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Sticks and Stones in a Virtual Universe


What’s in a word when there are so many out there?



Korea’s Hallym University describes the genesis and consequences of China’s growing geopolitical arrogance. And in our final Feature, Sven Spengemann, on sabbatical from the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), posits that the future of Middle East democracy – in form and content – lies with the strategy and sophistication – and, to be sure, continued ‘spark’ – of the civic action networks that have been at the heart of the recent revolutionary action in the region. In Tête à Tête, GB speaks with Conrad Black – polymath, newspaper baron and man of letters – about the future of the printed word and the explosion of social networking. John Ralston Saul, International President of PEN International, assesses the partly depressed, partly confused state of modern political rhetoric. In Query, Timur Atnashev of Moscow’s Presidential Academy of Public Administration and Economics distills the forward trend lines for the Russian language. And the University of Sherbrooke’s Sami Aoun wagers that, on the balance of probabilities, the Assad regime in Damascus will survive. Shuvaloy Majumdar of the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute and Peter Jones of the University of Ottawa go Nez à Nez on the causes of the Arab Spring – to wit, did the Iraq war (launched in 2003) not play some material role? In The Definition, we ask former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, St. Petersburg State University’s Tatiana Romanova, Princeton’s Richard Falk and others to tell us when humanitarian intervention – of Libyan or other ilk – is justified. More plainly, we enquire – with GB’s own Marie Lavoie, the BBC’s Qiang Zhang and others – into the key languages of the next 100 years in Strategic Futures. In Situ reports come to us from Oslo, Norway, where the Viking state is slowly but surely positioning itself for victory in the Arctic; and from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner manages the intrigues of her court, party and country, while eyeing re-election in the coming months. In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, GB visits India’s Cabinet Room to gauge reactions from the Singh government. Douglas Glover closes our book in Epigram. Enjoy your Brief. | GB

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ords matter. Revolutions – major revolutions – have been launched over, and through, words. In our age of rolling revolutions, we forget that the Russian Revolution – the most important revolution of the last century – had some roots in an original argument about, yes, words: editorial policy, to be precise. Lenin and the Bolsheviks (those in the majority) broke with Martov and the Mensheviks (those in the minority) in part over editorial policy relating to the Russian-language Marxist newspaper Iskra (‘Spark’). The Bolsheviks ultimately won the debate, and wrested control over not just the medium and the message, but also the means of production and, indeed, coercion in the entire Russian Empire – and then some. The rest, as they say, is history. This Spring/Summer issue of GB sees us examine where the world is headed in this hyper-modern age of multilingualism (the EU, after all, operates in 23 languages), social media and intense international and inter-generational debates about the character of the ‘good life.’ In this new century, this ‘good life’ has many spokespeople (too many?), subtexts and trap-doors. There is no manifest destiny; only continuous argument – followed, hopefully, by better argument still. Robert Greenhill, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, starts things off by exploring the ways in which top global decision-makers package ideas and divide labour in order to digest increasingly complex ideas across a multitude of fields. In our first Feature, Jeremi Suri of the University of Texas at Austin argues for the continued relevance of the diplomat – and of her education – in a world of constant communications revolutions. GB Editor-in-Chief Irvin Studin makes the case that, while the 20th century was a geopolitically lucky and exceptional one for North America, the 21st century will herald more ‘historical’ dynamics in the form of bona fide warfare – including land warfare – on the world’s luckiest continent. New York University’s Patricio Navia explains why Spanish – yes, Spanish – is set to become (or return as) the language of ‘new elites’ in Latin America. Barthélémy Courmont of South


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Michael Barutciski, Marie Lavoie JUNIOR EDITORS Francesca Basta,

Michelle Collins, Marie-Anitha Jaotody,

EDITORS’ BRIEF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 ONE PAGER

Robert Greenhill | Rewiring the global brain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Farheen Imtiaz, Mary Elizabeth Simovic, Bronwyn Walker WEB MANAGER Aladin Alaily VIDEOGRAPHER Duncan Appleton WEB DESIGN Dolce Publishing


Daniel Buikema Fjaertoft | Oslo pushes for Arctic victory. . . . . . . . 6 Victor Armony | Dilemmes argentins et tango péroniste . . . . . . 42



Kenneth McRoberts (Chair), André Beaulieu,

Conrad Black | In praise of the written word . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Tim Coates, David Dewitt, Paul Evans, Drew Fagan, Dan Fata, Margaret MacMillan, Maria Panezi, Tom Quiggin Mailing Address Global Brief Magazine Glendon Hall, Room 301 Glendon Campus, York University 2275 Bayview Avenue Toronto, ON M4N 3M6, Canada Tel: 416-736-2100 ext. 88253 Fax: 416-487-6786 General Enquiries, Feedback & Suggestions globalbrief@glendon.yorku.ca Subscriptions globalbriefsubscriptions@glendon.yorku.ca Advertising globalbriefadvertising@glendon.yorku.ca Article Submissions: globalbriefsubmissions@glendon.yorku.ca Global Brief is published quarterly in Toronto, Canada by the Global Brief Society out of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs. The contents are copyrighted. Subscription Rates One year (four issues) for CDN $38. Two years (eight issues) for CDN $72. HST or GST applies only to purchases in Canada. Shipping and handling charges apply only to purchases outside of Canada. PM Agreement No. 41914044 ISSN: 1920-6909

John Ralston Saul | On political rhetoric, present and future. . . . . 56 QUERY Timur Atnashev | Whither the Russian language? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Sami Aoun | Est-ce que le régime syrien survivra?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 IN THE CABINET ROOM Dusan Petricic | The Indian cabinet on the killing of Bin Laden. . . 41 NEZ À NEZ Shuvaloy Majumdar vs. Peter Jones Did the Iraq war give oxygen to the Arab Spring? . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 THE DEFINITION “Humanitarian intervention is only justified when…” . . . . . . . . . 60 STRATEGIC FUTURES “The most important language(s) of this century will be...”. . . . . . 62 EPIGRAM

Douglas Glover | Language, logic and lies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64


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Glendon School of Public and International Affairs The Glendon School is Canada’s first bilingual (English and French) graduate school of public and international affairs. It combines a comprehensive bilingualism with a focus on both public and international affairs. Adopting a global perspective, the School explores the relationship between public institutions and their larger environment. Its purpose is to advance research on public and international affairs; provide a high-quality bilingual master’s programme; and offer innovative professional development programming. L’École de Glendon est la première école bilingue d’affaires publiques et internationales au Canada. Établissement d’études supérieures unique en son genre, l’École est axée sur le bilinguisme anglais-français et spécialisée à la fois dans les affaires publiques et les affaires internationales. On y explore, dans une perspective mondiale, les relations entre les institutions publiques et le contexte général dans lequel elles fonctionnent. Le mandat principal de l’École consiste à faire progresser la recherche sur des questions d’affaires publiques et internationales, à offrir un programme de maîtrise bilingue de grande qualité ainsi qu’un programme de développement professionnel novateur.







HOW DO WE TALK TO ONE ANOTHER? Meditations on the future of old diplomacy, the nature of new diplomacy, and the fate of the world’s complex conversations BY JEREMI SURI


CHANGING LUCK: NORTH AMERICA’S 21ST CENTURY WARS The continent will have to adjust, in culture and capabilities, to a far more difficult next 100 years BY IRVIN STUDIN


SPANISH BECOMING LINGUA FRANCA? Latin America’s English-speaking elites are giving way to a new middle class that fancies the language of Pizarro and Cortes BY PATRICIO NAVIA




CAN NETWORKS TURN THE ARAB SPRING INTO SUMMER? The future of Middle East democracy is with the civic action networks that started ‘the troubles’ BY SVEN SPENGEMANN

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Interrogations sur l’attitude de la Nouvelle Chine PAR BARTHÉLÉMY COURMONT


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Rewiring the Global Brain How new communications technologies and old-fashioned human organization and trust can facilitate new-century dialogues




wiring are essentially the same as those enjoyed by humankind’s caveman ancestors some 20,000 or 30,000 years ago. Today, people still tend to have tribal instincts; they have a limited circle of close connections (which, even for the Facebook generation, appears to generally plateau at around 100 other people); they tend to learn experientially; and they often react to stressful situations by reverting to behaviour patterns that worked in the past – even if the actual working context has changed markedly. The global brain must be ‘rewired,’ as it were. This means bringing together the capabilities of groups and individuals from around the world in a wholly interconnected way in order to reflect the inter-relationships of the myriad challenges faced in this new century. One leading approach to this ‘rewiring’ has identified some 78 different global issues, assembled the top 15 to 20 thought-leaders in each of these fields, and then physically brought these 1,500 thought-leaders – all told – together once a year in order to increase the aggregate mutual understanding and problemsolving capacity across the key issues. (A sobering statistic: while experts in these exercises tended to know 70 percent of the other experts in their own group, they tended to know only 10 percent of the key experts in other groups that they had identified as most critical to resolving their issues.) An essential element of rewiring the global brain will be renewing ‘how we talk to each other’ – this, evidently, in light of the said new communications technologies. Lengthy written texts are increasingly irrelevant when trying to address complex, dynamic issues with a heterogenous set of global actors. Convening and catalyzing the right conversations with the right players is becoming more important than any amount of erudite deskwork. Successful dialogue – or perhaps more precisely, multilogue – will be the synapses that increases the connections between the different nodes of global challenges. The best conversations – and multilogues – evidently take place in a climate of mutual trust. No surprise, then, that a recent review – conducted by the Gates Foundation and others on the innovative partnerships that are transforming Africa – concluded: “If you want an effective partnership, start by getting to know your partner.” | GB

Robert Greenhill is Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. Previously, he was President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and President of the International Group of Bombardier Inc.

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n the immediate aftermath of last year’s Haiti earthquake, while many traditional interveners – starting with nation-states – struggled to cope with the scale of the disaster, Digicel used its cellular network to transfer US $10 million in free telephone credits instantly to its two million Haitian subscribers. Google implemented a ‘Person Finder’ tool to help families reunite. UPS, TNT and Agility pooled efforts to quickly move needed materials into the country. Just as they have since the dawn of time, communications technologies – and their cognate, transportation technologies – are revolutionizing human affairs – and with these, the world’s strategic, economic and socio-political affairs. The recent Facebookcum-Google-cum-Twitter-fuelled revolutions in the Arab world are but the latest manifestations of an age-old trend of technical revolution upending inflexible political systems. The old broadcast model – with a central, executive group deciding what is to be discussed – is gone. We can each decide what we wish to talk about, and how much energy we invest in initiating and responding. For businesses and governments, the words of Xenocrates – “I have often regretted my speech, never my silence” – may once have proved useful, but they are no longer instructive or viable in a world in which issues go viral in minutes, and in which opinions are framed within hours. Silence is no longer an option; it is an abdication. Attempts to silence others are also increasingly ineffective. When the Mubarak regime cut down Egyptian Internet and mobile lines, Google and Twitter launched a ‘Call to Tweet’ service, which meant that people with landlines could call a number to leave a voice ‘tweet’ on a voicemail. Other citizens could call the same number to listen to the tweet. The Arab expatriate community took this a step further – self-organizing a group of volunteers who would translate these voice tweets into English and French, and then broadcast them on Twitter. So how to organize in today’s highly connected, multi-stakeholder world in order to absorb and benefit from these new-century innovations? The massive expansion in information available to all has not increased by one minute the time available for its absorption. While technology advances at an ever-accelerating rate, the human brain and its


Norwegian Grand Strategy and the Arctic


The Viking state has seen the prize, and is quietly positioning itself for victory DANIEL BUIKEMA FJAERTOFT reports from Oslo

T Daniel Buikema Fjaertoft is a Russian and Arctic affairs analyst with the Norwegian think-tank and consultancy

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Econ Pöyry.


he Arctic is once again at the centre of Norwegian foreign policy. Indeed, Norway seems to be a step or two ahead of its Arctic peers – Russia, Canada, Denmark and the US – in implementing a very practical, resultsoriented Arctic strategy. To be sure, polar exploration and industry have played a signal role in forging the modern-day Norwegian state and its strategic self-perception. Fridtjof Nansen, Ronald Amundsen and their fearless crews fostered national pride through their exploration of polar regions in what was widely seen as a contest with other nations led by the likes of Robert F. Scott, Robert E. Peary and many others. Antarctic whaling grew into an important national industry, and Svalbard (Norway’s Arctic archipelago) was home to trappers and coal miners. Today, with rising energy prices and diminishing prospects for extraordinary oil and gas profits in mature areas of the Norwegian continental shelf, the ongoing international claims process under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the ever-growing pace of climate change, the Arctic has again climbed to the top of Norway’s strategic agenda. It is, as it were, Norway’s key strategic theatre for the 21st century. (See the serial articles on the Arctic and strategy by Michael Byers, Lloyd Axworthy and Dan Hurley, and Charles Emmerson in GB’s Winter 2010, Spring/Summer 2010 and Fall 2010 issues.) The Norwegian Arctic is in the midst of securing its future as an offshore oil and gas province, with record interest having been registered for the Barents Sea among companies participating in the 2010-2011 licensing round. Norway’s claims under the UNCLOS process in 2009 have gained international legal support, and Norway and Russia recently brought closure to their 40-year old Arctic border dispute (see below). Moreover, 2011 may still be the year when Russia’s Gazprom, Norway’s Statoil (the country’s semi-national oil company, or semi-NOC) and France’s Total finally commit to joint development of the daunting, but seminal Shtokman project. Note: Even if this does not happen, Norway’s oil and gas industry will still develop its ties to Russia, as Arctic exploration and production move inexorably eastward, and as the new Barents Sea border and cross-border operations gain significance relative to Norway’s more traditional bilateral relationship with the UK in the North Sea.

Norway’s present-day Arctic strategy is focussed on cooperation, rather than on contest. Cooperation with other Arctic nations – and with Russia, in particular – is essential for ensuring sustainable resource management, and for supporting UNCLOS as a framework for Arctic governance; and not least for avoiding too much open dispute over Svalbard – in which all signatory states to the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 are given non-discriminatory access (at least onshore), and in which the equal access provisions apply to the archipelago’s potential economic zone. Norway’s coalition government – comprising the Labour Party, the Centre Party and the Socialist Left Party, and headed by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labour Party) – launched its High North Initiative in 2006. The Initiative put the Arctic and the High North (a concept in fact coined by the Norwegian government to cover Norwegian Arctic territory, and especially the Barents Sea and neighbouring foreign areas) at the very centre of Norwegian foreign policy. (Other Norwegian strategic priorities have been support for NATO and the UN – including in the wars in Afghanistan and now in Libya – as well as action on global climate change and on third world development.) The Initiative created strong linkages to domestic policy; that is, to regional development efforts for Norway’s northernmost provinces. The Initiative has three principal pillars: resource extraction (oil and gas, fisheries, and new types of marine and biological resources); knowledge accretion; and, to be sure, Norway’s relationship with Russia. The Initiative has received domestic criticism for not being genuine or credible – at least in terms of budget allocations – and for not producing concrete results. Nonetheless, from an outsider’s perspective, Norway’s achievements in the Arctic are marked, and include extension of the Arctic shelf, the recent border deal with Russia and, more globally, a burgeoning oil and gas industry. Snohvit – outside of Hammerfest, Norway’s northernmost city with a shopping mall – was discovered in 1981 during the last surge of Arctic exploration. With development approved by Parliament in 2002, Snohvit became, in 2007, the first productive offshore gas field above the Arctic Circle, and broke the world record for northernmost liquefied natural gas (LNG) following government tax concessions and major cost overruns. Goliat was discovered nearby in 2000, and promises to become the first productive Arctic offshore oil


Sea, and more and more people are losing faith that it will be developed at all. In the future, Norway will require adequate industrial development not only indigenously, but also on the Russian side – both to develop potential cross-border fields and to reach an activity level in the region that is sufficient to unleash economies of scale. The challenge is that Russia does not seem willing to reform its offshore licensing policy in ways that would make explora-

tion and production commercial. Indeed, in Russia, inadequate, ad hoc solutions are still preferred to a fundamental policy review that introduces a clear and predictable role for private and foreign companies. Without a doubt, Norway’s High North Initiative is also about territorial conquest; that is, securing Norway’s sovereignty over Svalbard and surrounding natural resources, as well as shelf extension under UNCLOS. Norway gained – as mentioned, as the first among the Arctic States – UNCLOS support for shelf extension in 2009. This extended the Norwegian shelf by some 10 percent – roughly the area of Great Britain. However, the extent of the Kingdom’s exclusivity rights to the seabed under the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) around the Svalbard Archipelago is still contested. Norway has claimed that the Svalbard Treaty gives Norway the right to the seabed and economic zone around Svalbard, and that the treaty’s equal access provisions for other nations only apply to the islands themselves. Other signatory states disagree. In the aggregate, Norway’s grand strategy will involve managing all of these complex dynamics to ensure continued national wealth and advantage as an oil and gas producer and exporter. Growth potential in hydrocarbons south of the Polar Circle having all but vanished, if Norway’s GDP and employment are to avoid devastating contractions, then there is little doubt that exploration and development of national Arctic petroleum resources will be among Norway’s key priorities in this early new century. | GB

In 2007, Snohvit, in northern Norway, became the first productive offshore gas field above the Arctic Circle.

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field when it comes onstream in 2013. Having said this, Russia’s Prirazlomnaya platform is supposed to be towed to site in the summer, making this Pechora Sea project the very first Arctic offshore oil field. However, considering that project’s track record of repeated delays over the last decade, there is no guarantee that this will happen, or that production will follow suit. For many years, Snohvit and Goliat seemed to be all that there was to find in the Norwegian Barents Sea. Poor exploration results raised doubts about whether the region could become the industrial locomotive that Norwegian strategists had envisioned. But just when hopes were at an all-time low, Statoil announced a substantial oil discovery on the Skrugard prospect (150 to 250 million barrels of extractable oil equivalents), north of Snohvit – calling it the most significant petroleum ‘event’ of the last decade on the Norwegian continental shelf. Indeed, for an oil nation that has seen discovery sizes diminish as the shelf has matured, a new, semi-large discovery has engendered new national excitement and optimism about the Arctic, and Statoil claims to be positioning itself for ‘swift’ development. April 27th, 2010 marked the end of a 40-year dispute between Norway and the Soviet Union – and later Russia – over the border in the Barents Sea. Some 175,000 square kilometres that were previously off limits for petroleum exploration and production were split into two equal parts, opening up a new province for the Norwegian oil industry – all the while laying the groundwork for future cooperation with Russia on development of cross-border fields. The deal is seen as significant not only because of the area’s sizeable oil and gas potential, but also because it increases general investor (and indeed political) interest for exploration and development in the Norwegian Eastern Barents Sea. (Of course, alongside oil and gas, Norway will continue to cooperate with Russia on the management of the fish stocks of the Barents Sea – arguably the best managed and richest fishing ground in the world.) For its part, Russia is lagging on Barents Sea development, which may before long prove to be a constraint for Norwegian projects. Despite ambitious strategies, the Russian government has granted state-controlled Gazprom and Rosneft a monopoly over Arctic exploration and production – depriving other stakeholders (including the state-owned majors themselves) of incentives to invest. Of course, should Russian Arctic development pick up speed, there is no guarantee that the focus of this pickup will be in areas close to the Norwegian border. Thus far, the Shtokman project – among the world’s ten largest gas fields, located 550 kilometres north of Murmansk – has been at the centre of RussianNorwegian cooperation in upstream oil and gas. But Shtokman is but a one-off for the Russian Barents




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The Written Word, Politics and the Words of the Future


GB talks broadsheets, Facebook and Twitter with legendary newspaper man CONRAD BLACK

GB: Is print dead the world over? Black: No, not dead. It is commercially beleaguered because of fragmentation of the market, but there is still a huge body of opinion that prefers to read something on paper – and it is not just elderly traditionalists like myself. It gets even to younger people. So no, print is not dead. But competition and variety have certainly impinged on it. GB: What is the future of the newspaper medium?

GB: Is there a particular political, social or cultural importance still attached to the print medium? Black: To answer that intelligently would frankly require more research than I have done. But again, I think that people over the age of 40 probably have a bias in favour of reading on a page, rather than on a screen. Beyond that, however, depending on the kind of publication in question, there is a greater

Conrad Black is a historian, columnist and former publisher of the British Telegraph newspapers, the National Post – which he founded – and many others. He has written biographies of Maurice Duplessis, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard M. Nixon.

GB: Do you despair of the hyperactivity or intensity of the rise of social media and the possible displacement of print and its historical role in political life? Black: I do not despair. I have a related reaction, which is to ignore it. I absolutely refuse to have anything to do with any of it. Twitter and Facebook and all that – I would have no idea how to connect to it, and I will not do it. It is an outright boycott. I admit that this is a reactionary response, but I am afraid that if I got into that sort of thing, then there would be no end to it! A relative of mine – if he goes out to a restaurant, he announces it to the world via social media. Ten times a day, it is: “I’m going to the bookstore. I’m going to the baseball game.” Who cares? What on Earth have we done here? GB: What do you think this says about where the world is going – politically and geopolitically? Black: Ninety percent of communications today are completely superfluous. We obviously must have freedom of expression, but the contemplative life, I suspect, is gradually becoming more tempting. In the end, this is the social equivalent of the velocity of money in economic terms, where we are getting more and more communication, but not really more content – or not appreciably more content. I suppose that this increased communication gives a greater sense of participation and self-importance

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Black: I think that the newspaper as we have known it is basically going to maintain more of a printed format than is widely thought. What you will get is an elaboration of home printing devices. Newspaper subscribers will subscribe to a famous title like the New York Times or a title that has a great deal of goodwill in the trademark, as well as credibility in its editorial function. A subscriber will say that he or she wants particular emphasis on, say, the financial news or on the activities in, say, the Republican Party. The newspaper will operate a 24-hour news channel, steadily updated on the Internet. From time to time – as the subscriber wishes or by prearranged decision – the publisher will fax him or her the newspaper; however, the paper will come out of a printer that has a ‘newspaper-like’ format – rather than a full-sized broadsheet newspaper page. There will also be a straight printed edition for commuters. Print will survive, and some of the great newspaper names will endure because, in an Internet world, there are very few Internet sites that are real draws. But a site calling itself the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal could be such a draw. I think that reading remains a relatively high-end activity – even on a screen.

credibility to something that is actually tangible. This does not apply so much to a recitation of breaking news as it does to interpretative things, or to more reflective comments or analyses. If you are reading a 5,000-word essay on the Middle East or something related, it is generally thought to be much more powerful and palatable if the essay is printed than if it is available to you only on the screen. The fact is that the flow of information and entertainment is now so overwhelming that if you had only five hours of sleep a day, and spent the other 19 hours poring through everything that was available to read and to watch, you would certainly not get it all. So as choice becomes more and more overwhelming, the editorial function becomes more and more important.


to a great many people, but, as I say, I simply cannot face it. Having said this, I must admit that these new media are very helpful in oppressive societies like Iran and in the Arab world (see the Feature article by Sven Spengemann on civic action networks and the Arab Spring at p. 44). I would be remiss if I did not say that. They have evidently been very helpful in organizing protest groups in these despotic countries.

Print will survive,

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and some of the great newspaper names will endure because, in an Internet world, there are very few Internet sites that are real draws. And I think that reading remains a relatively high-end activity – even on a screen.


GB: What is the impact of this new-century mix of print and social media on political rhetoric (see the Tête à Tête interview with J.R. Saul at p. 56)? Black: That is an interesting question. My first response is that this new mix tends to condense rhetoric, such that we are getting into a kind of sound-bite politics – a politics that is at the other end of the spectrum from the days of the six-hour debates between Lincoln and Douglas as public entertainment. Where those debates were too lengthy, today’s debates are not lengthy enough to really reveal much, or to challenge us intellectually. I keep hoping that public taste will require – and that the free market will provide – alternatives that make the most of these things without trivializing or vulgarizing them too much. GB: Who are the political actors or leaders in this early new century who impress you? Black: If we could go back a little farther, I thought Reagan was tremendously effective. Thatcher had the genius of the phrase, too, and she was very effective. I guess Tony Blair was pretty good – in some ways – and so was Bill Clinton; both communicated well. I think Obama’s techniques are clearly very proficient, but he is running a serious danger of being faux eloquent. He is facile and fluent, but there are real problems with content at times. The just-retired president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, was very effective in mobilizing his followers – and I do not mean in a rabble-rousing way. He had such a phase of rabble-rousing earlier on, but he was on the whole a very capable president, and in general a man of moderation. Benjamin Netanyahu is – in English, and I understand also in Hebrew – a formidable speaker. And so is Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine. GB: Is there a confluence of views or general agreement across the nations or continents about the identity and nature of the key ideas in this early 21st century? Or is there too much cacophony out there for a narrative to have yet been developed? Black: Things are a little more coherent than that. It always comes down to the best economic model, and then you get obviously straight social questions

on top of this model, as well as the strategic element – that is, what you are trying to accomplish with your foreign policy. Certainly, the hugely amplified accessibility of communications devices – as you say, the cacophony – makes it harder to extract or distill the real subject of discussion. However, this subject is still there if you can slog through the cacophony. In the US, for instance, I have been astounded at the sluggishness with which American public life has been coming to grips with the problem of the country spending more than it has. The US, which must have the most sophisticated discussion of public policy of any country in the world (notwithstanding a lot of superficial nonsense, of course) simply seems to be incapable of getting its political class to focus on the national deficit and debt problem. I just find this astounding. I am being a little Americacentric here, but this same American political class could not cope with immigration; it could not cope with abortion – which it fumbled into the lap of the judiciary – and it has not really coped with the whole controversy of disparity and distribution of wealth. Again, I want to be clear that I think that a great deal of what is uttered on all of these subjects is nonsense, but that is not the point. All of these are important public issues, and the legislators and the administrations of the country have essentially ducked all of them. This is evidently not what you elect and pay legislators and leaders of governments to do – and if it is a practice that is carried on long enough, then it ramifies very unfavourably in the public life and morale of the country. GB: Do you think that the act of writing still has a ‘revolutionary’ quality to it in the 21st century? Black: I do, and I think that it can – not just in intellectual circles, but also in popular circles. You are, of course, referring to Thomas Paine and people like that; or even Jefferson – even if old-style pamphleteering is perhaps dead. GB: Is there a change in our understanding of literacy? Black: Literacy in all senses is generally in decline because of the standards of public education in most countries. I have done a bit of teaching in the past few years with relatively disadvantaged people. They all claim to have got to Grade 9 or 10 in the US, but most of them could not write a sentence; they could not add a column of figures. They came along quickly; that is, there was nothing wrong with their basic intelligence – and it is not that I am such a genius as a tutor. Still, I am afraid that standards of state education systems in major Western countries in low-income areas have deteriorated terribly. I almost had the impression that when I was in

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of communications today are completely superfluous. We obviously must have freedom of expression, but the contemplative life, I suspect, is gradually becoming more tempting.


school – and I went to generally higher-income level schools – even people from poorer areas universally knew the three Rs. Everybody knew how to write a sentence, and to add and subtract and multiply and divide. I do not think that this is the case anymore. And everybody knew basic history. Again, I do not know that this is the case anymore, and I do not have any confidence that it is. This is a phenomenon in the whole field of education, and I suspect that the teachers’ unions in one country and another have played a baneful role in this. Basic standards have deteriorated – and certainly in the US, by a proper measurement of literacy, things have deteriorated markedly. This is quite worrisome. And this is not a function of money, for the concentration of resources devoted to education is immense. Rather, we are not getting value for money. GB: Have new media changed our understanding of, or the very nature of, political ideologies? Black: I do not think so. It is more likely that they have made political packaging more multi-dimensional. As late as Louis St. Laurent, or Coolidge and Hoover in the US, elections were about 20 speeches not attended by more than 15,000 people or so in person, with the rest being comments about programmes and qualifications. Roosevelt used the radio and newsfilm that ran ahead of feature films in the cinema every week. This was a bit of a sound-bite at the time, but after 1932, his election campaigns consisted of only about 10 speeches – albeit often to live audiences of more than 100,000, and radio audiences of tens of millions. Three million people – half of the population of New York City – stood in the cold rain, 50-deep, to see Roosevelt go by at 20 miles per hour in an open car on October 21st, 1944. And 7.5 million people came out to greet General MacArthur in New York when he returned from Korea in 1951. Roosevelt gave the ‘Quarantine’ speech in Chicago to a live audience of 700,000 in October of 1937. This was before television. Today, no one will walk across the street to see the president of the US. I have seen the last nine presidents moving around New York – starting with LBJ – and their motorcades are just a nuisance, even to people who vote for them. I think that curiosity about the holders of great offices remains, but those who are often on television have transferred their magnetism to electronic media – unlike, for instance, the pope who, for a variety of reasons too obvious to mention, often pulls gigantic crowds, and has done so for centuries. Pageantry, as with papal funerals or a British royal wedding, will pull a crowd, as these events are rare and epochal and unique, and magnificently conducted. But at the risk of sounding like Marshall McLuhan, personalities, panache and showmanship have usurped some of

the former roles of policy and ideology. Still, people will not vote for a candidate whose policies they do not like – no matter how great a showman he is. This is as true of Ségolène Royal – a bright, sexy woman who showed some thigh and cleavage, but who was rejected as the Socialist presidential candidate in France in 2007 – as it was of William Jennings Bryan – hypnotic public speaker, but thrice rejected as US president. GB: How does one make intelligent political arguments in an era of laconic communications and short attention spans? Black: Use punch-phrases, and be witty. Margaret Thatcher, during the debate over deployment of Euro-missiles, when asked whether she was for a nuclear-free Europe, responded at once: “I’m for a war-free Europe.” And when asked about sanctions on South Africa, she said: “Apartheid is an evil and repulsive system, but you will not make things better by making them worse.” When asked about a current burning issue, President Reagan replied: “I’ve had a lot of sleepless afternoons over it.” When asked what he thought of revenge, at a press conference, FDR said: “I’m for it.” Insofar as these new media carve up the market so much that they discourage loquacity, they are a good thing. And it was always so. Edward Everett, who spoke ahead of President Lincoln at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, wrote him the day after, on November 20th, 1863: “I wish I had summed up as well in two hours what you did in two minutes.” As both Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Johnson – I believe – pointed out, it takes more time to write a short letter than a long one. GB: How important will the English language be in newspapers and in media at large in 20 years’ time? Black: Overwhelmingly important. It remains the only growing language. None of the other European languages (see Strategic Futures on the most important 21st century languages at p. 62) belongs to demographically growing nationalities and, apart from Spanish, Portuguese and, to a slight degree, French, none has any large body of overseas co-lingualists. The Chinese language is exceedingly complicated and slow, and 900 million Chinese still live as they did 3,000 years ago. As economic growth and prosperity spread in India, so will English, as it will in those parts of the Middle East and Africa where their elites speak English and governance improves. Spanish and Portuguese will track the Latin American birth rate, but all Latin immigrants to the US will eventually assimilate to the majority culture. China has an enforced declining birth rate, and it will not export its language very far. | GB

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Lloyd Axworthy former Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, GB’s newest Geo-Blogger at


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Meditations on the future of old diplomacy, the nature of new diplomacy, and the fate of the world’s complex conversations BY JEREMI SURI



Jeremi Suri is the Mack Brown Distinguished Professor of Global Leadership, History and Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of a new book, Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from Washington to Obama.

canning the course catalogues of the major universities around the world, one finds very few classes on diplomacy. Every serious post-secondary academy offers extensive training in biology, chemistry, statistics and, of course, economics. Literature, politics, history and philosophy also get much attention – especially in institutions that emphasize the ‘liberal arts.’ What about diplomacy?

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Why does the word appear so infrequently in educational settings?


Diplomacy, of course, is not a technical science. Nor is it a ‘liberal arts’ discipline, defined by a deep immersion in central questions of human meaning. Although it draws on knowledge of science and the liberal arts, diplomacy is a process, a method, a mode of behaviour. It involves the nurturing of relationships with diverse and often antagonistic partners. As writers from Machiavelli to Kissinger have explained, the diplomat is imbued with patriotism, but he or she is not a policy-maker, an ideologue or even a politician. The diplomat facilitates, connects and opens options beyond war for the adjudication of conflict. The diplomat is a talker and a reporter, a negotiator and a friend of many who are not friends among themselves. The work of diplomacy in the 21st century is increasingly difficult. There are more international actors than ever before. Their distance and diversity make it almost impossible for any individual to forge relationships with more than a fraction of the powerful political figures across the globe. In addition, new communications technologies have made it almost impossible to manage discussions with discretion. If anything, Wikileaks has shown that even the most sensitive documents are subject to mass distribution through the Internet. Diplomats have lost their most powerful weapon: the control of information. In addition, diplomacy is imperilled by the hyper-politicization of foreign policy. Under the microscope of the modern media, and subjected to immediate editorial comment, diplomats are discouraged from taking risks. The political costs of a bad gamble – overtures to an adversary or negotiations to end a conflict – are simply too great. Instead, diplomats are most secure in our modern world when they join the chorus of politicians who articulate simple principles, shun ‘evil’ enemies, and flex their muscles when threatened. Due in part to the

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The diplomat is imbued with patriotism, but he or she is not a policy-maker, an ideologue or even a politician. The diplomat is a talker, and a friend of many who are not friends among themselves.


