Friday, January 13, 2017

The Old Order Changeth

Errol Mendes writes that the Post World War II Order is crumbling:

As a new year opens across the globe, the post-Second World War order and the global rule of law are losing out to the rule of individual men.

The trend is most evident in the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military, along with his Syrian, Iranian and Shia Iraqi and Lebanese allies, who have been trampling the most sacred rules of war and committing the most horrific crimes against humanity against civilians in Syria. In his own country, Putin maintains the fa├žade of a ‘managed’ democracy by crushing all dissent, controlling the media and using his security and intelligence forces to suppress — or murder — opposition voices. And his actions aren’t limited to the domestic; he’s undermine liberal democracies in Europe by aiding far-right and neo-fascist parties, not to mention his ultimate adventure — the seemingly successful manipulation of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

 In China, the leadership is using its growing military and economic power to defy foundational rules of international law in the South and East China Seas, daring even the U.S. to challenge its claims over one of the most important sea lanes in the world — where $5 trillion worth of goods are transported annually. The Economist sums up how the Chinese leadership intends to ramp up its own crushing of internal dissent in an article titled, ‘China invents the digital totalitarian state’. The hundreds of lawyers and other pro-democracy activists who have either disappeared or are being held in secret jails seem to be just forerunners of what could happen to Chinese citizens in the coming years under the leadership of President Xi Jingping, as he seeks to assume all the major levers of power.

There are times in world history when everything seems to shift. This seems to be one of those times. But the shift does not look like it's for the better. If it is to be stopped, Mendes believes that nations committed to democracy and the rule of law must do three things:

First, they must use all their powers of political, economic and social persuasion to shine a bright light on the ‘post-truth’ fabrications fuelling the new authoritarianism — the terror, corruption and fraud perpetrated by this new generation of strongmen, perhaps by focusing on its undisputed leader: President Putin.
Second, they must examine their own glass houses to see how the so called Washington Consensus liberal order has produced too many losers, too many corporate robber barons, while creating a level of social inequality, job loss and poverty that begs the title “neo-feudal”.

Finally, to draw back the millions who may have wandered over to the authoritarian camp, progressive leaders, parties and governments must use the human rights agenda to promote the lives and interests of all. Martin Luther King put it best: “Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.”
The clock is ticking.

Image: Robyn Waters


Toby said...

The warning is real. Canadians are sleep walking into this. Taking selfies.

Owen Gray said...

The self absorbed are easy marks, Toby.

The Mound of Sound said...

Western democracy, as bequeathed to us by our parents in the post-war era, does indeed seem imperilled, Owen. It is no accident that our governments remain mute on this as they do on other critical issues including neoliberalism, the end of globalism, the onset of increasingly destructive climate change impacts. There is simply no one in the wheelhouse. It's infuriating to sit on the sidelines and having to watch this unfold, layer by layer.

When I watched Obama place that medal around Joe Biden's neck yesterday I had to ask myself how a nation that could produce people of the calibre of Joe Biden could install people of the calibre of Donald Trump in the White House? It beggars belief.

Owen Gray said...

There is something very appealing about Biden, Mound. He occasionally puts his foot in his mouth, but he's not a con man. Trump also puts his foot in his mouth. But he is obviously a fraud.

Owen Gray said...

I have received two Anonymous comments today which have not been initialed. I announced a couple of weeks ago that, in future, my policy will be to accept anonymous comments that have been initialed.

If the commenters will re-submit their comments with their initials, I'll publish them.

thwap said...

If Mendes wants his diatribes to be taken seriously, ... if he even wants them to be read, he should take the trouble to include the crimes of his own team. Otherwise his shrieking about international law will be dismissed as the stupid partisan ravings that they are.

I was going to list some US abominations from the past two decades, but by this point if people can't remember them, it's hopeless.

And by "hopeless" I mean that if leaders in Washington are going to be influenced by garbage such as this, then world peace has no hope. Not in the face of titanic hypocrisy on all sides. Working themselves up into rages at the crimes of the other side.

Owen Gray said...

The Post World War II order was meant to deal with outrages on both sides, thwap. It was a flawed system which allowed for lots of proxy wars. But it tried to restrain national strongmen within a legal framework. That framework is crumbling.