2nd December, 2015
An Alliance of Democracies?
The challenge of the extreme left means having a principled foreign policy. This is difficult but by no means impossible. My ex-boss at City Hall Ken Livingstone has shown the danger of extreme left-wing thinking. This week he said that the 7/7/2005 London terrorist bombing was a protest in which terrorists “gave their lives”. This apology for terrorism for the barely disguised purpose of attacking Tony Blair displays a deep problem about foreign policy thinking, particularly on the “left”.
The end of the Cold War has not heralded “an end to history”. Today, we see Europe facing an onslaught by terrorists guided by an ideology of Islamism. Equally, China and Russia are increasingly becoming aggressive in Asia and Europe respectively. On the other hand, the West has weak leadership even appeasement leadership. I believe we have to go back to the drawing board in order to defend and advance progress.
I want to advocate the idea of ‘a global alliance of democracies’ as a new strategic anchor for progressives.
The champions of progress (who tend to be in the centrist part of politics with open minds to actual developments and principles of freedom, democracy and humanity close to their hearts) need political ideas to advance. Democracy is already a battle line between progressive and reactionary politics – from the left and right.
To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi – there is no way to democracy; democracy is the way.
Today, two major totalitarian systems have been vanquished to the sidelines: Nazism in WW2 and Communism at the end of the Cold War. However, the remnants of communism still exist in China’s Communist Party rule etc. In addition, individual dictators exist in many parts of the world such as Russia’s Putin or Zimbabwe’s Mugabe and theocratic rule exists in places like Iran. There are also absolutist monarchies in places like Saudi Arabia.
The West has been the heartland of democracies. The USA is militarily the strongest democracy in the world – the only power stronger than Russia – and the only power capable of offering protection to other democracies under attack. Europe saw the emergence of new democracies in Eastern and Central Europe with the end of the old communist bloc.
The number of entrenched democracies has grown outside of the west such as gigantic India, Israel under severe siege and Japan and South Korea with advanced economies.
A global alliance of democracies concept provides a vehicle for evaluating relationships with non-democratic and anti-democratic players on the global stage. For instance, how to relate to China? To Russia? To Islamist Turkey? To Saudi Arabia? To Venezuela? To Islamist movements?
An alliance of democracies is the best framework for mobilising public opinion and creating strategic policy.
Western public opinion is confused and easily swayed. People need leadership partnered with straight-talking on these issues.
By Atma Singh