Reformulate the Security Council

Inspired by Thomas Friedman’s column in today’s New York Times, where he advocates the replacement of France with India as a permanent member. Now, I agree with him that the permanent members should be the US, the UK, Russia, China, and India.

Problems? Thoughts?

It’s silly. It all boils down to various people feeling seriously burned that someone like France disagrees with the US.

Silly. Really silly. He doesn’t start from an intelligent position and he makes no argument. Why the UK, rather than Indonesia, if we’re going to play such a game?

The only time we should really even consider it would be if the EU develops into a major foreign policy player, with both the UK and France as full members. At that point, it would make sense to take away one of the EU’s vetoes and give it to someone else.

How are you going to remove France? Is there some clause in the U.N. charter that allows permanent members of the Security Council to be removed?

The argument for having France in the Security Council used to be based on the fact that it was one of the big nuclear powers. Well, now there are lots of nuclear powers. And plenty of countries with larger economies.

If we were going to dole out Security Council seats based on economic power and military power, you could make a good case for Japan to be in the SC, or Israel, or India, or Indonesia.

But you can’t have a security council with 10 veto-wielding powers, or nothing would ever get done. So some big powers are going to be left out.

What Friedman is missing is that France on the SC has become a representative for other like-minded European powers, like Germany. Call it the EU representative. Looked at in that light, France represents a huge part of the world economic and military power.

So you aren’t going to change the structure of the Security Council. But what I see happening is a marginalization of the U.N. If the U.S. goes for a second resolution and France vetos it, the U.S. is likely to pretend to continue to listen to the U.N., but in reality it will no longer really care about anything the U.N. has to say. It will be used when it is useful to the U.S., and ignored when it isn’t. Eventually, the U.N. is going to become a bureaucrat’s playground, full of itself and issuing resolutions right and left - which no one pays any attention to.

Eventually, if a threat grows that requires multi-national cooperation, the U.N. will be bypassed by a new collection of agreements between countries, and will eventually fade from relevance.

My prediction, anyway.

Do you ever check your facts? Ever?

France was one of the charter permanent members of the Security Council right from the UN’s founding in 1945, a number of years before it became a nucular power. The 5 were chosen because they were the major countries on the winning side in WW2. Period. In fact, the Allies were often called the “United Naitons” even before the UN’s official founding.

If you would like to argue for/against changing the situation, fine - but do so honestly, please.

Re the OP, there is certainly something to be said for the Security Council better representing the whole world. That’s what the rotating temporary memberships are all about.

If one, or better yet several, of the nations you’re used to being allied with says you’re wrong, that doesn’t mean they have to be ignored and the system they’re using scrapped as hopelessly defective. It could just mean you’re wrong. Honesty would require considering the possibility, wouldn’t it?

Oh, for Pete’s sake. I know France was a charter member. It was one of the five major ratifying nations at the end of the war. We’re talking about RECENT debates. Like, in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, etc. I’ve had many such debates about the SC, and that was usually the rationalization. We weren’t talking about why France BECAME a member of the SC. We’re talking about justification for its being on the council TODAY.

Off the top of my head, I seem to recall that France became a nuclear power in the late 1960’s. Clearly, ‘nuclear status’ was not even on the radar scope when the SC was formed, because at that time the U.S. was the only nuclear power, and there was no evidence that any other country was even trying. The Soviet Union, also a charter member, did not explode a nuke until the early 1950’s. China had nukes before France did (mid-1960’s).

So, ElvisL1ves manages to distract the conversation once again in yet another misguided attempt to ‘get’ me. Nice try. Now go play with your Lego again, or something. Come back when you have something to actually add to a conversation.

First Soviet bomb: August 29, 1949
First French bomb: February 13, 1960
First Chinese bomb: October 16, 1964


See? I told you it was off the top of my head. The number 1968 stuck in my head for the French bomb. Maybe there was a significant test then or something. Got China right, anyway. If I had given it a bit more thought, I would have realized that the Soviet bomb had to be in the late 1940’s, because they had it before the Korean war.

Try this next time, before basing an argument on your imagination:
It’s your friend. It even takes less time to look it up than to write a post based on a falsity.

