Sunday, April 30, 2006

League of Dictators?

Robert Kagan on why China and Russia will continue to vote against us in the Security Council. An excerpt:

An irony that Europeans should appreciate is that China and Russia are faithfully upholding one cardinal principle of the international liberal order -- insisting that all international actions be authorized by the U.N. Security Council -- in order to undermine the other principal aim of international liberalism, which is to advance the individual rights of all human beings, sometimes against the governments that oppress them. So while Americans and Europeans have labored over the past two decades to establish new liberal "norms" to permit interventions in places such as Kosovo, Rwanda and Sudan, Russia and China have used their veto power to prevent such an "evolution" of norms. The future is likely to hold more such conflicts.

The world is a complicated place and is not about to divide into a simple Manichean struggle between liberalism and autocracy. Russia and China are not natural allies. Both need access to the markets of the liberal West. And both share interests with the Western liberal powers. But as autocracies they do have important interests in common, both with each other and with other autocracies. All are under siege in an era when liberalism does seem to be expanding. No one should be surprised if, in response, an informal league of dictators has emerged, sustained and protected by Moscow and Beijing as best they can. The question will be what the United States and Europe decide to do in response. Unfortunately, al-Qaeda may not be the only challenge liberalism faces today, or even the greatest.

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