The World Must Unite Against Common Threats
2015 brought us both hope and fear for the future. Global power politics continued to stir the turmoil on Syrian and Iraqi battlefields, in Eastern Ukraine, and in the competition for supremacy in the South China Sea. We also saw nations coming together in Paris to begin to mitigate the risks of climate change and the people of Burkina Faso take to the streets to foil a coup and protect their freshly-won democracy.
The year will be remembered most, however, for its grisly succession of terrorist attacks, the ceaseless flow of refugees out of the Middle East and North Africa, and, as a result, the increasing popularity of the aggressive far-right in Europe and America.
In the first two decades after the Cold War, as Washington dominated a unipolar world, peace was almost palpable across much of the globe. But then came 9/11, the subsequent War on Terror, the Afghan and Iraqi invasions, the 2008 Wall Street crash, and the Arab Spring. Born of the latter’s aftermath, a prolonged Syrian civil war has given birth to ISIS, a terrorist organization arising from the remnants of Al-Qaeda. They now threaten our globalized world by reaching well beyond their borders with gruesome messages that inspire vigilante gunmen.
Unfortunately, the major superpowers are now more divided than they have been since the Cold War ended. Russian President Vladimir Putin engages in power play in international arenas, intervening in Syria and Ukraine, while China has been asserting its new dominance in East Asia by infringing on the maritime zones of smaller nations. China and Russia are engaged in a hegemonic struggle to discredit the global position of the United States just at the time when nations need to come together to combat both climate change and terrorist agitators.
We must fight not among ourselves, but together against these threats. International competition for supremacy and divisive domestic politics at home will only delay necessary action, allow climate change to worsen, and help rogue forces increase their power and ability to threaten global stability.
In this Winter 2016 issue, The Global Intelligence analyzes the most pressing threats facing the civilized world. The Paris climate agreement showed initiative, but it lacks real commitment to preventing disastrous climate change (“Negotiating a Catastrophe”). Terrorists forces abroad can be defeated (“Two Enemies are Better than One”), but Western governments must remain vigilant to fight this enemy at home. It is necessary to find a balance in order to eliminate the threat (“A Growing Threat”) and not lose our democratic values along the way (“The Fascism of the Far Right”).
Fighting terrorism does not mean hostility towards and attacks on innocent citizens, as many newly-arisen populist extremists have encouraged. The enemy’s numbers will only grow if we act unjustly. Both Right and Left need to work together to isolate and defeat the roots of extremism in the Middle East. The values that Western democracy hold dear are needed now more than ever to combat ISIS and the invisible jihadist threat.
— Probir Kumar Sarkar
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