November 29, 2004

Multilateralism or Sorority?

Over on Mojo Blog, I've got a few thoughts on what Ukraine says about our rather reactive foreign policy. I'm not sure if Condoleeza Rice can change this, though she does know a thing or two about Moscow.

As an addendum, the whole situation also speaks to the danger of constructing alliances based primarily on personal friendships with other leaders. Not only, as I've said before, is it an extremely volatile way of conducting business, but it means that conflicts of interests tend to get submerged right up until the point where they radically collide. So, for instance, we've done very little to ensure fair elections in the Ukraine before the fact, because it was a below-the-radar event and the White House didn't want to piss Putin off.

But now we're really at loggerheads and the Bush/Putin alliance could conceivably sour over Ukraine, depending on what happens. It's like a little sorority spat (I hate to be sexist, but it is...), and it's a good argument in favor of institutionalizing the sorts of norms and procedures that prevent these conflicts in the first place. This is something I'd like to work on in weeks to come, but in the meantime Ann-Marie Slaughter's A New World Order, which does some sharp thinking about this sort of multilateralism, is worth checking out.
-- Brad Plumer 5:34 PM || ||