Reforming the U.N. Security Council?

By: Inoljt,  http://mypolitikal.com/

The United States has permanent membership in the Security Council along with the China, France, Russia, and United Kingdom. Each of these countries may veto any resolution they desire to.

There have been occasional calls to reform the Security Council. The most discussed option has been adding Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan as permanent members.

Let’s take a look at each of the current Security Council members:

China – China has the world’s second-largest economy and – probably – the world’s third most powerful military. Its relative influence, however, is still limited. China today is far more of a great power than it was in 1945 (indeed, in 1945 it probably didn’t deserve to be labeled a great power). Moreover, China is indisputably becoming stronger.

France – France has the world’s fifth largest economy and a very modern and powerful military, probably in the world’s top five. On the other hand, its influence is somewhat limited outside the former French Empire. Compared with 1945, France is substantially less of a great power, having lost its empire and fallen under the American umbrella. Indeed, like most of Europe it has been in relative decline ever since 1918 and looks set to continue to decline in relative terms. This is because the Third World is slowly catching up to the First World, rather than any fault of France itself.

Russia – Russia has the smallest economy of the five, barely (or not at all) breaking into the world’s top ten biggest economies. However, Russia’s military is unquestionably the world’s second strongest, and it dominates the region it is located in. Russia fell into steep decline after the fall of the Soviet Union, when it was on par with the United States, and has only recently begun to recover.

United Kingdom – The United Kingdom has much in common with France. Its economy is the world’s sixth largest, and its military is probably in the world’s top five. Nowadays, the United Kingdom’s influence is more cultural than anything else; it neither dominates Europe or the former British Empire. Out of all the powers, the United Kingdom has declined the most since 1945 – losing both its empire and economic preeminence.

United States – The United States has the world’s largest economy and most powerful military. It strongly influences the entire world. It is more powerful than in 1945, with the fall of its great rival the Soviet Union.

All in all the United States, Russia, and China (going in order of their great power strength) definitely ought to be in the Security Council. The case is more questionable for France and the United Kingdom. Europe is still a very powerful entity in the world and should have a permanent member in the Security Council. But having two members in the Security Council – as is currently the case – certainly overstates its status.

The trouble is that by themselves, France or the United Kingdom aren’t powerful enough to have one seat. Nor is the European Union influential or coherent enough to deserve a seat. Under an ideal situation, one-third of a seat each would go to France and the United Kingdom, with the other third going to Germany. This, of course, wouldn’t be feasible in the real world.

Finally, let’s take a look at the countries which some propose adding as permanent members:

Brazil – Brazil has the world’s seventh or eighth largest economy, which is why people propose adding it. However, Brazil has no substantial military presence to speak of. Its influence is limited to Latin America (where the United States is probably more influential). While Brazil has become relatively more powerful since 1945, it is still not in the category of great power status.

Germany – Germany probably has the strongest claim to being added to the permanent Security Council. Germany’s economy is the world’s 4th largest (bigger than the United Kingdom or France), but its military is still quite weak due to the restrictions imposed upon it after World War II. Germany is generally seen as Europe’s first-among-equals; it is Germany, not France or the United Kingdom, which is coordinating the response to the European Union debt crisis. Germany has thus definitely become more powerful after rising from the ashes of 1945.

India – India is similar to Brazil in many respects, except weaker. It has the world’s tenth or eleventh biggest economy. Like Brazil, its military is essentially nonexistent. It has very little influence even in its neighborhood. India has certainly strengthened since 1945, when it was under foreign rule. However, it definitely is not yet a great power. One could make a stronger case for adding Italy or Canada to the permanent Security Council than India (or Brazil, for that matter).

Japan – Japan is a unique case. Its economy is the world’s third largest, which seems to say that Japan ought to be included in the permanent Security Council. Japan’s military, however, is extraordinarily weak. Furthermore, Japan has no regional influence; it is regarded negatively by its neighbors for its crimes in World War II. Indeed, Japan has been bullied quite recently both by Russia and China over disputed islands, with Russia and China getting the better of it each time. While Japan has advanced economically since 1945, its regional influence is still lower. Before World War II, for instance, Japan occupied Korea and much of China as a colony; this would be impossible today.

Out of these four countries, probably only Germany truly ought to be in the permanent Security Council. Brazil and India are still middle powers. Japan, while economically strong, lacks the other qualifications that go along with Great Power status.

