Thursday, December 2

Tom Today

The Bush Mandate
preemption is in, multilateralism is in, but the UN is—in many ways—out, unless it changes its own rule set rather dramatically. That's why I don't think we're done creating the new institutions needed for this new era in security, which is why I continue to push hard for the SysAdmin force and the larger A-to-Z rule set on processing politically-bankrupt states (UN as "grand jury," G-20 as executive, US Leviathan force followed by Core-enabled Sys Admin force, then an IMF-like entity for reconstruction and the International Criminal Court to end the process).
The reality of the coming "national" elections in Iraq
Great op-ed by Krauthammer reminds us of how we need to remain realistic about what a “national” election in Iraq will really accomplish, and what it will really signal:
In 1864, 11 of the 36 states did not participate in the presidential election. Was Lincoln’s election therefore illegitimate?

In 1868, three years after the security situation had, shall we say, stabilized, three states (not insignificant ones: Texas, Virginia and Mississippi) did not participate in the election. Was Grant’s election illegitimate?

There has been much talk that if the Iraqi election is held and some Sunni Arab provinces (perhaps three of the 18) do not participate, the election will be illegitimate. Nonsense. The election should be held. It should be open to everyone. If Iraq’s Sunni Arabs—barely 20 percent of the population—decide they cannot abide giving up their 80 years of minority rule, ending with 30 years of Saddam Hussein’s atrocious tyranny, then tough luck. They forfeit their chance to shape and participate in the new Iraq...
Krauthammer’s point is that American troops are dying—in effect—to prevent the Sunnis from trying to reestablish, through civil war, their minority rule. In the end, as he puts it, “This is the Shiites’ and Kurds’ fight.” Which gets me to the logic that drives my upcoming Esquire piece: we need to find—or create through some radical diplomacy—some local ownership for this fight. The partners are rather obvious, as are the logical asking prices. The question is, who will have the courage to forge the deals?
Prediction: no change in the UN
Yes, what Kofi Annan’s commission is proposing is good stuff, and it moves the UNSC much closer to the sort of executive function required to bolster and populate an A-to-Z global rule set on processing politically-bankrupt states. The problem is, it can’t really be pulled off without amending the UN charter, and that’s a UN General Assembly process. And that’s where my friends’ pessimism kicks in.

Expanding the UNSC to include New Core powers really only makes sense if you’re trying to get a critical mass of large states to come together in institutional agreement on security issues that will inevitably involve rogue Gap states. I know I’m using my particular lexicon here, but believe me, everyone at the UN will be thinking the same thing, so no illusions about what Annan is trying to achieve.

And so you can count on most Gap states rejecting this idea. And since there’s roughly 100 or them, you can kiss good-bye your two-thirds majority of 191 member states required to amend the Charter.

Unless you tell one really good story about why such a move makes sense. Right now the story Annan basically tells is, “Look what happened with Iraq, for crying out loud!” And that’s not much of an incentive, frankly.

The real story truly appeals only to Core states: Don’t you want a transparency process by which the Mugabes, Saddams, and Kim Jong Ils of the world can be gotten rid of in a standard, mutually-agreed-upon way?

Why? The unspoken caveat of such a system, frankly, is that it can never be used against fellow Core states. That’s the realistic approach to getting India, China, Russia et. al on board for things like Sudan.

And that sort of logic will never survive a UN General Assembly debate—no matter how much it makes sense.
The China Price
Economists who went on and on about globalization always being good for America seem somewhat flabbergasted to admit now that—geez!—it’s actually going to make things awfully hard and competitive for the U.S., meaning it will force dramatic internal changes (all desired and needed) upon us or we’ll suffer in the end. So globalization has gone from being a big win for an America that didn’t have to change itself much at all to one in which it’s—at best—a tough victory for an America only if its willing to revamp things like how it thinks about debt (both personal and public) and how it educates its people throughout their lives (and not just at the beginning).

Economic competition within the United States, the world’s oldest and most successful economic and political multinational union, has always been fierce. By replicating that source code across the Core as a whole in this era of globalization, we’ve enlarged the playing field dramatically, pulling in all sorts of previously “frontier” areas full of people who are desperate for better lives and willing to work their asses off to achieve it. Trying to deny their entry is a lose-lose and we all know it, but clearly we’ll have to adjust not just our economic and political rule sets to accommodate that new competition, but those of the Core as well.

This is why I say that America’s number one strategic relationship for the next twenty years or more will be China—and to a lesser extent India. Adjusting the Core’s rule sets to accommodate those two states’ integration into the global economy is the most important foreign policy and—frankly—national security task that we face right now and for the foreseeable future.
In the very obvious way, it only makes sense to think strategically about the world's two most populous nations, both of which are having rising economic and political impact.
Yes, I want to transform the Middle East, but that’s a secondary goal to securing both China and India as long-term strategic partners—economic partners, political partners, security partners.
This is amazing to me. Not that I disagree. It's just that we've been focused on peace in the Middle East for so long. And that's where the oil is! But Tom's saying China and India are more important. He's right, of course.
China’s rise is very similar to that of America’s at the beginning of the 20th century. That’s why a Wal-Mart will let its workers there remain in unions even though it doesn’t here at home. I know that flabbergasts some people: “But China’s communist for crying out loud!” No, it isn’t. It’s very capitalist while still have a significant state sector. In the capitalist portions of its economy, it very much resembles the rough-and-tumble labor world of the U.S. at the beginning of the 20th century, and that’s why it still makes sense for unions to exist. I mean, don’t you want those unions to force Wal-Mart (and every other manufacturer there) to pay their labor better there so the goods they produce/sell cost more and thus reduce China’s “price” over time? Of course you do.

China’s “price” will grow less competitive the more it integrates with the global economy. It happens to everyone. So, in reality, China’s rise is less a threat the more it unfolds, so long as we don’t fix to make them our enemy for lack of imagination. China will dominate Asia, and that domination will lead to the rise of an EU-like entity there in which China will be the obvious center of gravity. We want that to happen, because it secures China in the Core and makes Asia a peaceful, prosperous place.

But for that to happen, there will have to be a NATO-like entity there to mitigate and ultimately eradicate lingering security issues, and getting that process to unfold and to include a U.S. as a founding member is another key task of U.S. foreign policy over the next two decades.

But as you know, alliances rise either out of shared fears or a common victory. There doesn’t seem to be enough shared fear right now, so where do you think we might achieve a common security victory in Asia right now?
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