Less idealistic supporters of the United Nations insist that the place is important -- nay, vital -- because America must engage the world, and the U.N. is the place where deals get done. And that's true. But that's not a moral case for the U.N., it's an instrumental one.
None of this is an argument for getting rid of the U.N., though I'd certainly be happy to see it go. But it does point to the stupidity of expecting nobility and idealism from it. Sure, the U.N. does good things from time to time, but that is because good nations want to see good things done.
What would be so terrible about giving those good nations someplace else to meet? And by good, I mean democratic. A league, or concert, of democracies wouldn't replace the U.N., but it would offer some much-needed competition.
We've had to go around the U.N. before, and usually we go to NATO. That's what President Clinton did in the Balkans and what President Obama did in Libya. Now Hillary Clinton wants an ad hoc "friends of a democratic Syria" similar to the coalition that helped topple Muammar Gadhafi (and Saddam Hussein).
That's all fine, but there are problems with making these things up as you go. NATO is a military alliance. Many friends of a democratic Syria are not, themselves, democratic.
A permanent global clubhouse for democracies based on shared principles would make aiding growing movements easier and offer a nice incentive for nations to earn membership in a club with loftier standards than mere existence.