Why Unilateral Action is Going Out Of Style

The problems we are facing today demand global mechanisms and a unified global community. Take global warming, Iran, Syria or that little thing sizzling on the back burner: nuclear weapons.

Whether you believe we are still at the point where we are just realizing this, or that this is already common knowledge, many countries still hoard individualistic strategies, weighing the benefits of their actions while paying little-to-no attention to those of the international community.

On Oct. 1, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly that Israel would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons and that "Israel will stand alone" if forced to do so. Nuclear weapons are not just Israel's problem. However, the international community is paying little attention to the threat of nuclear weapons and/or the potential backlash if Israel were to put words to action.

Unilateral action – particularly offensive action – should be discouraged. Multilateral alliances must form to address challenges or conflicts facing the global community.

In the case of Libya, U.S. involvement was a tactical shift from its previous step back from the Arab revolutions. In 2011, the missile strikes that knocked out Libyan air defense and prevented a massacre of rebels in Benghazi would have "stained the conscious of the world." Despite the country's slow initial reaction by acting months after the bloody clashes began, the Obama administration acted quickly enough so as not to diminish its influence on the outcome, leading to "deeply appreciative" sentiments in Libya.

Conversely, when Assad's opposition began in 2011, Saudi Arabia and Qatar took the lead in shaping the emerging opposition while Obama's administration largely stayed out of the game because it was uncertain that an opposition would support American values. However, allowing Saudi Arabia and Qatar to mold the opposition in exchange for its support must make the U.S. question if its lack of influence in this conflict is indirectly creating an opposition that doesn't support American values.

This inconsistency in models of global cooperation is turning the tables on this multilateral approach, bringing its efficacy into question when states can not agree, and when others feel they are forced to take action on their own - like Israel in the case of nuclear weapons, or Obama's elaboration on a foreign policy doctrine in which Washington appropriates itself the right to intervene in the Middle East in order to protect its "core interests."

Despite the unilateral approaches we can see in these few instances, multilateral alliances are the future. None of the threats plaguing the U.S. or MENA present isolated problems, but are threats to global stability and security. Strong international institutions are necessary; whether that be global organizations or multi-lateral alliances, we have yet to see them take hold on the international frontier.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Esma Mneina

Esma Mneina is completing her MA in Political Anthropology at the University of Ottawa, Canada and is pursuing her thesis on global policy, security, and development issues as they manifest in resource conflict in Latin America. Esma is a researcher for INSTEAD in Montreal, Canada, and has worked on policy projects with foreign embassies in Washington, D.C. as well as Ottawa, Canada. http://www.linkedin.com/in/esmamneina

MORE FROM

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.