Global Crisis, As We Delve Deeper Into 21st Century


An eminent and renowned critic of the international political system and global affairs, Noam Chomsky, in his latest interview to Mehdi Hassan of Aljazeera Channel posited that the prevailing international geo-political and socio-economic environment have much analogies with the preludes of World War 2,  and if we don’t move from good intentions to resolute actions we are destined to create that part of history whose immemorial haunts and horrors still evoke morbid dystopias in our imaginations and leave us disgruntled. A similar abject glimpse of the contemporary world were reflected when another great international figure Kofi Annan, in his writing piece in New York Times leaps one step forward by portending towards the collapse of the International legitimacy and Order if the entire international system is not reshuffled in accord with the present times and emerging circumstances. A critical and comparative retrospection of the global affairs across all its tiers, ranging from political to socio-economic, and at psychological fronts depict that current world has been vociferously mired in a myriad of crisis emanating from these realms and engulfing the whole world. In addition, it seems that these crises are so multifaceted, hybrid and complex in nature, that a strong nexus among them has developed and each crises regardless of its own dimensions and magnitudes not only defends the other one from subsiding but also leads to another crises of its own extent, which all in tandems amounts to degenerating International Order, Peace and Stability.

The Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute, which keeps a track record of global military spending, contended that the global military spending that had witnessed a sharp decline in the previous decades, has now rebounded due to the re-emergence of numerous conflicts in the Middle-East and Africa. Besides, it also maintained that India in Asia, Saudi Arabia in Middle-east and Algeria in Africa remain the dominant importers of arms in their respective regions. Moreover, the swift pace of technological advancement in the arms and armaments sector followed by expansion of scope in military tactical and operational strategies as evident by: Inceptions of new war doctrines i.e Cold Start, Nuclear synchronized Conventional Warfare, Use of Proxy elements; Militarization of space and international maritime waters for instance, Development of Inter-continental ballistic missiles and Defense oriented Satellite and radar technologies, Induction of Missile defense shield and establishment of Artificial Islands at areas of strategic and commercial importance, like South China Sea; Proliferation of nuclear weapons and its associated technologies – in case of Libya, North Korea and Iran -, Massive use and incorporation of dual-purpose nuclear technology for simultaneous production of nuclear energy and premium fissile material – which is to be employed in nuclear weapons – sheds a gloomy light on the lingering tensions in the world’s geopolitical and strategic realms. On the other hand ,the strategic competition for securing supremacy and sway at international fronts among great powers and rising China in conjunction with bilateral rivalries between Pakistan and India, KSA and Iran, China and Far east states at regional terrains adds further ominous and chaotic dimension to this brewing cloud of geo-political tumult. As Thucydides postulated that conflict is inevitable when rising powers are poised to challenge the status quo, it seems that China is by no means complaisant to subjugate before US and the Western world and agreed on to accept their suzerainty over International Institution of Political, Economic and Financial Interest, thereby posing to alter the geo-political dynamics by challenging the western dominated and administered international system. China’s renewed ties with Russian Federation and Central Asia and its spurring initiatives of alternate trade and development for instance, Strings of Pearls, BRICS, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and OBOR model as a visible pushback to US pivots, String of alliances, aspirations and its web of institutions and accords such as world Bank, Asian Development bank, IMF and Trans-Pacific agreement which so many believe putatively ensure and guarantee its political clout over the distant world frontiers.

Apart from these great power rivalries, an uncertain and destabilized political landscape of Middle East which is enduring through its dire times followed by the implosion of Arab Spring which subsequently bred a new spurt of insurgent movements, politically motivated interventions and civil wars raging and spilling across almost every part of the land have triggered another episode of Cold War, enjoying global powers’ tutelage, between Iran and KSA through their respective proxies and non-state actors to gain strategic depth in areas of geo-political and commercial interest including Yemen, Syria and Iraq. While on the South Asian climate mounting tensions between two nuclear armed states, Pakistan and India, and the shifting balance of power due to the latter’s arms race, military build-up and aggressive postures which have been facilitated by the persistent discriminatory policies of international forums and world capitals towards South Asian entities, it showcases the current thrust of crises at political arenas of the globe.

The traditional conception of security has been radically modified by the vagaries of contemporary world. The massive globalization, extensive industrialization and technological revolution that at once thought to have raised the social security, mobility and lifestyle of mankind is now also widely suggested to have spawned several problems for humanity which are reckoned as non-convential challenges. These prominently include: climate change & its associated impacts; spread of infectious diseases i.e HIV AIDS, EBOLA, MALARIA,POLIO; human and drug trafficking; poverty and inflation; inequality and disparity of human beings at state and multilateral level; unbalanced globalization and loosening international cooperation; exploitation and securitization of natural resources and Bio-habitat; and terrorism.

