Your Picks for the Security Council

Everyone knows that the UNSC reflects a postwar reality of fifty years ago that no longer reflects today’s geopolitics. Unless the ranks of the P5 reflect the world’s real movers and shakers, the risks of it turning into a P1 magnify.

Here are a few morsels for thought.

The US and China should keep their seats. The rest should be tossed out on their respective ears. They should be replaced by:

[li]India: Huge nuclear democracy with a developed technology sector and the potential for enormous growth. When given requisite authority and restraints, India could me a major force for regional stability.[/li][li]Brazil: Huge economy, survived the Argentinian shakeup, and with Lula at the helm, everyone seems more confident. Its position in South America is preeminent.[/li][li]Japan: Yes, Japan. Despite its liquidity crisis, it is extremely wealthy. It is past time that the United States and Japan reevaluate their security treaties so Japan can assert itself as an internationally sovereign power.[/li][/ul]

What do you think?

You’re saying that Brasil is more of a global mover and shaker than the UK, Russia or France?

I do not so much mind the current line-up (assuming relevancy at all) but I do think the power of veto has got to go. It seems anachronistic, in this age, to allow one or more powers to override others in this way.

The US, China, Russia,India, Japan and the EU (leave it to them to decide how to use their seat)

Of course Britain and France would never agree to this.

US, Britain, Russia, Japan, India. France never deserved veto powers in the first place, and I don’t think an oppressive communist regime like China should have the power and responsibility that a veto brings with it in this day and age.

I do, however, agree with the idea that if the EU keeps on its current path, it should be regarded as one nation in matters of security. To do otherwise is comparable to allowing the US 50 votes to represent each state.


I think giving Britian a permanent seat without France or Germany is rather ridiculous. How is it geopolitically more significant? Of course it toes the US lies quite reliably but that is hardly a point to its advantage as an independent force.

BTW if you had to pick one country to represent Europe the logical choice would be Germany. It has the largest population and economy. It’s at the geographical heart of Europe and more infuential within the EU than , say , Britain. It’s only disadvantage compared to Britain and France is its lack of nuclear weapons which doesn’t much matter because the British and French nuclear arsenals hardly play a big practical role in world military affairs.

I pick Britain over the other European nations because it’s the only one that both takes national defense and foreign relations seriously, and has the firepower to back it up.


I think they should give the EU seat to Italy. Just because I think it would be amusing.

“because it’s the only one that both takes national defense and foreign relations seriously, and has the firepower to back it up.”
How so?
Germany and France have roughly the same level of defense spending as the UK and they take foreign relations about as seriously whatever that means.

This is not really a useful question, Neurotik. Russia, UK, and France are bigger movers and shakers largely because they are permanent members of the security council.

But Russia’s economy is the size of Belgium’s, and Chirac’s vitriolic remarks to prospective EU countries in the east reveal just how much the center of European gravity, as it were, is shifting to the east. I do not believe that Franco-German relations will continue to be the linchpin of Europe for too much longer, and France is using its seat to delay the change.

I admit, Brazil is perhaps the most brazen choice, but I think it is future-looking. When the dust settles on South America, it will very likely undergo an economic renaissance akin to that of South Asia. Should that happen, Brazil will make South Korea look about as powerful as Tierra del Fuego.

Yes, France and Germany have comparable military expenditures to the UK. However, Germany has an attitude of “War is never the answer”, which is horribly naive, and not conducive to a sound foreign policy. And Francec is using the Iraq situation as an opportunity to play power politics and an attempt to forge a French supremecy in the EU. Meanwhile, they pretend that they’re obeying some higher moral code by opposing the war, when it has everything to do with French prestige and those precious Iraqi oil contracts. Yeah, they take foreign relations really seriously.

“However, Germany has an attitude of “War is never the answer”, which is horribly naive, and not conducive to a sound foreign policy”
Both Germany and France supported the war against Afghanistan.

“And Francec is using the Iraq situation as an opportunity to play power politics and an attempt to forge a French supremecy in the EU”
An alternative interpretation is that they simply believe that a war against Iraq will make matters worse in the region, provoke more terrorism etc.
Besides you could just as well argue that the US is playing power politics and seeking to extend its influence in the Middle East.

As I suspected your main objection to France and Germany is that they don’t toe the US line and take an independent stance on foreign policy. Disagreeing with the US apparently means not being serious about foreign policy. But actually the opposite is true; it’s precisely the fact that they are willing to stand up to the US ,on an issue where there is widespread skepticism about US policy, that they are taken seriously. The UK ,at least on this issue, is widely perceived as being just a lackey.

