McCain’s International Institution Problem

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John McCain yesterday called for the establishment of a new international organization, a League of Democracies. The organization McCain envisions would not supplement the United Nations, but “act where the UN fails to act.”
What McCain may not know is that this so-called “League of Democracies” was dreamed up as a Trojan horse by John Bolton, Anne Bayefsky, Claudia Rosett, and others who wish to retire the United Nations. A United Democratic Nations, they have reasoned, would advance American priorities and thus run the United Nations, an institution they view as an obstacle to the uniltateral exercise of power, out of business.
Bayefsky’s argument for a United Democratic Nations appeared last year in the New York Sun. To state the obvious, such an organization is doomed to fail for a number of reasons.
First, the universal membership of the United Nations gives it a unique legitimacy among international actors. When it acts or speaks as one, it does so with a power that cannot be matched by any other institution – a power that, according to the RAND Corporation, makes it the most effective nation-building organization in the world. A new organization may be more efficient and take collective action more readily, but it will be viewed with suspicion by outsiders and cannot possibly succeed.
Second, splitting the democracies from the non-democracies is the surest way to increase the rift between the two camps. At the United Nations, countries have to care about all global problems. That’s a big reason why rich countries are starting to pay more attention to global poverty and poor countries are starting to pay attention to global terrorism.
Finally – and this is McCain’s major mistake, too – Bayefsky and company somehow think that the United States is capable of shaping a new world order all on its own. Even in the nascent Community of Democracies, an up-and-coming organization dedicated to helping build democratic institutions, the U.S. must tread lightly to get what it wants.
McCain should know that the “American brand” is far too damaged to pull off something like this effectively. If the U.S. were to found a League of Democracies or a United Democratic Nations tomorrow, no more than a few nations would sign up.
For what it’s worth, I think McCain is frustrated with the U.N., but does not want to shut its doors as Bolton, Rosett, and Bayefsky do.
I think McCain is looking for a way to speak to his traditional supporters in the multilateral wing of the Republican Party, satisfy conservatives who hate the U.N., and project himself as a visionary all at once.
McCain has bitten off more than he can chew here. The thinking behind this idea is incredibly sloppy, and it makes a campaign that is struggling for a foothold seem even more desperate.
Democracies should be cooperating more. The Bush administration – and John Bolton at the U.N., in particular – has splintered democratic coalitions. Aren’t consolidating the U.N. Democracy Caucus, strengthening into the Community of Democracies, and making the U.N. stronger and more effective ambitious enough goals already?
– Scott Paul

Comments

35 comments on “McCain’s International Institution Problem

  1. Pissed On American says:

    Why assume McCain does not know its origins? Of course he does. Don’t enable the stupidity of our politicians by making excuses for them.

    Reply

  2. Pissed Off American says:

    Heres a little ditty from the website of “The Capital Times” on McCain, and his stance on the Gonzales thing. What I find interesting about it is that McCain’s stance is described in a purely political light. The short piece nonchalantly completely avoids the issue of “right” or “wrong” when opining about McCain’s choice to express a lack of confidence in Gonzales. This piece perfectly underscores the current state of American politics, where the proffessed positions of our national leaders are based solely on their perception of the national mood. Such positions are rarely founded in conviction, and are the primary reason that the stated platforms are rarely pursued after a candidate achieves office.
    Heres an excerpt….
    “McCain, who knows he must appeal to Main Street Republicans in key primary and caucus states, had to make a choice: Stand by Gonzales or present himself to the GOP grass roots as something other than an apologist for every sin of the current administration. The senator calculated that it was smarter to run against Gonzales. He was right.”
    Never mind that we have a piece of shit Attorney General that has violated the trust of the American people, that has made a mockery of his oath of office, that is thumbing his nose at Congress and the rule of law, and that is scoffing at Congressional subpoenas.
    No, the issue for our candidates is how to garner votes, what to say that will digest well with their party base, no matter what the moral or ethical ramifications are. Tepid admonitions, aimed at a traitor and a perjurer, are the politically prudent actions of a coward.
    By rights, our entire governing body should be clamoring for Gonzales’ firing and indictment. His refusal to turn over crucial subpoenaed emails should be countered with contempt citations, and his computers should be seized by federal marshalls. Instead, we get insincere and calculated posturing.
    And Gonzales, arguably a criminal, still sits in his seat as Attorney General.
    http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/index.php?ntid=132306&ntpid=0

