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Thu. February 09, 2023
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A Global NATO
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By Dr. Anna Cornelia Beyer

I wrote in my article “Hegemony, Equilibrium and Counterpower” that global integration is necessary to achieve global peace. That idea was heavily influenced by my readings of instiutionalists, such as Volker Rittberger, David Mitrany and Emanuel Adler. Integration goes hand in hand with inclusion. This means that integration by spreading our political systems on the national basis and our economic methods on the transnational basis is not enough if it ever can be fully achieved. It also means that we need to include other states in the global institutions we, in particular the United States, created. It was a mistake not to include Germany and Russia in the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, and it was a mistake not to include them in the League of Nations later on, even if they finally joined. Similarly, while there is near total global membership in the United Nations, we need to broaden the other global institutions in their membership. One controversial example is NATO. John Ikenberry warned against a global NATO.

However, I believe that it would be beneficial to broaden the membership of NATO and in particular attempt to include Russia in it. From Russia’s point of view NATO is a threat to its security. The crisis in Ukraine can partially be explained with this threat perception, for example. An inclusion in NATO would help reduce the threat and would bring Russia closer to the West. The final goal would be to transform NATO to a global organization, which would present a military dimension to the United Nations system. This would pose its own challenges, such as how to act if a conflict broke out amongst some of its members. But here some methods could be devised to render NATO not incapable of action in such a case. For example, the United Nations Security Council could be given oversight on decisions relating to intervention in conflicts. A country that would be involved in a conflict could be made to cease its veto power in the Security Council for that particular event, so the council could still act and would not be blocked as it was in the Cold War. Another issue to think about is the need to make the Security Council more representative of the world. The current veto powers are not representing the power distribution globally. For example, it has been suggested that the UK and France give up their permanent seats for one common EU seat. Also, the inclusion of new permanent members needs to be thought about. A more democratic and inclusive UN and a broadened NATO could arguably help make these institutions more legitimate, and thereby help pacify the world.

A more integrated and inclusive world authority needs to increasingly base its legitimacy on the peoples of the world. Even if Robert Keohane laments a missing global demos, I believe it is increasingly developing, in particular with the spread of the Internet. It is there in embryonic form. For basing global institutions on a firm democratic basis, we need a United Nations Parliament, something that has long been called for by some groups. A United Nations Parliament would function like the European Parliament. Europe overall could function as some termed it the greenhouse for a more inclusive United Nations.

Dr. AC Beyer is Senior Lecturer at the University of Hull. Her main publications include: Inequality and Violence (2014 Ashgate) and Violent Globalisms (2010 Ashgate). 

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