it appears that if Americans want a conservative to protect their country’s place in the world, they are going to have to vote Clinton or Obama.

  19. JF says:

    Joseph Cotterill, I appreciate that you took the time to post your high school homework assignment, but since you forgot to post your references page, I have no idea whose work you are citing to support your incorrect claims.

    The League of Democracies is not meant to be a new EU, so your discussion on economics and imaginary industrial protectionism is irrelevant.

    The US has nominally surrendered sovereignty on international matters to the UN, but by most definitions of sovereignty, we have not, as the UN has no bearing on our domestic policy. Again, you need to explain your positions in more detail.

    The US has proved that it will act unilaterally when it needs to. It would be nice to get the additional international legitimacy provided by the approval of our peers (by which I mean democracies), but that will hardly constrain us.

  20. JF says:

    Joseph Cotterill, I appreciate that you took the time to post your high school homework assignment, but since you forgot to post your references page, I have no idea whose work you are citing to support your incorrect claims.

    The League of Democracies is not meant to be a new EU, so your discussion on economics and imaginary industrial protectionism is irrelevant.

    The US has nominally surrendered sovereignty on international matters to the UN, but by most definitions of sovereignty, we have not, as the UN has no bearing on our domestic policy. Again, you need to explain your positions in more detail.

    The US has proved that it will act unilaterally when it needs to. It would be nice to get the additional international legitimacy provided by the approval of our peers (by which I mean democracies), but that will hardly constrain us.

  21. tired and emotional says:

    hahahaha… crushed

    Perhaps I have been slack in my reading but this seems like the most substantive foreign policy speech from any of the potential candidates… I have to say that I like the tone and the content.

    Anyone else come up with anything decent, Yanks? Romney? Clinton?

  22. SG says:

    An excellent idea.

    NATO is effectively an alliance of democracies, and is more effective than the UN by a mile.

    Perhaps we can use this as a starting point.

  23. JF says:

    Tired and Emotional, you’re right that this was the most far-ranging proposal. For everyone else, Foreign Policy = Iraq. Our MSM has made that the main issue of the campaign, so the great unwashed aren’t even thinking about the UN or NATO or our relationship with the EU. The Democratic line is essentially that we need to surrender in Iraq and then the world will like us again, while the Republican line is generally that we need to fight and win in Iraq to protect ourselves and our allies.

  24. Dennis says:

    Well done Sen. McCain, that is a truly inspired idea..a brilliant & inspiring speech, containing understanding, humility, regret, hope and most importantly ‘vision’.
    It places him ‘leagues’ above the democratic contenders, who seem to endlessly regurgitate mantra’s formulated in various think-tanks.

    If McCain is elected, I would hope, the inception of the’League of Democracies’is not hijacked by lobbyists from various economic & political interests.
    He spoke of James Madison, if his vision is to become a reality he should heed the words Madison as one of the architects of the constitution wrote.
    He wrote of the need to be wary of such groups in his essay as part of the federalist papers (Federalist number 10).
    The worst case scenario for the proposed institution would be the ‘usual suspects’ getting involved & using the League to further their corporate or ideological goals.
    This would make the proposed institution as flawed as the UN.
    I think the next challenge he faces is to have a vision as inspiring but solely focused on putting the domestic US society in order.
    He needs to focus on re-aligning America’s political, legal and social institutions within the principles of the US’Constitution’ and its ‘Bill of Rights’.
    Amongst all the use of the word ‘democracy’ with it’s myriad of definitions & manifestations, it is easy to forget that America is a ‘Constitutional Republic’.
    Sen McCain has to demonstrate the vision to put his ‘house in order’ before exporting the virtues of freedom abroad.

  25. JF says:

    Dennis, to what end? What’s wrong now that he needs fixing, how about some details.

  26. JF says:

    Dennis, to what end? What’s wrong now that he needs fixing, how about some details.

  27. Kevin Sampson says:

    “He needs to focus on re-aligning America’s political, legal and social institutions within the principles of the US’Constitution’ and its ‘Bill of Rights’.”

    Care to expand on that?

  28. Kevin Sampson says:

    “He needs to focus on re-aligning America’s political, legal and social institutions within the principles of the US’Constitution’ and its ‘Bill of Rights’.”

    Care to expand on that?

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