Indeed, none of these countries have been able to exert their strength in ways the Security Council Five have in the past decade. The United States invaded and occupies Iraq and Afghanistan, countries half around the world. Russia invaded Georgia. The United Kingdom and France are currently bombing Libya. Perhaps only Germany – and even this is fairly uncertain – can do something similar today.

The world has changed a lot since 1945, but it has also changed a lot less than many believe. The five great powers in 1945 still are, by and large, the five great powers in 2010.

 

 

Weekly Mulch: Why Building a Bike-Safe City is Key to a Clean Energy Future

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

Congress couldn’t get it together to vote even on the smallest of possible energy bills—the renewable energy standard—before the October recess. That doesn’t change the reality that our energy dependent society needs to find alternatives quickly. Changing up our approach to transportation, one of the biggest sources of energy consumption, is a good place to start.

If more Americans used bicycles as a primary mode of transportation, the country would be closer to getting its energy use under control. So how can we make biking safer, easier, more mainstream? Infrastructure, safety, and education are key. It also helps to replicate model behaviors.

“Last spring, public officials from Madison, Wisconsin, returned home from a tour of the Netherlands, and within three weeks were implementing what they learned there about promoting bicycling on the streets of their own city,” reports Jay Walljasper for Yes! Magazine.

Cities like Portland, Madison, and San Francisco are trying to make cycling a way of life. But for the best answers, American leaders must look abroad, to cities like Copenhagen in Denmark, Utrecht and The Hague in the Netherlands, and Malmo in Sweden.

Safe riding

Improving safety is the first order of business to encouraging cycling, and that means investing in infrastructure specifically for bike use. As Change.org’s Jess Leber writes, “Every time there is a senseless death, there are going to be a group of residents who decide biking is too risky for their tastes.”

Many regular bikers admit that it’s frightening to ride down a street with a gigantic, roaring beast of car quickly approaching. “When I lived in New York City, I myself was too frightened to use my bike in many parts of the city,” Leber admits.

What kind of infrastructure do we need? Designated bike lanes indicate what sort of space bikes need on the road. But bike lanes should also be physically separated from cars. In Copenhagen, for instance, “the busy roadways are lined with cycle tracks (elevated bike paths painted bright blue for distinction),” writes Campus Progress’ Jessica Newman.

In the Hague, bike paths are separate from cars and trucks, Some streets are designated as “bike boulevards,” where bikes take precedence over cars, reports Walljasper in Yes! Magazine.

Ease of use

But safe infrastructure is a waste of money if no one uses it. While cities are out building better bike lanes, they should consider adding other features that will make it as convenient to bike as it is to drive or walk. In Malmo, bike riders stopped at red lights can grab onto railings to keep their balance—”a surprisingly popular feature,” reports Grist’s Sarah Goodyear.

Another Dutch project is to improve the process of parking. “Access to safe, convenient bike storage has a big impact on whether people bike,” as Walljasper reports in Yes! Magazine.

“The car is parked right out in front of the house on the street, while the bike is stuffed away out back in a shed or has to be carried up and down the stairs in their buildings. So people choose the car because it is easier,” one Dutch policy officer told Walljasper.

More mainstream

In both Utrecht and Copenhagen, one strategy for integrating cycling into its citizens’ behavior is to teach the young. In Copenhagen, “Instead of driver’s education classes, children attend biker’s ed in the third and ninths grades, where they learn traffic laws, proper bike etiquette and general agility,” according to Campus Progress’ Newman.

Going back to Yes!, in Utrecht, cycling is also built into the curriculum:

A municipal program sends special teachers into schools to conduct bike classes, and students go to Trafficgarden, a miniature city complete with roads, sidewalks, and busy intersections where students hone their pedestrian, biking, and driving skills (in non-motorized pedal cars). At age 11, most kids in town are tested on their cycling skills on a course through the city, winning a certificate of accomplishment that ends up framed on many bedroom walls.

“To make safer roads, we focus on the children,” [city planner Ronald] Tamse explained. “It not only helps them bike and walk more safely, but it helps them to become safer drivers who will look out for pedestrians and bicyclists in the future.”

Envisioning the future

What does a city with these sorts of programs in place look like? In Copenhagen, you see “streets crowded with bikes, with riders ranging from wealthy, middle-aged businessmen to mothers in tow of three or more kids to poor college students,” Newman reports. Thirty-three percent of Copenhagen’s citizens commute by bike; in Portland, by contrast, it’s just 5.81%.

