However, this solution, attractive as it may be, is not without its problems. First of all, with such a definition of membership, we probably couldn't get away with excluding the French. I say this not to indulge in French-bashing (well, perhaps just a little) but to point out a more problematic truth.
We are distressed by such travesties as Libya and Syria chairing U.N. bodies on human rights and disarmament; we must endure being lectured by representatives of "national" governments that are little more than gangs of pirates who have seized the presidential palace back home; we tediously note mischievous coalitions of such kleptocracies passing one after another absurd resolution in the U.N. General Assembly.
But for all that, it remains a fact that much of the real damage done to the interests of the responsible democracies comes not from kleptocrats guarding their spoils, or from progressive transnationalists trying to implement world government. Rather, it has come from traditional nation-states such as France and Russia (both of whom would pass the democracy test, Russia shakily) using the United Nations as a mechanism to advance traditional national interests.
Indeed, opportunistic Third World kleptocrats and dreamy German, Canadian, and Scandinavian transnationalists alike have tended to be pawns for other ends on the part of states whose Security Council seats have become a form of entitlement that does not merely fail to accurately reflect real clout in the world, but serves as a substitute for it. A Democracy Club would include France and Russia, and exclude China. Yet China has used its veto and threat of veto more sparingly than the two former powers; of them, shakily democratic Russia has used its veto power more responsibly than France.
Still and all, a Democracy Club, even with these drawbacks, would be superior to the United Nations, and to some extent, its exclusion of kleptocracies, pseudo-states, and failed states. For instance, their absence from the councils of the Club would eliminate the temptation for nations such as France to court their votes and in doing so prop up loathsome dictatorships. Shakily democratic states with substantial traditions of corruption (some Latin American states, for example) could still be suborned in this fashion, but there would be fewer of them, and some accountability could be required as a condition of membership.
Perhaps most importantly of all, such a club could have rules, and such rules could be enforced. Part of what is needed is a catchall rule that no action of the Club could in fact be used to undermine the general interests of the democracies. Supporting a rogue state against the interests of the democracies, for example, would pretty clearly violate this rule.
There would be a great temptation, of course, for progressive transnationalists to seize such an organization and make it an instrument of their ambition to enact a level of international government above sovereign states. Thus, its founding charter would have to be written on the clear understanding that this was an international organization of the classic type, rather than a transnational one.
Its purpose would be to work out rules of thumb for resolving conflicts and problems among democratic states in a pragmatic fashion, not to derive utopian world legislation from first principles discerned by the global professoriat, possibly via sťances with the shade of Eleanor Roosevelt. Sovereignty would be assumed, though not elevated to the level of an unlimited laissez-passer for barbaric conduct.
Such an organization would be able to take over a number of the more useful technical functions from the United Nations, such as regulation of radio spectrum and other global-commons problems. By arriving at sensible solutions far more quickly, and without payment of ransom to kleptocratic pseudo-states, it would naturally tend to assume more and more of the valid functions of the United Nations. It could also serve as a more effective mechanism for restoring basic order to failed states, acting in such places as Cambodia, Congo, and Haiti while the United Nations remains paralyzed.
Of the various issues in assembling such an organization, the most interesting and possibly the most complex would be those of defining its relationship to organizations that already have some of its characteristics, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Group of Eight economic summit, or NATO and its penumbral organizations such as the Partnership for Peace. It is possible that some or all of these would in time become integrated into a Democracy Club.
Lyndon Johnson was once asked why he tolerated J. Edgar Hoover's continued fiefdom at the FBI. Johnson, in his inimitable Texan style, replied that he'd "rather have him inside the tent (urinating) out, than outside the tent (urinating) in." By such a criterion, we could probably even tolerate the French in the Democracy Club.
From The Washington times, June 9, 2003
Copyright (c) 2003 News World Communications, Inc.
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