Dr. Lamont Colucci is an Associate Professor of Politics at Ripon College, recent Fulbright Scholar to the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, and author of The National Security Doctrines of the American Presidency: How they Shape our Present and Future, among other books. You can find out more at lamontcolucci.com.
Living in a city like Vienna, one feels as if one is in a living museum. Vienna was not only the final redoubt for European civilization in 1683, but was the heart of the system that governed international relations from 1815 to 1914, known as the Congress of Vienna. The Vienna of today, exemplifies much of what ails European foreign policy and trans-Atlantic relations: the lack of a dynamic goal and a failure to build upon roots that made the civilization great. The European Union is in disarray, and NATO is searching for a redefinition. This is happening while the United States has made no clear signal as to the future of Atlanticism, NATO, or leading the West.
The world has emerged from the so called post-Cold War era transitioning through three phases of American leadership. Phase I under the Bill Clinton presidency illustrated national security and foreign policy drift. Phase II under President George W. Bush exemplified clear national and global goals driven by events in the Middle East and Central Asia. Phase III under the Barack Obama administration is similar to Phase I, but has embraced a policy of "leading from behind." Meanwhile, the world's geopolitical situation has shown signs of three major threats that will require a new international order. These threats are a resurgent Russia, a rising China, and the waning and waxing fortunes of Islamic extremism. This does not count the numerous middle level and low level threats that dot the international landscape. The successful Pax Romana and Pax Britannica were much more triumphant than the multipolar order making attempts such as the Congress of Vienna or Versailles Treaty. The most successful international order maker has consistently been the United States and the Pax Americana. In order to ensure the continuance of international stability many strategic decisions must be made. One of these decisions concerns the future of American international leadership: A dynamic international system must rise to meet these challenges, a system where the United States spearheads the creation of an amplification of NATO by fostering the D.A.N—Democratic Alliance of Nations.
The United Nations, an attempt by leaders like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to inject some realism into the failed League of Nations by creating five policemen has failed. It has failed to create stability and order except in those instances backed by the use or threat of American force. The current situation in the United States is one of war weariness and fear of over extension. The president will need to gain electoral support for America's preeminence in world affairs. A new organization, one that has credibility with the American people, could go a long way to solving all of these issues. This new dynamic organization could go by many monikers; the one used here is the D.A.N. The Democratic Alliance of Nations would model itself on NATO, and if successful could replace NATO and cease the endless bickering about the future of that historically critical organization. The basic essence of NATO would remain; this would include a supreme commander that would be an American, a rotating political head, and Article 5 would serve as a similar trigger for action. However, there would be some drastic differences as well. Only nations that were willing to employ proportional military force (not token support) would be allowed membership. The Article 5 style trigger of "an attack on one is an attack on all" would be broadened. These triggers would have to include preemptive and preventative threats, as well as a mechanism to deal with genocide, massive human rights abuses, regional despotism, rogue states, and failed states. Further, there would have to be a clear mandate that military force would and could be used under these trigger conditions. This does not mean that military force would be the first or only option; but unlike the Security Council, it would be a viable coalition response. Critical to the composition of the Democratic Alliance of Nations would be that membership be reserved for only true democracies. This would be subject to scrutiny of the founding members and include such benchmarks as working democratic constitutions; the real rule of law; a vibrant civil society; the full protection of private property; and obedience to natural law. The foundation of the organization would have to start in the Anglo sphere (United States/United Kingdom/Canada/Australia/New Zealand) which would bring in elements of both NATO and ANZUS. Membership would hopefully be expanded to states such as (but not only) those in Western and Central Europe, Israel, South Korea, and Japan. Obviously, it goes without saying that some of these nations would need to make fundamental changes in their foreign policy legal mechanisms and even political culture.
It would therefore be through the Democratic Alliance of Nations that the United States could lead the free world in a dynamic 21st century, as it had through the tribulations of the 20th. It would further the security of the United States and the American people, and would serve as a way to illustrate to the electorate that the United States is not forced to act alone nor bear the only burden. It would further enhance the political and economic connections of members for stronger ties and bonds.