Yes! Magazine points to another way to understand the difference between biking in an American city, unfriendly to bikers, and in a European city that embraces them. In Riding Bikes with the Dutch, Michal W. Bauch compares transportation culture in Los Angeles and Amsterdam:

Increasing reliance on cycling is not impossible. The tools are already there. American cities just need to use them, and quickly.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

Weekly Mulch: Why Building a Bike-Safe City is Key to a Clean Energy Future

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

Congress couldn’t get it together to vote even on the smallest of possible energy bills—the renewable energy standard—before the October recess. That doesn’t change the reality that our energy dependent society needs to find alternatives quickly. Changing up our approach to transportation, one of the biggest sources of energy consumption, is a good place to start.

If more Americans used bicycles as a primary mode of transportation, the country would be closer to getting its energy use under control. So how can we make biking safer, easier, more mainstream? Infrastructure, safety, and education are key. It also helps to replicate model behaviors.

“Last spring, public officials from Madison, Wisconsin, returned home from a tour of the Netherlands, and within three weeks were implementing what they learned there about promoting bicycling on the streets of their own city,” reports Jay Walljasper for Yes! Magazine.

Cities like Portland, Madison, and San Francisco are trying to make cycling a way of life. But for the best answers, American leaders must look abroad, to cities like Copenhagen in Denmark, Utrecht and The Hague in the Netherlands, and Malmo in Sweden.

Safe riding

Improving safety is the first order of business to encouraging cycling, and that means investing in infrastructure specifically for bike use. As Change.org’s Jess Leber writes, “Every time there is a senseless death, there are going to be a group of residents who decide biking is too risky for their tastes.”

Many regular bikers admit that it’s frightening to ride down a street with a gigantic, roaring beast of car quickly approaching. “When I lived in New York City, I myself was too frightened to use my bike in many parts of the city,” Leber admits.

What kind of infrastructure do we need? Designated bike lanes indicate what sort of space bikes need on the road. But bike lanes should also be physically separated from cars. In Copenhagen, for instance, “the busy roadways are lined with cycle tracks (elevated bike paths painted bright blue for distinction),” writes Campus Progress’ Jessica Newman.

In the Hague, bike paths are separate from cars and trucks, Some streets are designated as “bike boulevards,” where bikes take precedence over cars, reports Walljasper in Yes! Magazine.

Ease of use

But safe infrastructure is a waste of money if no one uses it. While cities are out building better bike lanes, they should consider adding other features that will make it as convenient to bike as it is to drive or walk. In Malmo, bike riders stopped at red lights can grab onto railings to keep their balance—”a surprisingly popular feature,” reports Grist’s Sarah Goodyear.

Another Dutch project is to improve the process of parking. “Access to safe, convenient bike storage has a big impact on whether people bike,” as Walljasper reports in Yes! Magazine.

“The car is parked right out in front of the house on the street, while the bike is stuffed away out back in a shed or has to be carried up and down the stairs in their buildings. So people choose the car because it is easier,” one Dutch policy officer told Walljasper.

More mainstream

In both Utrecht and Copenhagen, one strategy for integrating cycling into its citizens’ behavior is to teach the young. In Copenhagen, “Instead of driver’s education classes, children attend biker’s ed in the third and ninths grades, where they learn traffic laws, proper bike etiquette and general agility,” according to Campus Progress’ Newman.

Going back to Yes!, in Utrecht, cycling is also built into the curriculum:

A municipal program sends special teachers into schools to conduct bike classes, and students go to Trafficgarden, a miniature city complete with roads, sidewalks, and busy intersections where students hone their pedestrian, biking, and driving skills (in non-motorized pedal cars). At age 11, most kids in town are tested on their cycling skills on a course through the city, winning a certificate of accomplishment that ends up framed on many bedroom walls.

“To make safer roads, we focus on the children,” [city planner Ronald] Tamse explained. “It not only helps them bike and walk more safely, but it helps them to become safer drivers who will look out for pedestrians and bicyclists in the future.”

Envisioning the future

What does a city with these sorts of programs in place look like? In Copenhagen, you see “streets crowded with bikes, with riders ranging from wealthy, middle-aged businessmen to mothers in tow of three or more kids to poor college students,” Newman reports. Thirty-three percent of Copenhagen’s citizens commute by bike; in Portland, by contrast, it’s just 5.81%.

