|Okay, here goes:|
Nick's comments in bold
By more complex standards, the ethnic diversity of Europe is staggering. Your inability to conceptualise this actually makes the point very well - America is at a grave disadvantage in the arena of dealing with a multilateral world.
The ethnic diversity of Europe is staggering, yes. But this diversity (just as in the US) doesn't necessarily filter down to the ruling class. Look, obviously Finns are different than Greeks, etc., but the point I'm trying to make is that relative to the world as a whole, the composition of EU member nations make it just as provincial as the US. All of the nations of the EU are industrialized democracies of some flavor, and occupy geographic territory that was until quite recently dominated by Christianity in terms of religion. That's hardly more multilateral than the US in outlook. Trees, meet the Forest.
Because we don't trust you, sport. Your nation, from the outside, looks like as much of a potential problem as Syria. It's that simple.
First, what do you mean by "we," Western man? The EU? Or the disenfranchised of the world? If the former, I think you're overstating the case a bit. The EU was all about Clinton. The leaders of Europe loved that guy. They're less fond of Bush, who from the outset was painted as provincial and unilateralist (right and right). A smiling face (Clinton) following the same plot as Bush now would probably get a much warmer reception from the EU than Bush is getting. That's not to say that Bush's plot is morally defensible.
If your answer is the latter, do you think the EU is more trusted in the developing world than the US? There's probably little differentiation between the two.
As for the US looking on the outside the same as Syria, I grant you that being a citizen of the US, this notion may involve some cognitive dissonance that is simply very, very difficult for me to process. I will cop to not liking/believing that the US is terrorist . This undoubtedly has something to do with my traditional political education and belief that the State is the only proper repository for the people's recourse to violence when defending their rights.
I've gone on quite long enough to make the point: the US is currently behaving in a way which is not conducive to the good of the world or even its own citizens. Some US policies need to be checked, and for that to be done through a discursive organisation like the UN seems preferable to the other methods on show. For that to work, the UN has to be a level playing field.
Um, show me a single US policy I've defended in the posts above. I was defending a principle, simply put, that from great power comes great responsibility. Yes, the US needs to be checked. But checked by Syria? Checked by Iraq?
The UN is realpolitik diguised as "a discursive organization". How else would the US be checked in the UN except by the actions of "selfish nation state actors"? You've all but ceded that's what the UN is made up of. If you want to say that the US being checked by the UN is a positive, then you implicitly endorse the tool of realpolitick. (digression - US democracy, as envisioned by the Federalists, is precisely the pitting of selfish actors against one another. Perhaps there is no other kind of democracy then, and we're both idealists).
Which is, as I said , a tool for understanding and acting on the geopolitical situation, not the tool. Whether you see realpolitik as a "testosterone fantasy" or not is irrelevant; the majority of security decisions made by national actors are informed by it. So a global actor, be it the US, the EU or whoever, better understand its ramifications on a higher level than as simply a discursive binary function.
Where did you get the idea that the UN is about Democracy? It's about the maintenance of international peace and security. It's a clearing house for crises, not a world parliament.
I certainly don't think the UN is about democracy; I said that the patina of democracy is spread over realpolitk-derived politcs in UN resolutions. It has the aura of democracy but not the substance. How is that a good thing?
At the very least, the U.S. has the mechanism for checks and balances so that a consensus can emerge. A mechanism which is currently not being used, as was ably pointed out in Charles Levendosky's article
If it's not being used, then how was this article even written? The US is (relatively) transparent - call me naive, but I think by the structure of our government the truth will (eventually) out.
Such a duty would be a duty of stewardship, and for precisely the same reasons that the legislature and judiciary are intended to check the power of the executive under the US system, other nations would be needed to check the power of the US, and could only do so on an equal footing.
I certainly agree with the first part of this sentence. However, in order for me to agree with the second part, we need to define which "other nations" should be able to check the US, and who has "equal" footing.
I'm a democratic chauvinist; I admit that and will take any lumps you care to dish out over that fact. I'm sure it would be relatively easy to come up with counterexamples of why democracy isn't necessarily the best form of government. But, I believe that only democracies can truly be eqaul to each other. It's the SNAFU principle of RAW: communication is only possibly among equals - and in this case an equal is a nation who gives its people a voice. In effect, its not the nations that are equal but the people who are. A modest sentiment. (to head off any criticism, I would of course say that the people of Syria are equal to the people of the US. But their government deprives then of that equality by disenfranchising them).
However, this modest sentiment is counteracted by realpolitik. I can't ignore China and treat them as unequal. They're too powerful. I either have to go to war with them, overtly or covertly, or bestow on them a patina of equality. I may not like it, but there's no real choice. This is the mechanism, as you say, that gave rise to Pinochet, Noriega, etc. (Musharraf? Karzai?).
Perhaps the EU, as a conglomeration of Democracies and a potential realpolitik-style threat, can "check" the US. However (and this is the crux of my very first post), we've seen what happens when one superpower attempts to check another. It ain't pretty. Again, to circle back, I fail to see why the multilateral composition of the EU would prevent it from acting in a paternalistic fashion. Once it uses its muscle to check the US, there's no real turning back. One's only hope would be that the EU would be a more "benevolent" superpower than the US(which is, I suspect, what EU partisans in this threat are implying). But can a superpower act much differently than the US?
I'd welcome the chance to unpack anything you need to see clarified. Thanks for waiting for this.