This guest blog post by Don, an American living and working in England, is about NATO and how Obama, Clinton and McCain might relate to it, if elected president.
David Ignatius of the Washington Post raises an interesting issue in Sun Sets on Cold War Mentality, one which cuts to the core of the biggest issue in the US election campaign, which is - What does 'change' mean?
Ignatius sources an interesting blog called Swoop, and argues that experience may actually be a liability in this election. I've been feeling my way to this conclusion. In years past I would have been stalwartly in the McCain corner, but that simply feels wrong this year. If there is one clear lesson from the past decade it is that the Cold War era is finally over. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but since then the global elites have been trying to patch the Cold War era collective security apparatus without achieving very much in collective security.
I have felt for a long time that NATO desperately needed a 'bottom-up review'. A complete rethink, and possibly a new treaty or constitution written with today's challenges and problems in mind. I may have been thinking too narrowly, however. Most of the global bodies set up post-WWII are experiencing existential crises of one kind or another, not excluding NATO, the UN, IMF, World Bank, EU, and even the IOC in it's way. Platelets of choresterol are clogging the veins of all these bodies and their arthritic joints are increasingly obvious. The UN cannot reform the Security Council to reflect the reality of the current world; France and the UK are permanent members but India, Japan, and Brazil are not.
Europe is overrepresented on the governing bodies of all kinds of international bodies, none so ludicrously as the IOC with 9 of 15 European members and 4 of 5 European executive members! This is a global organisation? The UN is another organisation suffering from Euro-topheaviness. Europe, with a total population of about 500 million (give or take) has 25 votes and two SC vetoes. China (more than a billion) has a single vote and a veto. India has a single vote, no veto, Brazil (250 million) a vote, no veto. The US a single vote and a veto. If one counts Russia European the imbalance is even worse.
I think this is a problem not merely from the US POV but globally, but the US is going to have to be a catalyst in it change - why would Europe wish to change NATO or the UN - they benefit far too much from the current constitution.
So the fundamental question this year for me is which candidate is most likely to start the process and serve as a catalyst? McCain will try to patch a fundamentally broken NATO. Clinton also though not as committed to NATO as McCain is. Obama is committed to raising the reputation of the US globally - but has not fundamentally committed himself to anything else including patching NATO or the UN. On the catalyst issue Obama wins by a landslide! Doubt if he can do it by himself, but he can start the process rolling.
More Atlantic Review guest blog posts from Don include:
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