    Reply

  3. Pissed Off American says:

    “Calling the UN “legitimate” … I want to puke.”
    Well, Morrow, thats the wonderful thing about the internet. You can be just as disgusting as you want. You can belch, puke, whatever, and none of us have to hear it, see it, or smell it.
    So go ahead, if you wanna puke, than by golly, puke to your little heart’s content.

    Reply

  4. Marcia says:

    I think the first question that needs an answer is where have all the “Democracies” gone? Observation of the fonctioning of our own country is a blinding example that certainly has next to nothing of a democracy left.
    The banks, the lobbies and the corporations control all decision making, imposing their will and filling their pockets at the cost of all that makes a civilized society. As individuals they trive on scorn and indifference toward all but their immediate families and they too are probably used as PR props.
    Why would or should any citizen of a modern democracy respect its government? The “will of the people” has become a badly played farce.
    The pathetic interviews in which they act out their supposed concern for public wellfare are insults to our minds and characters.
    Each day McCain is showing himself for what he is, a doddering old man mad for power who would be as dangerous as the present administration.

    Reply

  5. marky says:

    David N,
    Actually I haven’t read Thom Hartmann, but I happen to think that discussing the fundamental “rights” of corporations and whether these “rights” interfere with
    our democracy, is an unspoken third rail of US politics.

    Reply

  6. David N says:

    marky:
    So you, too, have read Thom Hartmann. Good on ya.
    http://www.thomhartmann.com/

    Reply

  7. Robert Morrow says:

    Calling the UN “legitimate” … I want to puke. Just who elected those folks. Answer: No one.

    Reply

  8. Matthew says:

    Muslim dominance of our planet? This must be the progeny of the “Yellow Peril” and the even older, racist argument that Blacks intended to dominate whites. How many Muslim military bases are in the West? How many Western countries are occupied or under crippling sanctions from Muslims? Neo-Imperialism must be on its philosophical last legs when “muslim dominance” is its rallying cry.
    Why doesn’t McCain name his group accurately: “The League of Predatory Capitialist Nations”?

    Reply

  9. jamzo says:

    the “league of democracies” is an extension of the justice league of america
    the idea did not originate with mc cain or bolton
    it originated in 19060 as the justice security of american and it was among the most popular DC comic publications of the time
    the league concept evolved over time but eventually came to include most of DC’s most powerful heroes – batman, aquaman, green lantern, wonder woman, captain marvel, captain atom, green arrow, hawkman, et al
    the League dealt only with Earth-shattering, highest-priority threats which could challenge their tremendous combined power.
    Enemies included an invading army of aliens, a malfunctioning war machine from the future, a horde of renegade angels, a newly reformed coalition of villains as a counter-league, various cosmic threats, and the enraged spirit of the Earth itself
    i think a league of good guys is a better idea than the “coalition of the willing”

    Reply

  10. Pissed Off American says:

    “Accordingly, affiliations of democracies on a regional or a world basis, may become necessary to ward off a global, radical, Moslem dominance of our planet.”
    BOO!!!!
    Get in line folks, cower accordingly.

