Friday, June 04, 2010

Brave third world

Ever since the election of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) as a single majority political movement into the position of political decision making, i.e., the government, one of the sharpest readers of the major shift taking place in terms of the foreign policy paradigm was, without a doubt, Brazil.

Seemingly low key and humble, but equally clear minded and resolute, the two foreign ministers of this country -- Abdullah Gül and now, Ahmet Davutoğlu -- redefined the role of Turkey as a proactive regional power, seeking a larger share of global policy making. This new vision was certainly accelerated by the successful economic policies which now place Turkey somewhere between 15 and 17th position in that league.
One of the key elements that has brought Turkey and Brazil closer was the background and level of popularity of their leaders, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Rising from poor quarters and having matured in a tough political struggle, both are the driving forces for establishing their respective countries as part of what some observers call the Brave New Third World.

At the moment, perhaps much more than the debated nuclear swap deal that has been signed between Iran, Turkey and Brazil, the issue of an emerging new global deal for the reshuffling of cards has come to the fore. Doubtlessly, we are witnessing the early but strong signs of a turning point in the global scene, where economically solid, and politically ambitious, rising democracies will come to claim a stronger say in macro matters than ever before.

In a recent analysis in the World Politics Review, Dr. Daniel Kliman outlines five new actors that have become visible. China is not one of them, because it is not to be counted as a democracy. The common denominator of the new five is that they are all run by “representative governance.” I would add that they all stand out as rapidly growing economies as they continuously and aggressively open up to the globe.

They are, Kliman points out, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa.

“As these five democracies rapidly emerge as full-fledged powers with far-flung influence, their rise is cause for optimism about the future. Why? To be sure, shared values do not guarantee a complete congruence of interests. The United States, Europe, and Japan will not always see eye to eye with these arriviste democracies, as is already evidenced by differences over climate change, trade, and Iran. However, the fact that an overwhelming majority of rising powers are democracies has strongly positive implications for the nature of the global order that is coming into existence,” he concludes. He argues that the new five will be predictable, satisfyingly transparent and flexible in reshaping their policies through exchanges in lobbying and by allowing pressure from civilian groups.

This constructive presence in the reshaping global order, it is worth noting, is not categorically objected to by the US; it has only stirred up some confusion. James Traub, an analyst with Foreign Policy, seeks to help avert down negative reflexes in a fresh article titled “Whoa There, Rising Powers!” He expects President Barack Obama to recognize the values of the shift.

“There’s no question that Brazil’s interests, or Turkey’s, overlap in many places with those of the U.S. and Europe; Turkey seeks nothing more ardently than full EU membership, for instance. But in many other places, interests diverge, and the middle powers are inclined to view the current world order as an instrument to advance Western designs, not theirs. Why should they have to accept a system that permits India, Israel, and Pakistan -- non-signatories of the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] who happen to be American allies -- to have nuclear weapons while they have bound themselves not to? Why, for that matter, should they have to accept an American running the World Bank, and a Frenchman running the IMF?” asks Traub.

Global diplomacy has been increasingly strained by the complexities of issues, and in the new choreography (of what Davutoğlu calls “rhythmic diplomacy”) there will be flexible role playing by the new five (or additional others), rather than forming new blocs, simply because the new issues that challenge the world defy the existence of such blocs.

But, does that truly bother Obama? The new National Security Strategy should dispel the fears based on old thinking. It emphasizes “working to build deeper and more effective partnerships with … increasingly influential nations such as Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia -- so that we can cooperate on issues of bilateral and global concern, with the recognition that power, in an interconnected world, is no longer a zero sum game.” The report further pledges that the US “will remain dedicated to advancing stability and democracy in the Balkans and to resolving conflicts in the Caucasus and in Cyprus” and “will continue to engage with Turkey on a broad range of mutual goals, especially with regard to pursuit of stability in its region.”

As we see the “new five” promising to be a “shadow” to the “permanent five” in the new global order, as pro-solution models, a key question will be where Israel’s place and role will be. Pro-solution or pro-problem?

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