Saturday, March 27, 2004

Germany, a permanent member of the UN Security Council?

Hell no. But Schröder is making a push, and he claims to have the French government's support. Russia and Japan are also allegedly in favor. No word on the English or Americans. Yet although Schroeder confidently asserts that "our friends in America will also agree to support this wish," the U.S. State Department spokesman, when asked about Germany's ambitions, responded "I have to check and see if that's something we did support. I really don't know for sure."

I see at least three problems with Germany's idea. First, if Germany and France are so intent upon creating a unified European foreign policy (the Germans and French have plans to open shared embassies in smaller countries abroad in order to symbolize the two countries' close relations), then France and the UK (depending on the latter's level of EU integration) should abdicate their permanent seats in favor of one European Union seat. One foreign policy=One seat.

Secondly, what is the justification for having three European countries as permanent members of the Security Council? Admittedly, the Security Council is far from being a representative institution. However, it will become no more representative by admitting Germany. If the UN had the option of adding just one more permanent seat, my vote would be for India. Its economic power (such as GDP and growth rate) outstrips Germany, it has nuclear weapons (making it, for better or for worse, a global security player), and its ethnic and religious diversity (viz. the world's third largest Muslim community) would add an alternative viewpoint to the Security Council.

Finally, although the Security Council should be expanded to reflect modern day realities, it should not be expanded in piecemeal fashion or through desperate PR campaigns of increasingly unpopular leaders.

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