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Catfish and Cod
Friday, July 18, 2003
The prospective paradigms of the new world order.
(Link path: Winds of Change)

Today, there are five competing models of the world seriously competing for dominance of world politics. They compete to become the new paradigm that will determine the shape of the world for most of the 21st century.

UNILATERAL: favored by neocons and the Bush Administration, this model assets that any individual country -- particularly the United States -- may take whatever action it deems necessary for national and planetary security. Unilateral policy holds that such countries should consult only those countries that agree with the action to be taken. Unilateral advocates wish to avoid international organizations and agreements, dismissing them as "entangling". Implicit in this model is the assumption that the economic and military strength of the United States will be sufficient to overwhelm all obstructions to U.S. policy. George W. Bush is the foremost advocate of the Unilateral model. It is supported by the government of the United States.

UNIPOLAR: favored by Wilsonians and Gladstonians, this model assets that the United States, as the leader of the free world, should take whatever actions it deems necessary for national and planetary security. Unipolar advocates advise consulting all relevant countries and using international organizations and agreements as tools for mustering world opinion and strength. Implicit in this model is the assumption that all countries will acknowledge the United States as the world leader, and not attempt to block world actions for national purposes. Tony Blair is the foremost advocate of the Unipolar model. It is supported by the government of Great Britain.

MULTIPOLAR: favored by realpolitikers, Great Power enthusiasts, and anti-American liberals, this model asserts that a balance of powers, such as the European Great Power model (1815-1945) and the Cold War model (1946-1991), is the best model for planetary security. Multipolar advocates believe that planetary security is best acheived my mutual, negotiated consent among Great Powers. Implicit in this model is the assumption that each Power will maintain a "sphere of influence", in which its writ reigns supreme and the other Powers will not interfere. Jacques Chirac is the foremost advocate of the Multipolar model. It is supported by the governments of France, Germany, Russia, and China.

ISOLATIONIST: favored by Chomskyites, libertarians, radical Jacksonians, communists, dictators, and theocrats, this model asserts that each nation should look after its own national interest and ideology first, and that no international policy should be made on planetary security. Isolationist advocates believe that intervention of one nation by another is inherently wrong and only leads to strife, war, and troubles for both intervenee and intervened. Implicit in this model is the assumption that all planetary security problems are caused by interventionist policies, and that if the developed world commits to "beneficial" policies, then planetary security problems will cease. (The "benefiting" party in question varies wildly among ideologies.) Noam Chomsky is the foremost advocate of the Isolationist model. It is supported by the governments of North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe, and Syria.

THEOCRATIC: favored by radical Islamists, radical Southern Baptists, elements of the Hindu nationalist party BJP, and the Israeli settlement movement, this model asserts that international policy should be driven by tenets of religious beliefs, and that planetary security is secondary to the primacy of a planetary righteousness. Theocratic advocates believe that nations intervene on behalf of religious ideologies, and that is the goal of every civilization to impose its religious paradigm on the world as far as its strength will allow. Implicit in this model is the assumption that one religious paradigm will eventually reign supreme, and that this paradigm will form a benign, beneficient world order. Osama bin Laden is the foremost advocate of the Theocratic model. It is supported by the governments of Iran and, until recently, Saudi Arabia.

Your humble correspondent is a wholehearted supporter of the Unipolar model. So is Tony Blair. And his speech was a broadside against the other four paradigms.

When he speaks of the threat posed by "a fanatical strain of religious extremism.. a mutation of the true and peaceful faith of Islam," he speaks of the Theocratic model.

When he states that "In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs," he is taking on the Unilateral advocates that cry for conquest and nation-building as the sole response to terrorism.

He attacks the fallacy at the heart of the Isolationist model when he argues, "And we need to say clearly to United Nations members: 'If you engage in the systematic and gross abuse of human rights in defiance of the U.N. charter, you cannot expect to enjoy the same privileges as those that conform to it.'"

And he directly attacks his European Multipolar enemies: "There is no more dangerous theory in international politics than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitive powers; different poles around which nations gather. Such a theory may have made sense in 19th-century Europe. It was perforce the position in the Cold War.Today, it is an anachronism to be discarded like traditional theories of security. And it is dangerous because it is not rivalry but partnership we need; a common will and a shared purpose in the face of a common threat."

I believe that the Unipolar model is the most stable of the five models; it is the most likely to bring peace, security, and prosperity; and it is the model that can bring the Democrats victory in 2004.

But most important of all, it is the most optimistic of the five models. It argues that humans need not resort to dusty books to find instruction, or rely only on our own resources. It argues that we can rise above competition when necessary, and that no nation must navigate the world's troubles alone. The Unipolar model argues for hope: for a unified push towards life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the Four Freedoms, and all the causes that we consider American.

G'Quan wrote: "There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities, it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope. The death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born.
In moments of transition, no-one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us.

We know only that it is always born in pain."

From The Book of G'Kar, Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski