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The International Order is Broken
We know this because the world’s politicians are using military means to solve what are essentially political problems they don’t know how to solve.
As the Syrian crisis rolls into its 8th year no clear winner has emerged, other than ISIS has been degraded by Western and Russian forces operating throughout Syria.
Not that Russia and the West are working together to destroy ISIS, rather, Western countries are working to destroy the evil entity to prevent it from spreading across the Middle East and the Western world, while the Russians are tearing ISIS apart because it represents an internal threat to Syria, its longtime ally.
Which are reasonable and noble goals.
But at any time since the Syrian conflict began in 2010, Western, Russian and Syrian diplomats could’ve worked out a plan to solve the terrorist problem inside Syria and could’ve wrapped up the whole mess within 24 months with relatively few civilian casualties. But they didn’t. Or they couldn’t.
The very definition of broken-ness, right there.
“No problem can be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Why Are We Broken?
When the interests of several countries align — and they still can’t put together a unified coalition — it’s a textbook case of a broken international order.
Which is how we stumbled into WWI, WWII, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghan War, and several other conflicts, such as the Rwanda genocide that killed 800,000 people in a matter of days. And we know how those wars turned out, and we know how many people were killed in total in those 20th-century conflicts.
The failure of politicians and their diplomats to find better solutions and thereby prevent those wars is appalling beyond any scale that humans can understand.
“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.”
Sometimes, very complicated problems can stem from a very simple problem.
FOR EXAMPLE: The neighbourhood’s troubled teen filling your car’s fuel tank with water overnight — although a simple act in itself — can cause serious problems after the car is driven the following morning. Such a simple act can cost a vehicle owner hundreds of dollars to repair and cause major inconvenience.
And likewise, every war fought in the 20th-century was caused by an astonishingly simple misunderstanding of human psychology by the world’s politicians and diplomats.
We are broken because those politicians believed that employing ‘Win-Lose’ thinking to solve problems was the preferred path, instead of realizing that ‘Win-Win’ thinking is a higher form of thinking that only humans can employ to solve problems.
Every war since 1900 is the direct result of employing ‘Win-Lose’ thinking to solve political problems. Another way to say it, is that every single death and injury caused by war in the 20th-century is 100% on the heads of the people who practiced politics and diplomacy in that century — because their thinking wasn’t up to the task.
Never in human history had anyone seen bungling on the scale of 20th-century world leaders.
Therefore, as the ‘default mode’ for politicians in the 20th-century was to employ ‘Win-Lose’ thinking, every serious disagreement inexorably turned into war and mega-millions died as a result.
Because the politicians of the day resorted to their animal instincts, over 250 million people were killed in war and in famines caused by war in the 20th-century. Some might call that number a conservative estimate of the total death toll.
Sobering, isn’t it?
Aren’t We Better Than That?
Apparently not. Because even today we’re still using bombs to solve the problems we’re not smart enough to solve. Problems that humans created aren’t being solved, because we’re not using the right methods to solve our problems.
So we bomb our way out of problems.
Using ‘Win-Win’ Thinking to Solve Our Problems
There are few examples of the world’s politicians using ‘Win-Win’ thinking to solve our very human psychological problems.
Ending the Cold War is the stellar achievement for diplomats in the 20th-century. And just in time, because the civilization that humans built over thousands of years came dangerously close to annihilation many times during the Cold War.
Another example of ‘Win-Win’ thinking occurred when the world’s politicians and scientists came together to sign the Montreal Protocol to eliminate chlorofluorocarbons from our supply chains; chemical compounds that were rapidly destroying the Earth’s ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol has been called ‘the most successful accord in history’.
Yet another example of ‘Win-Win’ thinking occurred when the Allied Powers joined forces after World War II to rebuild Europe using the Marshall Plan to fund food aid, reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, and to help establish a fairer world order based on peaceful relations. In postwar Japan, the Allied Powers facilitated the country’s rebuilding by purchasing billions of dollars of Japanese goods which benefited the Allied Powers as much as it benefited the former Axis Power.