You did admit that you hadn’t given this post much thought. The extrapolation of that is left as an exercise for the reader.

Now ask yourself (and don’t tell us, we already know): How much else of what your worldview is based on is not factual?

What the hell are you talking about? You’re the one that jumped on me for making an argument I never made.

You know, this is about the tenth time you’ve dive-bombed a thread to tell me to ‘check my facts’. I can’t remember a single time when I turned out to be wrong. All you do is run around trying to ‘catch’ people you don’t like or don’t agree with. You rarely have anything interesting to contribute. And now you think that you ‘got’ me because of a statement WHICH I CLEARLY STATED WAS OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD AND NOT TO BE TAKEN AS GOSPEL, and which was substantially correct in essence anyway. I was dead on with regards to China’s bomb, off by no more than a couple of years with the Soviet Union, and off by a few years with France. NONE OF WHICH CHANGED THE POINT I WAS MAKING.

For the record, it wouldn’t even have occured to me to think that anyone would think that I was talking about the formation of the U.N., because as I said, it’s obvious to anyone with a high school education that there were no other nuclear powers than the U.S. when the U.N. was formed. So why don’t you just back up your bag of tricks and take a hike?

I think a solid case could be made for giving a permanent seat to India. But, I do think deep down, the five permenent members would rather not rock the boat now. India is seen as historically friendly to Russia, potentially friendly to the United States, having some old issues with the UK, and hostile to China (the percieved backer of Pakistan). I am sure if India joined, China would argue forcefully for Pakistan, or perhaps Iran, or another nation. After all if India is added, some Muslim nations may demand a Muslim voice there (as so many resolutions tend to concern a Muslim nation).

Then why not add a permanent Latin American member (Brazil) or even African nation.

Plus if you kick off France, I see no valid reason for the UK staying in as well, as the two are nearly identical in population, economic strength, and militarily as well. They even have similar “colonial” remnant colonial empires. And I am sure much of the world sees the UK’s vote as a virtual second American vote - whether that is accurate, that is certainly the perception.

France should be kicked off because they are so French!

So are we all in agreement that things aren’t so bad the way they are and any attempt at change would be more complicated than it is worth?

France probably isn’t enough of a global force to merit its veto power anymore (one could legitimately question if it ever was), but India would be a terrible choice to replace it, mostly because China and India both want to be the leading power in that region of the world, and we really, really don’t want the two largest nations in the world fighting eachother.

Germany might make a decent candidate, but they made a mess of the place the last time we let them have a little power. :wink: Seriously, though, that way at least you’d have a legitimate world economic power who still represents the views of that part of Europe.

Japan… not a bad choice. But I don’t know if you want a nation with such limited military power having a permanent seat.

I do agree with the point made above that maybe a South American or African nation would be a good choice. (So long as it has a stable government and isn’t ravaged by AIDS, which thins the pool substantially.)

But it’s all a moot point until the EU becomes enough of a political entity that IT can have a permanent seat on the Council, in place of the UK and France.

I think Sam’s first comment is at the root of the matter here. What is the process, if there even is one, for removing a permanent member of the SC?

Renegotiation of the UN Charter, requiring the consent of all those who have ratified the existing charter.

For that reason, there is no prospect whatsoever of a simple amendment (say) removing France and adding India. The consent of France would not be forthcoming.

It could happen in the context of a larger review of the role and structures of the UN, if the international political will were there. In that scenario France might be pressed to agree, in return for someother concessions, some other role for France and (probably) a change in the functions and power of the Security Council. France (along with other powers) would, of course, have to accept that radical reform of the UN was necessary and desirable before any of this could happen. And this in turn might be the consequence of some catastrophic international crisis which neither the UN as currently constituted or the US found itself able to avert.

Agreed-- it’ll never happen.

I personally think they should change the charter so that all nuclear powers are permanent members of the Security Council. I think this is more realistic than the current arrangement.

SNenc: If past newspaper articles I’ve seen are correct, Japan has one of the world’s largest militaries. And if they fight like they did in 1941-45, Japan has one of the best.