Cold War, diplomats have largely lost their ability to break through the divisions of modern society. In place of 18th century France’s apolitical diplomat extraordinaire, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, the 21st century is dominated by ideologues like John Bolton and Dominique de Villepin. Shouts and recriminations circulate more widely than ever before; calm and sustained discussion is much too rare. Many diplomats are overwhelmed – like all of us – with the constant buzz of electronic communications. Emails, text messages and tweets encourage more information exchange, but they crowd out the necessary time for relaxed, face-to-face conversation, sustained exploration of complicated ideas, and intensive interpersonal relationship-building. Diplomacy implies the wisdom of patience, thought and experience. Our electronic, hyper-speed world shrinks the space for these qualities. Contemporary diplomats suffer from the tyranny of the most pressing minutiae. This is why the absence of diplomacy in the university curriculum is so striking. If all of the pressures of modern society push against the big-picture strategy, relationship-building and negotiation that are integral to policy success, then universities have a vital educational vacuum to fill. Just as we teach mathematics and literature because they are necessary – but not organic – to the maturation of a citizen outside of the classroom, we should teach diplomacy because it too is necessary – but not organic – to contemporary circumstances. We do not talk to one another effectively as citizens, professionals and leaders because we have not learned how. If anything, we have systematically taught ourselves to do otherwise. Modern education – in the classroom and in society at large – is individualistic, competitive and, above all, narcissistic. We are taught to get ahead, not to work together. We are told to find successful solutions, not to build open-ended relationships. We are encouraged to enrich ourselves, not to broaden our communities. Modern education, in other words, is fundamentally undiplomatic. No wonder diplomacy and diplomats have little voice in the curriculum. The ‘unlearning’ of diplomacy is particularly striking in the American experience. This is not a recent phenomenon. The historical development of American democracy and foreign policy has, with notable exceptions, overvalued force and mission. It has simultaneously undervalued compromise and negotiation – and diplomacy in general. The spread of American influence around the globe has, unfortunately, often meant the spread of anti-diplomatic thinking. The innovation entrepreneurship of the ‘New World’ has not included much sophisticated consensus-building across conflicting points of view. Americans have never liked diplomacy. The early leaders of the republic viewed the world of court

negotiations as an aristocratic holdover from a decaying age – a vestige of monarchical authority, where the minions of hereditary rulers exchanged territories without attention to the interests of the ruled. Nineteenth century Americans refused to create a permanent core of specially trained ambassadors. They relied on temporary ministers dispatched to the major capitals abroad with very limited powers, and without a large permanent bureaucracy to support their activities. As late as the Civil War, American ministers lacked ambassadorial standing abroad, and they had few connections in Washington D.C. If they were lucky, the Secretary of State read some of their letters.


he paradox of American foreign policy is that, although it involved very little sustained discussion with foreign representatives, it encouraged more public talk than any of its counterparts. As Americans avoided negotiations in aristocratic courts, they made strong calls for what constituted a diplomatic revolution: ‘open doors’ for trade, ‘open covenants’ for relations between societies, and ‘open government’ in general. President Woodrow Wilson gave this argument its most eloquent articulation when he demanded, in his January 1918 ‘Fourteen Points’ speech: “that the world be made fit and safe to live in; and particularly that it be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world as against force and selfish aggression. All the peoples of the world are in effect partners in this interest.” The chattering diplomats of tradition were Wilson’s adversaries. The newly empowered peoples of modern nation-states were the focus of Wilson’s attention. Democratic citizens – not aristocratic ambassadors – would forge agreements on common principles for trade and governance. Democratic citizens would affirm peace and freedom. Democratic citizens would reject war and empire. This was the Wilsonian appeal to global public opinion, rather than traditional diplomatic practice. Wilsonian rhetoric about freedom and democracy reinforced an American penchant for promotion above discretion, and for principle above compromise. American political ideals created a strong prejudice against the moral complexities of diplomatic practice. WW2 set American policy in a new direction – at least temporarily. Fighting alongside allies that included the British Empire, Stalinist Russia and Nationalist China, Americans confronted the constraints of their principled aversion to diplomacy. No one could manage a multinational alliance

unnecessary and dangerous, outdated and cowardly. Most of all, Americans believed that the compromises, negotiations and half-measures that preceded WW2 in Europe and Asia had only strengthened their adversaries and weakened their allies. ‘Appeasement’ became a dirty word because the fascists had used negotiations to further their violent aims. ‘Containment’ – famously espoused by George Kennan in his February 1946 ‘Long Telegram’ – became the term of choice because it promised to prevent the enemy from slicing away at American advantages. Instead of risking the loss of strength at the negotiating table, the US would assert its predominance, and push back without giving in. ‘Peace through strength’ seemed the safest route to policy-making. This approach encouraged a strong military, lucrative investments in the national economy, and an active programme of covert operations; but it discouraged diplomacy. Negotiations appeared to be a sign of weakness. The newly created US Department of Defense in 1947 dwarfed the US Department of State, despite America’s greatly expanded global political presence. The Cold War encouraged Americans to promote their way of life abroad, and to disdain alternatives. There was little space for ‘neutrality,’ ‘nonalignment’ or other compromises. Nuclear weapons, large modernization projects and compelling public rhetoric became the currencies of power. Diplomats remained necessary, but not respected or empowered in any serious way. Instantaneous communications between capitals – by cable, telephone, email, and then Twitter – further reduced the importance of diplomats as on-the-ground mediators between distant societies. The Cold War and its immediate aftermath marked the decline of diplomacy from its already low esteem in the American policy community.


he historical degrading of diplomacy – especially in the US – is the point of departure for understanding our contemporary world. Since the dawn of the Cold War, Americans and many of their foreign counterparts have practiced more and more promotion, and less and less diplomacy. They have sought clarity and victory in the face of serious challenges, rather than the compromise and coexistence that made Franklin Roosevelt such a skilled politician. The American turn away from diplomacy is most clearly manifested in the composition of the US’s global foreign policy machinery. America has the world’s most sophisticated and ubiquitous military – present in every corner of the globe, and performing missions from border protection to rural

Emails, text messages and tweets encourage more information exchange, but crowd out the time for face-to-face conversation, exploration of complicated ideas, and relationshipbuilding.

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primarily through the promotion of principle. President Franklin Roosevelt – a ‘halfway Wilsonian,’ in the words of one historian – merged the idealistic promotion of America’s ‘Four Freedoms’ (freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear) with a realist emphasis on empowering ‘Four Policemen’ (the US and its allies) to advance international security. The Soviets and the Americans – in particular – would have to work together – often in secrecy, and without public accountability – to address global threats. Roosevelt’s efforts to organize a cooperative post-war order through the great power summits of WW2, and institutions like the UN, served this purpose. At the infamous Yalta meeting of February 1945, Roosevelt entered into difficult, secret negotiations with Soviet General-Secretary Joseph Stalin for the division of war-devastated Europe into Western capitalist and Eastern communist spheres – even as he publicly espoused a world free from communist repression. The contradiction between ideals and realities was evident to the US President. He believed that he had to continue his espousal of an American world order, while he accepted the necessity of Soviet power on the Bolshevik borderlands. Roosevelt was a great public promoter, and also a skilled back-room diplomat. He charmed citizens, and he wooed foreign statesmen. He dragged Americans into murky diplomatic waters amid the unprecedented challenges of a global war. He convinced Americans – above all – to suspend their aversion to diplomacy: to accept flexible negotiations for ‘lesser evils,’ rather than the rigid promotion of desired outcomes. The war ‘emergency’ made this possible, but it was always a struggle against strong voices – Republican and Democrat – for idealistic purity at home. Roosevelt understood his domestic opposition better than anyone, and he consistently manoeuvred, bullied and even lied to keep his critics off balance. He recognized that American diplomacy had a very precarious base. Roosevelt’s successors lacked his skills and the circumstances to support diplomacy within a polity generally opposed to its practice. The threat of communist expansion encouraged Americans to invest in international applications of their power, but the communist threat also discouraged compromise, negotiation and flexibility. The Cold War was built on the backs of bloated military (and nuclear) forces. The Cold War was both a hindrance to diplomacy, and a sign of its failure. American citizens felt empowered by their victory in WW2 to demand a realization of their longheld hopes for global change. They simultaneously felt imperilled by a post-war Soviet regime and a communist ideology that they had to isolate and destroy. Utopian visions and existential threats went hand-in-hand. Together, they made diplomacy seem


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The spread of American influence has often meant the spread of antidiplomatic thinking. The entrepreneurship of the ‘New World’ has not included much consensusbuilding.


development, counterinsurgency and targeted killings (as with the recent assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan). At the same time, the US has a grossly inferior diplomatic corps – underfunded, minimally trained, and frequently overmatched by more seasoned practitioners from Western Europe, East Asia, and other regions. Americans would never think of promoting a big political donor to battlefield command, but they commonly place campaign contributors in ambassadorships to foreign lands. When it comes to resources, Americans value warfighting capabilities far above diplomacy. When it comes to global problem-solving, Americans favour force over negotiation. This has to change. Beginning at home, Americans must find new ways to emphasize creative negotiations, bridge-building, as well as open-ended deliberations with adversaries. During the Cold War and the decade after its conclusion, Americans could often get their way through sheer domination. Those days are long gone – if they ever really existed. The recent wars in the Middle East, the challenges in East Asia, and the rise of new powers in Europe and Latin America highlight the limits of American dominance. As a very strong nation among other powerful countries, the US must learn to accept productive political outcomes that are short of the nation’s preferences. The US must learn to practice diplomacy rather than domination. It must learn – above all – to talk with more people, and with more discretion. American power has become more deliberative than ever before. Young American citizens, sitting in countless classrooms, must become better-skilled diplomats than their predecessors.


he time has come to insert diplomacy into a mainstream Western culture that is excessively oppositional and militaristic – especially in the US. This process should begin where this article began – with a concerted focus on education. At a time of declining budgets and pervasive programmecutting, we need focussed investment on preparing our brightest young people to become diplomats. This involves more courses – taught by scholars and former practitioners – on the topic. It involves more close study of past diplomats in diverse societies – how they acted, what they did, and what they can teach us for today. It involves deeper language study – beginning early in a student’s academic career. Most of all, a diplomatic renaissance will require sustained efforts to recruit, train and reward the brightest young minds with career paths that involve cross-national compromise – not just competition and consumption. That will be very hard, but it can be done, and

with some short-term results. Universities around the world are grappling with revenue shortfalls and challenges to their relevance. Partnerships between governments, businesses, foundations and post-secondary institutions to create diplomatic ‘centres of excellence’ on campuses would likely receive widespread support. Imagine a proliferation of programmes that engage top students in serious discussions of diplomacy as a historical, contemporary, and indeed career subject. Imagine an expansion in the mentoring opportunities for students looking to learn life skills from a successful government or business negotiator. Imagine the creation of new internships and fellowship opportunities for a large group of recent graduates committed to public service. Some of these things are already done – on a small scale – in many societies. The point is not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to increase the scale and scope of these programmes for the sake of building needed diplomatic capacity, and for bringing diplomacy into mainstream culture. Young people are certainly the place to start. They are uniquely open to intellectual transformation. They also set the tone for public discussions in a world that increasingly valorizes youthful consumers and bodies. If our youngest citizens make diplomacy cool, then it will immediately gain new traction in society – especially through the social media that connect people more than ever before. What will cool young diplomats-in-training do? Given some limited opportunities, they will build cooperative relationships across societies, political parties and cultures. Diplomacy is all about relationship-building. They will also provide assistance for cases in which military force is necessary – helping to calibrate power to the particularities of people and place. Diplomacy is all about adjustment to circumstances. Given some attention from politicians, young diplomats-in-training will push back against the public search for simple solutions. Diplomacy is about managing complexity. Most significantly, young diplomats-in-training will invest in a new ethic of building a better world – step-by-step – with diverse partners. Diplomacy is all about investing in ourselves as a human civilization. We need deeper, sustained relations among peoples across societies. Twenty-first century diplomats will be the matchmakers who facilitate global marriages of equals and unequals, long-term friends and frequent foes. Diplomacy costs money. It requires focussed efforts. It demands patience. It is not, however, out of reach in our troubled world. We know where to begin, and we have the resources – particularly in the US, Canada, and Western Europe. We need to bring diplomacy into classrooms, into the professions, and into the public square – in its traditional and virtual manifestations. We need to give diplomacy a chance. | GB

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As the continent emerges from its luckiest geopolitical century, it will have to adjust, in culture and capabilities, to a far more difficult next hundred years Irvin Studin is


Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Global Brief.


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n the 20th century, North America was the world’s luckiest continent. While every other continent endured significant warfare on its territory, ‘core’ North America – Canada and the US – was, exceptionally, exempt from battles on the home front. (Pearl Harbor, in 1941, was, to be sure, not an attack on continental North America.) Indeed, but for Australia, which endured heavy Japanese aerial and naval bombardment on its northern front in WW2, we might go so far as to observe that continental North America was alone among the continents in not having been the theatre for any land warfare whatever in all of the last century. Each of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, for their part, were at various times in that century devastated by military conflagration, especially by land – still the most destructive of all forms of warfare. North America’s geopolitical luck in the last century was not only latitudinal in nature – that is, across or among the continents – but also very much longitudinal: the continent had, until then, intimate experience of land warfare in every single century since the arrival of the French and British in the early 1600s. From the Pequot War in the mid-17th century to the Seven Years’ (French and Indian) War and the American Revolution – respectively in the mid- and late 18th century – and, in the following century, the War of 1812, the American Civil War and the Fenian Raids, North America has, quite unexceptionally, been scarred and raped by terrific bloodshed resulting from the clash of more or less organized military foes. That human agency – skill (diplomacy, political brokering), culture (rights, majorityminority accommodation), institutions (Parliament and Congress, rule of law, flexible

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Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting,

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“Freedom from Want”


federalism) and indeed prior brutality (particularly vis-à-vis Native Americans) played some part in this ‘warless’ century can little be disputed. Canada and the US – once arch enemies – brokered their final peace in the 1871 Treaty of Washington. That this human dimension was buttressed, if not completely overwhelmed, by non-human factors like excellent geography (apart from Mexico on the southern US border, ‘perfect’ borders in the form of three oceans; indeed, one frozen) and bountiful natural resources – conducing in many respects to effective self-sufficiency – is also hardly debatable. And in their aggregate, these various factors – human and non-human – combined to yield to the North Americans of the last century the most peaceful real estate on Earth. For all practical intents and purposes, therefore, North America in the 20th century was the world’s luckiest continent, governed by people who largely shared its great luck. (Here we paraphrase a famous idiom by the late Donald Horne in respect of Australia and its own good fortune.) This geopolitical luck meant that, while wars raged on other continents, North America could, as a general rule, calmly debate, plan and build prosperous societies underpinned by energetic economies, a relaxed, educated population, and advanced infrastructure that – to be sure – would not be bombed. At best, war in a distant land (on another continent) was often discretionary (that is, non-existential in consequence); at worst, even a necessary war offered little threat – distance oblige – of retaliation by the enemy on the home front. Indeed, because of the absence of land warfare, North America was also exceptional in often being able to profit from very significant economic growth – sometimes booms – on the backs of wars fought on other (less lucky) continents (against less lucky people). Bref: the modern military-industrial complex thrives most and best – as it has in the US, in particular – when the home front is not under constant bombardment. Of course, the consequences of North America’s geopolitical luck have not only been material, but, just as importantly, socio-psychological. In Canada, an entire century of exemption from war on the home front has concretized a genetic national disinterest in – if not naïveté about – strategy and foreign affairs – stamped on the national psyche by the country’s original colonial masters at Westminster. Juxtaposition and eventual formal alliance with the American superpower only served to affirm this posture among Canada’s leaders. In the US, this same exemption equally concretized a general national ambivalence about the broader world (part original distrust of imperial adventure, part obsession with the national, insular self); however, having freed themselves from their colonial cage far earlier and

more assertively than the Canadians, the Americans fought numerous extra-continental wars during the last 100 years often in the serene certainty – sometimes bordering on arrogance (see the Feature article by Barthélémy Courmont on geopolitical arrogance at p. 36) – that the adversary could nary retaliate, on American soil, in any meaningful way. American soldiers were therefore bloodied in, say, Vietnam or, at the very dawn of the 21st century, in Iraq or Afghanistan, but terra americana still ticked over without skipping a beat; not so for cities like Saigon (Ho Chi Minh), Baghdad or Kandahar.


o be sure, Nazi Germany and the Soviets (with the Cubans) came close to – and were certainly technically capable of – foisting warfare on continental North America in the last century. That they did not likely only served to reaffirm in the minds of the continent’s governing class that the ‘action’ of international war came with no (equal or opposite) ‘reaction.’ The implicit – perhaps unconscious – assumption underlying all of North America’s military doctrines was that of essential ‘non-retaliation’ on the home front – leave alone any initiation of hostilities on the home front – by the enemy; that is, the near impossibility or general improbability thereof. And this is where things stand – more or less – in early 21st century North America: a general and still strong presumption of enemy non-retaliation and non-initiation of (military) hostilities on continental soil. To be sure, the attacks of September 11th, 2001 in the US may have started to pierce the ‘armour’ of this idée fixe, in both the US and Canada, of territorial impregnability; but only just. For terrorism is not full-blown warfare: it produces neither the human casualties nor the physical devastation of the latter; nor does it, in most cases, demand the sustained mobilization of a large part of a society’s resources and assets. (Israel, for instance, may endure a terrorist attack or two, but the national Israeli posture in response to such an attack would be far less ‘energetic’ than the one provoked by a bona fide war with a regional enemy – in particular, an enemy that could engage Israel on its own territory. The same is largely true of, say, Russia or India – countries with difficult borders, and that are often targeted by terrorist attacks.) All of this lends itself to the plain observation that modern North American statecraft – and the strategic psychology of North America’s statesmen and stateswomen – has not to date (more precisely, during the last century-plus) been disciplined by any serious prospect of proper warfare being visited on the continent. Indeed, on paper and in the

consciousness into the decision-making of North America’s political class; a consciousness – and, before long, a new strategic culture – enabled by a popular paranoia about foreign interests promiscuously penetrating the continent’s theretofore near-perfect territorial sovereignty. Third, the US, North America’s great power, is in relative strategic decline. It will uncontroversially be the preeminent strategic power until about the halfway point of this century, but the return of reasonable strategic parity of effective capabilities among other non-American, historic great powers – China, Russia and even Europe – poses both psychic and very practical consequences for North American strategic culture and doctrine. Psychically, diminished American strategic weight and prestige


in the 20th century was the world’s luckiest continent, governed by people who largely shared its great luck. – coupled with a newly porous Arctic border (see the In Situ report on Oslo’s Arctic ambitions at p. 6) and an understanding of the onshore devastation that could be wrought by enemies enabled by new-century technology – heighten the sense of vulnerability of the US and Canada, and radically alter the risk-reward preferences and calculations of both countries. For the US, for instance, a more acute sense of susceptibility to material retaliation on the home front from a serious foe might lower the inclination (or increase the threshold) for certain types of military adventure or extroversion. (It might also substantially increase the intensity of American military attacks – if only to avert, discourage or indeed punish such retaliation.) For Canada, diminished American power and increased American vulnerability to attack should destabilize the long-held, implicit strategic assumption – one never articulated, but always felt in the gut of political elites – that the American superpower (theretofore unrivalled) will almost certainly defend the northern part of the continent should Canada come under attack. Of course, this begets the very practical reality that an America in relative strategic decline might very well raise the threshold beyond which it would be willing to directly defend – or intervene to defend – Canada in the event of attack. Indeed, the