Without the assistance of these, the most brilliant minds that ever lived, humanity may have become extinct long before the year 2000.
The ‘Win-Win’ thinkers who ended the Cold War, the ‘Win-Win’ thinkers who ended the use of chlorofluorocarbons, and the ‘Win-Win’ thinkers who invested in the former Axis Power economies during the postwar era, changed our world for the better (at the very least) and may be responsible for saving all life on the planet (at best).
Those examples prove ‘Win-Win’ thinking can work to solve our problems and that we don’t need to retain ‘Win-Lose’ thinking as our default problem-solving method.
Regardless of the Method we Choose, we Must Stand Up for Our Principles
President Donald Trump today authorized 3 military strikes inside Syria to hit suspected chemical weapon sites and chemical research and development facilities ostensibly used by the Syrian military.
The president cited Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution in his justification for the attack saying that Syria represented an area of strategic importance to the United States. However, there almost isn’t a place on Earth that is of less strategic importance to the U.S. and its allies, as Syria.
It may be the president misread his teleprompter — because Syria isn’t a strategic place from the U.S. viewpoint — and if he sticks to that view he will spend days or weeks defending this military action to members of the Congress and Senate.
What is of strategic importance to the United States (and what would work for members of Congress charged with upholding the U.S. Constitution) is that preventing the proliferation and use of chemical weapons is of strategic importance to the United States, and therefore, President Trump’s authorization of use of force is justified and necessary, and in the best interest of the United States.
In that way the president’s use of force is legal and justified under the U.S. Constitution, and may also serve as a deterrent to a Syrian regime that seems bent on destroying significant numbers of its population and has refused any chance to allow them escape to another country.
Choosing Humanity vs. Hubris: Why We Fight
Exterminating your own citizens because they have a different political view isn’t acceptable and no doubt President Trump is privy to images and videos from Syria that are marked classified because they’re too horrific for U.S. television viewers to see.
And let’s be honest, seeing those images hastened his decision to veer hard towards military action rather than continuing to employ so-called ‘Soft Power’ to bring about a diplomatic solution to the Syrian debacle.
It may be that punishing Syria each time it uses chemical weapons against civilians or terrorist entities will serve as an effective deterrent. However, Syrian forces may become more adept at hiding such attacks from Western eyes and ears.
“We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalized.”
Syria’s plan seems to be to kill every terrorist, every non-combatant family member of terrorists, or anyone stuck in areas known to contain terrorist entities.
While this may seem normal to dictators, it is highly offensive to civilized people. Even Syria’s ally Russia, abhors attacks on civilians and non-combatants — and Russian citizens seem extremely offended when chemical attacks are used to solve what are, in the final analysis, human problems for which the diplomats haven’t yet found solutions.
Short-term Deterrence or Long-term Mutual Success?
Whether Tomahawk missile attacks act as a deterrent to Syrian chemical weapons attacks inside Syria, or not — at least President Trump can say that America and its allies didn’t stand idly by and let it happen without challenging it.
Yet, the long-term way to solve this crisis is to show these heinous acts on every television in the world, to explain what is actually occurring there, to make chemical weapons use anywhere unacceptable to everyone, and to use ‘Win-Win’ thinking to save our broken, but still human, civilization.
When we finally adopt ‘Win-Win’ thinking as our default option to deal with human-caused problems, that will be the day that human beings finally surpass the animal kingdom in every way on this planet. And if we don’t, our short break from the threat of Cold War-style Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) will soon be over.
A sea-change is upon the United Kingdom whether some have come to that full realization or not
The relationship between the UK and the rest of the world is beginning to change as the UK exits the European Union. Not only that, but the relationship between the UK and the other Commonwealth countries is changing. And while all of that is occurring, it is also a time of change in the postwar international order.
These changes are coming and we have no ability to stop them. What we do have though, is the ability to choose whether these changes are ultimately negative or positive for Britain.
