Saturday, July 15, 2006

A global mess

Greg Sheridan writes that the world's multinational bodies are impotent in dealing with the explosive world events that have unfolded over the last two weeks. Unfortunately, the alternative to multinationalism, US power, isn't sprinting to the line either:

Global order has traditionally rested on these two pillars: US power, expressed through its alliance system and its state actions, and multilateral institutions such as the UN. Of the two pillars, the US in vastly the more powerful and more important.

But one extremely unpalatable consequence of the Iraq imbroglio seems to be a diminution of US influence in certain parts of the globe.

The multilateral system, on the other hand, works best when it is working in tandem with US power. It's wickedly politically incorrect to say so, but the multilateral institutions set up after World War II were established essentially as a more palatable expression of US power.

Partly because of European irresponsibility, partly because of Chinese obduracy, partly because of US clumsiness, partly because of dedicated Islamist calculation, and for many other reasons besides, the multilateral system is now as often working against US power as with US power.

Whichever way you slice it, the bottom line is that global governance has crucially broken down. This is amply evident in the North Korean missile crisis, the Mumbai bombings and the inter-state conflict growing in the Middle East.

There is no consolation in this for anyone, except perhaps for the progenitors of disorder, the terrorists themselves.

Read it all.


Blogger bubba said...

Both your posts provide some valuable insights, Glenn. Sheridan's is especially valuable.

I think global governance has indeed broken down, and has been that way for quite some time. Hence, the rise of unilateralism.

Blogger PotatoStew said...

Glenn: Would you agree that we (the U.S. and the world) would be in a better, stronger position to deal with these recent problems if we had not invaded Iraq?

Blogger Glenn said...

Bubba, I agree. While we've made our share of mistakes in the US, much of the rest of the world hasn't offered a better alternative.

Europe and others seem convinced that diplomacy is the answer. Diplomacy is needed, but, what it has done is keep putting the lid back on a violently boiling pot. If you have any experience with violently boiling pots, you know that if you can't get the heat turned down, putting the lid back on top may not be the best solution.

Blogger Glenn said...

Stew, I don't think the US invasion of Iraq and the continued fighting of that battle are mistakes.

With that said, we've made plenty of mistakes in Iraq, the worst of which is apparently conveying a sense of weakness to Iran.

As the Sheridan article points out, American mistakes are just one on a long list of reasons why the world is in this dangerous position.


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