Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crisis of Governance and new Generation of World Leaders


Crisis of Governance and new Generation of World Leaders

Ali Asghar Kazemi

October 25, 2008


Governing the sophisticated and diverse affairs of today’s nations has become so much complicated that goes beyond the capacity of any individual leader. This requires collective knowledge, initiative and action directed and managed by good leadership towards the fulfillment of national objectives and interests. Lack of sound management usually reveals during crisis situations, especially when it encompasses global peace and order.

September 11 crisis and its ramifications upon the international order have produced new generation of political leaders around the world which is different from the past. In the United States these changes appear more pronounced to the point of altering the course of history.

As the chances for Barrack Obama to conquer the White House increases, a new typology of leadership is emerging in the fields of political science and international relations. The new generation of world leaders seems to possess common traits and characteristics different from the traditional one. We are not yet quite sure about the direction and substance of these changes, but based on similar occurrences around the world, we may be able to build the main body of tentative new propositions which will eventually supersede the traditional theories of public opinion, governance and political leadership.

Are we experiencing a radical shift in world public opinion about the qualities and characters of political leaders? Are we witnessing fundamental changes in expectations and political taste of people on traits, capacity and orientation of leaders? Are these changes a necessary outcome of confidence crisis in leadership? Are these changes conducive to peace and harmony or we should expect more conflicts and hostilities around the world?

This introductory comment is merely the product an of an off-hand hunch which should be examined more closely by students of social sciences, politics and international relations in order to arrive at a clear and all- encompassing theory about the characteristics of emerging new leadership and governance in the world.


Without plunging deep into the old times and reminding reputes of great leaders who changed the course of history, names of famous political figures of contemporary world history, such as Churchill, de Gaulle, Eisenhower, Adenauer, Gandhi, Tito, and the likes, are still remembered with respect and grandeur. Indeed, they lived at a critical epoch of historical transformation after the Second World War when people still recognized heroes for their achievement and believed that they could save their respective nations from the moral and material catastrophe and devastation of the war.

As we move up towards our present time, we see a flagrant decline in the quality of leaders. In fact, leaders with mediocre capacity, intelligence and sense of accountability are emerging here and there whose performance is damaging the political status of their proper nations and endangering peace and order in the world. Is this the necessary outcome of the so-called “liberal democracy” and power of mass media to manipulating public opinions towards the election of weak leaders? Are new leaders more to the left or right? Are they more democratic or authoritarian? Are they more pragmatic, ethical, more pacifists or the opposite? How could we explain the current economic and financial crisis which has plunged the whole world into such deep trouble? Are we facing a crisis of leadership around the world?

Though we are not yet able to form a convincing argumentation about either of the above propositions, there is no doubt that September 11 and the subsequent events have drastically changed not only our perception, but also the political configuration and quality of leadership in the world. The truth is that we don’t have yet ready answers to these queries and in fact in some cases we have evidences to prove both sides of the dichotomy. For example, in Latin America we are witnessing the emergence of rather young aboriginal and rude leftist leaders whose main trait is feuding with the United States. They are challenging American policies and power to the point that they have become strategic allies of the Islamic regime in Iran. Though they have nothing in common with Iranian hardliners except their hostile attitude toward US, the Islamic regime is investing hard in order to gain partners and influence in the region.

In the United States, President Bush, son of a living ex-president, whose poor performance brought America and the world to the brink of political and economic insolvency, will soon leave the office eventually in favor of a democrat president who promised drastic changes in the American leadership.

How shall we explain such a strange phenomenon that may pave the way for the election of an “African-American” as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth? Is it due to the alteration of people’s political taste or shall we look to other causes for this metamorphosis? How comes that the American Public ended up to prefer a clever black man without much noble background to a war hero whose father and grandfather were among high ranking flag officers of the US Navy?

