On the eve of the President's Address to the Nation, Pundita thought it would be a good idea to prepare her readers for what's ahead on the foreign policy front. But first a few asides:
Fame is a harsh master, particularly when one counts a thin-skinned laboratory rat among one's loyal readers. Pundita has had to fall back on creativity when delivering insults -- having struck rat, donkey, weasel, wolf, vulture, and even snake from her arsenal; this, in the effort to avoid reading hate mail written with truly atrocious spelling. In this post I will experiment with using "weevil" as an invective, and hope that flies under Rugby's radar.
Now I will attempt to head off the Society for Short Words: No, I can't substitute "teamwork" for "multilateralism" because a team has a leader. The whole point of the multilateralism doctrine is that no country should lead the others.
And a few words to the Organization for Clear Thinking: Yes Pundita understands that the concept of "multipolarity" tends to undercut the concept of "poles." But those most responsible for promoting the term "multipolarity" as the defining reason for multilateralism do not have clear thinking as their goal. Their goal is bringing about gridlock in foreign relations across the globe.
Now who would want to do such a thing? The weevils among us. Who are the weevils? No, it's not Jacques Chirac and his crowd. And it's not Noam Chomsky and his crowd. Today's Leftists and the wonks connected with the Chirac School are now simply dupes for the weevils.
The weevils work for the biggest bucks transnational corporations and are charged with burrowing through foreign and domestic government legislation and WTO rulings that hamper their company's global business plans.
Weevils have a simple operating philosophy: No government, let alone a coalition of governments, is capable of running the world with any semblance of sense. In their view, the most that can be done is to keep things down to dull roar, so that businesspeople can go about their business. How to hamstring foreign relations policies across the international board? Instigate gridlock on a global scale.
The weevils are an inevitable byproduct of globalization. If American readers stop and think about it, the gridlock strategy has long been in effect in the US for keeping Congress on a leash. If you're an American running big business here, the best way to block a lot of government interference is to bring about gridlock in Congress by giving money in equal measure to both sides of an issue.
The weevils have transferred that tactic to a strategy for keeping the world's governments on a leash. They've hit on the concept of multilateralism, which is in essence just a strategy. Of course, all governments try to get as many other governments on board for a foreign relations initiative. However, the weevils promote an actual doctrine of multilateralism -- a philosophy of foreign relations, if you will.
Before discussing the philosophy, is there anything terribly wrong with the basic weevil viewpoint? After all, it's true that historically governments screw up many foreign policy initiatives, which leads to a bigger mess than the one targeted for solution. So why not find a way to get everything done by committee, which guarantees gridlock?
In a perfect world, the weevils have a sound point, but consider just a few of the failures of the multilateralism doctrine: the ongoing genocide in Darfur, the failed Six Party Talks involving North Korea; the failure of the EU3 to rein in Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program, the collapse of the Doha Round, and ineffectiveness of the UN Security Council.
This is not a perfect world, and when megabucks transnational corporations get into deep trouble they run to their government to get them out of the jam. Ayn Rand was right: at the end of the maze of compromises always stands a thug in a cheap leather coat holding a gun on you.
Yet the weevils see multilateralism as a guiding philosophy of foreign relations and what's more, as the only moral philosophy for the modern era. This, despite the ruthless amorality of the multilateralism doctrine, which the Chirac School promoted.
Weevil Multilateralism doctrine, shall we call it in order to distinguish it from mere strategy, wraps itself in a cloak of morality on the theory that all good comes from bowing to the inevitable -- whatever the inevitable might be.
In this case, multipolarity is seen as the inevitable course of world affairs: the singular unchallenged power of the United States ("unipolarity") gives way to rising powers such as the European Union, Russia, China, India, Brazil, and from regional blocs in Asia and Latin America. So the locus of power will be multipolar, goes the argument.
Therefore, argue the Weevils, the only way to preserve order in a multipolar world is for the world's hyperpower (that's the United States) to do everything on the world stage by international committee and without a committee chair. That's an oversimplification or the bald truth, depending on how steeped you are in diplo-think. But it's in the ballpark.
I add that the Weevils are very serious. Some have gone so far as to brand the United States as evil for not re-embracing multilateralism, despite its failures. Multilateralist doctrine was practiced by the Bush 41 and Clinton governments. Yet it has been thoroughly discredited in the post 911 era.
How do the Weevils justify the failures? They argue that America was not practicing true multilateralism during the 1990s; we actually practiced hegemony. We just pretended to be multilateral; ergo, Americans brought 9/11 on themselves and inflicted all present-day evils on the world.
If you think I am making up any of this argument, you just wait until the next G8 summit and the runup to the US presidential election campaign.
Now how can you distinguish a weevil from a garden variety businessperson? Ask him whether he'd rather be stuck on a desert island with Osama bin Laden or President George W. Bush. If he tells you he'd rather kill himself than make that choice, ask him for his thoughts on multilateralism.
The idea underpinning the modern multilateralist doctrine, as promoted by the Chirac School, is that a country's global trade is the only objective criterion for admitting a government to decision-making on issues impacting the globe.
There is no greater enemy of the human rights movement, genuine democracy, and human progress than that idea. Yet the idea is pushed as the only way to avert wars over energy resources and water rights and save the world from onrushing chaos. There are many persuasive people pushing the idea and while relatively few are actual weevils, they are perfect dupes for the weevils.
As to what you can do to bring the weevils up short -- you can ask them whether they'd like to see their children indoctrinated by Osama bin Laden. The choice is not between Bush's Preemption Doctrine and world peace. The choice is between slavery and the freedoms that made globalized business possible.
You can also study the essay by the Belmont Club writer that inspired the Pundita blog, and which I re-read whenever I feel overwhelmed by the fight. More than any other analysis I've come across, Pro and Contra defines the real battlefield of foreign policy ideas in this century.