National Security Policy: September 2006
Reposting of a comment made 9/02/2006
fantôme de la bibliothèque said...
Mearsheimer’s “central conclusion is that institutions have minimal influence on state behavior and thus hold little promise for promoting stability in the post-Cold War world. He bases this conclusion on the fact that idealistic view of institutionalism is in direct contradiction to the foundations of realism (Mearsheimer 7). For realists, international institutions are used as tools of powerful states as they “create and shape institutions so that they can maintain their share of world power, or even increase it.” The United Nations is a perfect example of Mearsheimer’s view that institutions “mirror the distribution of power in the system (13).” The public perception that the United Nations as an international democratic institution is a sham. While the U.N. General assembly includes representation from 191 states, Article 24 of the U.N. Charter invests greater authority in the U.N. Security Council. As the most influential organ of the United Nations, the Security Council’s veto-wielding permanent five members (the P5) are not representative of the world populations, economic power, or any democratic ideal, but are simply a clear manifestation of power politics. The P5 members are The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and P.R. China. As if a souvenir of colonialism, four out of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are Caucasian and of European origin when the actual population of the world is everything but. Asia alone is more populated than the entire rest of the world combined, sustaining 62.6% of the earth's population in 2002 yet only represents one-fifth of the P5. (I won’t even begin to discuss the reluctance of the UN P5 to admit the People’s Republic of China replacing the United States’ puppet Republic of China (Taiwan) on the P5 in 1971). Africa, who is not at all represented in the P5, is larger and more populated than the entire continent of Europe. Two of the P5 members represent English speaking nations, and two of the members are also members of the European Union.When the United Nations was founded in 1945, human civilization found itself buried underneath the ashes of the Second World War and the victors carried deep resentment toward both Germany and Japan. The five countries that were awarded permanent representation on the Security Council are representative of the post-war allied power structure that stood triumphant at the end of World War Two. Consequently world powers Japan and Germany are not included in the P5. In 2002, the GNI of Japan was more than triple that of P5 members France or the United Kingdom. Germany's national economy is far greater than France, and yet neither Japan nor Germany are apart of the P5.Even though Mearsheimer states that due to Soviet-American competition, the UN “was never seriously tested as a collective security apparatus during the Cold War” (33), he rightly concludes that such an “optimistic assessment of institutions is not warranted.” I believe that the United Nations is a perfect example of an institution that was created, maintained, and dominated by world power politics. In response to Dr. Duke Nukem’s post, for the UN to have a future as a completely legitimate and influential institutional actor in international relations, its very structure and charter would need to be reformed. However, it is highly unlikely that progress will be made because the UN Charter was not intended to be changed easily. With the exception of the addition of new member states, the Charter has never been changed. An amendment to the Charter would require two thirds support in the General Assembly in addition to the full support of the permanent members of the Security Council. Which veto-wielding state is going to allow itself to be removed from the P5 or allow its power to be diminished by the addition of other states? So to answer your question Displayname… I think the UN as a primary example of an international institution proves Mearsheimer’s conclusion that balance of power is the independent variable affecting war and peace, and that “institutions are merely an intervening variable in the process (13).”Mearsheimer described institutions best in one sentence, and this was made apparent in the American unilateral 2003 invasion of Iraq, “What is most impressive about institutions, in fact, is how little independent effect they seem to have had on state behavior (47).”