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Sunday, May 23, 2004

An Alliance of Democracies

Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay write in today's Washington Post about forming a new multi-national organization and that this organization be the focus of American foriegn policy.

Like NATO during the Cold War, the Alliance of Democratic States should become the focal point of American foreign policy. Unlike NATO, however, the alliance would not be formed to counter any country or be confined to a single region. Rather, its purpose would be to strengthen international cooperation to combat terrorism, curtail weapons proliferation, cure infectious diseases and curb global warming. And it would work vigorously to advance the values that its members see as fundamental to their security and well-being -- democratic government, respect for human rights, a market-based economy.
I have heard this idea batted around a few times before and it makes a lot of sense to me. An existing multi-national organization has a moral authority that an ad-hoc coalition thrown together for a single purpose or a single entity lacks. This could be of great aid to us in our struggle to reform rogue and failed states, particularly if we tied some free trade agreements to membership in the organization. In this way a League of Democracies could function as a carrot as well as a stick.
Today respect for state sovereignty should be conditional on how states behave at home, not just abroad. Sovereignty carries with it a responsibility to protect citizens against mass violence and a duty to prevent internal developments that threaten others. We need to build an international order that reflects how states organize themselves internally. The great dividing line is democracy. Democratic states pose far less of a threat to other countries and are often more capable than autocracies. That is why democratic nations should rally together to pursue their common interests.
I would even urge that we subordinate our pre-emptive doctrine to deal with gathering threats to an international body of this type. If we can’t convince a majority of league members to join us in dealing with a problem militarily we would agree not to invade unilaterally unless the threat was imminent or we had been attacked.


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