THE LARGER SCENARIO
By Jacob Rempel
May 22, 2009
I comment a lot (too much) about international interactions, but I am always conscious that the big changes and especially wars are always the result of big power interactions within and among smaller nations, conflicts which middle and small powers can influence only marginally. Moreover, in the great powers as well, the citizens have very small influence on foreign policy adventures. Even democratic elections do not influence international policies much in the USA, UK, and European powers. The powerful old private interests prevail, and they seldom correspond with our interests as citizens who vote, neither do they redound to our well-being.
In each of the great powers even now, wealthy private sector interests (read corporations) are very influential among political leaders. Co-opted politicians assure us that the interests of these corporations correspond with the interests of the Nation and the well-being of the people. They assure us that international expansion of mega-corporations, and even the consequent supportive wars, will protect and promote the well-being of citizens who vote. This is a very doubtful proposition in Canada (and the USA).
Because similar “real politick” regularly functions in all the great powers, the corporations and governments of several great powers will always compete for expansion into the resource economies of smaller nations. It’s the old balance of power game.
This was called the “Great Game” when Russia and Great Britain played the game in old greater India and Afghanistan, shooting it out by proxy on the Khyber Pass. Even now, when the US is the world’s only super power, the same old balance of power interactions continue in the same locations by the same proxies, with the same victims, the same resistance movements, and the same terrorists. Now as then, leaders gain more wealth and power. More people suffer now and will continue to suffer when we forget the war.
Especially in each great power, the big corporations have international expansion ambitions supported by the political leadership in political parties. Globalised interests of these corporations are assumed by national governments to be national interests. In each great power, there is a closed circle called the industrial military complex.
More correctly, it could be called a political/industrial/military matrix. Leaders in the three components often exchange roles to help the matrix to function more efficiently to advance the interests of the Matrix.
The United Nations does many operations well, but not in mediating great power competition. The USA, Russia, China, UK, EU, India, Middle East wealth, and soon Indonesia, are all powerful enough to intervene in the internal politics and domestic economies of smaller powers. And they all do.
There are some promising initiatives to make the UN more helpful in mediating power struggles. There is a growing initiative for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly to make the UN more accountable to people. Check out their website at http://www.vcn.bc.ca/wfcvb/unpafolder/unpa_home.html
There are moves to change the membership of the Security Council to make it more representative of all the great powers and some middle powers. In my opinion, this would only perpetuate the balance of power game for the great powers and their so-called national interests. What they need is a consensus about, or else fair rules for international trade and investment policies to promote sustainable ecologically sound domestic economies, and the elimination of poverty.
If and when the great powers agree to fair rules, and also decide to accept UN mediation to resolve their competing interests, and to accept the priority interests of people in small nations, then more justice can happen, peace can prevail, and the world may yet achieve our greatest common priority --- restoring a sustainable world economy and eliminating poverty.
Historically and in the present, middle and small powers alternately invite great power alliances (read direct investments and military installations), or else they resist such entanglements. Canada even as a middle power also has a political/industrial/military matrix which has international (imperial?) interests, but Canada is undergoing a process of integration with the USA military/industrial/political matrix.
Canada’s present international policy and role is largely determined by this deepening integration with American operations. I profoundly regret this, and I want to see the process reversed as soon as possible before we become a helpless puppet in the American imperial enterprise. We still have the resources and power to restore our independence and act for peace and justice internationally and at home.
There is also a significant initiative to have The Government of Canada set up a Department of Peace. See the website http://www.departmentofpeace.ca/. Such active government policy and effort by Canada could shift the Canada’s trend away from active war toward creative initiatives for international peace and justice. and toward ecologically sustainable economies.
I rather despair of people’s democratic power to force political leaders to prioritize people’s well-being instead of the interests of international corporations. Such a change will require massive political involvement to control political parties, and some very determined smart new leaders to manage the transition to peace, justice, and ecologically sustainable economies. I hope that the optimism of activists prevails.
Jacob Rempel, Vancouver