    Reply

  11. Gadfly says:

    “Edward Rawson”:– What is really needed are affiliations to ward-off a global, radical, neo-con and/or global corporate domination of our planet.
    The corrupt neo-con Bushies are responsible for vastly more deaths and destruction than are any radical Muslims. For example, on 9/11 approximately 3,000 Americans were killed. Over 18,000 Americans are killed by homicide in the U.S. every year. And, the neo-con Bushies are responsible for the deaths of over 650,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children.
    And, for what? For OIL… The neo-con Bushies are aiding & abetting the enemies of the American people (enemies: Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, Unocal, the Military Industrial Complex: arms manufacturers, defense industry goons, mercenary security firms, etc., AIPAC, etc.) in order to exploit & steal the resources of foreign sovereign nations.
    The neo-con Bushies & the plutocrats who want to impose Global Corporate Empire upon the world represent a catastrophic danger to the peoples of the world and to our environment.
    The reason that right-wing lunatics hate the United Nations so much, is that the U.N. has tried to adopt and pass standards that require all nations to behave in a more civilized manner. Of course, under this hateful Bush/Cheney regime, the U.S. and Israel have violated U.N. and international laws.
    Indeed, it is the U.S. and Israel which are the rogue states today– far, far more dangerous than any “radical Muslims” [a coded term or euphemism for Islamophobic racists].

    Reply

  12. Edward Rawson, Vice Chairman of the Streit Council for the Union of Democracies says:

    Ever since its founding over 60 years ago, I have belonged to organizations working for reforming the UN into an effective organization for world governance. While progress has been made, the current outlook for any immediate, effective and reliable changes, is dim to put it mildly. Accordingly, affiliations of democracies on a regional or a world basis, may become necessary to ward off a global, radical, Moslem dominance of our planet.

    Reply

  13. Matthew says:

    Is it just me, but do all these initiatives to “reform” (actually it should be “re-form” or “conform”) institutions smack of sheer desperation? Since we can’t win the argument, we have to change to rules. As if we don’t have enormous sway over the UNSC. But, I guess, if we don’t get OUR way ALL the time, the system is “broken.”
    A sure sign of a failing state is institutional dishonesty. And it can only mask, not avoid, our slide into mediocrity. Bushism is institutionalized dishonesty AND medicrity.

    Reply

  14. liz says:

    Does McCain think we still have democracy here????
    If so he should open his eyes a little wider and listen a little closer. America is as close to dictatorship right now as it ever has been. McCain seeks to expand that control.
    Americans are sick of these evil people and their evil ideas.

    Reply

  15. TonyForesta says:

    I like McCains idea. Then conniving duplicitious wahabi and jihadist mass murderer funding and nurturing tyrannical dicatorships, and arch enemies of America like Saudi Arabia would not have a vote, or a voice in the community of democracies.

    Reply

  16. marky says:

    I think it’s very simple: the balance of political power will not be restored until corporations are stripped of personhood. Forget campaign finance reform, the basic legal structure of the corporation needs to be addressed.

    Reply

  17. David N says:

    The time seems to have long since passed when we have to ask, what kind of country is the United States of America?
    Is it a democracy when the expressed will of the American people is ignored?
    Is it a constitutional republic when the rights, responsibilities, and limitations defined for our government are ignored?
    Is it a member of the international community of democracies when the only measure of the status of our allies is how willing they are to do our bidding?
    or . . .
    Is it an empire, where the lives our our military are sacrificed for the purpose of maintaining a “counterinsurgency.” When the only purpose of a counterinsurgency, as the U.S. military itself defines it, in a manual written by the commander of our troops in Iraq, is to pacify a country, to make its populace subject to the will of the American leadership?
    Is it a corporate state, where energy, pharmaceutical, financial, and transportation companies write the laws to suit them, and to maximize their immediate profits, and the interest of the taxpayers and their descendents means nothing?
    Is it a lawless enterprise, where judges, prosecutors, and military officers are judged not by their dedication to principles and honor, but for their loyalty to the corporate elite?
    Finally . . .
    Is it what we were told it was? Is it what we gave our loyalty and service to? Is it America?
    Have we lost all that could have been called progress, and regressed, as the conservatives wish, to the political and economic standards of the 1890′s, when profit and power were all that counted, the worker was a commodity to be used and discarded, and the community only counts if its members are in the right country club?
    We need to do more than find the answers to those questions. We need to make them.

