On June 26, the United Nations held a special celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter, which took place in San Francisco on June 26, 1945. It was a disappointing affair. Even UN members were somewhat surprised at the absence of any high-level representatives from the world’s leading nations. No doubt many expressed surprise at the absence of Secretary General Kofi Annan, who, though he deigned to send a message of congratulations to anniversary delegates, was conspicuous in not attending the celebration to deliver it personally.
In September, the world body will convene the 60thsession of its General Assembly. Billed as the 2005 World Summit, this session is to review implementation of its “millennium declaration, “which was adopted at the UN’s Millennium Summit in September 2000. It set out “specific, attainable goals aimed at achieving a better and safer world in the new century….” Just one year later, in September 2001, a horrific act of terror heralded mankind’s entry into a far less safe and better world than even the murderous 20thcentury had witnessed.
But even, and perhaps particularly, in this age of terror of the 21stcentury, the meetings of world bodies charged with the oversight of this planet grind on. The 15specialized agencies of the UN will all have their own special meetings designed to come to grips with the unique global problems and challenges that each agency was set up to deal with. In addition, the UN will have hosted eight high-level meetings or summits during 2005, kicking off in January with the unbelievably long-tagged International Meeting to Review Implementation of the Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and ending with the briefer-named World Summit on the Information Society in November. Sandwiched in between these will be the meetings of the various international groupings of nations—the G-4, the G-5, the G-8, the G-12, the G-20 and, presumably, any other number of nations who elect to form themselves into a “G” grouping in order to protect their individual interests by negotiating a consensus on mutual benefits to each other, often at the expense of those nations excluded from the group.
What do all these summits seek to achieve? What hope do they have of producing anything positive, considering the dynamic of geopolitical disruption that has shaken this world over the past 15 years, and, in particular, since the watershed event of 9/11?
The singular constant in international relations is human nature. This one predictable phenomenon can be relied on to convert the very best of aspirations of those who seek the genuine good for all mankind into mere Utopian pipe dreams. “This being inherently a world of opposing interests and of conflict among them, moral principles can never be fully realized, but must at best be approximated through the ever-temporary balancing of interests and the ever-precarious settlement of conflicts” (Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations).
Thus, those leaders who participate in these annual summits, should they possess a realist’s perspective, can hardly hope to achieve much. The history of such institutions has been one of issuing statements of expediency based on, at best, excessive compromise to the satisfaction of the most antagonistic of participants, or at worst, conclusions that sacrifice the goodwill of the most benevolent to the greed of the most grasping.
Established in 1999, the G-20 group includes major industrial nations and emerging market economies accounting for over 90 percent of global gross domestic product, 80 percent of global trade, and two thirds of the world’s population. At the beginning of the year, China took over the presidency of the G-20 from Germany, which held that position for the previous 12 months.
The current president, Jin Renqing, in setting the goals of his presidency, summed up: “As the host country, China sincerely hopes that the G-20 finance ministers’ and central bank governors’ meetings in 2005 will provide efficient for a and smooth communication channels, through which all members can actively engage in and benefit from candid and constructive interactions on strategically important issues in the international economic realm.”
Pleasant thoughts. But how realistic are they? A brief look at some elements of the foreign policies of just a few of the G-20 member nations should answer that question clearly.
Take China itself. A chief plank in its foreign policy is the declaration that its number-one enemy is the United States. For its part, to sustain the greed of its own consumerist society, the U.S. willingly outsources its industrial production to this declared enemy, sells off its technology to it (or allows it to be pilfered by it, as occurred under the previous U.S. administration), and in turn imports its finished goods. For this, China receives scads of U.S. dollars, courtesy of the largesse of U.S. banks extending unmanageable quantities of credit to the American consumer. Then, the declared number-one enemy of America invests these dollars in U.S. bonds! So who is it that, in reality, increasingly holds the whip hand over America’s financial and economic future?
It’s a classic formula destined to end in a global financial fiasco of unheard-of proportions. But it’s the principal arrangement of convenience upon which the whole global economy largely spins.
Consider Argentina. Nestor Kirchner, son of a Nazi who fled Germany in the Vatican pipeline known as the Ratlines, accepts the loans which the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the benevolent Western capitalists underwrite, then refuses to pay his debt. Lacking real teeth to do anything about this, all the investors can do is bite down hard and take the loss.
Then there’s Brazil, the largest country in South America, itself having been dependent on the good graces of the G-8 and central banks for handouts to assist its wavering economy in the past. Brazil’s foreign policy is an intriguing mish-mash combining anti-U.S. rhetoric with the courting of China, Russia and the EU for inward investment.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has the declared intention of building Brazil into Latin America’s first nuclear power. This policy has the ready acceptance of all three of the above—Russia (America’s foremost enemy of the Cold War), China (which has loudly and repeatedly proclaimed its hatred of the U.S.), and a German-led EU (from whence emanates increasingly hysterical invective against the American giant).
The wonder of all this is that, while we hear much concern from Washington as to Iran’s nuclear intentions, we hear little about the prospect of Brazil, so close to America’s back door, posing any imminent or future nuclear threat to that nation!
Such are the contrasting aims of only three of the larger nations within the Group of 20. There are 17 others, all with their own national agendas, all seeking to influence each other so that decisions made are to their own advantage.
What hope is there for such a global economic system as presently exists to survive, given the great disparity of national goals that obviously exists among the members of the world’s main decision-making bodies? Of what real value are the functional agencies this world sets up, such as the G-8 and G-20, to deal with global problems?
That grand old student of international relations, Hans Morgenthau, summed it up thus: “[T]he contributions international functional agencies make to the well-being of members of all nations fade into the background. What stands before the eyes of all are the immense political conflicts that divide the great nations of the Earth and threaten the well-being of the loser …” (ibid., emphasis mine throughout).
There’s simply something missing in man that would lead him to a spirit of genuine cooperation and unity at these conferences. There’s always someone willing to break a treaty, flout the law, treat any agreement reached by the members of such institutions with mere impunity. It’s a fact of human nature.
As the Apostle Paul declared, considering the troubles of the world at his time, and looking to the heart of the matter, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
This very bone-headed carnality of man stands in the way of humankind achieving the system to solve this world’s unbelievably complex problems. As Morgenthau stated, the solutions that such world bodies seek, “[in] so far as they deal with the real problem and not merely with some of its symptoms, presuppose the existence of an integrated international society, which actually does not exist” (ibid.).
It’s the system that is at fault. And the fault with the system lies in the nature of man himself! Human nature! The hope, the only hope for mankind, lies, in turn, with his potential to have that nature changed. That is something that mankind does not willingly subscribe to—though deeper thinkers, such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, have. Truly, as MacArthur stated, that change “must be of the spirit, if we are to save the flesh!”
For more on this subject, request our free booklet Human Nature: What Is It?