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									                    A Reluctant America Will Join the Grand Alliance
                                   By Erin Phalen
                                   September 2007
                                  ephalen@uga.edu


         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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