Convincing the U.S. to join the Grand Alliance:

Making the case for coequal alliances and China as an enemy


Jessica D'Itri

September 2007


          ?This paper proposes how to increase the likelihood of forming a Grand Alliance of democracies, as conceived by Dr. Carlo Pelanda in his book, The Grand Alliance.?Dr. Pelanda describes the global situation as heading toward two tendencies.?The more likely scenario is that no Grand Alliance will emerge, and that the world will divide into regional blocks, the largest of which will be controlled by China.?In this scenario, China will use its position of greatest power to continue to disrupt and eventually destroy the global market.?The second, less likely scenario is the formation of the Grand Alliance, a cooperation and convergence of the world’s democracies that will contain China from gaining the global hegemony of the first scenario.?This second scenario will remedy the problem of the U.S.’s diminishing influence around the world and will place responsibility for protecting the global market in a set of hands larger than those of the market’s would-be destroyers.?As this paper advocates the second scenario, it will focus on elements that will encourage the U.S. to join the Grand Alliance.?To convince the U.S. to join the Grand Alliance, the U.S. must recognize its decreased ability to act as a governing force in world affairs and consequently accept coequal status as a member of the Grand Alliance.?Not only must the U.S. realize those things, but the U.S. must also come to view China as a threat to the global market system, not a trading partner but an enemy to the global system the U.S. wants to preserve.


The Necessity of the Grand Alliance for the U.S.

          ?This first section will examine elements that encourage the formation of a Grand Alliance.?To speak somewhat simply, from the perspective of a U.S. citizen, forming the Grand Alliance requires two things: the cooperation of the U.S. and the cooperation of other democracies.? This paper, coming from a U.S. citizen’s perspective, will focus on gaining U.S. support for the Grand Alliance.?Cooperation with the formation of the Grand Alliance will come from the U.S. with the realization that the U.S. is too small to be effective in its role as global hegemon.?This will require quite the shift in attitudes toward the U.S. and its global role, particularly concerning the U.S. public’s willingness to relinquish the “number one?status of their home country.?For example, discussion in class about the U.S. joining the Grand Alliance questioned the U.S. public’s willingness to see the U.S. as an equal of allied countries, and not as the leader.?This particular kind of national pride must be overcome in order to convince the U.S. to share global governing authority.

          ?Dr. Pelanda makes it clear that U.S. power is diminishing, and that the U.S. can no longer police the rest of the world alone.?The U.S. has not yet adjusted to this reduction in power, meaning it has not modified the structures of its alliances.?The U.S. typically forms “star?alliances, where the U.S. dominates the agreement and the other countries follow the lead of the U.S.?This type of alliance requires the U.S. to be a very strong power and is less stable than a “matrix?alliance where all powers are equal.?Since the U.S. does not have the power to be the bright star that leads the world, it must enter the Grand Alliance as an equal.?If this is to be accomplished, the U.S. must become aware of its drop in global influence.?As was discussed in class, in the past the U.S. has recognized its limits as global hegemon.? This was the case in 1973, when President Nixon signed a true with North Vietnam, ending both the Vietnam War and the public illusion that the U.S. was an unbeatable military power.?When the U.S. failed to win in Vietnam, the door was opened to considered matrix-style alliances instead of star-style alliances.?Nixon’s National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, proposed this shift away from U.S. dominance and toward coequal alliances, arguing for collective management in place of single management.

          ?Clearly, it is not beyond the capacity of the U.S. to step down from being global leader; this only requires that the right circumstances manifest themselves, so that the U.S. will realize the limits of its governance and become more inclined to join a Grand Alliance as a co-member, and not the leader.?At this time, the U.S. again is involved in a long-term, unpopular war against guerrilla factions.?This situation in Iraq, which is similar to the Vietnam War in terms of public support, may be an element to discourage the U.S. from wanting to be global leader.? Looking at public opinion polls, “Americans demonstrate growing disapproval of the US role in the world and believe that current US policy is contributing to a greater instability that could post a threat to the United States.?a style='mso-footnote-id:ftn1' href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1" title="">[1]?U.S. citizens have also become increasingly dissatisfied with the U.S.’s global role; this dissatisfaction has increased markedly since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.[2]?This dissatisfaction and doubt concerning the U.S.’s global role, similar to the dissatisfaction and doubt felt in 1973, could be the impetus needed to convince the U.S. of its fading power, and of the necessity of joining with a Grand Alliance to maintain some power in global affairs.


