News Release

Is McCain’s “League of Democracies” an Attempt to Kill the UN?


During the first presidential debate, Sen. John McCain repeatedly referred to his proposal for a “League of Democracies.” The following analysts have followed this proposal and can assess it:

Director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carothers wrote the policy brief “Is a League of Democracies a Good Idea?”

Earlier this year he wrote in a piece in the Washington Post: “A puzzle of globalization is that despite the astonishing growth in communication and information flows, Washington lives in a bubble, seeing the world through its own lens, being surprised and disappointed again and again when the world does not conform to U.S. expectations. President Bush’s foreign policy is a study in the bubble approach… In this regard, the declarations and debates about foreign policy in the presidential campaign so far are not especially reassuring. One of the most visible proposals, the calls by experts on both sides of the political aisle and by Sen. John McCain for the establishment of a League of Democracies to tackle the world’s problems, is an example of continued thinking within the bubble.”

Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, Bennis said today: “The idea of a ‘League of Democracies’ is an only slightly more polite way of saying ‘club of all the countries we like, designed to exclude and probably gang up on all the countries “we” don’t like.’

“The irony, of course, is that some of Washington’s best friends — Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan all come to mind — are one-man or one-family dictatorships. The countries often targeted by the U.S. as anti-democratic, but where more or less democratic elections are held, like Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Venezuela, Bolivia and elsewhere, most often elect leaders whose popularity is grounded in saying ‘no’ to Washington’s economic and war policies.
“The United Nations remains the most important, most representative multilateral forum, representing ALL the countries of the world. It’s not functioning very well these days largely because the U.S. has continued its history (which began with U.S. wiretapping of delegates to the very founding convention of the UN in 1945) of attempting to control the global organization even while undermining its legitimacy. A strong United Nations, democratized and reflecting the emerging multi-polar world we live in, would make not only Americans but the far more vulnerable populations around the world, safer, healthier and more secure. A U.S.-dominated ‘league of democracies’ will put all of us at greater risk.”

Bennis is author of Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s UN and Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy U.S. Power.
More Information

Charles Krauthammer, the influential commentator, said on Fox News Channel on March 26, 2008: “Well, I like the idea of the League of Democracies, and only in part because I and others had proposed it about six years ago. What I like about it, it’s got a hidden agenda. It looks as if it’s all about listening and joining with allies, all the kind of stuff you’d hear a John Kerry say, except that the idea here, which McCain can’t say, but I can, is to essentially kill the UN.” See full text and video