There are a couple of more reasons why France and Germany would make better permanent members than Britain:
Both of them are original members of the EU and members of the European Monetary Union unlike the UK. In general they have much more influence within the EU than Britain. Since the seat is really a proxy for Europe they are more logical choices assuming you have to give it just one country.

Yes, I’ll agree that it is difficult to seperate the current situation from a hypothetical one where they don’t have the veto. I’ll come back to this in a minute.

**I think that the case could be made for Russia to be replaced by someone, but the question is who. While Russia is currently a mess, it has just as much potential to become a major force as Brasil or India within the next few decades.

I also think that your analysis of power in Europe is incorrect. The Chirac comments had very little to do with a supposed shift in the gravity of power, and almost everything to do with trying to nip American influence in the US in the bud. Particularly when the influence promotes policy initiatives that are opposed to those of France. If the Franco-German axis is not the linchpin of Europe for the next 50 years at least, it will be because either the UK has finally stepped up to take its place as a leader or because the French and Germans can no longer agree on policy and break into national factions.

That’s true, but Brasil already has a higher GDP and economic growth rate than South Korea. And South Korea isn’t exactly considered a world power on the scale of the US, Japan or even a vetoless UK or France.

Let’s break it down, though. Out of Brasil, China, France, India, Japan, Russia and the UK - only Japan has a higher GDP than France or the UK, although China comes close (it is at least in the trillions). Russia comes out on the bottom. Although they have something called a purchasing power parity of 1.2 trillion, but I’m not sure what that means. State had it listed in parantheses next to GDP, though, so it may be something relevent.

In terms of military strength, though, the UK and France jump up and down over both India and Brasil. Japan has the technology and the economic strength to become a military equal within a few years - however, it is constitutionally prohibited from doing so, although there has been talk of reinterpreting the Constitution to do this. Furthermore, Japan’s reliance on the US for security has allowed it to reinvest a lot of money back into the economy. Again, while Russia’s military is currently messed up, I think that that will clear up when the economy does in the next few years.

The problem is that you are nominating Brasil and India by keeping in mind “potential” but there are a lot of countries out there with potential to become world powers - including Russia. Japan could very easily be deserving of veto power if it weren’t for constitutional concerns. But they are there, so I’m not sure they measure up.

There are also regional influence that must be taken into consideration. The UK is the head of the Commonwealth (or at least the principle player) giving them more global influence than either India, Brasil or Japan. Moreover, France is the main leader in Europe with or without it’s SC veto, due to its size, economy and lack of constitutional prohibitions on military matters. They have more influence in Europe than either India, Brasil or Japan - more so now that Europe is becoming more integrated.

I’m just not sure that at this time there are better candidates for veto power than France, the UK or Russia. Maybe in a few decades, but not right now.

This is all just food for thought, like I said above. The truth is, I am not entirely sure where I stand.

On the other hand, I don’t believe that Russia is nearly as far along as either Brazil or India. Its judicial and legislative reforms have been largely specious, and its inability to manage even a relatively small military operation in Chechnya do not commend it to a permanent seat.

See, I don’t view it this way at all. The eastern countries are angry, very angry that they are not eligible to receive the gigantic and dare I say abusive agricultural subsidies that France does, yet they are compelled by their membership to foot the bill for them, anyway. I believe that this encourages them to act in concert as a counterweight to France. This opens the door for US influence, but to me, this is a symptom rather than a cause of France’s concern.

I am not sure if I agree with this. Germany itself is about to be riven with serious economic problems: while its last two quarters of negative growth are bad, its labor laws and declining population growth are much worse. The current labor pool will not be able to pay for this generation’s social benefits for pensioners, and when this finally happens, I believe Germany will endure a social crisis. This will render it unable to lead Europe, and France is hardly weighty enough to pick up the slack. And with trouble on the horizon with respect to the subsidies and the possible loosening of EU budget constraints, who knows.

Sure, it’s government is still relatively authoritarian and it is still recovering from a devastating economic crisis. Not to mention a pesky northern neighbor. But when the dust settles on that conflict, I think SK will be able to exert considerably more leverage.

FYI: Purchasing Power Parity is the theory that identical goods and services should cost the same amount regardless of the country you are in, and thus should minimize the arbitrage of buying in one country and selling in another. While this theory ignores things like taxes and tariffs, it is helpful because it translates per capita incomes into one currency, thus giving you a better idea of real purchasing power. So countries that have much lower per capita income can have more PPP than supposedly richer countries.

