Political Articles Part 2

General De Gaulle was no different. Even if he believed that it was possible to suppress Algerian insurgents with military means at first, he was wise enough to see that this was not a justifiable case. In this sense, he allowed the old colony to broke apart. Despite all domestic and international (French diaspora) pressurre, his view was that the game of world dominance was no longer played within the sense of old colonialism and France’s interests (and Europe’s in general) much more essential than his desire to be re-elected. Dissappointing French nationalists, he was almost killed in an assasination plot and survived a coup d’etat.
Kennedy who was  assassinated in 1963 in a plot whose details are still controversial, was not so lucky. Although, there was a time when he was even accused of treason (wanted picture) due to his “pro-communism” stance in foreign policy, precipitation and eagerness to introduce broder personel freedoms, he greatly enhanced the civil rights in the modern US. He was also far-sighted enough to comprehend that peace can not be brought by violence. So he tried to come to terms with Soviet Union, he refused to provide an air strike to Cuba and acted in commonsense when the world was in the brink of a nuclear war.
Willy Brandt, the father of the Ostpolitik, was another reactionary man. He should be deemed as one of the few men who ended the Cold War in Europe. Thanks to his reconciliatory approach, he paved the way not only for a united Germany but a united Europe as a whole. He was determined to settle with the German Democratic Republic and USSR in the defiance to severe criticism. Along with Schumann, he was also an important figure for the EU. He worked hard for the enlargement of the EEC despite France’s opposition

The Time of Non-Sense
(Cartoon by Alperen Koseoglu)

Today’s leaders, however, stuck with vicious circles of internal politics. Indeed, these issues are the reflection of bigger problems. For instance, US’s economic troubles are not the result of a few rapacious bankers. It is a systematic problem that would enable a few rapacious bankers to pull down the entire economy.  Its already tainted image in global politics (thanks to the Bush Administration) became worse due to Obama Administration’s unconditional support for Israel’s actions whether they are just or not. Even though there were high hopes for Obama when he was first elected, he was caught in the middle. He could satisfiy neither Jewish lobbies nor the international community. It is a fact that US foreign policy is at its most ineffectual state since President Monroe. Obama could not stop Israeli government to freeze new settlements let alone convince it to accept two state solution and 1967 borders. He also hesitated to decide whether to back or overthrow his fellow dictators. Regarding the problems that undermine US interests in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, among others, only a few minor changes were made. Bearing in mind the possible new recession in 2012, it would be plausible to claim that his solution for global financial crisis is also failed. (see article)

What’s worse, he did not bring concrete solutions to the problems (mainly economic in these days) of average US citizens. For instance, infamous Obamacare is literally debunked after the White House bowed down to insurance industry’s pressures and changed the bill.  He failed to curb unemployment and restrain Wall Street although the economic downturn in 2008 gave him the opportunity. There, even, is a blog just dedicated to his failures. The result is a dramatic decline in public support. According to Rasmussen Reports (see here), an electronic media company, President Obama’s approval rating decreased to 46 percent by December 2011 while it was 65 percent in April 2009.

European leaders also have a poor performance. They prefer to focus on domestic expediencies which would bring nothing more than a few votes. Latest bill by the French Parliament which would criminalize “the Denial of Armenian Genocide” is one example. Recognition of the “Armenian Genocide” is one thing, but imprisoning people who do not consider the massacre as a genocide (which is stil a controversial issue by the way), is a clear violation of freedom of speech. This would not only harm the values that the EU has built upon but also provoke Turkey which EU needs most particularly if it has an agenda on the Middle East and North Africa. Furthermore, these kinds of actions could stir Islamophobia in Europe which is already common in the continent. Last month, damaging evidence has emerged of the German authorities’ failure to stop a group of neo-Nazi terrorists who killed 10 people, robbed 14 banks and planted two nail bombs during 13 years on the run  (see here). Along with this one, recent attacks in Norway, Italy and Belgium indicate a dangerous rise in racism in Europe. And there is a real concern whether leaders who are stuck with daily politics and unable to cope with underground racist organizations is the ones Europeans really need.

European people deserve leaders who could (for instance) percieve the real reason behind the eurocrisis. The recent economic crisis in the old continent is an inevitable result of EU’s failure to forge European Citizenship. This is mainly due to its incompetencies to address common problems of people. Average Europeans still see Eurocrats as a bunch of elitists who impose on people what they really need rather than taking their view into account. Surely, there are dozens of EU mechanisms trying to introduce democracy at the continent level but in reality everyone knows that the final say lies with French and German governments. It has been witnessed during the Lizbon treaty and still being witnessed in the eurocrisis. Reluctant to abide EU rules, other national governments and European people consider the organization only as a source of finance which is not suprising for an organization which could not deliver effective solutions to global, regional and individual woes even.
More to the point, the latest summit gathered to discuss the preventive measures for an economic collapse, invigorated EU’s such mismanagement. While Germany and France tried to introduce stricter economic regulations which would allow them to track EU funds (mainly German and French taxpayers’ money) more effectively, other members strived to stretch those regulations and how to by-pass them.  Understanding the Union’s real problems, Britain has already chosen to exclude itself from the new regulatory system.

Is There a Hope?

So, can the new emerging powers bring visionary and sensible leadership to world politics? Not at the moment. First of all, their political systems are flawed. Russia is headed by an awkward Tzar, China crawls along with a repressive regime and India is still too culturally problematic to be governed by a fully-fledged democracy. And governments based on fear and coercion rather than consent, are doomed to collapse. In that sense, these countries need time to further improve their internal economic and political environment before leading world politics.
There are often some instances when we experience all of the above at the same time. Take european leaders’ narrow-mindedness, multiply it with US government’s incompetency, add indifference of emerging powers then you will have the climate change fiasco. For almost 25 years, US could not be convinced to join the system that aim at reducing/limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG). Therefore, its GHG, albeit slightly, increased for the last 20 years, irritating not only greens but also the international community as a whole. (see here) Although EU’s record is better, it has failed to convince other big emitters such as China and India to take commitments under a binding international agreement. This is mainly due to their preconditions for developed countries to undertake additional commitments arising from their historical responsibility on global warming. Hence bored with useless efforts, Canada decided to abandon Kyoto Treaty and further shattered the hopes for a global action against climate change.

It is clear that the tragedies of the early 20th century enforce people to see things in a more humanistic manner. Death of millions of people, famine and extreme poverty showed that short sighted politics could bring disastrous results. Unfortunately, today’s leaders has chosen the easy path again. Not witnessing the great disasters of mankind, they do politics narrow-mindedly rather than introducing sustainable solution to real issues at the international level. Let’s hope someone would understand why and how their ancestors dealt with global politics before it is too late.