LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Pope Benedict have both recently called for global solutions to global problems. For this to happen, we require two things: a change in our consciousness so that we recognize the earth's resources are finite, and more effective international institutions that can keep us from destroying each other and the environment.
The Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) is a civil society initiative that promotes the changes we will need in both consciousness and global governance. The idea is to begin with an advisory body at the UN - a citizens' watchdog with clout - that gradually transitions into a world parliament. This would be similar to the development of the European Parliament that now has co-decision powers and is elected by over 490 million voters of the European Union.
Although just launched in April '07, the Campaign already has support from participants in 116 countries including academics, Nobel Prize winners and over 480 current parliamentarians. To see the complete list of endorsers including prominent Canadians (to which you can add your own name), go to the website of the UNPA at www.unpacampaign.org where detailed background information is also available. Join activists all over the world working toward global community and an effective, accountable United Nations.
Larry Kazdan , Vice-President,
World Federalist Movement Canada – Vancouver Branch
In response to your wise closing sentence in you January-February 2008 review of One World Democracy which stated: “If our goal is to build democratic world government, what we really need is someone to show us how to hammer nails.” Here is an excellent answer.
Since the many victims o f the nations of the world do desire freedom from the risk of being victims of war, either under dangerous military attack or under involuntary conscription into military activity or the tax burden of supporting expensive military preparedness, but believe that the political and other leaders of the nations have no desire or willingness to establish an international governmental institution, let people everywhere, including us, set out to build a major effort everywhere to adopt a “protective treaty” with no other focus or powers that might concern anyone that undesirable changes could be executed or required affecting any nation’s sovereignty or any of its other practices.
233 W. 43rd Terrace
Cape Coral, FL 33914-5909
(Editor’s Note: A good suggestion, but once again the question is, how? How do we ‘build a major effort’? What tools do we use? What tactics are available? There is still a need for someone to teach us how to hammer the nails.)
Everything that David Christensen has written (“The Titanic and Moving the Public”, in your last issue, Vol. 21, No. 2), about the current world situation is correct. It’s only fault is that it is a half-century overdue. The remedy he suggests – a federation of the genuine democracies, encouraging others to become eligible to join them – would now be far too slow in developing to the stage at which it could produce the desired results. The indispensable precondition of the resolution of global problems, world federation, is now desperately urgent. The nations have frittered away more than half a century, time which was not theirs to squander.
Among the books David mentions that he has read and re-read, none that I have written ae included (The survival of Political Man, 1950, Annihilation and Utopia, 1966, One World or None, 1993, Apocalypse and Paradigm, 2000, Earth Federation Now, Tomorrow is Too Late, 2005, and Twenty-First Century Democratic Renaissance, 2008). One of your reviewers said of One World or None that its logic was faultless but that nobody would believe me. He was obviously right. How then does one persuade people? How many readers are hominess sapientes?
All I can now suggest is that as many as possible attend the conference at Radcliff University, Virginia, on May 22-25, advertised on your back page, and arrange that it should be extended, if possible, for at least a week or more, in the hope that it may be able to produce some significant practical result. The clearly necessary practical move would be the ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, if only by 25 nations, when it would become operative.
High Wray House
Cumbria LA22 0JQ
(Editor’s Note: The question, as noted above, is how does one get 25 nations to adopt the Constitution? Or to do anything else that would lead to political world unity?)
Ed Rawson’s perception of the events leading up to WFA’s ‘death’ were for the most part accurate. They were also revealing.
First, Ed accurately portrayed the lack of conviction that he and others had by voting to abandon both the name and the mission of the only viable (if only barely existing) organization representing the most profoundly valuable form of government known to human kind.
Second, the democratic method in which those destructive changes were adopted reveals the profound weakness of ‘democracy’ as a means of solving human or global problems. If the political environment of the United States led the majority of Americans to agree to abandon the Constitution and Bill of Rights as a means of protecting themsir undisciplined and unsustainable lifestyle – would that make it the right choice?