The days of ‘Win-Lose’ politics are over
When every second country (seemingly) has WMD weapons, suddenly Win-Lose doesn’t work anymore. Do we really want to solve every issue between nations with nuclear weapons? Because eventually, that’s what it will come to.
It’s great if you ‘Win’. But then you ‘Lose’ because the fallout from large nuclear explosions travel around the Earth a few times per season and nuclear particles continue to exist in the environment for decades (some isotopes linger for 20,000 years) and as everyone needs to breathe the air, eventually you will inhale and, well, (do I really have to tell you this?) your lungs will filter the radioactive isotopes out of the air.
The ‘Winners’ of a WMD conflict will also become ‘Losers’ of that conflict within months. It’s nonsensical to consider nuclear war in the 21st-century.
All of which means, that in the final analysis, international hot points must henceforth be solved by the cool hand of diplomacy.
The days of fighting for Market Share are over
More than any other country, fighting for market share no longer makes economic sense for the UK, because every other country/corporation is likewise fighting for market share.
Larger countries with serious export expertise and fully developed and long-term foreign client relationships have a distinct advantage over a born-again United Kingdom re-entering the exporting world. Fighting for market share against far superior marketing superpowers like Germany and China is like paddling upriver in a hurricane, and good luck with that.
Rather than fighting for Britain’s slice of the pie, the UK should be the one country in the world that works to make the pie bigger for everyone! wherever free markets exist.
In that way, whatever global growth occurs will benefit all exporters equally — including Britain’s born-again export economy, because the UK will have as good a chance as any to capture some of that growing pie — as opposed to fighting companies well entrenched in foreign markets and trying to steal tiny percentages of their total market share. See the difference?
“Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything by winning.” — Erwin Rommel
Rommel was right. And to adapt his truth to Britain’s new place in the world, fighting for market share in countries that are already well-served by European and Chinese exporters will gain British exporters very little and could create trade frictions between Britain and the European Union which is still the UK’s largest trading partner in the 21st-century. We don’t want that.
‘Win-Win and Growing the Market vs. ‘Win-Lose’ and fighting for Market Share
Win-Win political thinking and growing the global market is the best prescription for Britain’s economic future.
Countries with rapidly growing economies like the BRICS countries and many Commonwealth nations are the best places for Britain to concentrate its export efforts. By helping those countries to succeed more than they would have without the UK’s assistance, Britain can grow its export base by selling to people in rapidly growing developing nations enjoying their newfound discretionary income.
It’s all about rising Disposable Income in Developing Nations
The example of India is most poignant, because in that country the average discretionary income of citizens is doubling every five years; All Britain’s leaders must do now, is to work respectfully with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers to the end that British exports to India are welcome and that Indian exports to the UK are just as welcome. (It helps if both countries aren’t manufacturing and selling the same items, of course) If India sells toasters in both countries then Britain should sell kettles in both countries, if you take my meaning. The less overlap, the better.
A few years from now, when a larger percentage of India’s 1.5 billion population can afford to buy a new car, perhaps Indian companies will offer tuk-tuks, small cars and farm trucks for sale in India and the UK, while the UK sells family sedans and Landrovers in India and the UK.
Any other method of working to each country’s strengths — without stepping on each other’s toes — would also be profitable for companies of both countries. What matters is that whatever method is chosen works for companies in both countries.
With the right approach to rapidly growing countries and some standardized and respectful trade rules, the UK could help to grow the global pie, dramatically increase its own exports, keep good relations with exporting superpowers in Europe, China, and America, and be seen as a ‘White Knight’ to developing nations by playing a pivotal and ongoing role in helping them to build their economies.
That future is so much better than bickering over fractions of market share with other (and economically superior) exporting nations — the very countries that Britain depends upon in many ways.
Here’s to ‘Win-Win’ paradigms and growing the global economic pie; A plan that will work for the United Kingdom more than almost any other country — while preventing harm to Britain’s present and important trade relationships.