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abstract, plans for enemy attack – conventional and asymmetric – on North America evidently exist, and institutions like NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command), NORTHCOM in the US and CANCOM in Canada certainly attest to the likely form of continental response to such attacks. But these plans are not felt, and these institutions – while certainly not merely pro forma – are little tried and tested in the context of the extraordinary circumstances and pressures that come with strategic conflict at one’s borders, or on one’s soil. Moreover, this absence of ‘feeling’ and dearth of ‘testedness’ are unlikely to change in the near future in virtue of a simple truth: North America’s strategic leaders do not, at this time of writing, think about – or indeed even conceive of – conflict at home because they do not and cannot believe it to be part of the realm of reasonable ‘strategic futures.’ This new century, however, will almost certainly offer up a ‘new’ – or, as it were, historically truer – strategic reality for the continent. Three key drivers – taken together or individually – will dramatically transform North America’s geopolitical luck. First and foremost, this century’s technology and technological revolutions will not permit of the prospect of a serious country going to war with a North American power without having the means to attack it with some effect on its own soil. Whereas only a handful of states – typically the great powers – had such retaliatory (or initiation) capabilities in the last century, there cannot be any doubt that both major powers (China or Russia or even a renegade European state) and even secondary or regional powers (Iran, Turkey, North Korea, Brazil, Pakistan, Venezuela) will, by the middle of this new century, have the technical means to directly and even regularly strike North American soil (by intercontinental missile, by air power, by offshore bombardment – leaving aside cyberpower), or even to land military effectives on continental territory. Such a prospect, if properly assimilated into the strategic geist of a country, focusses the mind. Second, the Arctic ice on North America’s – in particular, Canada’s, but also, to a lesser extent, America’s – northern border is melting. Within a decade or two, foreign ships – private and military alike, friendly and hostile, competent and negligent – will begin to pass through the Northwest Passage and Arctic waters at large – at least seasonally – just as they do today through the Straits of Malacca, the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. Economies in travel time from Europe to Asia (and the reverse) will prove irresistible, as will the vast resource deposits – hydrocarbon and other – of the Arctic seabed, still awaiting recovery. The new-century ‘great game’ – right at the continent’s edge – will, over time, assuredly introduce a new strategic


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For the US, a more acute sense of susceptibility to material retaliation on the home front might lower the inclination for certain types of military adventure or extroversion.


opportunity costs of such indirect defence, as well as very real potential differences between the US and Canada in national perceptions of interests and threats, could very well mean that a Canada under attack or in some form of military confrontation on its maritime borders (say, in the High Arctic) or even on its soil – say, in remote parts of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, or even in the northernmost reaches of Quebec, Ontario or Manitoba – could well be fending for itself. The little studied Turbot ‘War’ of 1995 between Canada and Spain off the coast of Newfoundland may, in this regard, have been a small sign of larger things to come: that is, fundamental US neutrality and effective non-interference (except to urge an end to hostilities) in a conflict pitting its continental neighbour against another state. The behaviour of the US was doubtless largely due to its perception that critical American interests were not in play in the conflict, and that strategic defeat of Canada – something that would have a terrific destabilizing effect on the entire continent – was not a possibility. For Canada, were the conflict more prolonged and more difficult, such strategic laissez-faire from Washington would have come as a shock; that is, it would not even have figured in the contemporary national strategic imagination. Such a reading of the Turbot War and of the coming strategic winds would seem to commend to Canada a course of strategic reform that would enable it to stand respectably on its own two feet in the event of important future discord – especially discord threatening to spill over into military confrontation – with another serious country (short of a great power) on its borders (as with the Arctic) or even on parts of its own territory (say, in the High North). This strategic reform would have two central dimensions, originally intimated by the author in “Canada – Population 100 Million” in GB’s Spring/ Summer 2010 issue: first, a transformation of the strategic culture (or geist) of Canada’s leaders, from one currently beset by colonial assumptions about ‘the possible’ (and comfortable in its strategic lassitude in virtue of the said good geopolitical luck) to one that is brutally honest about the coming of a geopolitically more difficult 100 years; and second, a proper – indeed, ruthless – calibration of Canadian strategic capabilities (demographic, economic, military and diplomatic) to ensure that Canada is better prepared to defend and advance its interests in the strategic theatres and contests of these next 100 years. This reform will not be easy, and will likely not be driven by any intellectual rationale alone; only a combination of strategic or tactical ‘events’ (like another Turbot War, or a new border incident, including in the Arctic) and courageous political (strategic) leadership – sustained over a decade or more – can drive the migration of mentality and

consciousness that is prerequisite to all subsequent investments in practical capabilities and assets. Failure to reform, however, could well result, over the course of this less ‘lucky’ century, in a Canada that is a strategic cripple.


ome of the pressure for such reform will doubtless issue from the US, as its strategic leaders and system begin to assimilate (gutterally) the verity of the three key dynamics of this new century and their implications for North American security and prosperity – or, as it were, for North America’s geopolitical comfort. A US more preoccupied with serious retaliation or even preemption by an enemy on the home front will demand far greater seriousness of performance from Canada in respect of investments in strategic capabilities. It will threaten to ‘do the job’ for Canada if such investments are not made. However, because of diminished relative power, and given countless competing strategic imperatives and seductions, such American threats will not always be credible or carried out. This will mean that a Canada that is ill-prepared or otherwise in denial about its changed luck will be left largely to its own devices to face hostile interests at its borders or on its soil. (If the US does not come to Canada’s defence in a given battle, it is wholly unlikely that another country will.) Just as it did in the immediate aftermath of the recent overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the US of this new century, not having been able to greatly influence the ‘battle,’ will likely fold or hew to – and even provide rhetorical justification or narrative for – the post-bellum reality, so long as that reality does not operate in diametric opposition to critical or existential American interests. In other words, the US of this new century – for better or worse – will let many sleeping dogs lie. An America that is keen to minimize warfare on its soil will, as a rule, be even more fastidious in its choice of external wars, although not necessarily altogether more economical in the extent to which it privileges the military instrument. And, as mentioned above, where it does choose to engage in war, assuming that there is a risk of serious retaliation on US soil, one might wager that the assaults or volleys by the Americans will – in order to minimize such retaliation – be peculiarly ferocious in intensity. Some of the weapons and battle plans of this said ferocity have not yet been invented or divined. But the geopolitical character of the century in which they will be used will be far more ‘historical’ than that of the last century. North Americans will come to realize this sooner rather than later. | GB


It’s public knowledge.




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Latin America’s English-speaking elites are giving way to a newcentury middle class that fancies the language of Pizarro and Cortes BY PATRICIO NAVIA


teaches Latin American politics at New York University and at Universidad Diego Portales in Chile. He has a weekly column in La Tercera in Chile and the Buenos Aires Herald in Argentina.

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n Spanish-speaking Latin America, English is the language that one uses to talk to the elites, but Spanish is needed to hear the people. As the region develops economically, and as the middle class grows and consolidates its political relevance, Spanish will become increasingly important for those outside of Latin America who are interested in keeping up with political and social developments in the region in this new century. In other words, paying exclusive attention to what the elites have to say will not suffice, even if, paradoxically, many of the most relevant voices of the growing middle class will also, to some extent, communicate with the outside world in English – emulating what the national elites have done for decades. Unlike the 20th century, where the elites dominated Latin American politics and economics – leading the overall evolution of Latin American societies – the 21st century will most likely see the region’s middle class become ever more relevant as national economies mature and democratic traditions solidify. True, the recent economic success of Latin America might not endure (as past experiences have shown). If that comes to pass, the middle class will not develop a stronger and more influential voice, Spanish will not acquire greater hemispheric and international relevance, and the Latin American English-speaking elites will have to do some explaining as to why they missed the opportunity to move Latin America beyond its extant ‘emerging economy’ condition. Because of its colonial history and its persistent levels of inequality and social exclusion, Latin America has often been dominated by its elites – with the large majority of people being excluded from the political, social and economic realms. Historically, the elites have been well-connected to the world, and fully interested in social and political developments elsewhere. Globalized in their relations with, and interests in, other regions, these elites have also strongly held on to tradition domestically. These elites speak English and French to the

Patricio Navia


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world, and Spanish – although certainly not native or Aboriginal languages – within their own countries. They send their children to private schools, where they learn English and French. In the business arena, and even in the upper echelons of the increasingly technocratic public sector, English terms are regularly used – as in other parts of the world – and having academic credentials from American universities is normally seen as indicative of superior intellectual status, or at least of higher technical capacities. As mentioned, when the elites have something to say, members of the Latin American elites communicate with the world in English – more than French, especially since the second half of the 20th century. Latin American presidents who do not speak English are normally seen by members of the elites as less worldly, and indeed less well-suited to represent their countries in the world arena. Even for the masses, having foreign language skills is seen as a plus. (This is in contrast, for instance, with popular appraisal of foreign languages in political leaders in the US and Canada.) In 2005, when she was campaigning to become the first woman president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet – the candidate of the successful, moderate, centrist Concertacion coalition that had ruled Chile since 1990 – was under criticism for her lack of experience in public office. She was accused by the opposition of being unprepared, and of having lesser credentials than her two right-wing contenders – Harvard Sebastian Pinera, a successful businessman with a doctorate in economics (and now president of Chile), and Joaquin Lavin, the former mayor of Santiago. Though a physician specializing in pediatrics, Bachelet did not have a graduate degree from an American, Canadian or European university. To respond to her critics, her campaign put out a television advertisement showing Bachelet speaking in English, French and German to foreign correspondents. As she had learned French and English as a child, and after her years of exile in Germany during the Pinochet dictatorship, Bachelet used her knowledge of foreign languages as convincing evidence of her preparedness to be Chile’s president. In Latin America, in 2011, the ability to communicate in English is commonly seen as a good proxy for being academically well-prepared, and technically able to be a leader in the region. As such, politicians or businesspeople who are not fluent in English find it difficult to combat the perception that they are not well suited for their positions. Evidently, there is diversity and variability among Latin American countries in the value attributed to speaking English in the business, social and political spheres. Whereas in Mexico, Chile, most of Central America, and increasingly Colombia and Peru, speaking English is seen in a positive light,

politicians are less inclined to have strong technical and language skills in Argentina, Venezuela or Bolivia. Yet, even in countries that have moved to become more confrontational with the US – to counter its traditionally strong influence in the region – English and a strong technical education still help. (Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa – a leader closer to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez than to the US – holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois.) During his recent presidential trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador, US President Obama confided a comment made by one of his daughters. She had asked why everyone that they had met in Chile spoke English, while no one in the presidential family spoke Spanish. The first daughter’s observation affirms the all-too-common reality – discussed above – in most of Latin America’s countries: English is widely spoken among the elites, but barely spoken in the rest of society.


nlike many Asian and African countries that were colonized by English-speaking countries, Latin America’s historically strong relations with Spain helped to consolidate Spanish as the dominant language in most of the region early in the 17th century. By the time that Latin American nations became independent in the early 19th century, Spanish was already the dominant language. The call for independence was made in Spanish, and the first constitutions were all written in Spanish. The indigenous population – quite large in countries like Mexico, Peru or Bolivia – was not a part of the independence process. Indeed, in some countries like Argentina and Chile, the remaining indigenous population was exterminated after independence, when liberal elites seeking to modernize the nation – and to leave behind the colonial past – implemented pro-immigration policies to populate areas in which indigenous groups had historically resisted Spanish colonial rule. The dominance of Spanish as the official language in most of Latin America – with the notable exception of Brazil – did not prevent the elites from being fluent in French and English, and it did not mean that the indigenous minorities abandoned their own native languages. For liberal elites, Spanish became the language that could bring together the nation. French and English were reserved for communication with the outside world, and indigenous languages were tolerated for the masses – although seldom learned by the members of the elite. Late in the 20th century, some countries began to adopt indigenous languages as official languages. For instance, Quechua was made official in Ecuador

and Peru, and both Quechua and Aymara made official in Bolivia. Still, Spanish has remained the dominant social, economic and political language in all of those countries that have added a native language as an official tongue. When Evo Morales was inaugurated as the first indigenous president of Bolivia in late 2005, he started an improvised inauguration speech in Spanish, and then switched to his native Aymara – surprising most members of the diplomatic corps, and with them most members of the Bolivian elite, who could, of course, only speak Spanish. (Though a majority of Bolivians speak a language other than Spanish as their native tongue – with many speaking both Aymara and Quechua – the elites and the diplomatic corps were only fluent in one of the three official languages in the country: the language of Pizarro and Cortes.) The higher up that people are in the ladder of society, and the more access that they have to opportunities for socio-economic promotion, the more likely it is that they speak Spanish as their native tongue – with English or French as a second language. Conversely, the lower that they are in the structure of society – and the more likely that they are to be among the poor and excluded – the more likely it is that Latin American people speak only Spanish or an indigenous language as their native tongue. In the 19th century, liberals sought to establish Spanish as the sole official language, and to teach it to everyone. Adopting Spanish as the national language symbolized, in the minds of the liberals, equality – though it also evidenced their preconceptions about the native cultures being backward, and about European scientific and rational thought being necessary to bring about development in the region. Today, in countries with a large indigenous population whose native language is not Spanish, the dream of equality rejects the notion of imposing one language over another. Instead, it proposes that equality can be achieved when all languages are put on the same level, and when society celebrates its multilingual reality.

mestizos – speak primarily Spanish. There are wide variations of accents, vocabulary and even grammar among the different Spanish-speaking countries. Street Spanish and Spanish spoken in the urban ghettos vary significantly from Mexico to Argentina, from Colombia to Chile, and from Venezuela to Peru. A more standard Spanish can be found in foreign-language television series and films dubbed into Spanish (in the most accent-neutral form possible). Of course, the popularity of soap operas, films and television shows produced in Mexico has helped Mexican Spanish become the best known accent in the region; after all, Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world! Spaniard Spanish is also a well-recognized accent in the region, but Spain has its own domestic challenges in accommodating its multilingual reality within the nation-state – all of which militate against the ‘old country’ emerging as an example of a Spanishonly-speaking state for Latin America. Recent globalization trends have facilitated access for Latin Americans to national television programmes, series and films – and Internet sites – from neighboring countries. And while we are actively witnessing the consolidation of nationally distinctive accents and

As the English- and French-speaking elites lose power to the rising middle class, those outside of Latin America will inevitably have to pay more attention to the voices coming from the region in Spanish, Portuguese and even native languages.

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hough the debate over Spanish being the language of former Spanish colonies in Latin America sheds light on the complex issues of the region’s global diversity – and on issues related to intense intra-country diversity in the region – there is no doubt that Spanish remains the dominant language among the large majority of people in Latin America. Mixed-blood Latin Americans –

vernaculars in urban areas all over Latin America, there is a growing awareness in the region of the way in which Spanish is evolving in neighbouring countries. This dynamic naturally contributes to strengthening the language, even as the language loses uniformity and evolves more rapidly. Latin America is home to the majority of the 400 million Spanish-speaking people of the world. Mexico, with a population of 112 million people – more than twice that of Spain (46 million, and, at that, not entirely Spanish-speaking) is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Indeed, Colombia (46 million) and Argentina (40 million) both have more native Spanish speakers than Spain. The US, with almost 50 million people of Hispanic decent, has more Spanish speakers than Venezuela (29 million), Peru (29.5 million) and, by implication, each of the other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. As rapid economic development – led



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by painful reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, and aided in recent years by positive terms of trade for raw materials and commodities – has issued in an impressive growth of the middle class in most Latin American countries, those beyond the elites have begun to have more of a say in policy-making, and in political decisions more broadly. Public opinion is becoming increasingly relevant as democracy consolidates – just as this empowered middle class finds its own voice to defend its priorities and needs. As a consequence, Spanish is becoming more and more relevant in the political debates, in social discourse and – to be sure – in the economic arena. A growing number of political leaders, businesspeople and technocrats are coming from the middle class; these are people who did not have access to public education in which learning a foreign language was a ‘must.’ As they seek to increase their political clout, they are certainly acquiring foreign language skills (the growth of English as a Second Language institutes is an excellent indicator of rapid economic development in Latin America). However, they are less inclined to speak English – or perhaps less confident in their ability to do so well – than the elites who learned English in their early years. As the English- and French-speaking elites lose power to the rising middle class, those outside of Latin America will inevitably have to pay more attention to the voices coming from the region – in Spanish, Portuguese and even native languages. Bref: If Latin America continues to develop, and if economic growth brings even more people into the middle class, Spanish and Portuguese will before long displace English and French as the languages spoken by those who carry peculiar weight in the political, business and social realms. This trend is contingent, of course, on a big ‘if.’ Latin America has experienced periods of economic boom and bust in past decades. The rise of the middle class has been announced and celebrated before – particularly when there was high demand for raw materials (materias primas) in other regions of the world, with Latin America being eager to sell its rich non-renewable and renewable goods. However, when the terms of trade became negative, and demand for raw materials decreased, Latin American nations suffered profound economic crises; the ‘inevitable’ rise of the middle class turned out to be short-lived. This time around, a few countries – although certainly not all of them – seem to have learned from past mistakes. (To take but one simple example, countries like Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia have adopted counter-cyclical policies to constrain public spending in years of trade surpluses to save them in years when they experience trade deficits. This practice has allowed them to weather periods of economic downturns – as during the crisis of 2008.) Those countries should be able to survive the next downward period in the economic cycle. In those countries, the middle class will survive, and democracy will continue to consolidate. And the importance of Spanish will increase as the middle class further strengthens its growing leadership position. | GB

If you had a friend going through some tough times, how would you help? Last year, we gave our friend Chad

» We’ll call him



12 million dollars.

chad canada Would you just give your friend money or would you be

more creative?

The mainstream discussion about Canada’s relationship to Africa is how much money we should give. Is that creative? Of course we also trade with Chad and other African nations, but:

Creativity requires connections. What if the people, universities, government, and businesses of Canada unleashed not just our money, but also our creativity, for a friend like Chad?


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Canada imports goods worth just $3,000 from Chad each year. How can we be more creative, realizing better trade relationships? Canada’s top export to 12 African countries is used clothing. How can we be more creative to not undermine the local textile industry?


What Geopolitical Future for the Language of Tolstoy and Trotsky?


Will Russian be in decline or on the rise by 2050? BY TIMUR ATNASHEV

Timur Atnashev is a lecturer in the Russian Presidential Academy of Public Administration and Economics in Moscow.

