Western Woes and Rogue Pride

Posted in Latin America | 20-Oct-07 | Author: Christian Rieck

Christian Rieck is WSN Editor Latin America.

Western “rogue state” rhetoric is creating unlikely partnerships. For cast-outs of the international community it provides a welcome chance to mimic international legitimacy and an opportunity to further erode democracy and consolidate domestic power--without Western admonitions to the contrary. As so often in the history of power, the rogue label is accepted by the one it was supposed to stigmatize, and is converted into a badge of honor, a reason for “Rogue Pride”.

Even if the bond between the “revolutionary brother-nations” such as Iran and Venezuela is more propaganda than substance, the trend towards closer cooperation between the “rogues” is indeed problematic. Chávez has been trying to enlist other “underdogs” for his “Axis of Good”: his visits to Belarus, Zimbabwe, Russia, Cuba are ample evidence of this. North Korea is also on his shortlist of allies, even though a trip to Pyongyang in July 2006 was cancelled at the very last minute. Technological complementarities between these economies make this “parallel diplomacy” potentially viable. It is not hard to imagine these countries to move from rhetoric and symbolism towards a more meaningful cooperation in the future. It is already happening in the Iran-Venezuela nexus, albeit slowly. Pushing the “rogues” hard will only make them close their ranks more.

The West is in dire need of new answers and allies to confront this new challenge. Its influence and the power of its ideals is waning. To counteract this the West needs allies old and new – ant, thus, also a new constructive relationship with the emerging powers.

Because non-Western models for a global order are not as committed to the freedom ideal as the West’s is and because they are not without malign regional or even global dominances, the relative weakening of the West has negative repercussions for the further spread of democracy and peace in the world. To reverse this trend the West has to re-imagine itself as a project of liberty, prosperity and justice. Thus it could find new friends and allies in the different world regions. Emerging powers committed to an international order of peace, prosperity and values have to become the primary targets for such a strong, deep and meaningful cooperation. They have to become true partners of the West.

Where a common basis of shared values exist, special technological and military relationships can be an effective instrument for a deepened partnership. This should not only include a security cooperation but also the exchange (and supervision) of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. NATO and the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) as effective functional organizations are the most important tools for such a partnership. Shared values and their new power make the emerging countries ideal allies of the West.

Ironically, the West’s “rogue state” label was supposed to outlaw and isolate the illiberal regimes and rally the allies of the West around the cause of democracy. Now, however, it is this international ban that provides the glue for this new “outcast diplomacy”, a very specific form of South-South-cooperation – and could thus, in the medium to long term at least, lead to a truly global “Axis of Good”, a true “Rogue Axis”.