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Sunday, September 15, 2002

Which Multinationalism?-Here's an interesting piece from Robert Kagan on multilateralism-it's got a WaPo letterhead, but was on the Winter Haven News Chief's web site. Here's three good paragraphs that seem to be Orrin Judd bait.
Clearly multilateralism has different meanings on either side of the Atlantic. Most Europeans believe in what might be called principled multilateralism. In this view, gaining U.N. Security Council approval is not a means to an end but an end in itself, the sine qua non for establishing an international legal order. Even if the United States were absolutely right about Iraq, even if the dangers were exactly as the Bush administration presents them, Europeans believe the United States would be wrong to invade without formal approval. If the Security Council says no, the answer is no. Not many Americans would agree. Most Americans are not principled multilateralists. They are instrumental multilateralists. Yes, they want to win international support. They like allies, and they like approval for their actions. But the core of the American multilateralist argument is pragmatic. As Baker puts it, "the costs will be much greater, as will the political risks, both domestic and international, if we end up going it alone." This would seem unarguable. But Baker's multilateralism is a cost-benefit analysis, not a principled commitment to multilateral action as the cornerstone of world order. The press refers to Baker and Powell as foreign policy "realists." But remember, realists in the tradition of Hans Morgenthau and George Kennan don't actually believe in the United Nations. And, in fact, very few American multilateralists are as committed as their European friends to building an international legal order around the United Nations.
That nails it fairly well. If the UN wants to go where the US wants to go, so be it, but we're willing to go it alone or with a much smaller posse if we need to. The EUnuchs see the UN as a future world government, while the US sees it as a place to patch together ad hoc coalitions to go after the bad guys of the world.The US sees the UN like the early Bablyon 5 of free agents .nations working or not working together to solve problems, Europe would like it to be the Federation of Star Trek. These are two different paradigms, based in part of the different values of Europe and the US. Europe, or at least the Euroweenies who run things, likes centralization while the US likes decentralization. When applied to the UN, the US would see it best used as an ad-hocracy, patching together a posse of countries to solve a paricular problem. The EU people want it to be a centralized world EU, with very limited local autonomy. We're not going to square that circle any time soon.

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