    Reply

  18. Gadfly says:

    Bush says he is “commander guy”!!!
    “President Bush coined a new nickname for himself — ‘’the commander guy” — on Wednesday, as he criticized Congressional Democrats in a speech to the annual gathering of the Associated General Contractors of America, a construction industry trade group.rnrn“The question is, ‘Who ought to make that decision, the Congress or the commanders?,’’ Mr. Bush said. “As you know, my position is clear – I’m the commander guy.”
    Source:– http://www.rawstory.com/comments/31105.html
    “COMMANDER GUY”??? Only children or sub-normal I.Q. people talk in such a manner.
    When will the American people come to realize that we’ve got an insane imbecilic little man, unfit to be president, taking dangerously reckless decisions– at the behest of an evil, opportunistic greed man, who disgraces the title of vice-president?
    Bush & Cheney (along with Rice, Rove, Gonzales, etc.) must be impeached. [McCain has proven already that he is unfit to be president; in fact, he's unfit to be a senator-- for he is clearly going senile.]
    Booze & drugs used by Bush-boy throughout his life have clearly eaten away his tiny brain-cells.
    Please call Congress to impeach this hateful neo-con regime… You need more persuasion… Read this please:–
    [Bush] “Spying On Americans”
    “For more than five years, President Bush authorized government spying on phone calls and e-mail to and from the United States without warrants. He rejected offers from Congress to update the electronic eavesdropping law, and stonewalled every attempt to investigate his spying program.
    Suddenly, Mr. Bush is in a hurry. He has submitted a bill that would enact enormous, and enormously dangerous, changes to the 1978 law on eavesdropping. It would undermine the fundamental constitutional principle — over which there can be no negotiation or compromise — that the government must seek an individual warrant before spying on an American or someone living here legally…”…
    Continued on http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/050207C.shtml

    Bush is dangerously stupid, and is just plain dangerous.

    Reply

  19. della Rovere says:

    One can see clearly why the world needs an international institution more proactive, preemptive and interventionist than the UN. Why if one had listened (shudder)to the do-nothings at the UN, we would not have our military in Iraq right now and then where would we be?

    Reply

  20. Pissed Off American says:

    General Eaton’s Letter to President Bush on Veto
    May 1, 2007
    President George W. Bush
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
    Washington, DC 20500
    Dear Mr. President,
    Today, in your veto message regarding the bipartisan legislation just passed on Operation Iraqi Freedom, you asserted that you so decided because you listen to your commanders on the ground.
    Respectfully, as your former commander on the ground, your administration did not listen to our best advice. In fact, a number of my fellow Generals were forced out of their jobs, because they did not tell you what you wanted to hear — most notably General Eric Shinseki, whose foresight regarding troop levels was advice you rejected, at our troops’ peril.
    The legislation you vetoed today represented a course of action that is long overdue. This war can no longer be won by the military alone. We must bring to bear the entire array of national power – military, diplomatic and economic. The situation demands a surge in diplomacy, and pressure on the Iraqi government to fix its internal affairs. Further, the Army and Marine Corps are on the verge of breaking – or have been broken already – by the length and intensity of this war. This tempo is not sustainable – and you have failed to grow the ground forces to meet national security needs. We must begin the process of bringing troops home, and repairing and growing our military, if we are ever to have a combat-ready force for the long war on terror ahead of us.
    The bill you rejected today sets benchmarks for success that the Iraqis would have to meet, and puts us on a course to redeploy our troops. It stresses the need for sending troops into battle only when they are rested, trained and equipped. In my view, and in the view of many others in the military that I know, that is the best course of action for our security.
    As someone who served this nation for decades, I have the utmost respect for the office you hold. However, as a man of conscience, I could not sit idly by as you told the American people today that your veto was based on the recommendations of military men. Your administration ignored the advice of our military’s finest minds before, and I see no evidence that you are listening to them now.
    I urge you to reconsider your position, and work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals laid out above.
    Respectfully,
    Major General Paul D. Eaton, USA, Retired

