A Better Internationalism

Recent events in Syria could lead to serious questions about the UN and international system that has been created out of WWII.  Does it even work? Can a Security Council that excludes India, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, and Germany address the most pressing global security threats?  What should follow the Millennium Development Goals? And how could a system meet the United States’ needs while providing a more stable, prosperous world.

A big job, needing some big ideas.  A new article from teh World Policy Journal gives it a shot:

But future military interventions like the Libyan case will and should be rare. The real test of American constructive internationalism won’t be dramatic hard power showdowns. Most of the world’s first order challenges, like the basic needs of the bottom billions, destructive climate change, nuclear proliferation, and unsustainably unbalanced globalization cannot be solved by military force. They are not amenable to crisis-management internationalism—by Washington or any other global or regional power. And they are far too dangerous to keep ignoring or under-resourcing.

Dealing with these challenges will not require budget-busting aid programs or massive global transfers of wealth. What they need is sustained steady funding and commitment, which is harder than it sounds. Trillion dollar wars are politically easier to fund than much more modest and constructive assistance programs. Consider the history of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

via A Better Internationalism.


6 thoughts on “A Better Internationalism”

  1. First of all, I honestly don’t understand why Mexico is on that list of emerging global leaders… Perhaps I don’t know enough about it, but there are other states around the globe (emerging and “already emerged”) that are more deserving of a leadership role. Mexicon still needs to do better in its own internal fights with the drug cartels.

    The entire legislation behind the Security Council needs an overhaul, in my opinion. I think that the General Assembly should play a more vital role in the outcomes of SC deliberations.

    Let’s take the BRICS nations: (1) Brazil does deserve a seat at the table. (2) Russia is already at it, along with China. Although the two step on everyone’s nerves due to their separate agendas, they are vital to maintaining a somewhat stable political spectrum on things. I honestly would love to see them gone from the SC table, but realistically that will never happen. (3) India needs to rethink its human rights legislation, not just de jure, but also de facto. (4) South Africa might be able to play a significant role representing the African nations, although I am not knowledgeable on where they stand.

    In our days, the SC no longer represents the alliance of the good guys. Alliances have definitely changed. Additionally, “saving” the world or keeping it safe is no longer subject to military might alone; it is especially subject to economic power. We live in an era where economic power has begun surpassing the influence of military power. This being the case, I believe the criteria for choosing SC permanent members should be based on military and economic power, and on candidates’ ability to sustain and enforce human rights.

    Some of my favorite candidates to permanent SC membership are (in alphabetic order) Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. There may be others too, but these sounds just about acceptable to me.

  2. As the quoted article says, many of the more pressing issues of the day cannot be solved with military power. An international effort must be taken in order to deal with international issues such as climate change and nuclear proliferation. The world needs a forum to discuss these issues and come up with solutions. The effectiveness of the current system, however, can definitely be challenged, but that can be said about many states’ governments as well. As a whole, our world is not being managed very well, and serious changes must be made. In terms of the UN, the Security Council needs a serious overhaul. In an increasingly diverse and interconnected world, more people deserve a say in what the right plan of action should be, and not gridlocked with petty infighting and bickering among rivals threatening the use of veto power to stop the discussion on serious and important topics.

  3. Like those before me, I too believe that the security council needs a complete makeover. With its current gridlock of Russia and China with their own, completely different political agendas, and very poor representation of most of the much more interconnected world, the permanent members of the security council should be reconsidered. Currently the members are: U.S.A., Russia, China, France, and the UK. I believe four of the five still belong on the security council because of their position and power on the international stage, but, as was mentioned, countries like Brazil, Germany, South Africa and India should be considered as well. Germany has proven itself again and again by basically single-handedly holding the EU economy together the past few years in addition to its political might, Brazil and South Africa are both fast up and coming in the economic realm in addition to representing grossly underrepresented parts of the world, and India too would represent a large portion of the world population as well as a whole realm of underrepresented world views. The way the security council is currently run keeps it from having the diplomatic power it could have as seen with the Syria situation. This is the exact kind of situation the UN should be able to handle and take care of in the name of the international community, but instead it is left to individual countries to act alone because of the current layout. The power of the UN is completely undermined if they can solve no real, important world problems.

  4. I also agree that the Security Council needs an overhaul. As Mihai pointed out, the permanent members no longer represent an allied coalition. Resultant of said states’ differences, real problems can no longer be solved due to the the constant threat of veto. We are asking five ideologically separate nations to come to unconditionally unanimous consensus when they do not even belong to the same allied blocks.

    The post-WWII era is finished. Some might even argue that the Cold War mentality is similarly antiquated (after all, the era DID call and ask for its foreign policy back). Our world is consistently evolving, and there should never be one incontrovertibly established base of military right and power. To suggest that states such as Germany and Japan do not deserve a seat at the table because of their ancestors’ policies is illogical at best. All voices from all regions of the world need to have a voice in decision-making, and no one voice should ever have the power to unilaterally dismantle the progress of its peers.

  5. The United Nations was founded almost 70 years ago on the principles of international peace and development. While it was a noble goal, the UN is broken. Though it currently helps countless people around the world, the organization is gripped time and time by political deadlock, inefficacy, and a lack of faith from many nations in the world. The politics and international representation at the United Nations needs to be reformed if the UN is to stay relevant in the 21st century.

    The first issue is representation in the General Assembly. Though most see it as successful, I completely disagree with the “one country, one vote” system in place. Currently, 48% of the world’s population – nearly half – is represented by 2.5% of the votes in the General Assembly – 5 nations. Would it not make more sense to empower the world’s population by giving them a fair say in the GA? If all people are equal, as the UN charter states, why not give them the say they deserve.

    In addition to the General Assembly, the Security Council runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, unless is becomes more representative of the modern world. This is not 1945, and the global superpowers have changed dramatically. Brazil, Germany, South Africa, South Korea, Japan, India, all deserve consideration to be on the Security Council, and I would hope that the UN can work towards serious reform.

  6. I agree that the Security Council needs some serious reforms. The gridlock that continually comes up is causing the UN to become less and less relevant when countries make important decisions, such as with the US and Syria. The fact that France has a permanent seat on the Council, while countries like Japan and Germany are barred from it, is laughable. The permanent 5 are based on an old balance of power that has evolved and will continue to evolve until the Security Council serves as a symbol of 20th Century international politics instead of a functioning governing body. However, I can’t see changes being made any time soon because it isn’t likely that Russia and China would agree to give up their veto power in the UN. And so what you’ve got is a Security Council that is now quickly losing political weight and an alternative reformed Security Council without the backing of Russia and China. Nevertheless, reforms, including an enforcement component to the Council, are the best course of action.

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