Recipe for Disaster?

There is a new idea around in US foreign policy circles. John McCain has endorsed it and Barack Obama hasn’t trashed it. So it may have legs. The idea is that of a League of Democracies or sometimes, a concert of democracies: an alliance of the world’s democratic nations.

But the idea is already generating heat. Its critics say that it will undermine the United Nations and perhaps revitalize the Cold War by dividing the world in to democratic and autocratic camps.

On Saturday at 1230GMT Newshour will be talking to the people behind the idea and some of its big critics. Is the League of Democracies a new way to get things done in international affairs? – or an attempt to bolster US power and wreck the United Nations?

Tell us what you think and come and join the debate.

29 Responses to “Recipe for Disaster?”

  1. 1 Matelita RAGOGO
    June 25, 2008 at 12:25

    Which definition of democracy will this body be working on? What do they want to achieve? If the UNs and/or the Hagues or the Wold Bank’s good governance prattle don’t seem to be making much of a difference, how do they know this one will work?
    For a Pacific islander, I see more demo-crashing than working. Whatever the argument is for these crashes, which depends where you’re sitting, democracy exisits only in the urban centres for developing countries; the majority and mainly rural-dwelling people exist on an entirely different (traditional) systems: the fundamentals are totally ignored: neo-colonialism is as alive as colonialism was: we just give it a new tag everytime the old tags wear out.

  2. 2 steve b - uk
    June 25, 2008 at 12:29

    hello newshour

    I think it sounds good IF IT HAS TEETH. The UN is pretty much a joke anyway.

  3. June 25, 2008 at 12:49

    On the surface I tend to side with McCain on this one. Although he has resolve to screw things up, so I wouldn’t trust him to actually put it together right. While I believe that the UN is just in need of corrective action and has not really outlived its lifecycle. It might just be socially easier to create a new body.

    There is one problem, who is going to be members. International agencies given credibility to set up and ensure “free and fair” elections have said time and again that the way they are operated in the US do not meet the requirements. It turns out that it is too easy to buy elections, go figure. It turns out that to be elected president you need to be able to not work for a year, pay millions in advertising ad, pay lawyers to fight the many legal challenges, and fly around the country on a moments notice.

    If we really believe that this representative democracy idea is a good one, and I believe it is the best when conducted without corruption, then we should try to mimic it. Setting up an organization on the global level that resembles a functional representative democracy is the first step to spreading those ideas to less accepting parts of the world.

    It too bad. The United States once had the backing and the respect of the world to do such a thing single handedly if they wanted to. Now the first question out of everybody’s mouth when we suggest ideas is, “what are their true intentions. Whose oil do they want now?” To be honest, I don’t think either of these candidates has what it takes to regain that respect.

  4. 4 Mohammed Ali
    June 25, 2008 at 13:34

    What changes will this league of democracy bring? Is just another way of America is finding to create more power for itself. It will create two blocks, one led by America and her western allies on one hand and the other led by China and Russia on the other hand. It will divide the world more than ever before.

  5. 5 parth guragain
    June 25, 2008 at 13:49

    it seems to be good idea.this will spread message of human right and equality all over world.this i think will individual rights of people in repressive regeims.

  6. 6 Dennis :)
    June 25, 2008 at 14:36

    @ Newshour, good day from the U.S. east coast.

    I think that some of the John McCain’s ideas, are a recipe for disaster.

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  7. 7 Peter Gizzi UK
    June 25, 2008 at 14:42

    If this is anything like The European Union forget it. The European Union talks democracy yet when they get the “wrong” answer ignore it. They crticise Mugabe then do the same! Does democracy actually exist anywhere in The World?

  8. 8 Tino
    June 25, 2008 at 14:57

    Definitely should be done, especially if it undermines the useless UN. Any organization that allows human rights abusers on the human rights council, and passes resolutions with limits on free speech should be replaced with a worthwhile organization. Whether this idea fits the bill remains to be seen but I would tentatively agree with it.

  9. 9 Shirley
    June 25, 2008 at 15:09

    I think that the proposed League of Democracies is an affront to the United Nations. If McCain wants an effective world organisation, why not restructure the United Nations so that rogue states such as China and the U.S. cannot stop progress with a singular vote on the Security Council or the illegal pressure tactics that came to light ahead of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq? If the General Assembly were to have the same structure and organisation, but were given the power of the Security Council while the SC itself were dissolved, the organisation would be much more democratic in nature, and resolutions passed would carry the weight of international law; and meddlesome parties with vested interests in the topics at hand would not be able to interfere with the process.

  10. 10 Carolien from the Netherlands
    June 25, 2008 at 15:15

    Sounds like the League of Nations to me, that didn’t work either, so they should pick a different name for sure! Excluding other countries without democratic rule from the League will split the world in two, and including those with *a form* of democratic rule in the League will erode its legitimacy. We already have a whole bunch of international institutions that are only partially effective, let’s try and make those work rather than come up with another one that in effect, will add nothing new to the mix.

    Democracies are already living together peacefully, about 90% of the time anyway. They already have good diplomatic relations, a lot of trade between them and generally agree on global issues. What will be new about this body that doesn’t already exist?