At a point in human history (post-911/Anthrax/AIDS/Rwanda/global warming) when the need for world federation was most teachable – and urgently needed – the mission was abandoned because a ‘majority’ of so-called leaders , members and other interested parties lacked the energy, creativity, intellect courage and/or vision to acitively confront the absurdity of a vocal, well-organized minority of anti-UN Americans. Rather than take up the challenge of confronting such ignorance about the workings of the world, the UN and an indisputable means of preventing or managing global threats, the easy and wrong path was taken. I don’t expect those who choose that path to ever admit it. I have known Ed for several years as a man of means, influence and wisdom., but feel, as a minimum, that he should accept that the change over from WFA to CGS was a profound mistake in response to a well-orchestrated conservative movement that was bound to self-destruct in an irreversible interconnected world.
I find it mildly entertaining that even the Heritage Foundation is now considering the need for creation or transformation of global institutions to manage global threats:
“Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has been an alliance in search of a purpose. In the search for anew strategic concept some have proposed that NATO become a global organization ..indeed if it continues to expand, it may well become one. As we look at global threats like terrorism and proliferation, this line of thinking is fruitful. As a global power with important allies not just in Europe but Asia as well, the United States could draw into an alliance relationship its friends that are currently more loosely connected – or not connected at all, such as Australia.
“In Libert’s Best Hope: American Leadership for the 21st Century, Kim Holmes, Heritage Foundation vice president for foreign and defense policy, proposes moving beyond the Cold War paradigm and looking at a Global Freedom Alliance, whose membership would be composed of nations willing to engage in the fight against terrorism, devoted to the value of freedom, and ready to contribute to the common defense.” – Helle C. Dale, director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Forgith Policy Studies at the Heritage foundation.
315 Dean Dr.
Rockville, MD 20851
(Editor’s Note: With due respect, the Heritage Foundation proposal sounds less like an attempt at federation than a modern-day revival of the Delian League, in which some pigs would definitely be more equal than other pigs.)
THE GREAT EXPERIMENT BY STROBE TALBOT
A Review by Dave Christensen
Strobe Talbott's new book, The Great Experiment, comes with a long, inviting subtitle: "The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation." As a staunch supporter of global government for over a half century, it was the last phrase that caught my attention and nudged me to purchase a copy.
Talbott's writing is punctuated frequently with almost chatty personal accounts of his travels and experiences and he enlivens ancient history by bringing in relevant comment from the present and recent past. Talbott's account moves along quickly and smoothly, and in some places actually is a page turner. In all, Talbott's book stays quite faithfully on his examination and interpretation of the governing process among people and nations from earliest times to the present. It is well documented with many detailed footnotes and 47 pages of numbered end-notes.
In The Great Experiment's latter chapters, Talbott is especially candid about the plusses and minuses of U.S. policy during recent decades when he was a State Department insider acquainted with and working with many of the main actors.
In general Talbott's book relates the sequence of government-related events through historical time, however, there are relevant flashbacks to earlier times to make comparisons and establish useful perspectives. Also, scattered throughout the book are thirty-eight small black and white photos mostly of individuals, but also including a few of special incidents in world history. The book's front endpaper is intriguing but includes no explanation. Is it an abandoned "gypsy" encampment in Bosnoia?
Talbott's book includes three roughly equal parts of five or six chapters each. The FIRST part, titled "The Imperial Millennia," is a broad-brush review of world history from earliest times to World War I, and includes special attention to Karl Marx and America's Civil War. Part TWO of The Great Experiment picks up the narrative after World War II with flashbacks to earlier centuries. Because he figured in some of the action, Talbott recounts in some detail the beginnings of efforts toward a global federalism, the Cold War, and the decades-long efforts of the UN to fulfill its mission to eliminate war. Part THREE begins with a recounting of the end of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the European Union, and goes on to follow the increasing acknowledgement of critical environmental issues that must be faced.
Part ONE, "The Imperial Millennia," includes six chapters and reminds me somewhat of The Great Turning by David Korten and Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. Korten's and Diamond's books cover long sweeps of history, with Korten having focused on early power-sharing between men and women and the shift to dominance by men since the Agricultural Revolution. Diamond's book examines the saga human advances through the interweaving of technology, war making and disease.
Talbott also paints with a broad brush in Part ONE, but his brush paints a different picture. He traces the innovations and experiments that have engaged humans in governing themselves over the millennia, interweaving the evolution of religion with enlarging units of governance through time from tribes to nations to the present flirtation with and need for true global governance.