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istorically, the international significance of a language has depended on four key factors: demography (that is, the number of native speakers of the language in question); the military might of the native speakers; the economic power of the native speakers; and, finally, the cultural or political significance of what was written in the language. Nicholas Ostler suggests that, in the 21st century, the military factor will be replaced by new technological and political factors: translation technology is going to help people communicating in different languages, while nationalistic claims in favour of certain languages will limit the spread of English and other contenders for the role of lingua franca. David Graddol, in his comprehensive report for the British Council, gives priority to the demographic factors and stresses the growth of global, post-modern multilingualism. The foothold of the English language in North America after the multinational colonization that started in the early 17th century was attributed by 19th

century commentators in part to the technical and aesthetic virtues of English – its clarity and grammatical simplicity – just as the past pre-eminence of French in Europe was due to its diplomatic polyvalence. As for Russian, the life expectancy of Russians has been declining since the 1970s, and it is well established that Russia’s fertility rate is among the lowest in the world (see the One Pager by Vladimir Popov in GB’s Spring/Summer 2010 issue). The population of Russia is expected to fall by 30 to 50 million by the year 2050, resulting in a national headcount of around 100 million people, as against today’s 141 million. Although the anomalous mortality rate of the Russian male population may be reversed in the next few decades if social conditions improve, the overall demographic trend is unlikely to change – notwithstanding recent pro-fertility measures introduced by Prime Minister Putin. By contrast, the world’s population is expected to grow by almost one and half times by 2050. For its part, the Russian diaspora may account for some 20 to 25 million people living in the so-called ‘near abroad’ and in developed countries – in all IMAGE: ALEXANDER RODCHENKO’S 1925 ANTI-CENSORSHIP POSTER

cases with flat or negative rates of natural growth. In the aggregate, therefore, there will be approximately 30 percent fewer native Russian speakers in 2050 than there are today, and the relative global weight of native Russian speakers will be half of what it is today – falling from two to one percent of total world population. Some of this negative growth dynamic will certainly affect the number of non-Russians learning and transmitting the Russian language over the next few generations – although other factors are also at play here. Of course, Russian is widely spoken in the Baltic states and in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – effectively, in the former Soviet space. After the disintegration of the USSR, the elites in these new republics consolidated their power on the basis of modern nationalistic claims. And so, despite the enduring footprint of the Russian language, the affirmation of non-Russian national languages in contradistinction to Russian will doubtless continue to play an important role in building a sense of national community.


Since Lenin’s political writings, no Marxist texts written in Russian have played any lasting intellectual role in the world. The USSR left no texts to read for its posterity, except for critiques of the Soviet system itself. cal conjuncture, with the likelihood being that these Russian-speaking minorities will be mostly absorbed by 2050. (The Russian-speaking minorities in the US, UK, Germany and Canada are also very likely to have been assimilated by then.) On the positive side, brute economics – to wit, the enormous natural resource wealth that has made Russia the world’s seventh largest economy – will likely grow the number of those who choose or will have to learn Russian as a second language. This growth, to be sure, will be limited somewhat by poor physical and institutional infrastructure, along with the said demographic decline. As a result – absent luck or national virtuosity – Russia’s economy will be ceding market share to other large, emerging economies with greater demographic dynamism or better politico-economic institutions, such as India, Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia. Still, given its borders, Russia will certainly remain an influential regional economic power, with very active cross-border commerce with the EU, China and Central Asia. The result will be an enduring group of Russian-speaking national (economic) elites in these

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or all intents and purposes, there are three ‘circles’ at play in the future market share of the language of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Lenin and Trotsky. The first circle is that of de facto Russian bilingualism: it includes Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In these countries, a major or large part of the national mass media, business and daily communications operate or are carried out in Russian. The majority of the population speaks both Russian and the national language. (A recent Gallup study showed that more than half of the people in these countries preferred to answer a neutral sociological questionnaire in Russian, rather than in their national language.) We might also add Latvia and Estonia, where there is effective ‘segregated bilingualism’ – that is, where Russian-speaking and native populations are roughly comparable in size, but strictly separated in terms of ethnic identification. In all six of these countries, linguistic nationalism is eroding the footprint of Russian: new political elites have, to varying degrees – and with some periodic, politically inspired exceptions – been adopting laws on the national language (on education, mass media and bureaucratic officialdom) to the exclusion or relegation of the Russian language. Most importantly, the gradual exclusion of Russian from scholastic curricula in these countries will diminish bilingualism over the next two generations. Based on this dynamic, we can project that, by 2050, the Russian language will be spoken only by a minority in all of these countries, with the exception of Belarus. The second circle is made up of countries in which Russian is widely used by a sizeable Russian-speaking

minority. This circle includes Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Israel. Usage of Russian in each of these countries is clearly limited to certain geographic, ethnic or sociocultural segments of the population, representing between five and 20 percent of overall population. With no institutionalized role in the national educational systems, Russian will inevitably lose its foothold over time, and the Russian-speaking minorities will be marginalized. Indeed, the emergence of pidgin Russian is likely in countries like Israel and Moldova. In the third circle are countries in which Russian is a popular foreign language learned by the native people, and/or the language of a small ethnic minority representing less than five percent of the population. This circle includes Armenia, Lithuania, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. (Beyond the former USSR, it might also include Bulgaria, Poland and Finland.) The future of Russian as a foreign language in these lands will depend on the economic and politi-



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“I’m excited about being part of a university that is approaching the condition and futures of Indigenous peoples in a fresh new way from an international perspective, here in Canada and around the world.” -Dr. Wade Davis, Visiting Professor and Senior Fellow, UWinnipeg MDP, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and 2009 CBC Massey Lecturer

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regions, just as, paradoxically, the Russian language continues to provide an economic advantage – down-market, as it were – to manual workers in the poorer countries of regions like Central Asia – especially in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The histories of the Latin, Arabic and Persian languages show that the footprint of a language may outlast – by a matter of centuries – the decline of the metropolis. This happens when the philosophical, artistic, religious or legal texts written in the original language carry authoritative or normative weight in new historical and social conditions. Does the Russian language have such a cultural code to transmit? Notoriously, the USSR exercised an ideological influence on a global scale through a Marxist, humanistrevolutionary promise that appealed to the European left and to developing countries. However, since Lenin’s political writings, no Marxist texts written in Russian have played any lasting intellectual role in the world. The USSR left no texts to read for its posterity – except for critiques of the Soviet system itself. (The failure of the USSR may well serve as paradigmatic example of what not to do, but this is not enough to serve as a norm!) The cultural appeal of the Russian Orthodox Church – including the works of the religious philosophers of the early 20th century – is also modest. That the major global message and legacy delivered in the Russian language was the classical Russian literature of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov is quite uncontroversial. These original testimonies to humanism and alienation in urban societies are likely to secure some future Russophiles as long as humankind continues to read literature. However, this Russian heritage does not have a paradigmatic, political or normative dimension in the idiom of, say, Greek philosophy or Roman law. It is simply part of European and Christian self-reflection. And self-reflection does not necessarily make for geopolitical import or impact. (See the Tête à Tête interview with Conrad Black at p. 6.) New technologies, global economics and new ways of individual and collective self-moulding are accommodating more fluid identities. They specifically favour a 21st century, eclectic, post-modern multilingualism. If the modern personal identity was rooted in the single national language and culture, then the men and women of the 21st century are – to be sure – experimenting with multiple identities. Virtually all socially active people in Eurasia will – in the very foreseeable future – on top of their native tongues, be speaking fluent ‘Global English.’ They will try to obtain competitive advantages through more tongues if everyone already speaks English. In this competitive quest, the Russian language has some chance of becoming a positive, elitist marker on at least the regional level. It will provide its adepts with tangible economic advantages, cultural distinction, and even an ‘anti-consumerist,’ humanist flavour – as it were. That Russian grammar is difficult to master only raises the entrance barriers for non-natives – thereby heightening the value-addedness of Russian to foreigners who seek distinction through language. This is, of course, to say nothing of the entrance barriers to the ‘Russian soul,’ which are near insurmountable to the lay foreigner. | GB

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Interrogations sur l’attitude de la Nouvelle Chine



Barthélémy Courmont est professeur au département de science politique à Hallym University (Chuncheon, Corée du Sud) et rédacteur en chef de la revue trimestrielle Monde chinois.

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ésormais reconnue comme puissance de premier plan, la Chine est-elle en passe de devenir arrogante, et quelles sont les conséquences de cette nouvelle posture? Des empires coloniaux à aujourd’hui, en passant par les États-Unis, ceux qui manipulent les outils de la puissance ont souvent donné libre cours à leur arrogance, au point qu’on puisse s’interroger: la puissance s’accompagne-t-elle automatiquement d’un sentiment d’arrogance chez ceux qui la détiennent? Appliquée aux individus, cette question s’insère dans le champ de la sociologie. L’arrogance se trouve ici exprimée par le biais d’un sentiment de supériorité (qu’il soit ou non justifié) et du désir de dominer l’autre. Appliquée aux États, elle invite à la réflexion sur la recherche de l’hégémonie et l’imposition d’une politique étrangère qui écarte tout compromis, mais également tout dialogue, et refuse en retour toute ingérence dans les choix et la conduite de la politique intérieure. Il s’agit donc de caractéristiques à bien des égards identiques qui sont étudiées ici, en mettant l’accent sur le cas chinois et en étudiant les conséquences – mais aussi les réponses – liées à l’arrogance grandissante de ce pays. En fonction des fondements des différentes puissances et d’un contexte qui leur était plus ou moins propice, l’arrogance s’est exprimée de multiples manières dans l’histoire des relations internationales. Mais elle s’articule systématiquement autour d’une situation propice à l’un des acteurs, soit consécutivement à des conquêtes militaires, soit résultant d’avancées technologiques majeures. Les civilisations dites les plus avancées (à un moment particulier) furent ainsi, en plusieurs circonstances, en mesure d’imposer leurs vues à des peuples ne bénéficiant pas des mêmes moyens. Le dernier exemple historique de ce décalage permettant au plus puissant de laisser s’exprimer son arrogance fut l’aventure coloniale des puissances occidentales. Si la colonisation fut facilitée par la puissance de feu des empires, et par un niveau de technicité leur permettant de contrôler de gigantesques territoires, elle fut justifiée par la «mission civilisatrice», slogan aux contours flous et caractérisé par une arrogance dépassant très largement la domination militaire pour proposer une classification des cultures. Les


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plus avancées d’entre elles se voyaient ainsi légitimées dans leur contrôle des autres, quelles qu’en soient les conditions. La montée des nationalismes dans la première moitié du 20e siècle, en Europe comme au Japon, fut une des interprétations de cette classification, et l’affirmation la plus radicale de l’arrogance de la puissance, exprimée notamment par la haine de l’autre et la recherche de son assimilation ou élimination. Dans le monde contemporain, les contours de l’arrogance ont évolué vers la manifestation de la domination économique et financière, tandis que les critères militaires, et même civilisationnels ou culturels, se sont progressivement estompés, bien qu’ils restent présents. L’arrogant est ainsi souvent assimilé au riche, ce dernier détenant les moyens financiers de la puissance. C’est pour cette raison que, dans les pays en développement, les puissances occidentales sont perçues comme arrogantes, et coutumières de l’ingérence dans leur politique intérieure, au point d’être qualifiées de néocoloniales. Ce constat évoque l’idée selon laquelle l’arrogance est autant une question de perception qu’une réalité. Plus spécifique, la question de l’arrogance de la puissance américaine fut de son côté posée avec insistance au cours de la décennie écoulée, en marge de l’aventurisme de la politique étrangère de l’administration Bush, notamment à l’occasion de la crise irakienne et la campagne militaire engagée en mars 2003. L’unilatéralisme américain, auquel se joignit une petite cinquantaine d’États (un nombre qui comptait une grande majorité de membres n’apportant qu’un soutien politique, et qui diminua rapidement) sur la base d’une coalition et non d’une alliance, fut ainsi très vivement critiqué, et assimilé à l’affirmation de l’arrogance de la première puissance mondiale. C’est donc dans son comportement, et son usage trop poussé de la puissance, que Washington fut critiquée pour son arrogance, les questions relatives à la supériorité de la civilisation américaine restant totalement absentes, y compris dans les rangs des conservateurs les plus radicaux. Là où les empires coloniaux s’estimaient supérieurs par nature et en tous points, les États-Unis ont construit leur vision hégémonique en s’appuyant essentiellement sur leur force de frappe et leur capacité d’influence, et ce malgré le qualificatif d’hyperpuissance utilisé pour les décrire. Le cas de la Chine se rapproche pour sa part davantage de l’exemple des puissances européennes, colonialisme mis à part, que de celui des États-Unis. L’arrogance chinoise repose ainsi sur un sentiment de supériorité culturelle et historique, qui accompagna d’ailleurs la Chine dans les heures les plus glorieuses de son histoire. Consécutivement aux «traités inégaux», les 150 dernières années,

considérées comme humiliantes pour la Chine, ne seraient ainsi qu’une parenthèse dans la trajectoire arrogante d’un pays qui ne fait depuis quelques années que reproduire des méthodes qu’elle a appliquées pendant des siècles avec ses voisins, jugés inférieurs, voire vassaux. Dans le même temps, Pékin refuse de recevoir des leçons des autres puissances, et se positionne comme une sorte d’alternative à l’Occident. Après avoir été l’une des principales victimes de l’arrogance appliquée aux civilisations, la Chine ne se contenterait ainsi pas de prendre sa revanche, mais poserait les bases de sa propre arrogance, mélange de fierté retrouvée et de sentiment de supériorité que son miracle économique n’a fait qu’amplifier. Parce qu’elle dispose non seulement de moyens considérables, et dans le même temps repose sur une culture plurimillénaire – à l’opposé des États-Unis – la Chine est parfois qualifiée de «mégapuissance», dans un effort de comparaison entre les deux pays, et de surenchère en réponse à l’hyperpuissance.


our autant, il semble déplacé de chercher à comparer l’arrogance des États-Unis sous l’administration Bush et celle de la Chine contemporaine. En effet, l’arrogance américaine fut un choix politique, et depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir de Barack Obama, la première puissance mondiale se montre d’ailleurs plus ouverte au dialogue, confirmant un véritable changement d’attitude. Côté chinois, l’arrogance résulte à l’inverse d’un processus qui s’est lentement mis en place, et qui est alimenté par le miracle économique et l’ascension spectaculaire de ce pays au cours des trois dernières décennies. Il s’agit donc d’un processus, encore inachevé, et que les changements d’équipe dirigeante n’ont ni atténué, ni modifié depuis ces trois décennies. Les succès éclatants de la Chine dans les régions en développement expliquent – mais ne justifient cependant pas – l’arrogance qu’elle manifeste à l’égard de ceux qui se mettent encore en travers de son chemin, généralement des pays occidentaux. On a ainsi vu les autorités chinoises critiquer avec insistance les dirigeants occidentaux désireux de rencontrer le Dalaï Lama, dénoncer ce qu’elles estiment être une instrumentalisation par l’Occident de la question des minorités et de la liberté d’expression, s’opposer aux percées de Google en Chine (et d’une multitude d’autres entreprises étrangères, au bénéfice des producteurs chinois), s’offusquer des références à la question des droits de la personne, ou encore reprocher à des chefs d’État de ne pas se montrer suffisamment dociles à l’égard de Pékin. La visite de Stephen Harper à Pékin en 2010 fut ainsi un exemple criant des méthodes de la Chine, le

Premier ministre canadien étant rappelé à l’ordre pour ne pas avoir montré suffisamment d’intérêt pour son interlocuteur. Il y a encore quelques années, Pékin adoptait l’attitude exactement opposée, suivant les recommandations de Deng Xiaoping sur la nécessité de se montrer humble et discret sur la scène internationale. Aujourd’hui, la Chine est décomplexée, conquérante, et elle répond aux critiques avec fermeté et dédain. L’arrogance du gouvernement chinois est dès lors devenue une réalité face à laquelle il est de plus en plus difficile de résister. Car Pékin n’hésite plus désormais à faire usage de sa puissance économique pour menacer de représailles ceux qui se risqueraient à ne pas se soumettre à ses exigences. La Norvège, pays hôte de la remise du Prix Nobel de la Paix, dont l’édition 2010 fut décernée au dissident Liu Xiaobo, fut ainsi rappelée à l’ordre – sans succès, cependant – par les dirigeants chinois, désormais coutumiers du fait. Au niveau régional, l’arrogance de la Chine se double de la volonté de s’imposer comme l’acteur principal, au risque de reproduire le système de vassalité de la période impériale, quand les royaumes voisins se voyaient dans l’obligation de prêter allégeance à l’empire du Milieu. Cette ambition est sujette à une grande crainte des autres pays d’Asie du Nord-est, qui se singularise comme étant la seule région au monde à ne compter aucune architecture institutionnelle, que ce soit sur les questions économiques et commerciales, politico-stratégiques, ou même culturelles. Mais dans le même temps, les voisins de la Chine ne peuvent ignorer sa montée en puissance, et que ce soit à Taipei, à Séoul ou même à Tokyo, les initiatives en vue de renforcer les relations bilatérales se multiplient, et la reconnaissance, même implicite, de Pékin comme puissance régionale s’affirme de plus en plus. La crise économique internationale et les récents déboires du Japon ont un effet accélérateur sur ce processus de reconnaissance du rôle majeur de la Chine dans la région, perçu par Pékin comme une véritable allégeance. On peut dès lors s’interroger sur les conséquences de ce rapprochement à moyen terme, tant il semble conforter Pékin dans ses choix et l’inciter à se montrer de plus en plus arrogante.

L’attitude la plus souvent adoptée par les puissances occidentales, qui consiste à répondre à l’arrogance chinoise par une autre arrogance, est inquiétante en ce qu’elle provoque un choc des arrogances et génère des tensions qui pourraient s’amplifier.