  11. 11 Count Iblis
    June 25, 2008 at 15:15

    I agree with Mohammed Ali. The motivation behind this “League of Democracies” is simply to be able to deal with world problems in a more forceful way. But this will fail, because Russia and China will not allow that to happen and you will get typical Cold war like stand-offs.

    Take e.g. Kosovo. If it weren’t for Russia and China, Kosovo would be recognized as an independent nation. The UN mission in Kosovo would have been delegated to the EU. One might think that this would have been a much better outcome than the current situation.

    However, if the League of Democracies tried to implement such a plan, then they would lack legitimacy to do this throughout Kosovo. Serbia, helped by Russia, would simply take control over the Northern parts of Kosovo.

  12. June 25, 2008 at 15:51

    The problem with such a nascent school of thought is that, it is those who consider themselves as ‘beacons of democracy’ who will go about trying to lay the benchmark for other nations to tow the line. As far as I know, most of such blacklisted nations will show their opposition by putting an offensive shield whether any of the proposals are good or not. The UN maybe a toothless bulldog, but trying to reform it maybe the ideal rather than coming up with an alternative. This is reminiscent of the demise of the demise of the League of Nations.

  13. 13 John in Salem
    June 25, 2008 at 15:54

    Something like this definitely has the potential to do just as much (or more) harm than good and that alone makes me say no – we don’t need another elitist club to generate resentment and suspicion among those left out.

  14. 14 Roberto
    June 25, 2008 at 16:28

    The idea is that of a League of Democracies ——————————————————————————————-

    —– Yeah, just what the world needs, one more tax money sucking bureaucracy and more endless do nothing committee meeting.

    If the US and democracies wish to promote democracy, then they need to look no further than their own doorsteps. One thing most people agree on in democracies is that the way the system operates need major overhauls.

    There may not be any more democracies 50 yrs from now if people don’t start electing better leaders and these leaders don’t start to address the real problems with more than soundbites and backroom seniority deals.

  15. 15 Nick in USA
    June 25, 2008 at 16:51

    I have defended the UN a number of times on here, and I suppose it’s time to do it again. I agree, that the current UN format doesn’t work. We need to eliminate veto-ability, but separating the world into two groups is such a bad idea. We in the west are quite proud of our democratic system, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way for a society to live in harmony. A league of democratic nations would surely bring about the next cold war, and that’s the last thing humanity needs. We were already close enough to blowing everyone off the face of the earth during the last one. We need to bring the democratic and autocratic camps together if we want humanity to see another millenium.

  16. 16 gary
    June 25, 2008 at 17:28

    I think a League of Democracies would just be another “us versus them” bully club. What many seem not to realize is: Other countries have the right to govern themselves as they wish, or in a manner they wish to tolerate. “Believe as we believe,” is an unnecessary and inconsiderate precondition to establish meaningful dialog. All that is necessary is honest communication. We do not have to like one another; but we must understand one another. It is certainly true the UN fails at many turns to accomplish its stated goals, and could certainly benefit from a “backbone transplant.” It is however, the only club in town the counts most every nation as members. We must effectively communicate with one another. Humanity will only succeed (Success being defined as most deaths occurring from old age, rather than war or famine.) if everyone mean “all of humanity,” when they say “us.”

  17. 17 Mohammed Ali
    June 25, 2008 at 17:43

    @Tino, u think the UN is useless, if it were so George Bush would not have gone his knees begging that very UN to help him bring an end to the nightmare he created in Iraq.

  18. 18 Robert
    June 25, 2008 at 18:21

    Please explain to me how this would work?

    The countries that are likely to 1) qualify and 2) want to be part of such an organization would in general not be the intended recipients of its help or support.

    This organization is therefore in place to work with those who fail either points 1 or 2. If a country wants to be more democratic then it doesn’t need this new organization to to it for them, the existing UN, EU, USA etc are more then able to help with the requests.

    If a country does not want to become more democratic (say the middle east were a small amount of democracy exists in each country but not a full one), then what right does a self appointed PC brigade have to force it on them.

    What is required is the beefing up of the UN council and removal of the vetos. Perhaps multiple votes to each country. Some of the total is based on the size of the population and some of the scale of the economy in the country.

  19. 19 Eugene
    June 25, 2008 at 19:00

    The UN isnt terribly effective and this league of democracies will be as ineffective. In my veiw the most effective alliances and treaty organisation are those where the members have vested interests not conflicts with each other. That is why organisations such as the EU or the SADC with members who have vested interests that ar similar to other members are more effective than the UN or the AU. There are also a number of issues, firstly what and who is democratic. For example no one can deny that Mr medvedev would’ve won the russian elections whether or not there had been any number of opposition candidates, yet many of the so called democratic nations condemm russia as un-democratic. Secondly how exactly would the league of democracies get things done militarily? or would it be another talking shop. Finally even democracies have very different goals and interests for example the USA and South Africa or Australia and poland will have different foreign policy goals and will sometimes clash. I am an advocate of returning to a system where we dont interfere with each others affairs unless they have a direct influence or impact on our own affairs. This system of intervention on the behalf of these so called higher goals of democracy and human rights in my veiw is leading us in the wrong direction.