In the first chapters Talbott frequently cites "Christian Scriptures" as the source of his review of the earliest times, a mix of early religious stories and the doings of religious /tribal leaders. Early chapters also touch on the kings using religious symbols and believing (or at least fostering the belief) that they had a mandate from god to exert power, not just over their own tribal or (later) national territory, but over all creation.
Talbott's explanations also present biblical and historical inconsistencies.
Much of Part ONE is built around particular persons and their contributions to the evolution of political theory and practice, among them are Alighieri Dante and Thomas Hobbes. Grotius is mentioned for introducing the concept of international law in the 1600s. The invasion of the Turks and the balance of power, individual rights and federalism concepts are introduced. There are several pages about Immanuel Kant, "citizen of the world" who (according to Talbott) conceived of democracy, a federal Europe and the concept that sovereignty rests with the individual citizen. Rousseau's ideas about sovereignty also come under scrutiny.
Despite these forward looking theories about governance from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Europe continued to endure centuries of intermittent wars. In the chapter titled "Blood and Leather" Talbott shares the details that Napoleon favored a European Confederacy and that the Congress of Vienna was a precursor to the UN since both had/have five dominant countries.
Part ONE notes Charles Darwin's ultimate vision of the nations uniting, Karl Marx and Engels theorizing about workers' rights, sovereignty and empire, and revulsion against abuses of European-dominated empires that ultimately covered two-thirds of the world's lands. Through Talbott's selective biographies it is clear that the political concepts introduced by these early theorists are the building blocks of governance among the nations throughout the world as we know it now.
I was disappointed in this part of the book's last sentence: "The political transformations that began in the late eighteenth century, most spectacularly and consequentially in North America, played a key role not just in bringing European empires to an end but in putting imperialism itself of out of business and replacing it with a quite different, better set of ideas and institutions for governing the nations of the world and in the international system as a whole."
Although several new forward-looking ideas and institutions were initiated during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Talbott ignores the United States' dominated "economic colonialism" in Latin America that replaced the old fashioned European colonialism.
Talbott's Part TWO, "The American Centuries," overlaps in time with Part ONE. Talbott begins by referencing a biweekly column he wrote in 1992 titled "The Birth of the Global Nation," even though he said it might take a century to be realized. In the pages that follow Talbott explains how that term was adopted by the G.W.Bush administration with a different meaning: to establish a global nation dominated by the United States under the mantle of "manifest destiny."
Then Talbott flashes back in time to the United States' Founding Fathers.
According to Talbott, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson both harbored an idea of the United States becoming an "empire of liberty" by using "conquest without war," a nation of ideals that other groups of nations could emulate by joining together. Talbott somehow overlooks the despicable treatment of native Indians and slaves in United States history.
In a lengthy footnote Talbott quotes Robert Kagan's Dangerous Nation (Knopf,
2006) that the Civil War was "America's first experiment in ideological conquest" and reconstruction of the South was "America's first experiment in 'nation-building'" (page 133). De Tocqueville is quoted, George Kennan noted, and there are many pages about Theodore Roosevelt before and during his presidency, about his "speak softly and big stick" foreign policy style and his introduction of the term "bully pulpit."
Talbott's treatment of World War I begins by acknowledging the irrationality of human behavior, with reflections about Gavrilo Princip (Archduke Frances Ferdinand's assassin), "Great Man" theories of history, and President Woodrow Wilson's realism, idealism and naivety. "Empty Chairs," Chapter 8 in Talbott's Part II, notes Wilson's fourteen point ideals, the establishment of the League of Nations, redrawing Europe's maze of boundaries, the political tugs-of-war around the U.S. not joining the League, and the League 's modest achievements even without the increasing number of "empty chairs"
at the League's headquarters through the 1920s and 1930s.
Talbott notes German social philosopher Keyserling's proposal for a joining of the "nations of the West...to band together against those of the East," (a proposal similar to a recent proposal for the joining of Europe and the U.S. to counter China's growing power). Stalin's and Hitler's beginnings and rise to power are well described, and Talbott's story goes on with Pearl Harbor, Wendell Wilkie, the Lend-Lease Act, Churchill, the formation of the UN, the League of Nations final demise after WW II, Harry Truman and the atom bomb that ended WW II.
