A Gradual Alliance

By

Douglas Hennenfent

September 2007

Doug1701@uga.edu

 

††††††††††?The old world order, dominated by the United States is failing.?With the rise of China, as well as other factors, the U.S. led institutions which have kept the global markets functioning during periods of crisis are breaking down.?Various proposals have been made addressing this situation, one of which is the Grand Alliance.?However, for a concept as innovative as the Alliance, several issues must be addressed if it is ever to become a reality.?Perhaps the greatest problem lies in creating a convergence between the US and European Union as the nucleus of the Alliance.?On the American side, the U.S. has historically avoided entanglements such as the Alliance.?Therefore, leaders in the U.S. and EU who wish to create the Alliance, or a similar structure must take the peculiar characteristics of the U.S. into account.?The U.S. cannot be drawn in through a top down method.?Instead the U.S. must be eased into the alliance until it becomes more acceptant.?This can be achieved though careful media campaigns to influence the American people and a slow subtle building of economic ties between the two powers.

 

††††††††††?Significant problems exist which impede convergence between the U.S. and EU, one of the most significant being the U.S.ís historical disinclination to international arrangements such as the proposed Grand Alliance.?Three problems must be addressed.?First of all, the U.S. economy remains bound to the Chinese economy, specifically the continued Chinese financing of the U.S. trade deficit.?Consequently, there exists some reluctance on the part of U.S. political and business leaders to take actions which could harm the joint economy.?Secondly, the U.S., like all democratic states, is reactive instead of proactive.?Strong actions are taken in response to crises, rather than in preparation.?Finally, the U.S. historically does not form many stable alliances, and almost never an alliance based on partnership instead of U.S. leadership. ?/span>Rather than alliances among equal partners, the U.S. historically forms alliances characterized by bilateral relations and U.S. leadership.?Historically, U.S. commitments in this area have been unstable, as demonstrated by the breakdown in the strength of the G7 under the Reagan administration.?Thus the U.S. seems ill suited for something such as the Grand Alliance, however, the solution to this problem does not come from trying to fight and reverse these tendencies.?Rather, the solution lies in redirecting and manipulating these constraints into more advantageous forms.

 

††††††††††?The first step involves manipulating isolationist and protectionist tendencies in the U.S. population against China.?While the specific tactics are beyond the scope of this proposal, efforts ought to be made to influence the media to cover China in a negative manner.?More specifically, a campaign would have to be carried out to associate unfair Chinese competition with the cause of economic trouble in the U.S..?Such concerns already exist, such as the issue of outsourcing to states like India.?Current concerns about other nation could even be redirected towards China, perhaps by claiming such things occur only because of Chinese competition.?So, this is merely an exercise in cultivating these concerns about China.?While more technical concerns may prove inadequate for capturing public attention, plenty of issues exist which may be used.?Incidents such as the recent product recalls might prove much more useful in the battle of public opinion.

 

††††††††††?The goal of this campaign is to agitate the public into demanding action.?Ultimately a sense of crisis needs to be present.?After a certain point, this pressure will be stronger than resistance among business leaders and politicians who a concerned over jeopardizing the economic relationship with China.?Once this has been achieved, the U.S. government will be in a reactive position, and thus able to take stronger actions.?

 

††††††††††?Having developed an anti-Chinese sentiment, the next step is to channel public opinion into something more favorable for the Grand Alliance.?First, protectionist tendencies must be avoided.?The public will call for more protectionist policies as concern over China increases.?This must be avoided for obvious reasons. ?/span>Here counter pressure from economic interests should provide a sufficiently strong deterrent from protectionism.?At this point, actions can be taken to start convergence with the European Union.?However, this course must be framed correctly to properly use public opinion; it may be possible to take advantage of already existing sentiments.?Overtures towards the EU ought to be framed as attempt to prevent the U.S. from having to perform the entire task alone.? At first, the American public will be too proud to accept an equal partnership with the EU.?However, they would be more accepting if they thought of any overtures as an attempt to keep the EU from profiting off of U.S. efforts.?Such a move would also draw support from those political elements favoring multi-lateral approaches.

 

††††††††††?In the early stages, strong formal agreements still would be too controversial.?Rather, the convergence should involve a slower, more subtle strengthening of relations based primarily on increasing economic links.?Initially this should take the form of highly technical agreements.?Joint committees should be formed to address more detailed economic issues allowing the U.S. and European economies to begin to synchronize their regulations.?These actions should not be described as precursors to a larger effort, but rather as small discrete actions to provide mutual economic benefit.?In the long run, this more subtle action will prove the foundation.