  20. 20 Syed Hasan Turab
    June 25, 2008 at 21:13

    Infact USA is victom of diversity & double standard because of few fundamental mistakes of great great granfather’s lazyness. Now want to contiminate world with same diseas to remove the sence of guilt from US majority, those are victom of one track minded Jewish controlled Media, as most of them have voting rights with VIP mentality.Most likely Mchan win with this agenda with a good size of media projection as VIP’s like to see US in command & controll, dosent matter the cost of humanity, human values & suffering’s of other nation’s.
    Any way UNO will face crises of Security Counsil nature, might face the consequence’s of failour like Leagur Of Nations.
    By the way this is an appropriate time to rewrite the Global human charter to deal with prevailing balance of power crises, as USA is exposing threat with public support to enfoce his agenda by way of formation a group of diversified & double standard nature.

  21. 21 Jeff Minter
    June 25, 2008 at 21:20

    “League of Democracies”

    or in layman’s terms, the “Let’s gang up on China” team.

  22. 22 Pangolin-California
    June 25, 2008 at 21:39

    Why are those of you overseas so silly as to believe what is obviously a bunch of campaign blather designed to get the discussion off the real issues of the day.

    In case no-one has noticed; things are not working out very well on a global scale. From me standing at the egg case to a poor woman in India wondering how she can afford food, fuel and clean water when she only has the price for half of what she needs for her families needs.

    The Republic party has no solutions other than gunning the engine when the wheels are already bogged in the mud.

    Can we please try to focus on real issues?

  23. 23 Roberto
    June 26, 2008 at 03:19

    Now want to contiminate world with same diseas to remove the sence of guilt from US majority, those are victom of one track minded Jewish controlled Media,

    ——– How do we know you’re not Jewish controlled Syed?

    If I was a Jew in control of everything, I’d sure hire you to spout forth and pay you in Jewish money.

    Alas, I ain’t Jewish, and don’t have any Jewish Mad money to throw your way.

    Hey, always hope. Jewish lightning could strike us both with manna raining down from the heavens, right?

  24. 24 Tom
    June 26, 2008 at 06:01

    The 20th century has shown what a non-inclusive political alliance have brought to the world. The tri-partite and Central powers in WWI, the Allies and Axis powers in WWII. NATO and the Warsaw Pact, if not for the concept of MAD, would surely have annilated each other. Given this, the League of Democratic Nations would surely be a recipe for another Cold War.

    The United Nations is not a democratic club, but rather it provides a platform for antagonising powers to resolve their grievances peacefully and diplomatically. When concrete actions are required, however, it has constantly been hamstrung by vetos from permanent members of the security council. The static vetoing system is one thing that the UN needs an urgent review on. Some analysts have suggested that veto rights, or veto weight, should be given to parties according to their contributions to UN peacekeeping efforts and fundings to the IMF. This however, has the potential danger of countries resorting to money politics to gain influence. In that case, power will simply be shifted from the static 5 permanent members to those with the biggest wallets – namely China, US and Russia.

    Is the league a recipe of disaster? It’ll depend on where one lives, and whether a country is strategically relevant or not. If the country is politically neutral, but is a meat in the sandwich of opposing alliances, like Holland, neutrality will be meaningless. If the country is strategically irrelevant, it will be foresaken like Rwanda and Zimbabwe. If it is strategically vital, however, it will be fought over like pawns similar to Afghanistan and Iraq. If you are the one with power, or in a position to gain from conflicts, it could just be a useful tool for achieving your own end.

    Which is the preferred fear: The fear of being repressed by your own government? Or the fear of being vaporised into nothingness by an external power – or a collection of them?

  25. 25 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 26, 2008 at 06:51

    First I’ve heard of this, and I’m a political animal. You might briefly describe this proposal, or at least include a link to some source that does so. People are happy to spout off, but who cares for the opinion of the uninformed?

  26. 26 Mark from kansas
    June 26, 2008 at 08:55

    Intersting idea. As the UN and NATO have not lived up to their mandates, or enforced their own laws why should we expect a new organiztion to do any better? There is mass rape of children and women in africa, and genocide is going unchalanged, which is the very reason the existing organizations were formed. Many of the member countries do enforce the standards mandated by their charters, and are not subject to concequences if they violate the international standards. Why start a new idea when we can’t make the old ones work?

  27. 27 Mark from kansas
    June 26, 2008 at 08:57

    correction member countries do not enforce the standards mandated by their (Un and Nato) charters

  28. 28 Syed Hasan Turab
    June 26, 2008 at 21:49

    I dont know how League of Democracies will handle Democratic public openions of controvancial nature like, Indian Govt V/s Kashmir as UN resolution of refrondam is witnessing the issue since 1948.
    Hamms & Phalistanian public openion V/S Isreli Govt along with US & EU foreign policies.
    Infact both of above noted issue start as political issues now turn into human desaster/ tragedy because of behaviour/ handling of the issues by Indian Democracy & Isrieli Govt along with political support of USA & EU.
    Dose this league got a capasity to handle these issue’s or will be help less like UNO?

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