Convincing the U.S. to Rally against China

          ?The force behind the Grand Alliance is to act as a power large enough to check a rising China.?This means that getting the U.S. to join will involve more than convincing the U.S. it is not powerful enough to lead the world alone or that the best strategy of alliance is a membership of equals.?The U.S. will also have to be convinced of the growing threat of China.?Currently, the U.S. sways between two possibilities.?The U.S. may see China as an economic ally, a place for investment and cheap imports, or as an unstable competitor and threat to the global market system.

          ?The greatest block to persuading the U.S. to join the Grand Alliance may be a complacent public that is unconcerned with the rise of China.?Many U.S. companies are invested in China, which makes viewing China as an enemy difficult.?The prospect of bombing China, as Dr. Pelanda notes, makes the U.S. businessperson wonder, “We’ll have to bomb our own businesses??a style='mso-footnote-id:ftn3' href="#_ftn3" name="_ftnref3" title="">[3]?This economic exchange with China may be a reason that the U.S. is not very alert to the threat posed by a rising China.?Looking again at public opinion polls, most of the U.S. citizens polled believed China’s economy would grow at least as large as the U.S.’s, and they did not believe that China’s growth would have a negative global impact.[4]?A recent article in the Economist echoes this lack of concern.?The article posits China’s growth as the savior of the global economic system, not the destructor:? “The fate of the world economy now hinges not just on America, but also on China's economic fitness continuing over at least the next two years.?a style='mso-footnote-id:ftn5' href="#_ftn5" name="_ftnref5" title="">[5]?This article also mentions the close economic ties between the U.S. and China, making the two economies out to be interdependent, rather than in competition.?Currently, the U.S. is too economically tied to China to consider China an enemy.

          ?In order to convince the U.S. that the China is not an ally, but a threat, to the global economic system, the U.S. first must be weaned away from economic inter-reliance with China.?Recent events have created an opportunity to begin separating the two economies.?Lead-painted toys, poisonous pet food, and other dangerous imports from China have made U.S. consumers more wary about goods from China.[6]?This bad publicity for Chinese goods has sparked wariness and boycotts of Chinese goods,[7] creating the potential for less reliance on China without instituting protectionist economic policies.


          ?In sum, the U.S. must join the Grand Alliance in order to curb the growing, destructive influence of China on the global market.?This will require the U.S. to accept a coequal role in the Grand Alliance and to distance itself economically from China.?These two objectives will not be accomplished easily; the U.S. has grown accustomed to its role as global governor and is also very economically engaged with China.?However, current factors, like public disapproval of the U.S.’s global role, particularly concerning the war in Iraq, and wariness about unsafe Chinese imports, put these goals within reach.? Policymakers must seize these opportunities now if the Grand Alliance is ever to be realized.

[1] “US Role in the World.?span style='mso-spacerun:yes'>? September 2007.?<>

[2] Ibid

[3] Pelanda, Carlo.?The Grand Alliance:?The global integration of democracies.?Milano: Franco Angeli, 2007.

[4] “World Public Thinks China Will Catch Up With the US ?and That’s Okay.?span style='mso-spacerun:yes'>? 25 May 2007.?Program on International Policy Attitudes.?28 September 2007.?< >

[5] “How Fit is the Panda??span style='mso-spacerun:yes'>?The Economist.?27 September 2007.? September 2007.?<>

[6] “Most Americans Concerned with China Imports: Polls find U.S. consumers skittish after food, toy recalls.?span style='mso-spacerun:yes'>?Reuters.?19 September 2007.   MSNBC.? 29 September 2007.?<>

[7] Ibid