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League of Democracies

Senator McCain has proposed a League of Democracies to confront the world’s problems. He feels this would be more effective in dealing with problems than the United Nations whether it comes to dealing with Iran, confronting genocide in Sudan, fighting AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa and working together to solve the crisis facing our environment. While he hopes this will streamline decision making by uniting democracies in a common purpose without the threat of a veto by China or Russia, how united will it be in reality. One only has to look at the European Union’s collection of 27 democracies to see the lack of agreement on foreign policy. Eastern European countries wanted a tougher line against Russia over the Georgia crisis, while Germany and France essentially vetoed the Nato membership of the Ukraine and Georgia. Even still the recognition of Kosovo has split along the lines of those with largely homogeneous countries to those who fear the self determination desires of the minorities within their own country. Let us not forget how much the war in Iraq split democratic Europe. This microcosm would only be magnified in a league of democracies.
Plus how should we define a democracy? Would it be required to be multiparty country? Is it based on Jimmy Carter saying the election was free and fair? Or would it be based on countries that are supportive of our goals. Would the demigods of Chavez, Ortega, Correa or Nester be allowed to join? What about the newly elected communist government of Nepal? Would Taiwan be allowed to have a voice or should they defer the duly elected members of the communist party of the Peoples republic of China. When terrorist organizations like Hamas or Muslim Brotherhood win elections, will they be expelled based on their politics?
The fact is the idea is a utopian one that accomplishes nothing that can’t be accomplished under the current framework of dealing with other nations. America already has the ability to speak with other democracies and why should we pretend that only democracies have partnered with us. Some of our biggest allies during the Cold War were the dictatorships of Franco, the Shah, Pinochet, the military governments of Turkey, South Korea, Indonesia, Greece, the Royal family of Saudi Arabia, the Apartheid governments of South Africa and Rhodesia and of course the notorious Taleban. All these alliances were made in pursuit of a common enemy. The fight against AIDs in Sub Saharan Africa has worked better with autocratic governments like Uganda then it has in the democratic government in South Africa whose past health minister said AIDs could be fought with a diet of olive oil and lemon. Let us not also forget that Kyoto Protocol was embraced by democratic government and autocratic governments alike. So perhaps we should just rely on the wisdom of Jefferson who said we should have, “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
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