This Foreign Affairs essay is well worth reading. There is a ton of stuff I agree with totally here, a few things I question, but as a whole it is thought provoking and extremely astute. I urge you to read it all.
One bit that caught my interest though is this:
Pre-emption defined as prevention, however, runs the risk--amply demonstrated over the past two years--that the United States itself will appear to much of the world as a clear and present danger. Sovereignty has long been a sacrosanct principle in the international system. For the world's most powerful state suddenly to announce that its security requires violating the sovereignty of certain other states whenever it chooses cannot help but make all other states nervous. As the political scientist G. John Ikenberry has pointed out, Washington's policy of pre-emption has created the image of a global policeman who reports to no higher authority and no longer allows locks on citizens' doors. However shocking the September 11 attacks may have been, the international community has not found it easy to endorse the Bush administration's plan for regaining security.
President Bush's decision to invade Iraq anyway provoked complaints that great power was being wielded without great responsibility, followed by an unprecedented collapse of support for the United States abroad. From nearly universal sympathy in the weeks after September 11, Americans within a year and a half found their country widely regarded as an international pariah.
This draws attention to a central challenge for America, and the world. I am always distrustful of any great level of power that does not have a check upon it's use. Now, I do not think that American military power falls in that category, because I understand that the American people provide that check, and I trust them to do so correctly.
It is however, understandable that other nations, and other people, would not share my optimism. To combat this I do feel that we need to subordinate certain aspects of American military power to some international body. Now obviously we should not limit our ability to respond in any way to a clear and immediate danger, nor limit our ability to respond to any given attack, but their is the category of conflict, the preventative wars such as Iraq where we could suborn our choices to some exterior body, were that body of a sufficient moral nature to deserve such power.
At the moment, I do not believe such a body exists. I have previously proposed however, a 'League of Democracies' which would accept member only of nations that had met clear criteria as a free, open and democratic society. If such a body were formed, I would be willing to by treaty, give that body (via a majority or perhaps 2/3 majority vote) the unique moral authority to authorize a preventive war, or a war for humanitarian reasons.
Obviously building such a League would be a great diplomatic challenge. The U.N. would of course be in opposition as would many NGOs and other groups heavily invested in the current system. Russia, China and France in the least would be in opposition as this organization would weaken the U.N. and they hold a great deal of power within the U.N. system. I expect that beyond France, the E.U. bureaucracy itself (similar in many ways to that of the U.N.) would also be in opposition. Of course there would also be those on both the left and the right that would oppose such a scheme as well.
However, such a system would also have allies. Japan, India, Brazil and Poland would all likely support such a plan, as they would gain influence, and perhaps more importantly, prestige, under such a scheme. Much of 'new Europe' and other rising democracies would as well. A quick look at both demographic trends and economic trends would show that these are the very nations that are going to become increasingly significant powers over the coming century. Creating a 'New World Order' with them in mind seems wise.
Despite their reputation for 'diplomatic bungling' I have observed that the Bush administration has been able to accomplish a great deal in this arena when their heart is really in something. While this would be a huge challenge, it would also be a huge accomplishment that would catapult Bush into a revered place in history.