To better illustrate my point about international organizations not having the enforcement mechanisms necessary to solve problems, look no further than to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This is the court that allows for countries to prosecute leaders who commit terrible atrocities, similar to the Hague. For a little history, the ICC was established in 1998 in an effort to streamline the prosecution process. It is separate from the U.N. The trick with the ICC is that countries must vote to be a part of the organization. 120 countries belong to the court. The U.S. does not.
So, if a case is brought against a U.S. leader for war crimes, the U.S. does not have to comply. Even a member state that belongs to the court does not have to comply with the arrest warrant. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is supposed to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but he has not been turned over by Sudan or any other nation. So, he just sits comfortably as the president of his country. Kenya wants to leave the ICC, and its parliament just issued a decry to withdraw from the court. It’s prime minister has not acted on the measure.
Both these examples give a sense of the weakness in regards to the ICC. The court cannot enforce its arrest warrants and countries do not have to comply with the rulings. Since there is no “world police” it is impossible to do any enforcement measures. Sadly, this is the downfall of the U.N., the World Trade Organization (WTO), and Basel. Without having an enforcement mechanism, policies cannot be acted upon and only recommendations can be made. It is the difference between a think thank, like the Brookings Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the CATO Institute, just to name a few, and congress. Congress can implement policies and enforce them. Think tanks can only make recommendations and not pass laws. Without enforcement, everything is just talk and no action.
The media’s overhype of the Wikileaks document dump brings about a sudden disappointment for those who wanted to read a good mystery about the State Department and its internal workings. When they said “secrets” would be revealed, I thought it would be more about secret assassination attempts or secret coups plotted by the CIA or State Department. Instead, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has produced nothing more than a series of embarrassing comments made by various diplomats. This does not put the U.S. intelligence in any mortal danger, but it does reveal to the world how much the diplomatic community is very much like a bunch of teenage girls giggling over goofy secrets and spreading gossip about certain authoritarian dictators.
Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post expressed similar sentiments when she wrote:
I’m sure the Russian people will be shocked—shocked!—to discover that U.S. diplomats think the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, “plays Robin to Putin’s Batman.” Italians will be equally horrified to learn that their prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is considered “feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader,” just as the French will be stunned to hear President Nicolas Sarkozy called “thin-skinned and authoritarian.” As for the Afghans, they will be appalled to read that their president, Hamid Karzai, has been described as “an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts.”
And anyone perusing the semi-secret diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks this week will find more of the same. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is a “crazy old man.” Muammar Qaddafi of Libya travels with a “voluptuous blonde” whom he describes as his “senior Ukrainian nurse.” In the coming days, there will be many things to say about the specific details of these newly public documents. But before we get into all that, let’s not lose the main point: Above all, this leak contains a treasure trove of things people regularly say off the record that they never say in public. These aren’t records of human-rights abuses, they are accounts of conversations. And—just like July’s WikiLeaks revelations about Afghanistan—this one confirms much that was publicly known, openly discussed, and even written about before.
Let’s face it, the international community is a political community. People backstab and talk “shit” about one another. So instead of drooling over which diplomat will sit at the cool kids table, Wikileaks should find something more substantive for the world to see. Otherwise, Assange’s attempt to be the next Daniel Ellsberg, the man who smuggled out the infamous Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam era, will be nil.
Photo Credit: Forbes
Once again, today is going to be a very busy day for me. There will also not be a “Morning Memo” today. In light of that, I have decided to post another video. This one stars a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar. He has been a prominent spokesperson for nuclear nonproliferation and a great bipartisan leader in international relations. I hope you enjoy it!
The Weekly Standard has a story on their website about Russia selling weapons to Venezuela who is also selling weapons to Iran an other countries the U.S. does not like. It says:
Since 2005, Venezuela has spent $4.4 billion on Russian weaponry, making it Latin America’s biggest consumer of Russian military hardware. This new purchase will be completed through a credit of an additional $2.2 billion Moscow is granting Caracas. A total of $6.6 billion worth of new weaponry is an awful lot for a country that has not fought a war since its independence from Spain in 1821. While Chávez has said that he is arming his citizen militias, known as Bolivarian Circles, rumor has it that the weapons may also be going to agents and fighters from the Colombian FARC, Hezbollah and Cuban security and intelligence services, whose numbers, according to many think tanks and U.S. securitysources, have swelled in Venezuela. Interpol confirmed evidence that Venezuela has funneled well over $300 million to the FARC and has built an ammunition plant to supply AK-103s, the FARC weapon of choice. In tandem with Venezuela’s military buildup, Chávez’s avowed support for the FARC is a real worry for Colombia as well as Washington, which sees Colombia as its closest regional ally.
Venezuelan money has also been flowing into Iran. In July 2010, the EU ordered the seizure of all the assets of the Venezuelan International Development Bank, an affiliate of the Export Development Bank of Iran, one of 34 Iranian entities implicated in the development of nuclear or ballistic missile technology. Even as Caracas denied that the bank had any ties to Iran’s nuclear program, it had already been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
While these budding alliances between Moscow, Tehran and Caracas are of serious concern to the international community, it is unclear what will come of the nuclear deal with Russia. Among other things, since Venezuela isn’t meeting its OPEC quotas, it doesn’t seem to have the money to pay for the reactors; moreover, as I wrote last week, there is evidence that Chávez may find himself out of office with the 2012 elections.
Indeed, it’s not clear how these commercial, military and energy accords will play domestically. Chávez rationalizes that the nuclear program is necessary in a country like Venezuela that regularly suffers energy shortages. But those shortages result from a lack of investment in infrastructure. After all, in addition to enormous oil and natural gas reserves, Venezuela has some of the greatest hydroelectric dams in the world—which are poorly maintained and often not working properly. And now instead of fixing things at home, Chávez is spending Venezuelans’ patrimony abroad in order to project power, not Venezuela’s, but his own.
The word power is a very vague term in international relations. The main reason is because the measuring of power is very difficult. How should the measurement be based? The two main measurements of power are economic and military power.
This graph shows the GDP of the U.S. compared to the rest of the world. As you can see, the U.S. has 18.28% of the worlds GDP. In comparison, China has 5.3% and France has 3.8%. This means that it would very difficult for many of these nations to take the U.S. spot unilaterally.
Military spending is another way to analyze power. With this graph, you can see that the U.S. controls 48% of the world’s military spending. That is almost half. Now, Sarkozy is looking to use more multilateral institutions to balance U.S. power, but even economically and militarily that will be very difficult to do. It would make more sense to take that approach though. I show you these graphs because I believe it is important to understand what it means when someone says that the U.S. can be replaced or power can shift. Economic and military strength are the two indicators of power, and the U.S. leads both.