In Europe the crisis of leadership is felt all over the continent. People are protesting constantly against their leaders. They have little confidence on their government’s capacity to tackle with growing problems originated on the other side of the Atlantic. US mishandling of the post-September 11 crises by means of “hard power” has put NATO’s global mission in serious qualm and member states are not quite sure about the functionality and viability of this remnant of the cold war period. New leaders of not much charm such as France’s Sarkosy, Italy’s Berlusconi, and few others, while in deep trouble at home, are trying to identify themselves with the American political leadership. They may think that this will boost their position within EU and in the world.

East European political leaders are still in transition from the era of iron curtain to be integrated into a greater liberal community whose outcome is not yet clear. In the Middle East we have an array of left to right, from revolutionary hardliners challenging the West, to traditional conservative regimes whose new leaders are liberal minded and pro-West. Radical Muslims who staged the September 11 attacks (Al-Qaeda) are among the archenemy of this latter generation of leaders in traditional societies and earnestly seek to uproot their rules.

In the vast Asian continent, we still have the remnant of the old communist intelligentsia who have transformed to the requisites of the 21st century. Incumbent Russian leaders, who come from an intelligence background (KGB), have now partly recovered from the shock of the collapse of the old Soviet empire. While Russians are trying to follow policies dictated by their geopolitics, most of the new young republics of the Central Asia and Caucasus are mired by the American hegemony and dance to the tune orchestrated by Washington. They are also in transition and their final fate is yet to be written in future. Georgian recent experience may well be repeated in other territories of the old union.

Besides China whose pragmatic leaders are distancing from the ideological dogma of the past and are now experiencing real miracle in their economy, new political leaders in East Asia are continuing to rely on American capitalism. They already have paid very onerous price for their ties with the West and are now going through further economic hardship due to recent financial crisis in the United States. Opposition leaders will soon capitalize on the matter and embark to take over the political leadership through launching anti-capitalistic slogans which now seem to please public at large.


We had no intention to cover and exhaust all the political leaders of the world in this introductory comment. We only attempted to give exemplary samples on the emerging new generation of leaders, and pose questions rather than to provide answers or justification to the main argument. The issue seems enough worthy for further academic debates and directed researches.

As a preliminary conclusion we may advance the following hypotheses to be tested through more in-depth debates and researches:

· September 11 phenomenon has changed not only world political configuration but also altered people’s perception of leadership;

· Inability of world leaders to take appropriate measures and policies to face the dangers of what is labeled as “international terrorism” has created a crisis of governance and leadership;

· People of advanced societies no longer trust their traditional leaders and are changing political taste and orientation towards unconventional faces who promise changes;

· It is not quite sure that they will get the expected satisfaction in their choices, nonetheless they prefer to test their chances;

· Only the future can reveal the rationale and benefits of this new trend and experience for peace and order in the world.


Friday, October 10, 2008

US Economic Crisis and the Middle East

US Economic Crisis and the Middle East

Ali Asghar Kazemi
October 10 2008

The crisis that swept world financial markets in recent weeks did not surprise many analysts who expected the curse long before its occurrence. Some have compared it to the great American depression of 1930s which changed the political landscape of the world by the emergence of militarism and fascism that ended up to the Second World War.

There are solid indications that the American crisis that reverberated throughout the globe within days is a multidimensional phenomenon that seeks its causes in a number of dependent and intervening variables among which American military interventions in the Middle East and mounting threats against the Islamic regime in Iran are the most decisive.History bears good witness that the United States has always sought cure to economic crises and recession in massive military build-ups and interventions outside the American continent. Two world wars and wars in Korea, Vietnam and more recent military interventions in the Middle East are cited as vivid examples of this contention.

