A Reluctant America Will Join the Grand Alliance By Erin Phalen September 2007 firstname.lastname@example.org Since the 1970’s the economic power of China, based on a system of “authoritarian capitalism,” has grown immensely and now stands to outpace the rest of the world in just several decades. Although the global structure of nations is subject to change over time, the reigning superpower may not always been a “benign” hegemon, like the United States. China would fit into the other category if it took over the international system and would not be a benevolent international leader. The solution, proposed by Carlo Pelanda’s book The Grand Alliance, is an alliance comprised of the world’s most powerful democracies to pool their economic and military resources. A Grand alliance among the world's powerful democracies, including the United States, the European Union and the large Asian democracies, Russia, Japan, and India. All of these countries come together to pose the ultimate counterbalance to China and together govern the international system through the principles of fair trade and democratic capitalism. However, the first step is to integrate the EU and the US and this is not an easy task. This is certainly not a guaranteed from the European side and neither from the American. There are many obstacles in the way impeding the first step of the process into the Grand Alliance. However, after the US realizes that the Grand Alliance is in its self-interest it will join, but not for some time. The first obstacle in the way of the United States joining the Grand Alliance is that its democratic system is inherently reactionary and based on consensus. Unless a significant event occurs that adversely affects the interests and well-being of Americans, it is unlikely that the country will come together and support a large-scale alliance. Even though joining an alliance isn’t as important as fighting in a war on the surface, it is just as significant an action because it affects the security and stability of the nation through economic, technological, and global cooperation. A strong example of the lack of American action towards decisions is the Kyoto Protocol. Because the proof of climate change by emissions is not immediately visible, the economic costs outweigh the potential environmental benefits of the treaty to the US. If there visible, adverse signs of climate change become more frequent it is more likely that the United States would react by allying with other powers to solve the problem. Although the President in the U.S. system has more executive power than the leaders of the democracies of Europe, he or she alone will not be able to commit the country to such an alliance. Only an autocracy or dictatorship could carry out such an approach where the opinions of the citizens have little or no merit. Politicians in every branch of government are accountable to their constituents in a democracy, which makes these representatives less likely to act rashly without first considering the opinions of those in their district. With the balance of Congress reviewing executive decisions, it is unlikely that quick passage of a proposal to formally join such an alliance would occur. Another impediment in the way of American joining the Grand Alliance is American public opinion. Becoming a member of such an alliance is not likely because of the protectionist ideas spreading across the nation. Another example of American public opinion regarding alliances is the failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This treaty was unpopular with the American public because undeveloped countries would receive breaks and developed countries would suffer economic losses due to the harsher standards and penalties on these countries. The Kyoto Agreement did not garner much support from the American public because it was economically harmful to America. In a similar way, many Americans were opposed to NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) because of predictions that state sovereignty would be compromised and the U.S. would lose economic advantages. Even though this proved not to be the case, many people opposed being a member of a regional organization of which the United States would not being the guiding power. The United Nations is yet another example of an organization of which the some Americans do not strongly approve. They believe that this organization does not ultimately help the U.S. while giving up state sovereignty in the process. The American people are wary of joining alliances and their support is ultimately necessary. Americans are feeling increasingly isolationist because of the actions and consequences involving President Bush’s “War on Terror.” Although the idea of fighting terrorism globally is a noble cause, the costs of doing this unilaterally are immense, making the task nearly impossible. With the perceived failure of U.S. intervention in Iraq, a feeling of isolationism is creeping into the American psyche. This type of feeling of protectionism and isolationism has occurred in periods throughout American history, most recently the period during the latter stages of the Vietnam War. This Iraq war has caused Americans to look inward to focus on domestic issues and try to ignore the world around them. However, globalization is too powerful of a force to allow this to occur. The U.S. is bound to other countries through a myriad of channels and it is too late to even consider only domestic matters alone. This does not stop some political candidates and elected officials from taking some of this public opinion and reaffirming it by spinning it to support their campaign. Based on these previous examples the U.S. will not be easily into joining the Grand Alliance. Another obstacle for the U.S. joining the Grand Alliance is whether America would realistically take part in such an alliance where they were not the “first among equals.” Because of its position as the preeminent Western power since the end of WWII, the U.S. would have serious qualms about not being in charge of the alliance. The U.S. has had a leadership role and a strong voice in every Western alliance since Bretton Woods. This includes NATO and the UN. The US also led many military coalitions, especially post-Cold War, including the first Gulf War, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. American diplomats see their solutions as superior to those of other countries; however, in the Grand Alliance the roles are designed to be equal in nature, presenting a dilemma for the US A significant roadblock for the US becoming a member of the Grand Alliance is seeing the world as it really is and seeking truth from facts. After the Iraq War, which the US entered without UN support, many in the international community were outraged and saw this as another example of American attempts at Imperialism. Even President Bush has implied that the US is not the extreme hegemon anymore by admitting the projecting US force in both Iraq and Afghanistan has overextend the nation’s capabilities. The American people know their armed forces are spread too thin; however, they do not know all the facts about the possible sharp decline America and those consequences. The US is still a powerful country, but it is being seriously challenged by the developing economies of China, India, and the formation of regional blocs. Although there is idle talk of the challenge China poses to both American and global security, it is not seriously discussed. To realistically convince the United States to join the Grand Alliance, China needs to be seen as a security threat, not only a lucrative trading partner and a mass producer of cheap goods. Americans are in favor of capitalism and free trade and utilizing foreign markets to gain capital and grow the U.S. economy. For these reasons, many US citizens may be blind to the fact that China is really a threat instead of simply an economic partner. There is no incentive to alter the current stability in trade amongst the countries. Such action might greatly affect the international market as a whole, possibly sending the system in a downward spiral. Even though most of the business world knows that China’s authoritarian government operates on contrived exchange rates and speculation, their relationship is currently profitable for their businesses and they do not wish to change this dynamic. They fail to see the economic and strategic threat of China’s rising power because the Chinese are not blatantly aggressive about it. However, even with all these factors working against the US joining the Grand Alliance, I believe that they will join, just not soon. While all of the obstacles together present a strong roadblock, the interests and security of the US will be the country’s main concern. Once it becomes more evident that US stability that US stability truly is threatened by a rising China, the US will do everything in its power to reverse this process. The most rational approach to do this is to counterbalance China with an alliance, creating a bloc that is bigger than China. Although the US military is currently the most superior in the world, China is improving and is on schedule to surpass the US economically and militarily in several decades. When this becomes clearer, the US will not strike China militarily, rather it will join the powerful democracies to counterbalance China and to dominate the global system. In order to convince the US to join the Grand Alliance it is essential that the people know that joining this alliance is in America’s best interest. First it is important to convince elites and large corporations that this is a lucrative plan and that the benefits outweigh. This idea would then trickle down through society, largely carried by the media. This would certainly be a slow process, but it can work. In reality, the US is already a successful participant in alliances, even though in the Grand Alliance they would be not be the only leader. It is very important to portray that global stability is in America’s best interest and a rising China is a huge threat to this. With China’s power rising, the United States will eventually ally with Europe to start the beginnings of the Grand Alliance. Even though they will overcome these domestic obstacles, the timeframe is not short. Certain actions need to be set in motion by other governments and influential elites to convince America, but they will see what is in their best interest and eventually gain consensus to join the Grand Alliance. With the first two parts of the Grand Alliance complete, the even more difficult task of allying with Russia, Japan, and India still will await.
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