International Organizations are the Devil’s Playground of Great Power Competition


International Organizations are the Devil’s Playground of Great Power Competition

It is now clear that America’s strategy for great-power competition needs a new plank. In addition to facing-off against China at sea, in the marketplace and online, Washington needs a better game plan for besting Beijing at the United Nations and other international forums.

An effective approach to communicable diseases requires a global effort. Otherwise, they can crop up and spread before they are detected. If the WHO cannot be reformed to fill this function effectively, then America should seek to set up an alternative, but it needs to include all nations. That will be a much heavier lift than fixing the WHO.  

Replace. Where organizations with a critical mission are failing and can’t be fixed, then America should establish new international organizations and frameworks. It should be brave enough to be bold and not dismiss the value of new freedom-oriented organizations. It should ignore the critics who think changing, abandoning or replacing an ineffective status quo is selfish and isolationist.  

In some cases, these frameworks do not need to be new international organizations, per se. To build a likeminded consensus that can be used to influence the behavior of international organizations, the United States can work through informal networks like the Quad, existing multinational organizations like NATO, or new strategic alliances, such as a Middle East framework. The mounting pressure to readmit Taiwan to the WHO is a good example of a joint effort by like-minded nations seeking to right an unjust act. 

A Free World Free Trade Agreement to complement or supplant the WTO might be an approach worth considering. In 2001, analysts at the Heritage Foundation proposed a Global Free Trade Agreement, under which nations meeting established standards of free trade and investment practices could agree to further reduce or eliminate their trade barriers, minimizing the need for lengthy negotiations that often hamper bilateral or multilateral trade deals. 

The time is ripe to stitch together a reform, withdraw, replace plan and lead the free world in using international organizations to protect and expand freedom around the world. 

The authors work at The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, headed by Vice President James Jay Carafano. Brett Schaefer is the think tank’s Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs. Terry Miller directs the Center for International Trade and Economics; Nile Gardiner directs the Thatcher Center for Freedom; Walter Lohman directs the Asian Studies Center, and Luke Coffey directs the Allison Center for Foreign Policy.

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