All at once, human-rights crises in Libya, Bahrain and Syria have brought into focus the world’s inability to arrive at a consensus on a course of action. In fact, they cry out for an authority higher than states, not to mention the United Nations, to adjudicate them and prescribe a course of unified action.
To at least as great an extent this is also true of environmental crises. As Al Gore writes in Rolling Stone:
All over the world, the grassroots movement in favor of changing public policies to confront the climate crisis and build a more prosperous, sustainable future is growing rapidly. But most governments remain paralyzed, unable to take action — even after [among other things, a] seemingly endless stream of unprecedented and lethal weather disasters.
The seas, especially, at the mercy of both climate change and foreign policy, embody the need for action by a higher authority than sovereign states. Regarding climate change, by now you may have read of a report, writes the Independent, by “a panel of leading marine scientists brought together in Oxford earlier this year by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).”
The seas are degenerating far faster than anyone has predicted, the report says, because of the cumulative impact of a number of severe individual stresses, ranging from climate warming and sea-water acidification, to widespread chemical pollution and gross overfishing. . . . The report says: “Increasing hypoxia [low oxygen levels] and anoxia [absence of oxygen, known as ocean dead zones], combined with warming of the ocean and acidification, are the three factors which have been present in every mass extinction event in Earth’s history.”
Those include such earth-shaking events as the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction 65.5 million years ago, the Triassic–Jurassic extinction 205 million years ago, and the Permian–Triassic extinction 251 million years ago. Sobering, to say the least, to our current crisis compared to those.
Regarding foreign policy and the high seas, does anything spell global apathy, impotence, and inertia as precisely as the return — with a vengeance — of pirating, a scourge we thought that, except for outliers, had gone the way of small pox? The ransoms demanded today — and paid — beggar credulity. At Moon of Alabama, Bernhard reports on a recent case, the seizure of the MV Suez, which exemplifies in a nutshell the inability or lack of will on the part of states to deal with an international crisis.
The MV Suez was captured by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden on August 2 2010. It was freed a week ago after a quite dramatic story. . . . As month after month went by the cases of the MV Suez sailors and their families grew — via the local media — into interior political issues in India as well as in Pakistan. The Indian government tried to apply pressure on the owner via the Egyptian government. . . . But the Indian government . . . showed no urgency to solve the problem. . . . Late in February the Pakistani human rights advocate Ansar Barney made phone contact with the pirates and started his own negotiations. . . . When the ransom deadline had passed without the ship owner paying, [the] Ansar Barney Welfare Trust, a humanitarian NGO, started to collect the demanded $1.1 million to free the sailors. . . . Somewhere along the Egyptian owners of the ship became furious about the court cases by the families of the Egyptian crew members on board of the MV Suez. The owners backtracked on a promise to pay some share of the ransom they had earlier agreed to [which subsequently] increased to $2.1 million.
One World Government: The Most Loaded Phrase on Earth
No matter how utopian sounding to some or dystopian to others, who fear the United States surrendering its sovereignty to George Soros and the Bilderbergers, none of these issues — from humanitarian intervention to saving the seas — may truly be resolved until or unless states finally reconcile themselves to world government.
True, serious consideration may yet take two or three generations — and an exponential increase in the degradation of the quality of life on earth. But a model exists. In an April post spurred by the Libyan intervention, I wrote that, in a 2008 column for the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman acknowledged that world government represents “the kind of ideas that get people reaching for their rifles in America’s talk-radio heartland.” But, he wrote of the European Union:
So could the European model go global? . . . a change in the political atmosphere suggests that “global governance” could come much sooner than that. The financial crisis and climate change are pushing national governments towards global solutions, even in countries such as China and the US that are traditionally fierce guardians of national sovereignty.
Once states see the benefits that other states that have cast their lot together are reaping, state sovereignty suddenly loses its luster. Ian Williams explains in a 2009 World Policy Journal article.
Ironically, Albanians, Kosovars, and Serbs — along with all their neighbors in the Balkan cockpit of nationalities — unite in sharing the same overriding ambition. They all desperately want to join the European Union, which would entail them giving up much of the sovereignty that they have been so zealously squabbling over. . . . European Union citizens can live and work anywhere they want within the EU, claim education, healthcare, and welfare benefits — and even vote in many elections. For all those nations, whose working definition of sovereignty seems to include the right, indeed the duty, to harass foreigners at the borders and inside them, this is serious self-denial in the interest of a broader human or economic security.
True, job openings for those who seek to rule countries may become scarce. But it’s a small price to pay to ensure the continuation of life on earth.