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arrogance des puissances occidentales (en tant qu’entités étatiques) est cependant souvent mise en relation avec l’arrogance, supposée celle-ci, qui serait celle des Occidentaux à l’égard du reste du monde. Dans ce cas, peut-on également considérer que les Chinois sont aujourd’hui arrogants, ou ne s’agirait-il au contraire que de la manière dont la montée en puissance de la Chine est perçue, le plus souvent avec crainte, par les Occidentaux? On remarque ainsi

que c’est tout autant la manière dont la Chine se comporte sur la scène internationale que la frustration que les Occidentaux (investisseurs notamment) manifestent en réponse à son refus de se plier à leurs exigences qui caractérise la montée en puissance chinoise. Dans ce décor, les Chinois ne seraient que des acteurs arrogants opposés à d’autres arrogants, générant des situations conflictuelles dans lesquelles ils ont une part de responsabilité certaine, mais pas exclusive. De même, dès lors que l’arrogance de la Chine s’opposerait à celle des puissances occidentales, nous pouvons nous interroger sur les conséquences d’une lutte d’influence et d’hégémonie à grande échelle. Les puissances arrogantes se sont à de multiples reprises affrontées dans l’histoire (notamment à l’occasion de la Première Guerre mondiale), mais le contexte est ici particulier, puisqu’elles ne revendiquent pas les mêmes racines culturelles. C’est sans doute ce qui justifie les craintes qui entourent la montée en puissance de la Chine et les tentations hégémoniques de Pékin. La Chine est donc arrogante, mais qu’en est-il des Chinois? Les empires coloniaux étaient ainsi arrogants dans la manière dont ils se positionnaient à l’égard des autres peuples, mais les colons n’en étaient pas moins l’incarnation de cette arrogance. Le cas américain est en revanche moins pertinent, car si Washington fut arrogante pendant la parenthèse de la présidence de George W. Bush, les Américains ne se sont pas montrés plus arrogants pendant cette période, à l’exception d’un groupe limité de conservateurs. Dans le cas de la Chine, on relève une association de ces deux tendances. Pékin se montre ainsi de plus en plus arrogante, mais dans le même temps, les Chinois, plus sûrs d’eux-mêmes et – enfin – libérés de leurs complexes d’infériorité consécutifs aux humiliations du 19e siècle, se comportent parfois comme le faisaient les colons des empires coloniaux. L’arrogance n’est ainsi pas uniquement une pratique de politique étrangère, mais un phénomène nettement plus large, et qui s’appuie sur la manière dont les Chinois perçoivent la montée en puissance de leur pays, et se voient au centre du monde. Si la Chine est aujourd’hui décomplexée, c’est aussi et surtout parce que les Chinois le sont, et cette tendance pourrait aller crescendo. Reste à savoir quel serait l’antidote à l’arrogance, et comment les États parviendraient-ils à s’imposer sans imposer, et à renforcer leur influence sur la scène internationale sans être immédiatement perçus comme impérialistes ou agressifs. En d’autres termes, que doivent faire les puissances pour ne pas donner l’impression d’être trop tentées par l’arrogance? Le politologue américain Joseph Nye s’est attardé sur cette question il y a deux décennies, et a identifié le soft power, qui est pour lui «la capacité à changer ce que les autres veulent en


À PARAÎTRE EN SEPTEMBRE CHAIRE RAOUL-DANDURAND L’Observatoire sur le Moyen-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord de la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques présente :

G.I contre Jihad Le match nul

PIERRE-ALAIN CLÉMENT La confrontation entre George W. Bush et Oussama ben Laden s’est terminée sur un prévisible match nul. L’auteur expose les raisons de cet échec mutuel en démontrant que les stratégies des deux combattants ne pouvaient qu’exacerber les tensions.

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raison de sa force d’attraction», s’opposant ainsi au hard power, qui est «la capacité à changer ce que les autres font». Construite en tirant les leçons de la Guerre froide, cette notion n’en reste pas moins très actuelle, et trouve même avec la Chine un exemple qui confirme sa pertinence. Détail intéressant, Pékin mise en effet sur la force de son soft power – érigée depuis 2007 au rang de stratégie politique officielle – pour assurer sa montée en puissance, mais n’en demeure pas moins arrogante, et se sert même de sa capacité d’influence pour asseoir son hégémonie et renforcer sa capacité d’influence. Le soft power peut ainsi, selon la manière avec laquelle il est utilisé et les moyens qui lui sont alloués, atténuer les effets contre-productifs en termes d’image de l’arrogance, mais sans nécessairement en réduire la portée. De même, si Pékin cherche à soigner son image, la coexistence du soft power et de l’arrogance pourrait à terme poser problème, et le paradoxe d’une politique étrangère parfois schizophrénique sera exposé aux réalités de sa mise en pratique. Pour l’heure, la Chine est bien acceptée par les pays dans lesquels elle se montre de plus en plus présente, mais on peut aisément imaginer des situations dans lesquelles l’empire du Milieu serait qualifié de néocolonialiste et arrogant afin de défendre ses intérêts ou d’imposer ses vues, à la manière des critiques que reçoivent généralement les puissances occidentales. De même, la nature du régime chinois et l’absence de liberté d’expression, que les récentes arrestations de dissidents en marge du mouvement qualifié de «révolution du jasmin» ont confirmée, met en avant les paradoxes d’un pays qui souhaite plus que tout soigner son image, mais reste dans le même temps inflexible sur des questions sensibles. Pour ces raisons, Pékin se voit dans l’obligation de contrôler son arrogance et de miser sur son soft power, au risque de voir son image se dégrader aussi rapidement qu’elle s’est consolidée au cours des dernières années. Enfin, quelles devraient être les attitudes face à l’arrogance de la Chine? Compte tenu de la puissance chinoise, déclinée désormais sous de multiples formes, s’y opposer frontalement peut générer des conséquences nuisibles. À l’inverse, l’accepter de manière systématique reviendrait à jouer le jeu de Pékin. L’attitude la plus souvent adoptée par les puissances occidentales, qui consiste à répondre à l’arrogance chinoise par une autre arrogance, est non seulement malvenue, mais elle est aussi inquiétante en ce qu’elle provoque un choc des arrogances et génère des tensions qui pourraient s’amplifier. Plus que l’attitude d’une puissance comme la Chine, c’est la façon dont elle est perçue et les réponses qui y sont apportées qui peuvent potentiellement créer des situations conflictuelles. Il est par conséquent nécessaire de repenser la manière de réagir face à l’arrogance chinoise, en établissant une distinction entre les nécessaires critiques visant les méthodes du régime et le légitime sentiment de fierté retrouvée de la population chinoise qui n’est de son côté pas critiquable, à condition qu’il ne dégénère pas en sentiment de supériorité. Ainsi, si l’arrogance doit être contenue par le puissant, la perception de la puissance par l’autre est tout aussi déterminante, et elle doit être bien contrôlée. | GB


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Dilemmes argentins


Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, les intrigues présidentielles et le tango péroniste VICTOR ARMONY depuis Buenos Aires



Victor Armony est professeur de sociologie et directeur de l’Observatoire des Amériques de l’Université du Québec à

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e ne meurs pas pour être présidente de nouveau». La phrase de Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, prononcée en mai, a produit un choc en Argentine, non pas parce que c’était la première fois qu’elle exprimait une certaine réticence à se porter candidate à la réélection en octobre 2011, mais en raison du destinataire implicite du message et du conflit politique auquel elle fait allusion. En effet, Fernandez de Kirchner ne s’adressait pas aux figures de l’opposition, plutôt inoffensives pour le moment si l’on se fie aux sondages d’opinion, mais elle lançait plutôt un dur avertissement – avec le ton caustique et méprisant qu’elle réserve aux adversaires qu’elle ne daigne même pas nommer – à l’un des piliers sur lequel son prédécesseur Nestor Kirchner (qui était également son mari), avait construit une redoutable structure de pouvoir au sein du mouvement péroniste: Hugo Moyano, le secrétaire général de la Confédération générale des travailleurs (CGT). Moyano, chef des camionneurs, ainsi que président intérimaire du Parti justicialiste (péroniste) de la Province de Buenos Aires, a été longtemps le puissant leader de la «colonne syndicale» du kirchnérisme, cette dernière mutation du péronisme aux accents gauchistes qui gouverne l’Argentine depuis 2003. Pourquoi la présidente a-t-elle décidé maintenant de se distancier de Moyano, en dénonçant dans le même discours le «syndicalisme corporatif» et se disant «fatiguée de l’hypocrisie» de certains de ses supporters? On sait bien que Moyano et ses camionneurs ont amplement bénéficié des largesses publiques (dont une généreuse augmentation salariale approuvée par la présidente elle-même au mois de mars) et que ce sont ces mêmes camionneurs qui ont freiné la révolte anti-gouvernementale des fermiers en 2008 et qui, plus récemment, ont empêché la distribution des journaux Clarin et La Nacion, cibles d’une particulière animosité présidentielle. Pourquoi donc charger contre un allié si proche? On ne peut pas dire que la surprise est totale, bien que la virulence de l’attaque soit inespérée. Même dans un contexte de croissance économique soutenue et de boom de la consommation, l’image du syndicaliste qui obtient des privilèges en échange de «services» douteusement démocratiques commence – enfin! – à déranger. De plus, le fait que son propre syndicat soit actuellement l’objet d’une enquête judiciaire concernant la surfacturation illégale de médicaments place Moyano au centre d’un scan-

dale de corruption qui alimente les manchettes quotidiennes de la presse nationale. L’interprétation la plus simple – et probablement la plus juste, à plusieurs égards – est que Moyano serait devenu trop fort et trop gênant, donc une menace directe à l’autorité que Fernandez de Kirchner exerce sur le vaste et complexe amalgame populiste qu’est le péronisme depuis sa naissance dans les années 1940. En fait, en se disant hésitante face à son propre avenir politique, la présidente ne fait pas montre de faiblesse ou de manque de confiance dans ses chances de remporter l’élection, comme on pourrait le penser à prime abord mais, au contraire, elle mise sur le penchant typiquement personnaliste de son mouvement: tout dépend d’elle. Tout comme sa candidature à la présidence en 2007 n’avait relevé que de la volonté individuelle de son époux, qui avait lui aussi joué le jeu de l’ambigüité pendant de longs mois avant la fin de son premier mandat.


epuis la mort de Juan Peron en 1974, le péronisme est un véhicule de pouvoir qui prend la couleur idéologique de celui qui le dirige. Mais aucun leader péroniste ne peut se passer de la «colonne syndicale» et des réseaux clientélistes qui, nourris par une redistribution sélective de ressources conditionnelle à leur loyauté, se déploient sous le contrôle des caciques locaux, notamment dans les banlieues de la Province de Buenos Aires qui entourent la capitale fédérale, mais aussi dans plusieurs autres régions du pays. Depuis la transition démocratique en 1983, le péronisme – défini davantage par une identification émotive au «peuple» et à la justice sociale que par une appartenance partisane – semble la seule forme d’organisation qui puisse assurer la gouvernabilité en Argentine, grâce au soutien des classes démunies et à son aptitude à se représenter comme la seule option véritablement «nationale et populaire». Le vaste appareil syndical et territorial (notamment au niveau municipal ou provincial) du péronisme maintient la paix sociale et constitue, également, un ressort névralgique de son pouvoir: le potentiel de mobilisation des masses et – de manière moins visible – le recours à des forces de choc pour l’intimidation d’opposants. C’est justement cette capacité à déchaîner ou à contenir la protestation sociale sur le terrain (et, dans certains cas, la violence politique)


présidentiel ou non? Croit-elle si fermement dans le «modèle» – le terme qui, sans autre qualificatif, désigne la transformation socioéconomique de l’Argentine visée par les Kirchner – ou en fait-elle un prétexte pour concentrer le pouvoir présidentiel, comme d’autres péronistes l’ont fait dans le passé? Et plus près des préoccupations du jour: va-t-elle finalement tracer la ligne dans le sable devant Moyano, alors que des

enjeux d’éthique fondamentaux se posent de manière pressante sur la scène publique? Préservera-t-elle la soi-disant «alliance stratégique» ou fera-t-elle le choix de l’institutionnalisation démocratique, en coupant cette relation symbiotique du péronisme avec le pouvoir syndical? Apparemment, même le petit cercle intime de la présidente est plongé dans l’incertitude. Pour le moment, seule Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner connaît la réponse à ces questions. | GB

La présidente argentine, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, s’habille toujours en noir depuis la mort de son mari, l’ancien président

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que les secteurs qui répondent à Moyano ont commencé à mettre de l’avant depuis quelques mois – particulièrement après la mort de Nestor Kirchner en octobre 2010 – en défiance ouverte envers l’autorité de Fernandez de Kirchner, par le biais de grèves et de blocages de routes, ce qui peut sérieusement affecter l’activité économique du pays, ainsi que la crédibilité du gouvernement comme garant de l’ordre. En bref, Moyano a été une créature du kirchnérisme – indispensable à son schème de pouvoir – mais il risque d’incarner ce qui a été, à plusieurs moments de l’histoire argentine, le talon d’Achille du péronisme: le syndicalisme musclé et mafieux qui prend la société et l’économie en otage. Il va de soi que les marchés n’apprécient nullement ces dérives. La classe moyenne, qui détient la clef de la majorité électorale en octobre, non plus… Pourtant, Fernandez de Kirchner est-elle prête à rompre ce que des journalistes qualifient d’«alliance stratégique»? En fait, les questions sur les desseins de la présidente se multiplient, ainsi que les spéculations. Son mari était passé maître, sans conteste, dans l’art des intrigues politiques, toujours un pas devant les autres. Ceci a permis à Nestor Kirchner, le «président accidentel» arrivé au pouvoir presque sans appuis dans le péronisme et peu connu de la population, de bâtir rapidement un imposant système de pouvoir autour de sa personne. Ses véritables intentions n’étaient pas toujours évidentes dans l’immédiat (le bluff et le double discours faisaient partie de son arsenal tactique), mais ses actions laissaient transpirer, dans leur ensemble, une logique politique visant la longue durée. Les experts – comme les Argentins en général – éprouvent de la difficulté à «lire» la présidente. Sur le plan de la communication, ses élans de sincérité et de modestie – par exemple, lorsqu’elle dit parler comme «humble femme» et mère de famille – semblent souvent artificiels. Ses positionnements politiques, parfois très rigides, voire intransigeants, contrastent avec ses prétentions dialoguistes et d’ouverture à la dissension. Même son attachement au péronisme suscite des questionnements chez ceux qui se réclament de l’héritage de Juan Peron.Veut-elle un deuxième mandat

Nestor Kirchner.




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The future of democracy in the Middle East and North Africa is with the unstructured, civic action networks that started ‘the troubles’ in the first place. Now the networks must become more sophisticated, and up their game BY SVEN SPENGEMANN



Sven Spengemann is the Senior Constitutional Officer of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) (on sabbatical leave). The opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect or correspond to the views, positions or policies of the UN.

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he Arab Spring continues. In quick succession, the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria have faced public demonstrations of varying magnitude and intensity. They have responded to this largely democratic impulse with a range of reactions, ranging from speedy resignations to violent crackdowns and, in some cases, concessions to the protesters – either in the form of support for the right to free expression or in new allotments of public funds to social services and public welfare programmes. As distinct as are the histories, cultures and economic positions of each of the nations caught up in this remarkable wave of activism and resistance, the unifying elements that have engendered the metaphor of an ‘Arab Spring’ are simple and compelling: a demand for social justice, including free expression; and demands for accountable government, employment opportunities and improved public services. Beyond these ‘asks,’ the demonstrators appear to be driven by a collective perception that most of their governing regimes are, at best, stale anachronisms – governments that, for too long, have been unwilling to respond to generational, social change. Although the popular transformations surfaced with unpredictable speed and geographic breadth, their intensity suggests levels of dissatisfaction and oppression that have been latent for some time in the hearts and minds of citizens in the Arab world – and, arguably, in Iran, whose Green Revolution has been characterized by some as a precursor to the broader movement. The live question in the mind of every observer is: what now? One of the crucial next steps in these transformations will be the consolidation and empowerment of Arab civil society – such that it may credibly become a driving force behind the realization of the reforms demanded by the protesters. In particular, such a consolidated and empowered Arab civil society would play a leading role in proposing, deliberating and affirming new, accountable institutions and transparent processes. Two things are essential for this to happen. First, there is an urgent need for civil society representatives in the established democracies to engage in focussed introspection about the shortcomings of their own systems, and in active, sustained outreach to counterparts in the transitional democracies. Second, there is a need for the development of an informal, ‘demand-based’ mechanism to allow for the


transfer of democratic expertise between established and transitional democratic players at the level of civil society – a mechanism that would be based on the very same virtual social networks that were the force behind the breadth and intensity of the Arab demonstrations in the first place.

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wo principal reasons explain why the timing is arguably right for such engagement at the level of civil society. First, after decades of centrist, often oppressive rule, civil society in the Arab world remains underdeveloped. The protesters in the streets largely represent a new generation of young, energetic citizens who – connected across national borders by Facebook, Twitter and other social media – emphatically demand that their voices be heard, and will not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way to make this point. These same protesters may, however, lack the concrete, practical experience required to reconstruct and reform their respective civil societies into constructive forces that could support the evolution of transitional democracies. In short, the real, imminent danger would be a backsliding into earlier or – worse – more radical species of regime. Second, the traditional, state-led paths of development assistance continue to suffer from a fragmentation of policy interests that would render a coordinated, multilateral effort challenging at best – if not wholly unsuccessful. The US, the EU and the Arab states themselves are all forced to weigh their respective strategic stakes in the region and historical alliances with individual regimes against the protesters’ demand for change. Specific challenges include the recognition of new regimes or political factions under international law, as well as the mandate and lead among the NATO members in Libya – now deeply engaged in the conflict, but constrained by limited legal and operational reach. In Iraq, which acquired the formal structures of a constitutional democracy and an openly elected parliament half a decade ago, the protests come at a time when the country faces the added dynamics of the pending US military draw-down and – at this time of writing – a still-incomplete executive branch. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Syria are each faced with distinct challenges related to economic status, strategic significance and ethno-political cleavages. In Saudi Arabia, the rapid disintegration of Western support for the Mubarak regime led King Abdullah to reallocate significant public resources to social services and public welfare programmes in an effort to quell – if not pre-empt – the protesters’ demands. The calculus appeared to be that, despite a long-standing alliance with the US, continued

Western support for the Saudi regime may not be guaranteed if domestic protests were to gain in breadth and intensity. The protests in Bahrain and Syria, in turn, are situated in the broader context of Sunni-Shia (Arab-Persian) relations, resulting in an added layer of international attention and concern about the state-led crackdowns on protesters. In sum, multinational or bilateral state-led efforts to reconstruct or strengthen civil society in the transitional democracies would be at risk of being undermined both by a fragmentation of policy interests and by perceptions on the ground that such efforts would amount to illegitimate external interference. In the face of these complexities, why might civil society organizations in developed democracies be well-positioned to offer tangible assistance in the short-term? Three related questions follow: Is democracy really the model sought by the demonstrators? And even if this is the case, would such an initiative not also be dismissed – as suggested above – by key stakeholders as illegitimate outside interference? Further, how could such an initiative work? It remains too early to view the protest movements as a series of calls for full-fledged democracy, characterized by a robust human rights framework – including the rights of minorities and women – and a reasonable constitutional separation of powers, with appropriate checks and balances. Developments remain in a state of flux in many of the countries involved – particularly on the question of which new model of government might emerge. What has become clearer is that the demonstrators are voicing demands that – roughly speaking – fall onto the two axes developed by democratic theorist Robert Dahl: they insist on greater inclusiveness of citizens in the processes of governing, and also on an improved ability to contest public decisions and policies. To some, this Dahlian logic may be tenuous, as the risk of backsliding remains high. In post-Mubarak Egypt, for example, recent news points to renewed violence between Copts and Muslims. In Iraq, amid continuing, sporadic attacks on public officials and institutions, accusations prevail that the Sunni community is insufficiently represented in government. Nevertheless, the projects on the streets of the Middle East and North Africa can be said to be of a democratizing nature; that is, the people are seeking to establish or reestablish a form of government that is more responsive to their rights, needs and interests. There must be recognition that the protests of the Arab Spring are endogenous movements, the legitimacy and future sustainability of which will depend on the fact that they continue to be led by the very citizens of each country. As a general rule, therefore, the less uninvited external intervention – political, military or other – the better. Those who are in the streets, putting their lives at risk as they

oppose government oppression, surely will not want to expend this kind of effort – fundamental to the very idea of (re)forming a polity – only to have a new model of government imposed on them from the outside. As such, there must be a shared understanding and appreciation that democracy is not a concept that can be intellectually or historically appropriated – let alone turned into an export product – by the liberal-constitutional West; that is, that whether we speak of ancient Greece, India, Latin America, Europe or North America, democracy has evolved through tumultuous, colourful histories, often associated with periods of violent struggle (see the Feature article by Irvin Studin on North America’s past and future wars at p. 20).


