A unique thing is happening in 2012: 4 out of the 5 permanent members (nick-named the P5) of the United Nations Security Council have major elections this year. These five countries, (China, Russia, United State of America, United Kingdom and France) all have the power to veto any Council resolution no matter how much support it may have. Only one country needs to provide a veto to stop any “substantive” draft.
The 4 countries with elections are Russia, France, the UK and of course, us.
At this point in time, Russia has already undergone its election, putting Vladamir Putin in charge. While this is not a major shift in Russia’s current international outlook, Putin will certain be bolder in his initiatives and will give Russia a fiercer voice. Russia continues to crawl forward in its actions to separate Eastern Europe into its own protective sphere (note the separatist regions as well as the missile defense problems, not to mention the quest for a EurAsia Union), that will only be sped up now that Putin has resumed control.
France is about to have their elections and currently the race is too close to call. Nicolas Sarkozy the current Presidential incumbent hails from the Union for a Popular Movement party which is the center-right political group in France. This Party, and Sarkozy in particular, has advocated greater alignment with the United States. His opponent, Francois Hollande, from the Socialist Party will probably be less supportive ofAmerica. He has very little foreign policy experience to begin with and has already announced his intentions to speed up French troop withdraw from Afghanistan. The French Socialist Party aligns itself heavily with the Europeans Socialists who push for more Pro-European Union policies.
The U. K. could be up for a serious shuffle, as well. With the recession hitting Britain as badly as the U. S., most voters want someone to blame. That person may as well be David Cameron. If local elections show any kind of trend, Cameron and his Conservative Party will not fair well in the futue. The Labor Party seems to be gaining traction. While the U. K. has a long standing alliance with America, The Labor Party’s focus has been more on human rights and an alignment with the European Socialists. This means a more isolated EU and more “aid” styled missions instead of defense. This also could affect the “EU plot” just revealed today about the EU’s super-president and the desire to “scrap” Britain. While Cameron’s administration has been less Euro-friendly, the article implies that the current government is not taking steps to prevent a dictator style EU. However, a Labor Party majority would be much happier to become deeper involved with the European Union.
The United States of America
The United States also has a big election coming up, one that looks just as close as the French. We have suffered through our own economic recession, and had more than our fair share of interceding in foreign affairs. The current President Obama, with minimal foreign policy experience has received mixed reviews at best from our population but overall his stance could not be considered “strong”. Romeny, the Republican opposition, would most likely command a more typically conservative foreign policy which would put us back on strong defense. While the change in the outlook on international relations might not be drastic, it would still be a change.
China will remain stable throughout this year. However, as the other Party chess pieces move around, China will continue to make alliances. China’s current foreign policy can best be described as whatever is economically good for them. Bailing out America’s debt? Check. Supplying N. Korea under the table? Invisible Check. It doesn’t matter either way. And now with the developing story about “blind-activist” Chen Gaungcheng we can certainly see the tedious relationship we have with them.
Any shift in power (and we’ve already seen one in Russia) can lead to instability within the P5. This is an important year internationally, one that needs to be watched more closely as we chose our moves on the world stage. Human rights and the future of the EU will be fresh on the minds of the winners at the end of 2012.