Several pages are used to describe the brief flurry of worldwide interest in strengthening the UN or otherwise achieving a true world government. This
effort culminated in a June 1949 resolution in both Houses of Congress to seek modifications in the UN toward its becoming a world federal government. However, with a heating up of the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR these efforts came to naught and public interest in world government waned. Talbott next relates how under the eye of eight presidents the Cold War stumbled on, even as UN agencies and bureaucracies mushroomed and UN sponsored peacekeeping efforts were begun. Part TWO closes with the fragmentation of the USSR, the steps that were taken toward the European Union, and the Reagan-Gorbachev rapprochement.
Talbott's Part THREE , "The Unipolar Decades," begins with a review of recent decades including President H.W.Bush as an "environment president," his role in international affairs, and whose first term included the 1990 short war with Iraq over Kuwait.
Talbott goes on about Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Bill Clinton and then considers "conditional sovereignty," a concept related to and augmenting human rights.
Conditional sovereignty says that a nation's sovereignty is not sacrosanct. On page 285 Talbott cites the 1975 Helsinki accords which imply that "what happens inside a country is, if it violates certain basic norms of civilized behavior and governance, the business of outsiders." This breach of the concept of national sovereignty continues to gain power.
Noting that Clinton was comfortable with diplomacy, Talbott also notes that Clinton was not comfortable with having to use force if diplomatic measures failed. This became clear in the Balkans, Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda, with worldwide consequences to U.S. prestige and the UN. Talbott's account of negotiations regarding Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia is in great detail because, as an Assistant to the Secretary of State, Talbott was deeply involved in many discussions with the U.S. president and world leaders.
In Chapter 15 Talbott writes many pages about the Clinton administration, Clinton's personal support of the UN and his private views about globalization and the ultimate emergence of an unspecified world community. Chapter 15 ends with Clinton's frustration and disappointment at the end of his two terms as president by not bringing the Israel/ Palestinian dispute to a successful conclusion and by the "hostile takeover of the executive branch [of the U.S. government] by the Republicans" in the 2000 election.
Talbott's Chapter 16 ("Going It Alone") chronicles details of recent history, with little note of changes or innovations in government that relate to "The Great Experiment" theme of his book. He recounts the "lackluster, listless quality of the [G.W.Bush] presidency as a whole" up to September 11, 2001, the speedy U.S. military response, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" debacle, the "precipitous decline in approval of the United States around the world," and the devastating reports about prisons at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
Chapter 17 ("A Consequential Aberration") begins with Talbott's long narration on President G.W. Bush's background and its possible consequences in his management of the Oval Office. Talbott mentions the neo-cons, the "Vulcans," Bush's evangelism and his "administration's virtual shutdown of American diplomacy early in its first term." Talbott also recounts in detail results from the unfortunate appointment of John Bolton to replace John Danforth as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. These consequences included the U.S. backing off of numerous multinational treaties in whose development the U.S. had played major roles, and Bolton's efforts to undermine the 101 UN reforms proposed by Kofi Annon's High Level Panel in 1994.
Talbott's CONCLUSION stands alone and begins with an exhortation on what the next U.S. administration should do to repair the damage of the G.W.Bush years. Talbott suggests it will take several generations before global government of some kind can be accomplished, but he says nothing about how such a government might come about or be facilitated. Talbott supports a standing UN police force, but sees it only "someday."
He identifies only two key challenges facing mankind: nuclear weapons proliferation and climate change (page 395). The implications of both of these are clear, but Talbott says that "Hard as preventing a spiral of nuclear proliferation may be, it is easy compared to stabilizing climate change." Talbott believes that climate change requires an intense global effort now with political will and concentrating our minds. Talbott also believes that if we humans can solve these two problems we will be buying time and gaining experience for "lifting global governance to a higher [global] level" by the time his young granddaughter has grandchildren.
