Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 28, 2008
By: Cheryl Rofer

NO THANKS, WE'VE GOT ONE ALREADY...A League of Democracies, that is.

John McCain and others frustrated by the need to do diplomacy and work with other countries keep putting forth the idea of a League of Democracies. That would be the guys in the white hats who would agree with the United States and offer up their armies when the United States wants to depose another dictator. Or cooperate in trade sanctions. Or something.

But it turns out that we have had The Community of Democracies since 2000. You haven't heard much about them, because they haven't done much.

The Department of State's website doesn't list the members, just mentions 100 nations and 140 nations that were invited to previous meetings. Accomplishments so far include missions to East Timor and Tblisi, Georgia. No mention of what the missions were for.

h/t to Thomas Carothers in a WaPo op-ed.

Cheryl Rofer 10:29 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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"League of Democracies"

Excellent -- when do we get our tights and capes? Do we get superpowers when we join up, or is that part of the pre-qualification?

"Gosh, Miss Lane, Do we really have a man running for President who thinks in terms of superhero comics?"

"Why yes, Jimmy. We do."

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

We're like Groucho, we would only join a club that wouldn't have us as a member.

Posted by: achilles on May 28, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Does Hamas, since it was democratically elected, get to be a member?

Posted by: Ugly Moe on May 28, 2008 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Dang it thersites, that's exactly what came to my mind when I read "League of Democracies". I even grabbed a link...


Posted by: ckelly on May 28, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I know GWB and a hand full of neo-nutjobs believe talking to our adversaries is "bad, banddd, I tell you, just like that Chamberlain appeasement fellow who talked to the Nazis and gave them some country in Europe," but when did the rest of the foreign policy establishment become delusional.

Could somebody tell George that Chamberlain's mistake was not in talking to Hitler. His mistake was in making an unnecessarily crappy deal.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 28, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

If there is truly a Community of Democracies, why have they not imposed sanctions on the US to force it out of Iraq?

Posted by: Brojo on May 28, 2008 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

While the foreign policy types are talking to George they can include his identical cousin John in the discussion.

By the way, being the pilot of an attack bomber does does not prove John has stepped over the foreign policy threshold.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 28, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

We have a league of democracies for ya, it's called the International Court of Justice. Have a seat at the dock, er, head table here, and tell us again how you were so tough, and you took the gloves off and you saved us.

Posted by: achilles on May 28, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

If this is where the Aussies were authorized to lead the mission to East Timor that ended the repression there, then I applaud it, notwithstanding the fact that as currently proposed McCain means to use such an idea to avoid the necessity for diplomacy, which is a really bad idea.

Posted by: Eric on May 28, 2008 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Eh, I don't think so. The link says something about the US and Portugal leading the mission. It says the group carried thoughts and observations.

Posted by: Cheryl Rofer on May 28, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'd reckon a 'League of Democracies' would recognize the democratically elected Hamas government of Palestine?

Oh wait, yeah, that's different.


Posted by: Buford on May 28, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly: Great minds and all that.

Posted by: thersites on May 28, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Frustrated by the need to do diplomacy? How ignorant are you? Are you aware that every American president from Jimmy Carter on, up to and including President Bush, has sought to draw the Iranian government into diplomatic discussions, and that every such overture has been rejected out of hand? What type of diplomacy are you talking about? Unilateral disarmament?

Posted by: DBL on May 28, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK


Could you please provide the link to a source that says membership in the ICJ is limited to judges from democratic nations? I was under the impression that judges could come from any country. Thanks.

Posted by: DBL on May 28, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

East Timor is a razed nation with oil and gas deposits. Tblisi's electricity distribution company was privatized and purchased by the American company, AES. Just follow the money.

Posted by: mbp on May 28, 2008 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

It's only "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" that can put things right. Just get Connery and he'll slap some sense into those silly Persians.

Posted by: Bluestatedon on May 28, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

>"every such overture has been rejected out of hand"

Hmmm... trolling?

The neocon hero Reagan negotiated with Iran for the hostage release (before he was even president) and then sold them weapons in violation of US law.

My recollection is that various 'diplomatic overtures' offered by the USA had a list of extensive preconditions that would render them unacceptable to most any soverign nation.

That's a common technique for letting a regime say 'we tried'... when they really didn't want to try at all. A good example is what Bush did to Iraq in the run-up to war.

Posted by: Buford on May 28, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Good question! Accepting ICJ jurisdiction means you have to hold still for "general principles of law recognized by civilized nations," sez the statute. If America gets to be a democracy while shitting all over those principles (well, really, mainly shitting on ICCPR Arts. 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, and 22), I'm at a loss to think of any place that isn't a democracy too.

Posted by: achilles on May 28, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Feeding the Troll.

Soon after the Iraq invasion, Iran put out word that they were willing to talk to the US and that everything (nukes, support for Hezbollah, recognition of Israel) was on the table. In response, the Bush administration chastised the Swiss for passing on the information (the Swiss have been the go betweens for US relations with Iran since the revolution). The hawks in the administration apparently thought that Iran on the verge of collapse and that there was no need to talk.


Bush threw away the best chance to get some progress with Iran. Instead he helped get Ahmadinejad elected.

Posted by: Nick on May 28, 2008 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

List of members (possibly incomplete): http://www.state.gov/g/drl/44739.htm

Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia

Posted by: Michael on May 28, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Adelle on March 11, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK
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