Does John McCain Want to Kill the UN?
Well, I like the idea of the league of democracies, and only in part because I and others had proposed it about six years ago. What I like about it, it’s got a hidden agenda. It looks as if it’s all about listening and joining with allies, all the kind of stuff you’d hear a John Kerry say, except that the idea here, which McCain can’t say, but I can, is to essentially kill the U.N.
See the video here.
Ben Armbruster thinks Krauthammer is on to something
After all, he backed anti-U.N. crusader John Bolton’s nomination as the organization’s U.S. ambassador and secretly pushed his confirmation. Bolton famously said “there is no such thing as the United Nations” and if the U.N. building in New York “lost ten stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
Well, here’s what McCain actually said on the subject:
The United States must lead in the 21st century, just as in Truman’s day. But leadership today means something different than it did in the years after World War II, when Europe and the other democracies were still recovering from the devastation of war and the United States was the only democratic superpower. Today we are not alone. There is the powerful collective voice of the European Union, and there are the great nations of India and Japan, Australia and Brazil, South Korea and South Africa, Turkey and Israel, to name just a few of the leading democracies. There are also the increasingly powerful nations of China and Russia that wield great influence in the international system.
In such a world, where power of all kinds is more widely and evenly distributed, the United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone. We must be strong politically, economically, and militarily. But we must also lead by attracting others to our cause, by demonstrating once again the virtues of freedom and democracy, by defending the rules of international civilized society and by creating the new international institutions necessary to advance the peace and freedoms we cherish. Perhaps above all, leadership in today’s world means accepting and fulfilling our responsibilities as a great nation.
One of those responsibilities is to be a good and reliable ally to our fellow democracies. We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to. We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact — a League of Democracies — that can harness the vast influence of the more than one hundred democratic nations around the world to advance our values and defend our shared interests.
At the heart of this new compact must be mutual respect and trust. Recall the words of our founders in the Declaration of Independence, that we pay “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies. When we believe international action is necessary, whether military, economic, or diplomatic, we will try to persuade our friends that we are right. But we, in return, must be willing to be persuaded by them.
This is a very broad internationalism, encompassing not just “Old Europe” but emerging democracies as well.
Further, McCain has been talking about a “League of Democracies” for months. When he brought up the idea in a blogger conference call last October, I was able to ask him directly:
I was able to get in the first question and followed up on this idea, asking whether he was talking about a “NATO Plus” organization or something else. McCain replied that he envisioned something more along the lines of ASEAN or the G-8, a somewhat formal IGO that would have regular meetings but no standing forces. In follow-up, I inquired whether he thought this meant that NATO and the UN Security Council, as presently constituted, were failures. He said that, no, those organizations have their purposes but that NATO was a military alliance whereas his League of Democracies would focus mostly on non-military solutions such as economic sanctions, trade, diplomacy, and public relations.
Now, Krauthammer is right that using an IGO other than the UN to accomplish purposes that the UN was chartered to do weakens the UN by making it less vital. But the fact that we have created dozens of multi-lateral organizations over the years to get around the UN’s inability to function would seem to demonstrate that the UN doesn’t need much help in being weak.
Bolton was fundamentally right when he said, “There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States.” (Yes, context helps.) The UN isn’t an organism which can be killed but rather a building and a mechanism through which sovereign states attempt to transact business. Attempting to get that business done through a smaller coalition of more like-minded states only makes sense, and it’s a far sight better than either going it alone or waiting on the UN to achieve consensus.
Photo Credit: Traveling Mego Hulk