The quantitative and judicious examination of these human-induced issues will further unearth another sort of brewing crises in humane and soci-economic ambits which emanates from these non-conventional maladies. In this regard the dispassionate analysis and findings of some important international agencies and organizations deserve special attention and mentioning as they have done a commendable work in the evaluation and assessment of these non-conventional issues. For starters, The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (UNIGPCC) in their numerous reports have regarded present global endeavors and commitments of world leaders and multilateral organizations towards the goal of Global Climatic mitigation as insufficient and inappropriate owing to the fact that global temperature keeps on rising at an inexorable rate. The scourge of contagious diseases despite the development of its cure and vaccinations still looms and plagues the different societies, particularly the third world, which has been already beset with several other plethora of problems as indicated in World Health Organization’s (WHO) numerous journals and recent press reports. Given world leader’s candid commitments towards outright suppression of illicit drug and human trafficking which have been evidently manifested in their unanimous international discourses by meteorically negotiating and ratifying multiple treaties and conventions, such as Geneva Convention on Suppression of Illicit Drug and Counterfeit Medicine, and UN General Assembly’s periodic resolutions on the subject, still the perpetual swell of this loathsome business remains intact around the globe as the mafias associated with this business have found ways to exploit the current swings of globalization in their favors. According to the Amnesty International, despite of the massive presence of US and NATO military troops, Afghanistan is the top producer and exporter of opium around the world, its ultimate destination remains developed states of Middle East, Europe, America, Central and East Asia as youth addiction towards this drug in these states has significantly increased in the last few decades. In the same way United Nations Human Rights Commission has reported exponential surge in human smuggling activities due to the escalation of civil wars, insurgent movements, ethnic and sectarian clashes in Bangladesh, Burma and certain Middle-Eastern countries.  Notwithstanding political rhetoric and international clamor about eliminating poverty and inflation at several forums of international statute, 40 percent of the world population still languishes below 1.5$/day poverty line. Whereas such large pool of 40% constitutes only 5% of the global income, the richest 15% of the world population on the contrary owned up to 85% share in the net global income. The Internationally acknowledged OXFAM research institute reported that Global wealth is being constantly concentrated in the hands of few elites thereby widening the gap between rich and poor causing inequality to rise at an alarming rate. Adding insult to the injury, World Economic Forum posited that global inequality is the most imminent threat facing the world economies and the major impediment towards global economic cooperation and integration. The economic discrepancies prevalent at state to state level could also be substantiated from the fact that the group of most developed G-7 countries comprises more than 70% of the global wealth. A glimpse of perpetuating disparity at multilateral level mirrored from the Kofi Annan remarks that the United Nations has not only failed to serve the interest of smaller and weaker nations but also has been misused at the hands of just few powers. The failure to reach consensus on Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) among the world trade organization members and impending discords between developed and developing world over certain tariff protection, barriers and subsidies, especially over agricultural products by US and other developed countries underscores the setbacks and constraints of globalization as it largely favors the developed world while shrinking the developing world’s options to harness globalization in expanding their economic horizons. Moreover, the inability of International organizations such as WTO, WB, and IMF towards the promotion of peaceful competition among international personalities and entities lends further credence to the qualms of eroding credibility of these multilateral institutions. Cognizant of the fact that South Asia is the most stressed region of the world in respect of its population and natural resources, the international organization’s criminal silence over SA states bilateral disputes and western tacit support and encouragement to India for its hawkish designs of establishing hegemony in the region by attempting to securitize all of three important natural water courses Indus, Brahamaputra and Ganges symbolized the emerging trend of securing leverage by exploiting natural resources for strategic purposes. Countries, ones that have been hailed as icons of peace and whose law and order situation has served as a model for other countries now have been experiencing a sweeping spurt of terrorist attacks by an increased sophisticated web of terrorist networks trickling across the globe by transcending borders. Apart from the rampant terrorist activities in war-torn and destabilized zones, the birth of terrorist attacks in such exclusively secured cities of the developed world highlight the unrelenting menace of terrorism circumventing the whole world. These all aforesaid terrible facts and tragic figures couple with the languid and pathetic dealing of the escalating situation by our proclaimed managers and stewards of the world capitals and international institutions unraveled the excruciating crisis in the global economic and social domains.

In this critical juncture, those liberal values and pluralist norms which envisage freedom, equality, tolerance, harmony and social justice for all and that has been possible through mankind’s valiant sacrifices through centuries besides heretofore hailed as the cornerstone and essence of 21st century modern world, the failure of the present leadership of the proponents of this moderate, egalitarian and inclusive world which was expected to deliver decisively and pragmatically in the face of these surmounting crisis, meanwhile expected to continue, protect and promote this ideal legacy throughout the world have nevertheless given space to the ultra-nationalistic, xenophobic, chauvinistic and theological forces to rise and rein in the political system of their respective societies leaving the destiny of 6.5 billion people of the world at their whims and demagogic aspirations. The ascendancy of Donald Trump at the world’s most powerful slot – The US President-, the rise of far right groups in most advanced economies of the world i.e France and Germany, Britain’s Brexit drawdown decision from EU, the consolidation of Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russian Federation, Narendra Modi’s Hindutva victory over secular India, and the resurgence of extremist and fundamentalist tendencies and orientations in the moderate Muslim societies i.e Turkey, Egypt and Bangladesh illustrates the global oriented radical departure from the liberal virtues to the one which is more offensive, aggressive and extreme in origin and purposes exemplifying another facet of global crisis across psychological and moral realms.

As the world is interdependent and intricately connected so are with today’s global crisis. The Damocles’ sword of these multi-dimensional global crises that are hybrid, complex and diverse in nature cannot be resolved with the traditional discourses developed in the 20th century hence requires a candid, pragmatic, and concerted response that must be procured through sincere political acumen and global endeavors at both national and international level, providing every stakeholder a voice and due representation. Brokering global consensus in this way requires the mainstay role of great powers to tread this bumpy path. In this way, we could harness this gruesome storm of global crisis through mutually reinforcing and collaborative strategies.

is a chemical engineer and studies Political Science at Karachi University.

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