November 16, 2004

Not multilateralism

David Ignatius may be right and Franco-American relations might be getting better—even on Iraq. But this misses the point. The entire Kerry-Bush debate about "bringing in allies" missed the point. We don't want an international order where trans-Atlantic cooperation depends entirely on whether or not the President of the United States gets along on a personal level with the President of France. Nor do we want an order where cooperation occurs only when countries like France and Germany have nowhere else to go.

What we want is an international order where these sorts of cooperative mechanisms are structural, and thus largely independent of the rather capricious personalities of world leaders. Multilateralism has nothing to do with cozying up to your allies and everything to do with making that cozying an institution. It's a distinction that Bush doesn't quite grasp, and it's going to lead to more problems down the road—what happens, for instance, the next time Donald Rumsfeld pisses off Paris with some rash maneuver? We're right back to huffing and puffing, that's what.
-- Brad Plumer 4:44 PM || ||