 

††††††††††?Formal alliances like the Grand Alliance are generally unacceptable in American political thought; therefore the foundation is the key.?Eventually, as the bond between the U.S. and EU strengthens, such an alliance will be less and less of a shock.?Gradualism is the key to this approach.?As the economic environment becomes more and more similar, corporations should take advantage of the situation to expand.?Hopefully, mergers would even occur between larger U.S. and European corporations as they became used to the environment.?Nevertheless, at some point discrete actions will no longer suffice and the issue will come fully into the open.?Some political elements might resist such a move for various reasons.?The specifics will vary based upon the particular group, but the general guidelines hold.?At this moment the media campaign will have successfully energized the American public on the issue, and the economic ties, corporate mergers, joint committees, and other institutions, should be strong enough to hold the two together.?The purpose of the previous actions is to make any action to remove the U.S. from the path towards alliance politically unfeasible.? Pressure should be coming from the public, who are concerned about the Chinese, and business leaders who are profiting from the U.S.-EU convergence.?Consequently, future collaboration with the EU will be the path of least resistance in the U.S..?In this manner, the U.S. can be brought into convergence despite initial skepticism and divergent tendencies.

 

††††††††††?While this plan focuses on the U.S., European leaders can and should assist with various aspects.?First, assistance can be given in the media efforts against China.?However, such assistance as can be given should be through influencing media organizations and other behind the scenes actions to set the agenda.?If too strong a foreign influence is present the American public would resist the perceived intrusion.?The manner in which European leaders publicly approach the U.S. also factors into the problem.?By approaching the U.S. with an appearance of humility, there is much less of a risk of a hostile reaction.?Such an approach conflicts with some tendencies in Europe towards anti-Americanism.?Thus states which have more favorable feelings towards the U.S., such as the United Kingdom, would have to work more on this aspect than those that have less favorable sentiments.?As the U.S. becomes more and more entangled with the EU, European leaders can then start to assert a more equal position.?In this manner Europe can work to bring the U.S. into a convergent path.

 

††††††††††?Like any plan, especially one so fluid, complications can arise, and for this plan they fall into a few discrete categories.? The first set of complications arises in the initial manipulation of public opinion.?If the public opinion in the U.S. cannot be sufficiently agitated against China, the entire plan will fail.?Even if this is achieved, it may not be strong enough to combat the traditional American skepticism and pressure from U.S. leaders favoring different action towards China.?Likewise, if the public becomes overzealous, it could lead to the adoption of protectionist policies in spite of the economic consequences.?Finally, too strong a furor could strengthen isolationist tendencies and thereby preventing the redirection necessary to begin working with the EU.?Thus public opinion needs to be kept in a potentially delicate range, and given the free nature of the American media, such a task will be troublesome.?China will not sit out from such a public opinion battle.?Chinese elites will recognize the danger of a strong anti-China view in the U.S. and take actions.?They may use their own power to influence the U.S. media.?Likewise, pressure may be placed on U.S. political and business leaders to counter the public reaction.?On the other hand, China may take a few small steps to placate the U.S..?These steps may create the appearance of cooperation, and thus hinder the entire plan.? Not only could the U.S. public become less alarmed, it may also decrease the apparent threat of China to leaders around the world.?Thus it may even be necessary to goad China into an overreaction around this time to prevent such actions.

††††††††††?The next category of complications lies in the interaction between the U.S. and the EU.?Anti-American sentiments in the European population may keep the EU from accepting an initial weaker role.?It may even be the case that such sentiment keeps the EU from making any sort of overt gestures.?Given this situation, the EU would be unable to draw the U.S. into an alliance.?Likewise, if the issue of a more formal alliance arises too early, the U.S. may still back out.?U.S. leaders have broken from alliances before and if the ties are too weak they still may.?The proper sort of economic convergence would prevent this.?If the U.S. and EU have very similar economic interests, convergence would remain the path of least resistance.

 

††††††††††?To summarize, the U.S.ís historical pattern of unstable alliances complicates efforts to align with the EU.?Leaders in both areas must realize the U.S. cannot move rapidly into an alliance.?By combining a media campaign against China and a slow building of economic ties, a situation will be created where there is pressure from below on U.S. leaders to act, and a strong set of ties with the EU.?In this environment, working with the EU would be the course of least resistance.?This is only a general framework; the specifics are flexible and adaptable to political realities.?However, these considerations form a useful starting point of action for those leaders in the U.S. and EU who understand the need for a Grand Alliance.