2007: a political year. part two

31 Dec

Part one can be found here.

Abroad
Huge corporatocracies control our governments and shadowy agents work against the interest of global peace, international law, and environmental sustainability. In fact, never has it been more apparent that democracy is just an illusion and that all political parties operate within the same narrow superstructure. In the last decade Рand very much in 2007 Рwe have seen the fa̤ade of Western Democracy reach a nadir, as elected governments crush hard-won liberties and act with impunity across the globe, all in the name of fighting the nebulous spectre that is Islamic Fundamentalism.

The British and American governments continue to fight a war that was started illegally and – at least in Britain – lacks any significant public support. The Middle East is still in flux, with tentative steps toward peace lacking any real substance. And we, the West, do business and have strong diplomatic relations with a country that routinely liquidates thousands of political dissidents every year: China.

Is it any surprise that on a planet where 51 of the largest 100 economies are in fact corporations and not states, that we the people, seem to matter less and less to our leaders. This year the British Government quashed an enquiry into the actions of one of our top corporations, British Aerospace (BAe), which was accused of having bunged bribes to foreign nationals to grease a multi-billion pound defence contract. In 2008 the desperate state of the British Government’s morality was exposed as it disregarded the rule of law after an orchestrated campaign by BAe and the corrupt Saudi royal family. Weeks later our Queen rolled out the red carpet for a head of state who denies his subjects any religious or political freedom and prevents women from driving, and pretty much everything else. The Saudis are our friends and a strong ally in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), apparently. It’s worth noting that Riyadh finances many of the fundamentalist Madrases that educate poison young Muslims against the West.

2007 also saw Iraq get worse before it got better. Suicide bombings and violence reached record levels early in ’07, before a ‘surge’ in US troop numbers restored a semblance of order to Baghdad. Another of Washington’s solutions to the quagmire in Iraq included paying Sunnis militias to patrol their own streets, the Iraqi police having been exposed as corrupt and riddled with “enemy combatants”. The Sunnis, it appears, turned on al Qaeda forces and returned peace to their neighbourhoods, but many Americans find it hard to accept that their government is stuffing dollars into the pockets of fighters, who only a few months ago, were planting IEDs under US vehicles and mortaring its bases. “Progress” in Iraq is of course built on a foundation of sand, as no sustainable political solution has been reached by a still-born Iraqi parliament. However, one of the few pieces of legislation pushed through this cancerous institution was a law liberalising Iraq’s oil industry, a law strong-armed by the US. Priorities, it seems, have not been forgotten (remember electricity has still not returned to pre-2003 levels). And with Turkish military excursions into Northern Iraq, even the success-story that is the Kirkuk region, appears to be heading for violence.

In Central Asia a coalition between China, Russia and former Soviet Republics (the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) are asserting pressure on the US to close bases in the region (poverty stricken former states of the USSR were happy to accept US dollars prior to the rise in gas and oil prices, but now cash-flush China and Russia are happy help). America is being pinched in every direction. Indeed, China, Russia, and their acerbic bedfellows Iran and Venezuela, have grown in stature and now strut the international stage, hampering UN action in flash-points such as Darfur. Oil-drenched Russia has planted its flag below the resource-rich arctic circle and China’s military spending, not to mention its space weapons technology, is causing USPACOM to sweat. If the West continues to focus its attention on fighting a fluid, imprecise enemy on the streets on the Middle East, it may find itself marginalised and impotent as Russia and China solidify their global reach. 2007 has indicated that the unipolar world will be short-lived and that the Fukuyama-envisigned future of a global-wide market democracy is still a long way away.

Europe too has reached a nadir. As leaders push through a watered-down constitution, no-one seems willing or able to communicate a pro-European vision for the continent. Countries are pulling within themselves and politicians are pandering to nationalistic sentiments. Immigration is a key political stick for right-wingers and racial tensions are running high across Europe. If European leaders are unable to reassert the founding principles of the European Union in the coming year, it’s increasingly clear that the people of Europe will, en masse, grow weary of the project and European co-operation and economic harmony may never again capture their imagination.

Following the assassination of Pakistan’s former PM, Benazir Bhutto, we cannot be sure that the fragile stability of one of Asia’s most important states can be maintained. Myanmar (formerly Burma) is in political turmoil and with North Korea just missing the deadline to give a full account of its nuclear weapons under a disarmament-for-aid deal, it is clear that the world will still be taking shape in 2008.

In Summary
I offer no apologies for the negativity of both these assessments. The world and the UK are in a period of great change and economic uncertainty. I would love to believe that 2008 will bring greater international unity and collected action, but I doubt this will come to pass. In Britain we have a government struggling to regain lost credibility, and abroad our dreams of global democracy are in tatters.

The one bright light on the horizon is the coming US elections, and the possibility that a moderate will win the presidency. If a Clinton, Edwards, Obama, or McCain wins in November, then maybe, just maybe, this slide can be slowed and a return to rational leadership in Washington is possible. Let’s hope so…

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