Yes! Magazine points to another way to understand the difference between biking in an American city, unfriendly to bikers, and in a European city that embraces them. In Riding Bikes with the Dutch, Michal W. Bauch compares transportation culture in Los Angeles and Amsterdam:

Increasing reliance on cycling is not impossible. The tools are already there. American cities just need to use them, and quickly.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

Weekly Mulch: Why Building a Bike-Safe City is Key to a Clean Energy Future

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

Congress couldn’t get it together to vote even on the smallest of possible energy bills—the renewable energy standard—before the October recess. That doesn’t change the reality that our energy dependent society needs to find alternatives quickly. Changing up our approach to transportation, one of the biggest sources of energy consumption, is a good place to start.

If more Americans used bicycles as a primary mode of transportation, the country would be closer to getting its energy use under control. So how can we make biking safer, easier, more mainstream? Infrastructure, safety, and education are key. It also helps to replicate model behaviors.

“Last spring, public officials from Madison, Wisconsin, returned home from a tour of the Netherlands, and within three weeks were implementing what they learned there about promoting bicycling on the streets of their own city,” reports Jay Walljasper for Yes! Magazine.

Cities like Portland, Madison, and San Francisco are trying to make cycling a way of life. But for the best answers, American leaders must look abroad, to cities like Copenhagen in Denmark, Utrecht and The Hague in the Netherlands, and Malmo in Sweden.

Safe riding

Improving safety is the first order of business to encouraging cycling, and that means investing in infrastructure specifically for bike use. As Change.org’s Jess Leber writes, “Every time there is a senseless death, there are going to be a group of residents who decide biking is too risky for their tastes.”

Many regular bikers admit that it’s frightening to ride down a street with a gigantic, roaring beast of car quickly approaching. “When I lived in New York City, I myself was too frightened to use my bike in many parts of the city,” Leber admits.

What kind of infrastructure do we need? Designated bike lanes indicate what sort of space bikes need on the road. But bike lanes should also be physically separated from cars. In Copenhagen, for instance, “the busy roadways are lined with cycle tracks (elevated bike paths painted bright blue for distinction),” writes Campus Progress’ Jessica Newman.

In the Hague, bike paths are separate from cars and trucks, Some streets are designated as “bike boulevards,” where bikes take precedence over cars, reports Walljasper in Yes! Magazine.

Ease of use

But safe infrastructure is a waste of money if no one uses it. While cities are out building better bike lanes, they should consider adding other features that will make it as convenient to bike as it is to drive or walk. In Malmo, bike riders stopped at red lights can grab onto railings to keep their balance—”a surprisingly popular feature,” reports Grist’s Sarah Goodyear.

Another Dutch project is to improve the process of parking. “Access to safe, convenient bike storage has a big impact on whether people bike,” as Walljasper reports in Yes! Magazine.

“The car is parked right out in front of the house on the street, while the bike is stuffed away out back in a shed or has to be carried up and down the stairs in their buildings. So people choose the car because it is easier,” one Dutch policy officer told Walljasper.

More mainstream

In both Utrecht and Copenhagen, one strategy for integrating cycling into its citizens’ behavior is to teach the young. In Copenhagen, “Instead of driver’s education classes, children attend biker’s ed in the third and ninths grades, where they learn traffic laws, proper bike etiquette and general agility,” according to Campus Progress’ Newman.

Going back to Yes!, in Utrecht, cycling is also built into the curriculum:

A municipal program sends special teachers into schools to conduct bike classes, and students go to Trafficgarden, a miniature city complete with roads, sidewalks, and busy intersections where students hone their pedestrian, biking, and driving skills (in non-motorized pedal cars). At age 11, most kids in town are tested on their cycling skills on a course through the city, winning a certificate of accomplishment that ends up framed on many bedroom walls.

“To make safer roads, we focus on the children,” [city planner Ronald] Tamse explained. “It not only helps them bike and walk more safely, but it helps them to become safer drivers who will look out for pedestrians and bicyclists in the future.”

Envisioning the future

What does a city with these sorts of programs in place look like? In Copenhagen, you see “streets crowded with bikes, with riders ranging from wealthy, middle-aged businessmen to mothers in tow of three or more kids to poor college students,” Newman reports. Thirty-three percent of Copenhagen’s citizens commute by bike; in Portland, by contrast, it’s just 5.81%.