In this reviewer's studied opinion the human family does not have generations of time for these things to happen. Talbott does acknowledge a new nightmare, that depending on the vicissitudes of climate change [humans may] drown, starve, or in some parts of the world, choke or freeze ourselves to death." (page 399) However, even with this acknowledgement, Talbott's analysis completely ignores the proliferation of people as a similarly multi-headed threat for our civilization and the lives of our grandchildren.
CALL TO THE ELEVENTH SESSION OF THE
PROVISIONAL WORLD PARLIAMENT
By Glen Martin
To all world citizens and persons concerned about the future of humanity:
The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) organizing agent for the Provisional World Parliament, has arranged the Eleventh Session of the Parliament to meet at Kolkata, India on Jan 5-10, 2009 in conjunction with the International Philosophers for Peace within the framework of the World Peace Thinkers and Musicians Meet Congress sponsored by ISISAR of Kolkata.
We issue this call in conformance with Article 19 of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth that grants the people of Earth the legal right to begin a Provisional World Government until such time as the Earth Constitution has been ratified under the provisions set forth in Article 17.
Both observers to the Parliament and Delegates are welcome. Both may participate in the proceedings. The developing Earth Federation Movement (EFM) is expressed in these historic parliaments held in Brighton, England (1982), New Delhi, India (1985), Miami Beach, USA (1987) Barcelona, Spain (1996) Malta (2001) Bangkok, Thailand (March 2003), Chennai, India (December 2003), Lucknow, India (2004), Tripoli, Libya (2006) and Lome, Togo (2007). The Eleventh Session in Kolkata will be such an historic event: we are building a truly new world order within the shell of the old!
Today’s world situation calls for a World Parliament to continually build the body of world law, modeling for the rest of the world the way human problems are properly addressed. It also demands immediate action to establish democratic world government in accordance with the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Global climate change continues to create disaster for peoples everywhere and is getting worse every day. Global weapons of mass destruction continue to threaten the existence of life on Earth. Depleted uranium weapons used massively in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to poison our planetary environment forever. Global tyranny under the world’s superpower increases daily. The resources of the Earth (land, forests, fisheries, clean water) disappear at astonishing rates. Pollution and toxic waste contaminate ever larger portions of the Earth. We must act now!
Registration includes the 11th Session of the Provisional World Parliament, the International Philosophers for Peace Conference, and the Conference on “Freedom, Harmony and Peace” as well as evening entertainment and other Congress tourist events for seeing Kolkata. The registration fee also includes room, board, coffee breaks, materials, organization and local transportation for the full five days of the conference. It will also include room for the sixth night for those arriving on Jan. 4 and leaving Jan. 11. Delegates must cover their own transportation costs to and from Kolkata.
Early registration before Sept. 1, 2008 will be $350 (USD) for those from hard currency countries (Japan, Europe, North America), and 2,500 Indian rupees ($63 USD) for thos from non-hard currency countries. Registration after Sept. 1 will cost $400 and 4,000 Indian rupees ($100 USD) respectively.
Send checks, international money orders, or Western Union payments made out to Institute of World Problems 00 Kolkata Conference, to Glen T. Martin, WCPA treasurer, 313 Seventh Ave. Radford, VA 2141, USA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the website at www.wcpa.biz for more information.
NEWS AND NOTES FROM ALL OVER
Vote World Government currently has its ballot and the short version of its site available in English and seven other languages: French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Russian and Hungarian. In order to be truly available to all, it needs to cover many more languages, and they are asking for someone to help translating. It takes about three hors of work, according to the people who have done the seven translations that now have. They will send a form with English on the left and boxes to be filled in on the right. Contact Jim Stark at email@example.com or visit www.VoteWorldGovernment.org for more details.
50th Anniversary of WCPA
The WCPA has issued an invitation to attend their 50th Anniversary celebration on June 26, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand, at the offices of the World Peace Envoy, 270/1 Soi 65 Petchakasem Rd. Bangkae, Bangkok, 10160. “Since 1958 the World Constitution and Parliament Association has worked tirelessly for a decent, just and prosperous world order. We have rallied world citizens to the cause, created the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, and held 10 sessions of the Provisional World Parliament. Come join us to celebrate a half century of building a decent world order.” Please RSVP via email, to Office WPE@email.com, or the North America office, firstname.lastname@example.org., or call 66-2809-2663.