August 6, 2007

TOO LEGIT TO QUIT:

The Next Intervention (Ivo Daalder and Robert Kagan, August 6, 2007, Washington Post)

To sustain broad, bipartisan support for interventions requires that we rebuild a domestic consensus on a fundamental but elusive issue: the question of legitimacy. [...]

As the war in Kosovo showed, democracies can agree and act effectively even when major non-democracies, such as Russia and China, do not. Because they share a common view of what constitutes a just order within states, they tend to agree on when the international community has an obligation to intervene. Shared principles provide the foundation for legitimacy.

A policy of seeking consensus among the world's great democratic nations can form the basis for a new domestic consensus on the use of force. It would not exclude efforts to win Security Council authorization. Nor would it preclude using force even when some of our democratic friends disagree. But the United States will be on stronger ground to launch and sustain interventions when it makes every effort to seek and win the approval of the democratic world.

Eventually, perhaps, these matters could be addressed and decided in a more formal arrangement, a Concert of Democracies, where the world's democracies could meet and cooperate in dealing with the many global challenges they confront. Until such a formal mechanism has been created, however, future presidents need to recognize that legitimacy matters, and that the most meaningful and potent form of legitimacy for a democracy such as the United States is the kind bestowed by fellow democrats around the world.


They've chosen the right concept but emphasized the wrong aspect. Where Americans consider a regime to be illegitimate--because undemocratic, despotic, etc.--they will support the use of force to change that regime and our leaders will effect it. The blessings of fellow democracies may be preferable, but will never be permitted to be a precondition.



Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2007 4:36 PM
Comments

Why do so many hold this truth to be self-evident?

"But the United States will be on stronger ground to launch and sustain interventions when it makes every effort to seek and win the approval of the democratic world."

Posted by: Benny at August 6, 2007 5:23 PM

The US doesn't need the approval of the democratic world, but the support of American democrats would sure help.

Posted by: Patrick H at August 6, 2007 8:13 PM

Sally Fields Syndrome, they like to be liked.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2007 8:14 PM

Ahhh, the Global Test lives again.

Won't these guys ever learn?

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 7, 2007 1:56 PM

There they go again: more permession slip talk.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 7, 2007 6:06 PM
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