Transforming the United Nations From Raison dEtat to Raison de Planete
This month marks the centenary of the start of the First World War. Notwithstanding the vast transformations that we have undergone since, this great conflict remains what Winston Churchill called "a drama never surpassed."
As we face fresh turmoil around the world today, many fear history will not only repeat itself, but that we will be unable to meet key new challenges like climate change. While there is certainly cause for this concern, in 2014 we have one globally legitimate institution, born out of the disasters of the 20th century, that remains the best hope for avoiding the same mistakes in the 21st century while also stepping up the plate on global issues : the United Nations.
Paralells of 1914 and 2014
In many ways, our present circumstances are intimately related to the past hundred years - a historical trajectory shaped by what happened between 1914 and 1918 in far-reaching, not always fully appreciated ways.
The tensions and crises in regions far and wide -- which are such a pronounced feature of the present day -- are not so unlike those of the early 20th century multipolar world.
Then, as now, we had a constant interplay of domestic and international factors rendering the resolution of specific conflicts difficult and, when achieved, often extremely unstable.
Then, as now, the underlying intentions of the most important players were sometimes opaque to one another and to other actors, making for a lack of trust and insufficient commitment to achieving compromise solutions.
Then, as now, there was more than enough room for single-minded pursuits of particular goals, potentially serving as triggers for violent clashes on a much wider scale.
And then, just as now, vigorous attempts were made at manipulating public opinion to believe in the belligerence of others and the peaceful intentions of one's own side.
In order to examine a type of global situation that is still very much with us today, we have to understand the goals and motives of specific actors as much as the facts of economic strength or military capability. Miscalculation, misperception, and the adoption of maximalistic goals seem to be a feature of our times -- just as they seem to have been in the years leading to the outbreak of the First World War.
The Ukraine Case
Ukraine, of course, is the theatre where this is perhaps most clearly seen in our contemporary circumstances.
Less than a month before the Sochi Winter Olympic Games began in early February, the World Economic Forum released its 2014 Global Risks report. The word "Ukraine" did not appear at all -- an apt illustration of the fact that the crisis came about virtually without warning, chillingly reminiscent of the situation we had a century ago...
Read the complete article at The Hufftington Post > The World Post
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