How far this argument is tenable in present international relations? What are the hidden dimensions of the crisis? What would be the impacts of the crisis for the Middle East as a whole and Iran in particular, as a plausible target of US preemptive strike? How the crisis should be managed in order to avoid the worse to happen?
The crisis that engulfed the world financial markets in the past two weeks was in fact not a surprise to most economic and political analysts who had foreseen the initial signs and symptoms of the anomaly well before its occurrence. Two years ago in 2006, a significant estimate was issued by the Laboratoire europĂ©en d’Anticipation Politique Europe 2020 - LEAP/E2020 which had predicted with high probability that an economic and financial crisis of a scope comparable with that of 1929 is on the way which will have most adverse political impact the world has known since the fall of the Soviet empire in 1989. It was referred to as ‘The End of the Western World we have known since 1945.' According to the same document, in case an American or Israeli military intervention is conducted against Iran, the probability of a major crisis to start rises up to 100%.

The study has based its estimates on two verifiable events related to decisions taken by two key-actors: the United States and Iran. Here is the main argument of the survey:
• On the one hand there is the Iranian decision of opening the first oil bourse priced in Euros on March 20th, 2006 in Teheran, available to all oil producers of the region;
• On the other hand, there is the decision of the American Federal Reserve to stop publishing M3 figures (the most reliable indicator on the amount of dollars circulating in the world) from March 23, 2006 onward.
According to the document, these two decisions constitute altogether the indicators, the causes and the consequences of the historical transition in progress between the order created after World War II and the new international equilibrium in gestation since the collapse of the USSR. Their magnitude as much as their simultaneity will catalyze all the tensions, weaknesses and imbalances accumulated since more than a decade throughout the international system. (LEAP/E2020)The survey further predicted in 2006 that as a consequence of the above phenomenon, a world crisis is susceptible to emerge in seven important sectors which will affect the whole planet in political as well as military fields as follow:
1. Crisis of confidence in the Dollar;
2. Crisis of US financial imbalances;
3. Oil crisis;
4. Crisis of the American leadership;
5. Crisis of the Arab-Muslim world;
6. Global governance crisis;
7. European governance crisis.
As can be seen in the above estimate, the financial crisis is just the tip of the mountain of a deeper and more systemic crisis situation which we should expect throughout the world.
There is little doubt that the first repercussion of the current financial crisis will be seen in the domestic affairs of the United States where the fate of the next American president will soon be decided. Democrats have now more chances to conquer the White House, not that they have better solutions for the crisis but just because the republicans have lost their credibility in the American leadership for sound governance.
The psychological shock of the crisis in the mind of the American public in an inopportune time will eventually lead them to vote for a democrat president, although they may not like him. The setback for the republicans is almost certain, because they ought to pay the price of horrendous mistakes of an unpopular president who engaged Americans into futile entanglements in the Middle East which is still going on. That is not to say that democrats are more pacifist or more lenient and restraint towards engaging into conflicts and hostility with their contenders, especially Iran. Since surprisingly, as I have said elsewhere, most major wars the United States engaged into were initiated by the democrats and terminated by the republicans.
Seen from the vantage point of the Islamic leaders in Iran, the crisis is yet another sign of American decadence behind which lay the invisible hands of the omnipotent Allah. They may naively think that an America in crisis will neither have the incentive nor the guts to go for a preemptive strike or put further pressure on Iran for its nuclear venture.
Unfortunately, hardliners in Iran miss an important truth. Whether they like it or not, the fate of the global economy is intimately interwoven with the American financial market. This is especially true for Iran’s two potential supporters, Russians and Chinese, whose economic viability is more exposed to the crisis than any other states. Thus, they should avoid tying their fate with unreliable partners. They should remember the financial and economic shocks of the past decades which brought down to nil Asian flourishing economy. In all of these crises the United States was able to recover smoothly at the costs of other developing and oil producing countries.
Though Iran holds important geo-strategic assets in the current crisis and so far has been able to stay somehow aloof of its negative impact, it should be cautious about taking provocative decisions that could aggravate the situation and give pretext to its contenders to further apply severe sanctions or to form a coalition for an eventual military strike.
In conclusion, the world has to cross fingers that the United States recovers safely and promptly from the ongoing crisis and does not endure much structural harm susceptible to endanger the present vulnerable international order. Otherwise, adverse condition is susceptible to further aggravate hostilities and conflicts, by spreading the plague of terrorism and militarism around the world.