Imagine every UK citizen — including those serving in government working to obtain the best Brexit for all Britons — sitting down with a clean sheet of paper to write out the very best future that we could hope to obtain for British citizens, factoring-in our present level of understanding, our natural resources, our labour force, the available technology in 2017 and of course, our (very) human psychology.
It’s such a good idea — why do anything else?
Write the Future You Want
Therefore, let’s start fresh and write out the best possible future for the citizens of the United Kingdom — and just because we’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that we must always do things that way.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would’ve asked for faster horses.” — Henry Ford
Yes! Exactly! Henry Ford was right.
Which is why we now drive capable, safe, and luxurious cars, instead of riding horses specially bred for speed and long distance.
It’s called ‘that Vision thing’ and one of the foremost ‘Visioneers’ in history was… you guessed it, Henry Ford.
Not that Henry was the only one. But it takes a special kind of inspiration to look around and realize that changes are long overdue.
The ‘Win-Lose paradigm’ a.k.a. ‘The Law of the Jungle’ must disappear into the dustbin of history if we’re to survive as a species. Unfortunately, we’ve not yet seen enough of the ‘Win-Win’ vision thing, and here we are well into the 21st-century.
How Does This Thinking Apply to the UK / EU Relationship?
Were the leaders of the UK and of the EU to sit down with a clean sheet and write out the best possible future for their respective citizens, no doubt, it would look very different from the present articles of debate.
Every military person will tell you the quickest way to lose a war is to constantly defend bad positions. And that’s true in politics and in life. Far better to take an objective look at a situation, write out the best possible outcome, and always work to that script.
It’s the way of the world, and what appears as indefensible positions now will seem completely ridiculous positions a year or a decade from now.
At the very least, when we start out with a clean sheet, we start from the most positive position — instead of defending an evolved (bad) position.
Teach Us to be Part of the Solution, Instead of Part of the Problem!
Every day, we teach others how to treat us. We must always be mindful what we’re teaching others.
If we teach them that threats of violence get us to the negotiating table, we’ve taught them to be our abusers!
If, as a professional courtesy, we forward our policy proposals to them ahead of upcoming meetings with them — we’re teaching them to treat us as part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
If we teach them that we’re willing to be responsible for our items of responsibility, we’re sending the signal that we expect the same from them.
In Any Relationship, Problems Will Crop Up
It’s how you handle them that counts!
Putting on a great big voice and shouting via the media, “You owe us 100 billion euros to pay for projected future liabilities and we want the money NOW!” isn’t the best way to teach others how to treat us.
And with that kind of tone, the response will always be negative.
Such statements are the best way to make UK citizens and politicians part of the problem, instead of part of the solution.
That’s not the way to solve (what probably is) a very real problem. No doubt there will be financial costs associated with Brexit, and both sides may incur different kinds of costs, and all of it must be fairly and carefully worked out between the parties.
The EU doesn’t want to get stuck paying billions of euros worth of future pension or other social expenditures for UK citizens who work or once worked in the European Union. And that’s reasonable. Who could blame them?
I hope Prime Minister Theresa May, fresh from her council election victories, contacts the appropriate EU politicians and magnanimously expresses to them that there won’t be any problem with Britain meeting it’s commitments to the EU, and further, invites them to a working lunch at Downing Street to ask them to generally inform her and the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the concerns held by senior EU politicians regarding future British liabilities to the Union.
Not that anything should be decided then! Far from it. But European Union officials should feel comfortable enough to express their concerns and to inform the Prime Minister how they arrived at those particular numbers.
If Theresa May plays that role well, she will disarm potential EU opponents and cause them to want to show up with reasonable and defensible numbers, and they’ll arrive there in a spirit of mutual problem-solving.
Which is the only way it’s going to work.
Both sides need to get it through their heads; Brexit is either going to become a ‘Win-Win’ proposition, or it will become bloody-hell for both sides. As an educated person who lives in the 21st-century, you already know that ‘bloody-hell’ is a ‘Lose-Lose’ proposition.
And only fools engage in ‘Lose-Lose’.