Francis Fukuyama recently reviewed Samantha Power’s new book, Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World. From the review:
From the review:
In the wake of the
Iraqdebacle, the idea that strong countries like the should use their power to defend human rights or promote democracy around the world has become widely discredited. From an overmilitarized foreign policy, we are in danger of going to the opposite extreme, forgetting the lessons of the 1990s that hard power is sometimes needed to resolve political conflicts, and that we do not yet have an adequate set of international institutions to deploy it legitimately and effectively. United States
I take exception to one of the premises above. The
One lesson of the 1990s is that sovereign nations cannot be expected to act on their own to further the interests of noncitizens at some unquantifiable risk to their own interests. They simply won’t do it absent a more formal institutional structure for using multilateral military force than now exists. Any political leadership that does make significant sacrifices for noncitizens at the expense of citizens will soon find itself out of a job if that country’s democratic processes are functioning well, and rightly so, based on the existing parameters of sovereign government and international politics.
Perhaps Power’s thesis in Problem is correct, that the slaughters in
The important point, though, is that, contra Power in Problem, in the current international framework, any unilateral action will be doomed from the start. A sovereign country acting on its own behalf is only obligated to act in the interests of its own citizens. That is why the
But Power appears to have recognized some of the failings of the unilateral action she espoused in Problem, and in the new book argues for stronger support for UN peacekeeping operations.
“Chasing the Flame” argues, as Vieira de Mello himself once did, that the United Nations is often unfairly blamed for failures to protect the vulnerable or deter aggression, when the real failure is that of the great powers standing behind it. Those powers are seldom willing to give it sufficient resources, attention and boots on the ground to accomplish the ambitious mandates they set for it. At present, the United Nations is involved in eight separate peacekeeping operations in Africa alone; failure in a high-profile case like
Darfur(which seems likely) will once again discredit the organization. Power (who has been a foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama) makes the case for powerful countries like the putting much greater effort into making the institution work. United States
This is a strong argument, and I plan to read the book to see how Power develops it. But
In the end, the book does not make a persuasive case that the United Nations will ever be able to evolve into an organization that can deploy adequate amounts of hard power or take sides in contentious political disputes. Its weaknesses as a bureaucracy and its political constraints make it very unlikely that the
and other powerful countries will ever delegate to it direct control over their soldiers or trust it with large sums of money. United States
For neocons, it’s always 1938, the year Chamberlain capitulated to Hitler at After the UN was founded, Allied leaders worked hard to solidify public support for the organization. In the U.S.:
After the UN was founded, Allied leaders worked hard to solidify public support for the organization. In the U.S.:
The overwhelming majority of the American people, regardless of party, support the United Nations.
They are resolved that the
, to the full limit of its strength, shall contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a just and lasting peace among the nations of the world. United States
---Harry Truman, 1946
A world organization has already been erected for the prime purpose of preventing war, UNO, the successor of the League of Nations, with the decisive addition of the United States and all that means, is already at work. We must make sure that its work is fruitful, that it is a reality and not a sham, that it is a force for action, and not merely a frothing of words, that it is a true temple of peace in which the shields of many nations can some day be hung up, and not merely a cockpit in a Tower of Babel.
. . .
Courts and magistrates may be set up but they cannot function without sheriffs and constables. The United Nations Organization must immediately begin to be equipped with an international armed force. In such a matter we can only go step by step, but we must begin now. I propose that each of the Powers and States should be invited to delegate a certain number of air squadrons to the service of the world organization. These squadrons would be trained and prepared in their own countries, but would move around in rotation from one country to another. They would wear the uniform of their own countries but with different badges. They would not be required to act against their own nation, but in other respects they would be directed by the world organization. This might be started on a modest scale and would grow as confidence grew.
---Winston Churchill, 1946
The same Allied leaders who defeated German and Japanese aggression after the missteps of 1938 had no qualms about offering unqualified support for a powerful UN. So why is it so hard for
[Cross posted at Citizen Orange]