    Reply

  21. Pissed Off American says:

    Gads, are we just supposed to forget McCain’s picnic delusions about downtown Bagdad???
    Or perhaps his Beach Boys rendition of “Bombbombbomb bomb bomb Iran” was a figment of our imagination.
    Why this guy is still being considered as being anything other than ripe for retirement is beyond me.
    Son of a bitch, are these kind of people the best we are going to get to choose from???? I’m tellin’ ya, this country is in some deeeeeep shit.
    Thanks to this puke Bush, it will be a long time before the USA is trusted in ANY endeavor, much less forming a coalition of “democracies”. Isn’t it ironic that Pakistan, (a military dictatorship), and Saudi Arabia, (a monarchy), are supposedly key allies in this horseshit sham called the GWOT?? And meanwhile, covert operations and propaganda are launched against the duly elected leaders of Haiti and Venezuela (Both Democracies). Yeah right, lets promote democracy. What a load of crap. And you can bet 99.9% of the world community KNOWS its a load of crap.

    Reply

  22. Matthew says:

    Set up an alternative UN? What a wonderful symbol of our self-importance and self-absorbtion. What will be its motto? “We’re right and everyone else is wrong?”

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    The same as this that I wrote about long ago:
    Jerusalem Summit Aims to Create Alternative to UN
    Arutz Sheva
    8 December 2004
    http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/news.php?news=91
    >>>>>>>>>
    If you want to see where McCain got his ideas you ought to read thru this group’s site. Bayefsky, Perle, Sen. Brownback, Pipes….and politicans in our own congress are members of this group. There are some other articles in there that will curl your toes. They want a new UN in Jerusalem….along with the “transfer” of the Palestines (for humanitarian purposes) to other countries which they think the US and the world should finance for them. I mean you really have to read their “justifications” in all their plans to see how absolutely bullshit insane these people are. They are as crazy as Hitler, crazier even if that is possible…in fact they sound just like Hitler except they want the US and Israel to “remake and rule” the world instead of Germany.

    Reply

  24. David N says:

    McCain is doing nothing other than what he’s been doing for the last four years: Sucking up to the right-wing loonies in the Republican party in order to become president.
    What he doesn’t realize is that the American people have had it with the “tough guy” act that has created so many problems already, and with the tame press who have spent the last ten years re-typing RNC talking points and passing it off as “reporting.”
    Tough talk is stupid talk, which means it’s perfect campaign rhetoric. And that’s just pitiful, for what it says about the American public.
    Was Lincoln wrong, after all?

    Reply

  25. Gadfly says:

    “George Orwell would immediately recognize the hypocrisy: a League of Democracies subjugating the world. Fortunately, most of the world fully comprehends the implications of McCain’s propoal in particular and American “democracy” promotion in general. It is spelled I-R-A-Q. And it has nothing to do with democracy.”
    Posted by JohnH
    JohnH has “nailed it” effectively. There is no “democracy” in Iraq– my goodness it’s a war-zone and a bloody nightmare, which is why any Iraqi with sufficient funds is leaving has fast as his/her legs can carry him/her.
    McCain is an intellectual zero– with little imagination and no deep reflection.
    Instead of proposing ways to co-operate in a world community, by behaving in a civilized manner– McCain wants a “supra-club” of those “acceptable” nations (i.e. U.S.A. & Israel– which isn’t a true “democracy” by the way– just ask their Arab citizens) in order to shove Global Corporate Domination down the throats of those countries who actually do believe in caring for the needy, the homeless, and the poverty stricken.
    In the neo-con Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rove/Gonzales/McCain world, the rest of us become neo-serfs- neo-slaves- and, neo-cannon-fodder used to enrich these corrupt neo-con plutocratic thugs & oligarchial goons and their paymasters at:– Halliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, Unocal, Big OIL, the Military Industrial Complex (arms manufacturers, defense industry blood-suckers, mercenary security firms, etc.) and powerful lobbyists at AIPAC.
    To demand that the U.S. behave in a civilized manner and respect international law is just too much for the ilk of neo-con and McCain who has readily jumped on the neo-con con-band-wagon.
    Perhaps a day will come when the nations of the world will agree a way forward for positive reforms which will ensure that all nations (including rogue nations such as the U.S. & Israel too) will abide by international laws & treaties devised to ensure that each soverign nation is respected- that individual rights are upheld- and that corporate rapists cannot exploit the poorest of the poor and then cynically abuse the military might of the U.S. in order impose their greedy- obscene- and dictatorial whims upon those unable to defend themselves against invasion.

