Are the UN and the International Community Both Brain Dead?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 11 Nov 2019
Given Criteria Recognizing That NATO Is Brain Dead?
The world has been confronted by the assertion by President Macron of France that NATO is “brain dead” (Emmanuel Macron warns Europe: NATO is becoming brain-dead. The Economist, 7 November 2019; NATO is suffering ‘brain death’, argues French president Macron, France24, 7 November 2019; Is NATO really suffering ‘brain death’ as French president Emmanuel Macron claims? France24, 8 November 2019).
This assertion has been variously and vigorously disputed, although some commentators are accepting that there is a degree of merit to his argument, whether or not its presentation was inappropriate (Macron Says NATO Is Experiencing ‘Brain Death because of Trump, The New York Times, 7 November 2017; Nato alliance experiencing brain death, says Macron, BBC News, 7 November 2017; Macron’s Criticism of ‘Brain Dead’ NATO Falls Flat With Allies, Bloomberg, 7 November 2017; Merkel rejects Macron warning over Nato ‘brain death’, Financial Times, 7 November 2017; Stoltenberg to Macron: NATO’s Not Dead Yet, Foreign Policy, 7 November 2017).
Rather than explore the case made with regard to NATO alone, as most will choose do, there is a case for arguing that the institutional problem recognized is far more fundamental and general. This is justified by the warnings of many commentators and institutional reports that governance at this time — whether global, regional or national — can be readily perceived to be overwhelmed in ways which indeed suggest that “brain dead” is an appropriate diagnosis. John Laughland goes so far to argue that: we have come to understand that political brain death is a contagious disease which has now infected all European leaders including, unfortunately, the current occupant of the Elysee Palace (Macron saying NATO is ‘brain dead’ may be right, but he didn’t exactly break any news here, RT, 9 November 2019).
Aspects of this argument are reviewed separately (Indicators of Political Will, Remedial and Coping Capacity? Ungovernability and indifference to analysis as engendered by increasing population, 2019). However controversial, institutional and societal collapse is variously foreseen with respect to the financial system, resources or the environment — to say nothing of the crises of democratic government, as previously argued (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? 2011).
It is not to be expected that there will be any degree of consensus on the diagnosis or the prognosis since part of the challenge is that any meaningful consensus is increasingly a mirage (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011). It has long become evident that the capacity to discuss fruitfully the complex of issues associated with such diagnosis is itself highly questionable, as argued separately (Coping Capacity of Governance as Dangerously Questionable: recognizing assumptions and unasked questions when facing crisis, 2019). The “poisonous” discourse currently recognized between opposing political factions is exemplified within the USA, the UK, France and Germany. Could it even be said that the governance of France exhibits some of the symptoms that its president attributes to NATO? What of the EU? What of other previously esteemed sources of insight, such as the Club of Rome or the World Economic Forum?
Symptomatic of institutional “brain death” at this time is the incoherence of the responses to issues framed as priorities, most notably climate change, resource issues, migration and environmental degradation. The primary array of strategic responses is framed by the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN — itself a successor to other variously forgotten frameworks which are noteworthy for their ineffectual outcome. These include the Millennium Development Goals and Agenda 21. As recently noted by the UN Secretary-General, at the present rate the financial means required for the SDGs are very far from being met, as with pledged commitments for the Green Climate Fund (Thalif Deen, UN Turns to Global Investors for Billions Needed for its 2030 Development Agenda, Other News, 29 October 2019). It is also completely unclear whether the funds, if obtained, could be effectively applied as envisaged.
It is of course President Trump who has strongly questioned the efficacy of NATO in the light of the failure of European allies to fulfill their commitments to it in terms of the purchase of arms — especially from the USA. Given its coincidental timing, the assessment of President Macron could then be readily dismissed as a riposte to the recent formal withdrawal of the US from the Climate Change Agreement — with its associated commitment of resources (Paris climate accords: US notifies UN of intention to withdraw, BBC News, 5 November 2019). This pattern raises the question as to whether that agreement is itself now to be considered “brain dead” in some way. Ironically it comes in a period in which President Trump is facing impeachment proceedings for behaviour on the part of the American people which has been repeatedly questioned by the mental health professions. As their leader, and commander of what is acclaimed as the most powerful army in the world, is the US itself vulnerable to a diagnosis of being “brain dead”?
Tags: Conflict, Emmanuel Macron, European Union, Geopolitics, NATO, Paris Climate Agreement, Politics, UN, USA, West, World
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