It remains too early to view the protest movements as a call for full-fledged democracy, characterized by robust human rights and a constitutional separation of powers, with the appropriate checks and balances. level is a compelling one. It was first famously elaborated by Anne-Marie Slaughter in A New World Order (Princeton, 2004), and one of its exemplary applications has been the PHARE programme of the EU, under which officials in EU accession candidates are ‘twinned’ through network mechanisms with officials in EU member states – officials who advise these accession candidates on an ongoing basis on particular administrative and executive issues. The proposed civic action networks – as they could be called – would be even less structured than the transgovernmental networks implemented by the EU. In its simplest form, the core element of a civic action network would be a voluntarily established, virtual presence of a civil society group, with a particular, verifiable – but geographically unlimited – location and area of knowledge or expertise, openly accessible via electronic media. Once accessed on a demand basis by counterparts in North Africa and the Middle East, this virtual presence becomes a network – a channel for bi-directional information flow. The networks would have the aim

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he demand for change that is sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East coincides with the advent of a certain malaise in Western democracies – particularly when it comes to government oversight and regulation, accountability and the capacity to achieve particular socio-economic outcomes. Some recent symptoms have included Enron, followed by the US sub-prime loans fiasco; the financial crisis; the Madoff scandal; the environmental impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; the ongoing economic Eurosclerosis (Greece, Portugal, Ireland) and sluggishness of economic recovery; and the current US debt ceiling debate, coupled with continuing doubts about the ability of Western governments to engage constructively with the Middle East and to deal with the problem of Islamic extremism – doubts that have been tempered only feebly by the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. Western democracy may therefore hardly be a model that would readily be seen as a serious threat by the changing Arab world, and it surely is not one that has particularly inspired anyone in recent times. On the other hand, this very set of humbling experiences may lessen the perception that Western models or insights – no matter how well-intentioned – represent an imperialistic threat. Instead of being pessimistic, then, one might look at current developments as a very unique confluence of opportunities. For citizens of North Africa and the Middle East, there is a historic opportunity to create a better future for themselves – one that they are currently seizing. For citizens of Western democracies, this is an opportunity to take a hard look at failures within their own systems of government, while working to overcome prejudices about, and fears of, the Arab world. To be sure, this second opportunity may prove to be somewhat elusive, because these fears are being perpetuated by the media’s continued focus on the dangers of Islamic

terrorism – including fears that the heralded Arab Spring may issue in a new generation of extremists coming to power. Of course, such an outcome would be flatly unacceptable – both on the basis of the demonstrators’ stated aims and in the view of developed democracies. Indeed, its very possibility strengthens the case for civic engagement and the shoring-up of civil societies in the Middle East. And yet, thus far, fears such as these have essentially precluded a constructive dialogue with, or even a deeper understanding of, the generation of Arabs that has taken to the streets of Cairo, Dara’a, or Taiz. So what would the mechanism for proposed transnational civic engagement look like, and how could it work? What would the challenges be? This is not a proposal based on ethnicity, ideology, religion or politics – domestic or international. Rather, it is a process-driven idea that taps into the very mechanism that has been responsible for the acceleration and scope of the protest movements in the first place: the social network. The idea of network governance at the public international


of providing or contributing pragmatic solutions to specific problems and challenges related to the consolidation of civil society. In short, they would be issue-specific fora for a robust, results-oriented exchange between civic leaders in established and transitional democracies alike; a voluntary tirekicking of ideas, as it were. One of the key features of the civic action network would be that it would operate alongside, but independently, of the nation-state; that is, independently of international or domestic public policy initiatives and formal state action. This degree of independence would: give individual networks the requisite flexibility to respond concretely and pragmatically on an ‘as-needed’ basis, rather than being embedded in a broader public policy framework; allow the networks – as mechanisms that are entirely voluntary on both the supply and demand sides – to immediately dismiss criticisms of uninvited political interference or ‘meddling;’ and, finally, constitute a modality with which the protesters – originally brought together by Facebook

There must be recognition

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that the protests are endogenous movements, the legitimacy and future sustainability of which will depend on the fact that they continue to be led by the very citizens of each individual country.


and Twitter – are already thoroughly familiar, and the potential effectiveness of which they understand. Examples of possible civic action networks abound, and may include labour advocacy groups; independent human rights monitors; consumer advocacy groups, including independent financial watchdogs; professional or academic organizations (barristers, scientists, professors, physicians, optometrists); sports clubs; women’s organizations; community foundations; as well as charities and advocacy groups for the disabled and socially disadvantaged. Moreover, it is not assumed that the direction of information flows through these civic action networks would necessarily be oneway – that is, from mature Western democracies to nations in the Middle East and North Africa. It is just as easy to imagine that an Iraqi civil society group would share, through a civic action network, information and new expertise with a group of Egyptian citizens wishing to achieve a similar goal, as it is to conceive of a French or Canadian association providing insights on past

experience to a group of Libyan civic organizers. There are, of course, numerous questions and challenges embedded in the details of this proposal that would need to be identified and addressed. What would be the concrete incentives of individual suppliers of ideas to offer virtual platforms, and for users to actually participate in such networks on an iterative basis? What would be the funding requirements and parameters – if any – and how could funding channels best be protected against allegations of indirect interference or bias? Would it be best for these networks to be established individually? Should they be organized and potentially indexed within broader umbrella categories or even informal organizations that could stipulate guiding principles, or would this stifle their flexibility and independence? And how can we avoid potentially conflicting objectives or aims between these networks and other civil society initiatives – as well as initiatives pursued through more formal domestic or international channels (see the Feature article by Jeremi Suri on diplomacy in the 21st century at p. 14)? The primary incentive for participation in the civic action networks flows from the fact that the Arab world is experiencing an unprecedented opening – a democratic impulse that should be welcomed and supported. More concretely, there would be the simple recognition by a civil society group that it could be of help: “We heard about what you are trying to do, and we know about this stuff. Would you like us to tell you how we solved the issue?” Within this dynamic, the above questions would become eminently soluble by future participants in the civic action networks – particularly as the scope of the overall objective would, almost by definition, allow for sufficient time and conceptual space for solutions to be found. Precise, detailed and comprehensive ‘prescription’ of processes and outcomes is here subordinated to endogenous social experimentation – including trial-and-error approaches – in the transformation and consolidation of civil societies. This leaves the West with a heightened understanding of the verity that, irrespective of geographic theatre, the path of democracy is always a work in progress, and never an end-state. It demands from the West – humbled by recent shortcomings – an increased sense of civic awareness and responsibility. And in the East, today’s demonstrations – including the violent struggles that continue in Libya and Syria – are only the first open steps toward tomorrow’s achievable change. The challenges are formidable, and most are yet to be identified in concrete terms – let alone be overcome. Indeed, this may be the strongest incentive of all for a coming together: a recognition that much of the hard work remains ahead, and that those who died in the streets, in the pursuit of democratic ideals, should not have died in vain. | GB

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Sami Aoun est professeur titulaire à l’École de politique appliquée à l’Université de

Est-ce que le régime syrien survivra?

Sherbrooke. Il est chercheur au Groupe de

Projection de scénarios concernant Damas, Assad et le Moyen-Orient PAR SAMI AOUN

recherche Société, droit et religions à Sherbrooke et chercheur associé à la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand à l’Université du Québec

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à Montréal.



près de nombreuses semaines de contestation populaire sporadique mâtée par un usage intense de la puissance de feu, le régime syrien paye un prix exorbitant et ensanglanté pour sa survie. Le président Bashar al Assad et ses adjoints sont sanctionnés par les États-Unis et l’Union européenne. Même les deux États proches de lui – la Turquie qui maintient ses liens avec Damas et le Qatar presque en situation de rupture – l’exhortent à se réformer, et en profondeur. Par son approche sécuritaire, combinée à ses déclarations d’intention de réforme, le régime Assad réussit à avorter les rassemblements de grande ampleur permanents à l’instar des scénarios égyptien et tunisien. En plus, il a maintenu la bourgeoisie sunnite des grands centres urbains (Alep et Damas) hors de la mouvance de la contestation. Cependant, le spectre de l’aggravation des tensions interconfessionnelles se fait sentir, ainsi que celui de la balkanisation ou de l’effondrement de l’entité syrienne. Il s’agit à la fois d’une éventualité et d’une sorte d’épouvantail. Pour le moins, on peut prévoir que les cicatrices seront difficiles à panser. Qu’est-ce qui explique la survie de ce régime? Quels

sont les scénarios projetés? Quelles seront les conséquences soit de la survie soit de la chute du régime? L’éclairage sur le voisinage géopolitique de la Syrie confirme le recul de l’importance du rôle du régime Assad, qui s’est imposé dans la région en offrant ses services aux grandes puissances. On mentionne comme cas d’illustration comment les États-Unis et l’Arabie saoudite ont eu recours à lui pour gérer le dossier libanais. Ou les autres régimes dans leurs efforts de déraillement de l’incursion américaine en Irak (voir le débat Nez à Nez entre Shuvaloy Majumdar et Peter Jones sur la relation entre la guerre irakienne et le printemps arabe à la page 52). La stabilité à Bagdad s’est imposée par une entente non déclarée américano-iranienne qui a été acceptée par les élites arabo-sunnites irakiennes. L’autre cas à noter concerne la résolution 1701 adoptée par le Conseil de sécurité en 2006 qui a pour effet de fermer les frontières israélo-libanaises et qui suspend le rôle qu’a joué le sud Liban dans les intrigues politiques entre Israël, la Syrie et l’Iran. Déjà, même après la fin humiliante de sa tutelle sur le Liban, le régime syrien traîne lourdement des accusations officieuses sur son rôle dans l’assassinat, le 14 février 2005, de PHOTOGRAPHIE: LA PRESS CANADIENNE

peut-être même qatari, avec sa chaîne Al Jazeera, de plus en plus critique vis-à-vis du régime Assad). Ou l’agenda caché du gouvernement islamiste turc qui fait la promotion des confrères islamistes syriens. En plus du slogan «c’est Moi ou les islamistes», vient s’ajouter un autre: «c’est Moi ou la guerre civile». Malgré la popularité notable du président Bachar al-Assad avant ce coup de rétrécissement, les critiques contre son entourage se font de plus en plus criantes et menaçantes. C’est un fiasco retentissant pour le parti Baath qu’après presque 50 ans au pouvoir il accuse un déficit lamentable dans la création d’un espace citoyen. Aux premières secousses, on voit la réapparition des symptômes d’une société éclatée avec des loyautés confessionnelles et sectaires qui se trouvent sous le seuil de la modernité politique. Comme si le régime autoritaire est le seul garant contre l’éclatement des haines religieuses dans une société mosaïque fortement fragile! Somme toute, la survie du régime Assad, entourée par des personnalités alouites fortes – surtout son frère Maher et ses cousins les Makhlouf, qui détiennent les pouvoirs exécutifs et sécuritaires – se doit à cette entente toujours en vigueur avec la grande bourgeoisie sunnite urbaine et commerçante avantagée par les dividendes de la libéralisation. Bref, c’est une stabilité qui repose sur des Alaouites détenteurs de l’exécutif et du sécuritaire, avec des citadins sunnites aisés. En fait, la majorité des insurgés viennent plutôt des régions sunnites pauvres, appuyés par d’autres membres des communautés marginalisées, surtout les Kurdes. Ajoutons l’appui solide de certaines élites de la gauche syrienne, des signataires de la déclaration de Damas de 2005, des communistes, ainsi que de toutes les composantes syriennes, politiquement et économiquement marginalisées. En d’autres termes, le régime syrien d’Assad est entré dans une phase critique. Sa survie est de moins en moins assurée. Elle semble toujours tributaire de la reconfiguration de ses alliances avec l’Iran et le Hezbollah, craintes par une large opinion arabo-sunnite. Mais aussi et surtout des réformes en profondeur qui ont été inspirées des réclamations du printemps arabe scandées dans de nombreuses villes et qui se fondent sur une reconnaissance de l’opposition syrienne et son droit de cité. Cest le président Bashar lui-même qui doit mener ces réformes. Sinon, les fuites en avant du régime garderont le feu dans la demeure syrienne et accentueront les probabilités d’un déclenchement des plans de partage (ou de repartage!) par le feu et le sang selon les clivages sectaires et les rancunes ancestrales de cet espace moyen-oriental. | GB

La survie du régime Assad se doit à cette entente toujours en vigueur avec la grande bourgeoisie sunnite urbaine et commerçante avantagée par les dividendes de la libéralisation.

Manifestants pro-Assad à Damas. Page opposée: Manifestation antigouvernementale dans la ville côtière de Banias.

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l’ancien premier ministre libanais sunnite Rafic Hariri, proche des Saoudiens. La crise du régime syrien s’est aggravée suite à la fin du régime égyptien de Hosni Moubarak. Une nouvelle donne se configure, peu à peu, qui priverait la Syrie de son influence sur le dossier palestinien. Cela est couronné par la conciliation entre le mouvement islamiste Hamas à l’écoute des directives de Damas et le mouvement Fatah de l’Autorité palestinienne. Une autre preuve que le régime Assad se trouve dans une zone de déséquilibre et que son statut régional est soumis à rude épreuve. Le fait surprenant qui explique le maintien du régime Assad est son rapport de force non décisif entre, d’un côté, la pression montante et critique qui vient de trois de ses alliés de convergence ou des partenaires économiques et médiatiques – notamment la Turquie, le Qatar et la France – et de l’autre côté, une appréhension de l’après-régime exprimée par plusieurs responsables en Israël. D’ailleurs, le cousin influent du président Assad, Rami Makhlouf, a fait allusion dans une déclaration controversée à une certaine complicité entre la stabilité israélienne et celle de la Syrie! Du côté de Washington, l’administration Obama devient plus critique sans toutefois faire appel à la fin du régime. En face du mutisme arabe, la volonté fortement affichée de l’Iran et du Hezbollah dans l’appui inconditionnel du régime est sans brèche. C’est le maillon nécessaire pour l’arc d’influence iranien et l’indice du succès de son expansion vers la Méditerranée. Ces changements géopolitiques ont des effets déstabilisateurs: le régime apparaît sur la double scène régionale et internationale affaibli, épuisé et saignant. Cela dit, même sur la sellette, plusieurs facteurs internes favorisent la survie du régime, au moins pour le moment. Son bilan de libéralisation économique, d’ouverture pondérée mais limitée sur les marchés mondiaux, surtout via la Turquie, a augmenté sans aucun doute sa légitimité dans les milieux commerçants. Et surtout sa réussite à garder le pays loin des turbulences et de l’anarchie qui désolaient son voisinage. Mais le contrepoids de ce succès est le verrouillage incompréhensible et injustifié. Le déni à l’opposition d’agir dans la légalité, même jusqu’à la non reconnaissance de son existence! Un monopole du pouvoir politique par le Parti Baath fondé sur l’article 8 de la Constitution. Pire, sur la criminalisation de l’appartenance aux Frères Musulmans! (En effect, l’appartenance aux Frères musulmans est passible de la peine de mort en Syrie.) La riposte médiatique du régime contre les insurgés ou les manifestants souffre également de cohérence. D’ailleurs, les facettes de cette propagande se résument à dire que les opposants sont des exécuteurs d’un complot ou des radicaux islamistes ou des infiltrés à la solde des services de renseignements arabes (saoudiens en particulier, ou


NEZ À NEZ The Iraq War as Cause of the Arab Spring? The Iraq war (launched in 2003) eventually provided oxygen for today’s Arab Spring PROPOSITION:

Shuvaloy Majumdar (for): For the last 60 years,

Shuvaloy Majumdar is Visiting Foreign Policy Scholar at the University of British Columbia’s Liu Institute, and Director of the Hurriya Initiative: Ending Tyranny Through Freedom in 21st Century Statecraft.

