Tuesday, February 17, 2004

In the course of an interesting discussion about last week's Charles Krauthammer speech before the AEI, it occurred to me that Australia in many ways represents the ideal American ally. They are functionally independent - they do not require military assistance, garrisoning, or occupation forces. They aren't seriously threatened by any neighbor or rival power, unless you count the very long-term, distant demographic threat posed by China. (I don't - the dynamics are much less impressive than, say, the US's demographic relationship with Mexico.) They maintain a reasonable military establishment - 2.3% military budget-to-GDP ratio, as opposed to numbers under 1.5% for Germany, Japan and Canada - which is more than sufficient for their commitments. They are willing to conduct peacekeeping missions and minor interventions without indulging in imperialism or expansionism. Their immediate neighbors do not fear or hate them. They have enjoyed a stable and uninterrupted form of parliamentary democracy since the moment of independence. They don't indulge in serious cultural warfare with the US, are economically friendly, and are blessedly Anglophone. The elements of realpolitick in the relationship between Australia and the United States are negligible enough to be disregarded almost entirely. We are allied with Australia because we share a community of interests - those interests being peace, trade, liberal democracy, anti-fascism and anti-terrorism. Those latter interests are *derived* interests, short-term issues arising from the common interest in liberal democracy rather than primary interests in their own right. And this is where I diverge from Krauthammer's Democratic Globalism: the Australian example.

In many ways, the ideal future for the neo-conservative is a world of Australias, of liberal democracies strong enough to maintain themselves and their neighbors, and liberal and confident enough to not indulge in irrationalities like border wars, expansionism, and conflict-mongering. To use Krauthammer's metaphor of police power, we do not call the FBI when someone breaks into the house and steals the TV. We call 911, which will, when things are working right, summon a cruiser from the township police department, the nearest city precinct, or the county sheriff's office. In a properly functioning democracy, authority devolves to the lowest practical level. A "Democratic Globalism" in which all threats are dealt with by a unipolar, hyperpower "police force" is an order which is not long for this world.

Thus, the proper goal of a Democratic Globalist is not a world order dependant on a singular American colossus to maintain order and preserve democratic principles. The proper goal of a true Democratic Globalist is a future in which the United States is only one in a vast array of Americas, strong liberal democracies dedicated to the preservation, extension, and celebration of democratic norms. The moment of American unipolarity will be fleeting, as all moments are, passing in time. But we can exert some influence on what will come after us, our legacy. As the British acquiesced and even conspired in the passing of their empire in favor of the Pax Americana which followed, we can plan for the Democratic Peace which must follow the passing of the American Moment.

The Liberal Internationalists will be shaking their heads in disgust about now. After all, they believe, we already have the prospect of that future, and the neo-cons are determined to throw all that hard work, all that preparation, all those institutions of international legitimacy and influence. In this matter, I am squarely with Krauthammer and the "neocons". International "legitimacy" is inherently illegitimate, based on the lie that all states are nations, that all governments are equal, that every flag flies over a free people. No world order based on the righteous "sovereignty" of Syria, of China, Iran, or Yemen, is a world order which can be embraced by an honest Democratic Globalist. I cannot agree with the Liberal Internationalists that their carefully-preserved institutions are worthy of power in their own right, of sovereignty and authority. Because the signatories of these institutions are *not* created equal, the institutions themselves are inherently illegitimate.

The American Constitution contains the following clause, Article IV, Section 4:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

This clause makes sure that the component states were created equal prior to acceptance within the United States. An applicant state cannot be a monarchy. It cannot be a theocracy, or an anarchy, or a totalitarian dictatorship or tyranny of any stripe. A republican form of government. These days, we say "democracy", or "liberal democracy" if we're being pedantic, but few people use "democratic" in the old sense of direct mob rule, so we can let that pass. I know of no charter of an important international institution that contains anything like or similar to Article IV, Section 4. The WTO is probably the closest to what I'm describing, but the WTO concerns itself solely with economic and trade matters, and the Nonapplication Clause in question is more of a realpolitick element of a negotiation frame than an element in the constitution of a sovereign body.

Sovereignty derives solely from the consent of the governed; all other institutions are illegitimate in one sense or another. All institutions which do not derive from the common agreement of properly constituted democratic republics are therefore, by definition, illegitimate powers. They do not constitute authorities in their own right.

Of course, an institution can be inherently illegitimate and still present the capacity for good, order, and common gain. Many modern democracies indulge in such anachronisms as constitutional monarchs, vestigial degrees of nobility, and public radio. The UN and many of the other international institutions are useful and worthy tools for international diplomacy and interaction. I am not one of those gentlemen who feel it necessary to drive the UN from our borders with fire, fury, and the pitchfork-wielding peasantry. But they are not the path to the future - they are not the seed of future world government, and they are most certainly not the face of the Democratic Peace.

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