As for the above analysis, well, it is indubitably correct. However, I think it is time to recognize that such aggregate measurements of a country’s wealth are not nearly as useful as they once were. The concept of GDP was developed during WW2 in England, and measures nothing so much as a country’s capacity to wage war at a particular moment in time. There appears to be a growing disjuncture between GDP and actual military capability. Hence I just don’t think it’s a useful measure for this sort of thing anymore.

You’re right, I do talk about about potential. I think there are a few reasons for this. The two biggies have already been discussed: potential would be realized with greater authority and that existing tools of measurement are inadequate to the task.

I also think that Brazil and India are geopolitically well poised, in that they are both commanding nations over enormous populations and collections of nation-states.

I don’t really know how you can measure Britain’s influence over the commonwealth, particularly since the very same nations are bound together by overlapping layers of treaty obligations. My gut tells me that the US’ captaincy of NATO compels commonwealth countries more than Britain’s titular position in the commonwealth.

And France’s political leadership of the EU is tenuous at best. This is a subjective judgment, of course, but the governmental support of the war in Iraq by Spain and Italy and Chirac’s imprudent remarks reveal, IMHO, France’s weakness.

Both Brazil and India, on the other hand, are enormous, populous multi-ethnic sprawls poised right in the middle of the developing world. They have huge resources, huge markets, and when tapped, are powerful forces of democracy and economic liberation. They do not have Europe’s post-colonial tarnish nor navel-gazing hesitation to assume military leadership of the world.

[sub]By the way, I just passed the FS oral exam…Be seeing you in a year or two.[/sub]

Yes, that’s an alternative interpretation. It’s also wrong.

Quite ironic that you should say that, given France’s behavior towards the Eastern European countries. To paraphrase: “If you disagree with us, we won’t let you into the EU.” And to the anti-Americans in Europe, anyone who agrees with the US is a lackey. That speaks more of the European mentality than it does of the supposed “lackeys”.

Yes, but Europe is pretty much divided into “Britain”, “Eastern Europe”, and “the rest of Western Europe”. Of the “rest of Western Europe” subset, yes, France is dominant (which is exactly how they plan to keep it). However, France and Co’s opinion of the UK doesn’t make the UK any less responsible on the world front, not France any more responsible. When your three kids are whining in unison, they may hold the majority, but that doesn’t mean you want them making the important decisions.

If France had its way, the inspectors would go away, France would keep its oil contracts, continue selling weapons to Saddam, and everyone would just ignore Iraq. How is this responsible? It’s possible to be opposed to the US’s current course of action for legitimate and sound reasons. France’s reasons are legitimate, I suppose, as far as naked realpolitik goes. That doesn’t make them wise, though.

Ironically, the only ones practicing naked realpolitik are the Americans. I believe France is leading an experiment to bring the world out of the nation-state system that the United States is doggedly persisting in.

“Yes, that’s an alternative interpretation. It’s also wrong.”
Gee that’s some very sophisticated analysis right there.

"If France had its way, the inspectors would go away, France would keep its oil contracts, continue selling weapons to Saddam, and everyone would just ignore Iraq. "
Actually France is arguing for an extension of inspections. It’s the US which wants inspections to stop. France is not selling any weapons to Iraq AFAIK. Do you have any clue what you are talking about?

“When your three kids are whining in unison,…”
Ooh. Some more sophisticated foreign policy analysis.

I don’t want this become a debate about Iraq. Needless to say I think it’s the current policy of the Bush administration that’s irresponsible. Regardless of that you haven’t presented any arguments for why France is less serious in its foreign policy than the US or UK.

“Yes, but Europe is pretty much divided into “Britain”, “Eastern Europe”, and “the rest of Western Europe”. Of the “rest of Western Europe” subset, yes, France is dominant (which is exactly how they plan to keep it).”
This is a rather nonsensical piece of analysis. Britain is just one country. Why does it get the same kind of status as entire regions like Western Europe or Eastern Europe? Anyway the point is that France and Germany are at the core of the EU in a way in which Britain, partly out of choice, is not. This gives them greater institutional leverage. Their participation in the EMU alone makes a big difference.

Hey! Congrats! Get your medical exam done ASAP, and don’t wait like I did (due to a miscommunication). It’ll screw everything up. Just a tip.

How did you know I had passed the exam?

I still haven’t started training, btw. So you may be seeing me sooner than you expect. Hopefully that starts soon.

Anyway, I’ll come back to this thread later in the evening after I do some chores.