June 20, 2018

Too big to fail? The global conversion of threat to opportunity

HRH Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – Picture by Private Office of HRH Princess Basmah bint Saud

 

By HRH Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Founder and CEO of GURA (Global United Centre for Research and Analysis).

For some time now, we have been finding new ways to push ourselves closer to the brink, somehow reassured mistakenly by the belief that we – which is to say our system of nation states – are too big to fail.

But we are livingin a disquieting time when failureis much more likely than we think – and this starts with diplomatic failure, a process that is well and truly underway. There’s hardly a passage of time in living memory which compares with today in terms of the range and spread of conflicts, the array of politically and militarily opposed powers, and the weak and inexperienced leaderships at their helms.

Strong and ethically-driven leaders compromise and engage in diplomacy; weak leaders isolate themselves or say ‘no’ under the illusion that outright refusal is a characteristic of strength.

Nowhere more can we see this in action than in Syria. Here in particular is a theatre hosting a tragedy whose human costs are already scarcely calculable. But beyond this, Syria is being used as a venue to play out the great political game which pits proxy against proxy while their puppet masters get ever more used to playing with a free hand, emboldening their next move.But we find ourselves in this position because powers are choosing to play a game in this way. Pushing one another to the edge is an  established tactic to determine quite how far one side is prepared to go or is actually capable of going to try and gain an advantage. But we might well soon find out much more than we wanted to know.

More widely than just in Syria, we are looking at the conversion of opportunity to war, not peace. It seems that if advice is wanted, leaderships consult their generals more than their ambassadors. So,the question is: are we facing a decisive turning point in history, a moment where we choose a path from which we can’t return without catastrophe?

But the real worry is whether diplomacy can ever play a constructive and calming role again. Today, we watch conflict as if it was just another drama on Netflix. We can turn if off at the end, de-sensitised to what was going on.

We have failed diplomacy, and now diplomacy is failing us. There are more threats than possibilities. We respond to challenges with sanctions, not openings. Our aging institutions are not sufficient for the kinds of tasks we need them to fulfil. Are our political systems too big to fail? No – they are fallible like the rest of us, only as strong as the leaderships and structures which drive them.

The UN Security Council is the fundamental mechanism for decision-making within our foremost diplomatic institution, the United Nations, and if it cannot find agreement on the most pressing issues of our time, then this merely contributes to the instability.

The Permanent Five – the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and China – are clearly split down the middle, and each of them can veto a Security Council resolution at will. While the first three clubbed together in April to conduct missile strikes on targets in Syria they say were responsible forchemical weapons attacks on Syrian citizens, the last two are currently almost as diametrically opposed to the other members as they could be.

Besides: as much as each of those nations wields diplomatic influence as a member of the P5, each is also a formidable manufacturer and seller of arms. How reassured can we be in their diplomatic credentials when selling arms is fundamental to all their economies?. Beyond this, it is a basic observation that the P5 isn’t democratic in the first place. The ability to vetoa resolution in the hands of five nations is hardly the will of the world’s moral majority. In fact, the concentration of power in to the hands of the few exacerbates so many pressing issues in the world today.

The centralized elites continue to speak for the masses, denying them their true voice and masking a discontent at the way in which marginalized peripheral communities struggle. There are great imbalances in terms of the economics, politics, education, and equality between people.

Ultimately, the fundamental gap in credibility between the stated intentions and actions of those leading us is the crucial point at which we will see diplomacy fail with catastrophic consequences. In other words, we will fail, if that’s the course we set for ourselves. Sadly, this seems more likely than ever before. The upheavals in the world in this decade have been too deep and gouging. We must accept the world will not look again like it used to. There is no going back, but at least we can forge a path leading away from the current heading through dialogue.

We must give each and every community their fundamental human rights: security, freedom, education and equality. I’ve packaged it all in something called the Fourth Way Law, which can be used as a handrail. Without this, we will see what the failure of our political systems looks like.

For further information:

GURA: http://www.guraksa.com/en/

Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud: https://twitter.com/PrincessBasmah?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

http://www.diplomatmagazine.nl/2017/03/06/terrorism-prevention-in-a-globalised-world/

 

Comments are closed.