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March 05, 2010


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I'd rather we go with Permanent seat expansion, not relinquishing seats. There's a format out there that suggests adding Brazil, India, and Japan, as well as three more rotating seats. And that seems about right; but it's wishes for horses.

And as we all know, the market of speculative pony acquisition has many buyers, but no suppliers.

But where do you stop? The idea of giving Germany a Security Council seat appeals to me, inasmuch as its power holds. But if you do that for Germany, what do you do about Italy? Or Spain? If you add India, then why not Pakistan or Indonesia? Et cetera.

Didn't Brazil leave the League of Nations because it didn't get a permanent seat there?

Did the LON have permanent seats?

Randy, if you're responding to Luke, then I agree. But if you're responding to Wolf's suggestion, then I'll play socratic method: what is the rationale behind a security council consisting of the U.S., E.U., Russia, China, and India?

It's there, with one partial exception. (Yes, the E.U., but only partially.) The only hint I'll give at this stage is that it's one that I suspect troubles you at a fundamental moral level.

And to give another hint, it's a criterion that a line-up of the U.S., France, Russia, China, and India would still fulfill.

You stop where it makes sense; I was just showing one possible option for reform that's been kicking around for at least a decade in various forms as something that makes more sense than India switching in for Britain as a piece of one-off twaddle. As in, this plan is the UN version of fillibuster reform--often talked about, never happens. Other permutations included Australia, which I find funny.

But no, Italy, Spain, and Pakistan don't count (one is the 19th century's Yugoslavia, one is the EU's Florida, and Pakistan is too erratic).

I'd argue nominating Germany since the Euro is run out of their Central Bank, making them more important than France (the 40 year former state championship winner who works at the feed store) or the UK.

If you want real Security Council reform, boost the P-5 to seven seats and offer one per Continent, or P-8 to accomodate China and India. Or everyone with nukes, which might be more entertaining.

I don't think the League of Nations had a security council, at least in the same way. It did have a council that directed the business of the LON assembly, with eight total members, Japan, Italy, Britain and France being Permanent, with Belgium, Brazil, Greece, and Spain as the rotating members. Rotating members were increased to six in 1922, then nine in 1926. Germany became the fifth permanent member in 1926, and later withdrew, of course, as did Japan.

That's a really weird list, btw, even by European standards of the twenties.

Responding to Noel; GDP/Population/Military spending or troops under arms?

FDR's original intention was to have "five policemen" to prevent the outbreak of war. In the decades after the war, the European states have decreased enough force projection (though casting a glance at UN Title VI and VII interventions gives a really weird mix of states) enough that I'd think the mix needs some new players in it where the calculations aren't so much a matter of general state-to-state warfare, but supplying the world's regions with appropriate night watchmen to pre-empt brushfire wars.

Looking at that list at the bottom, everyone has a nuke and an army. Is that what you have in mind?

Noel, nothing about a "U.S., E.U., Russia, China, and India" combination troubles me morally, and swapping Britain out for India doesn't especially excite me either. The Security Council's hardly the CoDominium, and it's not an entity with any democratic legitimacy, either. The whole idea of serious Security Council reform strikes me as a non-starter, not least because picking-and-choosing isn't going to satisfy anyone regardless of the merits of the choices (Luke, Italy and Spain, sure, but which is Yugoslavia and which is Florida, or does each combine elements of both) but because staking the organization's legitimacy on a perfect representation of power structures strikes me as bad. Brazil's withdrawal from the League in 1928 over its failure to secure a seat is a case in point.

Assuming that the European Union ever becomes a body with a coherent foreign policy for its member-states, taking status from Britain and France and giving it to Brussels makes sense. For parismony's sake, sure, giving Britain's seat to India makes sense. India does have the nukes and the power-projection, along with the population, to give it credibility as a guarantor of the world order.

But then, what do you do with Brazil, that BRIC country already arguably stronger than Russia? And with Indonesia, that up-and-coming BRICI (BIIC? BICI? help?) country? And with Japan, and ...

Lol, your Pournelle reference.

Democratic legitimacy isn't exactly necessary for the UN to do things; it needs to have credibility as a decision-making body; either to harness American power, or as framework to help manage China's rise, or whatever. The UN certainly needs some sort of broad retooling, since it's not going to evolve into the a one world government no matter how hard John Birch scowls; unlike the League of Nations, I doubt that anyone is going to leave if they don't get a P Seat on the Council, if only because of norms and the fact that the UN is more far-reaching and powerful and the League ever was.

Pakistan could leave if India got a Permanent Seat, but Pakistan also makes a lot of bank loaning out its soldiers for peacekeeping, and wants to keep that money.

But I think you are speaking at an angle to Noel and I. We've talking about a hypothetical reform and what the criteria might be, and you're poking holes in implementation.

Brazil should get a seat, Russia can keep its seat for now; India and Indonesia could share theirs in rotation, but Japan is irrelevant, as an insular power. The security council ain't kindergarten, where everyone has to feel included, it has to maintain the balance of power and prevent the arrival of a revisionist state regionally and globally. Which means nukes, force projection, and money to pay for that sort of thing.

Italy is Yugoslavia; as in, shouldn't be a country. Spain is Florida, with it's messed up real-estate boom and resulting collapse in housing prices.

Ah! I thought that Spain was Yugoslavia with its multiplicity of autonomous communities, while Italy was Florida with its own tourism issues and its unwelcome boat people.

I see what you mean about criteria vs. implementation. I just don't see any set of non-highly contrived criteria for new Security Council permanent seats that could produce an outcome that the world would accept. I'm also don't think that UNSC reform is necessary, either, since I'm not sure how expansion would improve the functioning of the UN's various agencies. It's a non-issue.

Um. Is this completely off-base for this discussion?

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