Yes! Magazine points to another way to understand the difference between biking in an American city, unfriendly to bikers, and in a European city that embraces them. In Riding Bikes with the Dutch, Michal W. Bauch compares transportation culture in Los Angeles and Amsterdam:

Increasing reliance on cycling is not impossible. The tools are already there. American cities just need to use them, and quickly.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

Weekly Mulch: Why Building a Bike-Safe City is Key to a Clean Energy Future

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

Congress couldn’t get it together to vote even on the smallest of possible energy bills—the renewable energy standard—before the October recess. That doesn’t change the reality that our energy dependent society needs to find alternatives quickly. Changing up our approach to transportation, one of the biggest sources of energy consumption, is a good place to start.

If more Americans used bicycles as a primary mode of transportation, the country would be closer to getting its energy use under control. So how can we make biking safer, easier, more mainstream? Infrastructure, safety, and education are key. It also helps to replicate model behaviors.

“Last spring, public officials from Madison, Wisconsin, returned home from a tour of the Netherlands, and within three weeks were implementing what they learned there about promoting bicycling on the streets of their own city,” reports Jay Walljasper for Yes! Magazine.

Cities like Portland, Madison, and San Francisco are trying to make cycling a way of life. But for the best answers, American leaders must look abroad, to cities like Copenhagen in Denmark, Utrecht and The Hague in the Netherlands, and Malmo in Sweden.

Safe riding

Improving safety is the first order of business to encouraging cycling, and that means investing in infrastructure specifically for bike use. As Change.org’s Jess Leber writes, “Every time there is a senseless death, there are going to be a group of residents who decide biking is too risky for their tastes.”

Many regular bikers admit that it’s frightening to ride down a street with a gigantic, roaring beast of car quickly approaching. “When I lived in New York City, I myself was too frightened to use my bike in many parts of the city,” Leber admits.

What kind of infrastructure do we need? Designated bike lanes indicate what sort of space bikes need on the road. But bike lanes should also be physically separated from cars. In Copenhagen, for instance, “the busy roadways are lined with cycle tracks (elevated bike paths painted bright blue for distinction),” writes Campus Progress’ Jessica Newman.

In the Hague, bike paths are separate from cars and trucks, Some streets are designated as “bike boulevards,” where bikes take precedence over cars, reports Walljasper in Yes! Magazine.

Ease of use

But safe infrastructure is a waste of money if no one uses it. While cities are out building better bike lanes, they should consider adding other features that will make it as convenient to bike as it is to drive or walk. In Malmo, bike riders stopped at red lights can grab onto railings to keep their balance—”a surprisingly popular feature,” reports Grist’s Sarah Goodyear.

Another Dutch project is to improve the process of parking. “Access to safe, convenient bike storage has a big impact on whether people bike,” as Walljasper reports in Yes! Magazine.

“The car is parked right out in front of the house on the street, while the bike is stuffed away out back in a shed or has to be carried up and down the stairs in their buildings. So people choose the car because it is easier,” one Dutch policy officer told Walljasper.

More mainstream

In both Utrecht and Copenhagen, one strategy for integrating cycling into its citizens’ behavior is to teach the young. In Copenhagen, “Instead of driver’s education classes, children attend biker’s ed in the third and ninths grades, where they learn traffic laws, proper bike etiquette and general agility,” according to Campus Progress’ Newman.

Going back to Yes!, in Utrecht, cycling is also built into the curriculum:

A municipal program sends special teachers into schools to conduct bike classes, and students go to Trafficgarden, a miniature city complete with roads, sidewalks, and busy intersections where students hone their pedestrian, biking, and driving skills (in non-motorized pedal cars). At age 11, most kids in town are tested on their cycling skills on a course through the city, winning a certificate of accomplishment that ends up framed on many bedroom walls.

“To make safer roads, we focus on the children,” [city planner Ronald] Tamse explained. “It not only helps them bike and walk more safely, but it helps them to become safer drivers who will look out for pedestrians and bicyclists in the future.”

Envisioning the future

What does a city with these sorts of programs in place look like? In Copenhagen, you see “streets crowded with bikes, with riders ranging from wealthy, middle-aged businessmen to mothers in tow of three or more kids to poor college students,” Newman reports. Thirty-three percent of Copenhagen’s citizens commute by bike; in Portland, by contrast, it’s just 5.81%.

Yes! Magazine points to another way to understand the difference between biking in an American city, unfriendly to bikers, and in a European city that embraces them. In Riding Bikes with the Dutch, Michal W. Bauch compares transportation culture in Los Angeles and Amsterdam:

Increasing reliance on cycling is not impossible. The tools are already there. American cities just need to use them, and quickly.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

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