    Reply

  26. Scott Paul says:

    No worries – I’m definitely on Steve’s “turf,” so I don’t mind receiving comments mistakenly directed toward him. It comes with the territory.
    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Reply

  27. Greg Priddy says:

    Scott, thanks for the reply — sorry I hadn’t noticed the byline from you (rather than Steve).

    Reply

  28. marky says:

    I don’t see the “mistake” that McCain is making.
    He is the likely GOP nominee, simply by virtue of the extreme weakness of the rest of the field. That and the adoring press coverage he usually gets should smooth out any bumps on the way to the nomination.
    Once he gets the nomination, he’s going to campaign to be a better Bush: a big bad cop with lots of guns who will use America’s military power to spread our wonderful values around the world.
    He’s positioning himself as a Reagan/Bush hybrid.
    It might work. At any rate, I don’t see him making any mistakes in recent weeks, from his point of view. I think his campaign is firing on all cylinders—”bomb Iran” included. That was not a gaffe. It was a call back to Reagan’s threat to start nuking in 5 minutes.

    Reply

  29. Scott Paul says:

    Greg:
    I’ve read the Ikenberry/Slaughter piece. I have a good deal of respect for them, as well as Daalder and Lindsay, but I think the same criticisms apply. I think that McCain and the Princeton Project people, on this, are of like mind, well-meaning, and are wrong.
    If an organization with an exclusive membership emerges to compete with the U.N., 2 bad things will happen: it will fail and it will doom the U.N. to failure.

    Reply

  30. downtown says:

    The NY Sun was founded and financed to provide the Likud Party with an instrument to disseminate their daily talking points. One look at its major investor’s pedigree will make this obvious.
    http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/features/12353/

    Reply

  31. JohnH says:

    George Orwell would immediately recognize the hypocrisy: a League of Democracies subjugating the world. Fortunately, most of the world fully comprehends the implications of McCain’s propoal in particular and American “democracy” promotion in general. It is spelled I-R-A-Q. And it has nothing to do with democracy.

    Reply

  32. SmellaRat says:

    [flatus]League of Democracies[/flatus]

    Reply

  33. DrSteveB says:

    The idea of a “Democracy Bloc” is not a bad one in and of itself.
    It might make sense as an internal bloc within the UN framework, parallel to Non-Aligned bloc, etc.
    External to UN, there is already the OECD which is sort of such a bloc of democratic nations.

    Reply

  34. della Rovere says:

    Wonderful post. I think the national security experts over at “America Abroad” at TPM (Daalder, Slaughter, Nossel…the usual crowd), have been hyping a “Concert of Democracies” for more efficient military intervention for a while now. They finally got someone to front their package…whacko-cracko McCain…the hero of Market Square.

    Reply

  35. Greg Priddy says:

    Steve: I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the similarities/differences between this and the Daalder/Lindsey and Ikenberry/Slaughter ideas:
    http://www.the-american-interest.com/ai2/article.cfm?Id=219&MId=6
    They don’t share the sort of opposition to the UN that Bolton has, but they’re still looking for a replacement with a more exclusive membership, which I think has some of the same drawbacks — excluding China and the entire Arab world for starters…

    Reply

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