Peter Jones is Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He was a senior analyst for the Security and Intelligence Secretariat of the

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Privy Council in


Ottawa, and led the Middle East Security and Arms Control Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in Sweden in the 1990s.

the wider Middle East has been paralyzed by the dichotomy of autocratic Nasserist socialism and hardline extremist Islamism. Human associations in the region are built on the fault lines of tribes, mosques, sects and, indeed, strongmen demi-gods seeking to lay claim to Arabian stewardship. On the ashes of the Twin Towers 10 years ago, a new policy emerged from the US foreign policy firmament to precipitate long-term regional transformation. It articulated clearly that the establishment of democracy and democratic states should be line-item number one in the US national security strategy. More than 1,000 years ago, the Abbasid caliphate had its capital in Baghdad – today Arabia’s second largest city. As Hugh Kennedy has colourfully chronicled in When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam’s Greatest Dynasty, on the streets of Baghdad walked leaders of literature, science, art and culture in the Muslim world. While various capitals throughout the Middle East have always competed for the mantle of regional leadership, Baghdad – even today – can lay among the largest claims: first, as the capital of a major Arab state, and second as the capital of the world’s second largest Shiite-majority country. In the Middle Eastern identity, therefore, democracy’s turbulent rise in Baghdad has informed the so-called Arab Spring on the street. (See the Feature article by Sven Spengemann on civic action networks and the Arab Spring at p. 44.) For the first time in the history of the region, notions of citizenship and constitutional liberalism have seeded democratic life, and have been permitted to thrive. A new generation frustrated with the old order – and disabused of the erstwhile worship of mythical leaders – has discovered its voices in the anonymity of cyberspace, and formed anonymous associations that are now taking to the streets. Iraq has not been an easy experiment, and the emergence of Iraqi democracy cannot take away from the courage of ordinary people who today are in the midst of converting popular unrest into

credible aspirations for popular sovereignty. Iraq in 2011 is home to a people who have established their own constitution, held successive elections, fashioned a government through complicated negotiations, and are slowly and surely building a society with the requisite political space to enfranchise a demanding citizenry. The fourth estate lives – and lives well – in Iraq: robust, independent media represent a multitude of world views. In Iraq, the unassailable has been assailed: despots are no longer demi-gods, and citizens are compelling political parties to move beyond tribe and sect toward practicable public policy solutions. There has never been a shortage of demand for freedom in the region; there has only been the brutal suppression of liberty’s flame. The cultural transformation in Iraq of a people who are discovering the self-confidence to self-govern has had a tremendous impact in not only the Arabian Middle East, but has also pulsed into Iran at every level of life. The 2003 Iraq intervention cleaved open the dyad of strongmen and hegemonic actors, provided space for citizens to be sovereign, and generated the oxygen for liberty’s flame to spread throughout the region.

Peter Jones (against): The so-called Arab Spring is a truly momentous moment in Middle Eastern history. Though it is too soon to say whether the ultimate impact will be as positive as we all hope, the mere fact that despots have been overthrown by largely peaceful, popular action has taken the region in a new and welcome direction. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused these uprisings to happen now. There are broader issues, of course: decades-long rule by corrupt tyrants; economic mismanagement leading to widespread unemployment and hopelessness – especially among the young; and the rise of social media that make it possible for large numbers of urban people to spontaneously organize. One fact that is often missed by those looking at the region today is that these uprisings are playing out differently in different countries across the region – based on the particularities of each case. Arguably, those things that are unique to each country outweigh the broader, region-wide factors. It is thus very dangerous to impute the cause of these events to any one factor – truly Earth-shattering events are seldom caused by just one thing. So it is with the invasion of Iraq in 2003: perhaps it had an impact in bringing about the Arab Spring, but I think not much of one. More importantly, very few people in the Middle East itself feel that the Iraq invasion is the foundation of their present quest for freedom. Though it is true that the invasion brought down a particularly horrible despot, it also left in its wake a widespread horror at its cost, as well as a strong sense on the part of the peoples of the re-

SM: She paused in the midst of her conversation. A leader in the Tunisian rebellion, she looked directly into the eyes of a respected American colleague of mine, and replied: “We knew that we PHOTOGRAPH: THE CANADIAN PRESS / JEROME DELAY

could do this when we saw him hang.” “Who?” “Saddam. He was the biggest of them all. Bigger than Ben Ali, and bigger than Mubarak. When he was hanging in a Baghdad jail – this brutal and mighty madman – we knew that we could get this done for our people in Tunisia.” My colleague had been part of a US assessment mission in the aftermath of Tunisia’s revolution, and had been interviewing leaders who had quietly organized for years. In fact, much of the infrastructure for the rebellions in Tunisia and Egypt were gradually being built, with accelerated democratic assistance given to organized labour, modest political parties and marginalized civil society groups following 2003. Political reform had, to a great extent, been foisted on tyrants engaged with the West at the highest levels, while vital training and support were provided to activists and local leaders at the grassroots – wherever possible. At the margins of their societies, local activists accessed the practical tools that they required to lead their people toward democracy. Knowledge of democracy is something that can be transferred, but its practice requires the self-confidence of popular sovereignty, as well as the courage to be free of the currency of fear on which tyranny depends.

A US marine covers the face of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad with an American flag before toppling the statue, April 2003.

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gion that America undertook this action for its own interests – and not theirs. The widespread mistrust of the US that characterizes popular politics in the region is, in part, due to this dynamic. Moreover, even as it brought down Saddam Hussein, the US continued to support other despots around the region for several years. Many across the Middle East take the view that, had the US been sincere in launching the Iraq invasion to bring freedom to the region, it would not have spent several more years propping up the Mubarak regime and others. If popular uprisings depend on, and spring from, the perceptions of the people who stage them (is that not the very definition of a popular uprising?), then there is presently no perception in the Middle East that the invasion of Iraq has had anything positive to do with today’s events. Indeed, those who filled Tahrir Square, and those who presently seek the end of other regimes across the region, would find it incredible – and not a little annoying – to be told that they owed their courage and their efforts to an invasion that is so unpopular across the Middle East.


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The 2003 Iraq intervention cleaved open the dyad of strongmen and hegemonic actors, generating the oxygen for liberty’s flame to spread.


The Iraqi Baath Party infrastructure was a gargantuan state apparatus, brutalized its people through chemical assault and political torture, and was headed by a madman flanked by his two revolting sons. Saddam was the ultimate symbol of despotic rule in the region. He had warred with America and the West (and, most famously, with Iran), and he had survived. With the end of his regime came the serious prospect that other regimes – other Saddams – may also fall. Undoubtedly, the 2003 Iraq intervention had brutal consequences. Regional interests in the form of Saudi sheikhs, Syrian instigators and Iranian operatives sowed seeds for sectarian discontent. Many regional players had much to lose with the emergence of a legitimate democracy across their borders, and acted accordingly to create the worst conditions possible for democracy’s narrative. Coalition forces were not the ones who exploited Iraqis; rather, it was a nexus of regional actors who understood the significance of the collapsing autocratic order with the fall of Saddam and his Baath Party. In the years following 2003, regional autocrats made certain to arrest freedom at every cost: fomenting propaganda about American empire, feeding sectarian fears within Iraqi society, and upgrading nasty materiel available to insurgents. We ought to assert some basic, observable facts about the Iraq war. Had the underlying intent been oil, then Iraq’s resource sector would have been privatized, and American companies would have had a major stake in it; they plainly do not. Had the intent been empire, then the Iraqi people would not have available to them the instruments of democratic enfranchisement; they do now. Indeed, US officials have recently stated that, had the experiment in Iraq progressed more rapidly in 2003, they would have pursued freedom more vigorously throughout the region. I agree with you that a model of ‘variable geometry’ ought to inform foreign policy and engagement with each individual state in the region – in that each government’s legitimacy is conferred by the consent of their people. I also agree that local public opinion is driven by unique local issues and experiences. However, the larger themes of tyranny and repression are shared across borders throughout the Middle East – whether in autocratic clubs like the Arab League or among their theocratic brethren. Operation Iraqi Freedom broke the fear that the Saddams of Tunisia and Egypt, and now of Libya and Syria, would rule forever, and that nation-states would be transferred from one generation to the next like family heirlooms. The end of Saddam Hussein as a symbol of tyranny exposed cracks in the thin armour of all of the region’s tyrants. Of course, neither of us in this debate is crediting the courage of people engaged in rebellion today to the

Iraq intervention. While unpopular in the region, there is also no doubt that Saddam’s ouster was a watershed moment for aspiring democrats. The notion that these uprisings are unrelated is untenable.

PJ: Doubtless there are a few people in the region who feel that the sight of Saddam being toppled was critical to the awakening of the revolutions that we now see sweeping the region. Still, they are a tiny minority. In the very largest sense, one can say, of course, that seeing one tyrant go is an inspiration for those who seek the demise of others. Beyond that, however, it is critical for this debate to consider whether the experience of toppling Saddam, coupled with other US and Western policy initiatives at the time, provided any practical impetus to what we are seeing today. My sense is not, or at least not very much. I wonder whether the broad mass of people who have risen up in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere really see a direct linkage between the invasion of Iraq by the world’s most significant military power and the ‘people power’ uprisings that they launched against their own governments. The invasion of Iraq is generally believed to have been launched by the US for reasons that are widely perceived by common people across the region to have been narrowly self-interested. Poll after poll across the region – both at the time and since – have made this point. One can debate the issue of whether the 2003 invasion was motivated solely or largely by US self-interest. There are also many definitions of what that self-interest may be: oil; political domination of the region; a launching pad to destabilize other regimes with which the US disagrees; or the more benign reason of seeking to create a model more in keeping with US conceptions of justice and propriety. But the point is that the great majority of the people in the region see the invasion as having been self-interest dressed up in the guise of ‘democracy’ promotion. And that is what matters to the proposition of this debate – for it is difficult to argue that people draw inspiration from something if the majority of them feel that this very thing was illegitimate. Furthermore, for the 2003 invasion to be widely seen across the region as a catalyst for what we see today, it would be necessary for it to be seen as having been part of a wider US strategy that had been consistently applied over time. In short, it would have to have been about the US seeking to topple all of the region’s tyrannies – regardless of whether they were friends of the US. This is not seen in the region as having been the case. Indeed, some tyrants enjoyed considerable US support right up to the moment when their people toppled them. The widespread mistrust of the US that permeates the region at both the levels of the elites and the

SM: It seems that you are confusing anti-American sentiment for anti-democracy sentiment. It is irrelevant to those who crave democracy in Iraq and elsewhere whether Saddam was deposed by the ‘Great Satan’ or by Satan himself. The fact is that Iraqis seized the opportunity, endured years

of foreign-manufactured sectarian strife, and are arriving at the democracy that they demand through each successive election. There is an unmistakable sense of progress through each Iraqi election cycle. Given that this is a region repressed by fear, of course, it would take time for others to believe that their own forms of tyranny could be cast aside, and to learn the tools of ‘people power’ in order to organize popular rebellions. To be sure, polls in the region reflect vast anti-Americanism. The more important fact is that poll after poll throughout the region indicates great demand for freedom and democracy – consistently at epic levels averaging 80 to 90 percent. While people may at times express visceral views toward American leaders, they certainly admire the values and virtues of freedom, a democratic system of government, and a modern society. The case that is being debated here is not whether the opinion on the street views the 2003 Iraq intervention as a catalyst for the Arab Spring, but rather whether the Iraq intervention in fact created the political space in the region for the accountability of dictators, and encouraged movement toward freedom. It did. One fallen dictator in a region that had never known freedom ended the myth that tyranny was permanent and inevitable, and that democracy could never be accessible to people in the Middle East. Revolutions are inherently unpredictable affairs, yet the demand for liberty is a foundation for humanity. If these rebellions prove one thing beyond any doubt, it is that this demand for freedom, justice and democracy is indeed accessible to all, and that the soft bigotry of low expectations is being firmly repudiated by the courageous actions of ordinary citizens. President George W. Bush’s second inaugural address expressed this policy direction. President Ronald Reagan – 25 years earlier – established the mechanisms for democracy assistance as the Cold War began to come to a close, and as a new order was on the horizon for the world. This policy of supporting democracy has been extended through Republican and Democrat administrations alike, with general bipartisan support. However, no one today is accusing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri AlMaliki of being an American puppet. If anything, he is seen on the street to be an Iranian one. Perception is not always reality. Democracy takes time. Indeed as you note, few saw the Arab Spring emerging – except for the organizers of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. In Tunisia, much assistance had been provided over the years to organized labour. They had been searching for a catalyst. (continued} To read the rest of this debate, visit the GB website

If any previous event was a significant inspiration for the Arab Spring, it was the Green Revolution that swept Iran in the wake of the 2009 election.

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‘common man’ testifies to a deeply ingrained sense that US actions in the region have never been about democracy; that is, that Washington has supported despots when it has suited it to do so, and deposed them when it suited American interests. Finally, there is a timeline problem with your argument. If the invasion of Iraq was indeed about promoting democracy across the region, then why has it taken so long for others in the region to follow the US lead of 2003 and spontaneously rise up? The amount of time that has passed seems to reinforce the point that the 2003 invasion has had only the most tangential influence – if any at all – over what we are seeing today. Unless, of course, one takes the view that only leadership by the US makes these uprisings possible – and this is patently contradicted by the fact that the US, and most of the rest of the world, was caught flat-footed by the Arab Spring. To some extent, this debate seems to be resolving itself around the question of how one interprets the past. Those who supported the 2003 invasion are perfectly entitled to their view. As you stated in your last volley, there are good arguments to support the case that the invasion was not all about naked US self-interest. But what matters in terms of the question on offer in this debate is what the people of the region think. To the extent that any previous event was a significant inspiration for the Arab Spring, my sense is that it was the Green Revolution that swept Iran in the wake of the 2009 election. The mass uprising of ordinary Iranian people in support of their liberties and democratic rights was the blueprint for what we have seen in other countries across the region – although the Iranian regime was able to brutally and cruelly repress it (for now, at least). Crucially, there was no foreign power behind the events of 2009 in Iran; and these events were certainly not inspired by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Indeed, the Iranian regime tries to deflect its illegitimacy by making the case that there was foreign meddling in 2009 – this as a way of discrediting those who struggle for democracy. This is a sure sign that the Ayatollahs know all too well that the real danger to despotism in the region is the anger of the people that they repress, and not the actions of foreign powers. In the end, is this latter point not the ultimate vindication of one of the most fundamental tenets of the American creed – that true freedom must be won by the people themselves (and for themselves)?

at: www.globalbrief.ca


On Political Rhetoric, Present and Future


GB discusses the global state of the art of speech-giving and speech-making with public intellectual JOHN RALSTON SAUL

John Ralston Saul

GB: Who are the best speakers in the world today, politically?

is the International President of PEN International, and Co-Chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. His most recent book, Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin, explores the lives of the fathers of Canadian democracy, and is part of Penguin’s Extraordinary Canadians book series, of which Saul serves

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as General Editor.


JRS: Long silence. The reason for which there is a ‘long silence’ is that, with the gradual bureaucratization of politics, we have ended up with – through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s – politicians increasingly reading speeches written for them by somebody else; that is, politicians being made to feel that they were not the real political leaders, but rather – in a sense – heads of a large bureaucracy. The result has been that politicians may think that they have a responsibility to speak in a solid and measured way – with the consequence that they not only became boring and bad speakers, but sound artificial and are not listened to. Modern speech writers started adding in ‘rhetoric,’ which sounded artificial, and led to people listening even less to political speeches. This also came with a rise in populism; that is, we saw the revival of populist speaking – with populist politicians winning power here and there – meaning that the speech writers started putting populist rhetoric in as a gloss on top of the boring managerial material that they had been producing. So what we now have are sensible, elected leaders giving speeches that, at one level, are boring, solid stuff and, at another level, cheap rhetoric. Take, for example, the introduction of the personal story – “the other day, I saw Private Joe, who lost his leg, and he said to me, and I said to him...” We hear heads of state and heads of government using this personal story, which, of course, references back at a very low level to New Testament methodology, and at the same time to Hitlerian and Mussolinian rhetoric. If we go back and read their speeches, these 20th century leaders were already digging into the ‘personal story.’ What we end up with is the populist personal story and the boring, solid rhetoric of administration – all of which misses completely the purpose of public speaking, which is to talk about ideas and how they relate to the public good. Who does political rhetoric well today? I think that when Barack Obama is on, and when he is not paying attention to the speech writers, he is very good. For example, his speech on race during the 2008 presidential election is one of the finest speeches given in the US in a very long time. It is a brilliant speech. On the other hand, the speech he gave in Tucson in January of this year – following

the mass shooting in that city – was an example of him being scripted to do the said ‘personal story.’ It was not great speaking, and he missed an important opportunity there. In Britain, there is nobody that comes to mind. In France, Sarkozy is extremely intelligent and talks ideas, but somehow he does not strike people right; and there is nobody else there. Italy is an embarrassment. Spain, no. Germany, no. There were great people like Willy Brandt – a great speaker in the full tradition of the great orator. Great speakers, like Brandt, are very much themselves; that is, they do not sound like anybody else. So the fact that they do all sorts of odd things is simply part of their character; it is a sign of honesty. In short, the more speakers sound like someone else, the less honest they come across, and the less people listen. GB: What about great political speakers in nonNorth American, non-Western countries? JRS: In South America, we have a rise of quite a few populist speakers like Chavez – although I do not think that that is great public speaking. Many political leaders think that it is dangerous to speak well. In fact, they are looking to bore people – and we feel that. As a result, when you stand up and say real things, people are quite shocked. And that is because they are always working on this level of measurement. If we take someone like a Trudeau or an FDR, or an LBJ, or a de Gaulle – someone like that – they knew that speeches are not about who will like them and dislike them. Speeches are actually about whether people will respect you because you have spoken to them in a way that they take to be honest – as if they are treated in a way that is intelligent. Trudeau was often boring, but his secret was that, even when he was being insulting, he was 0talking to you as if you were as smart as he was. GB: In this hyper-modern era, what is the proper function of political rhetoric? JRS: At the moment, it is not fulfilling its function. At the moment – fundamentally – the political rhetoric that we are getting is structured as an anti-democratic tool because – as I say – it is written by somebody else. Often, today’s political actors have not even read their speech until

Very few modern technocrats – inclined as they are to avoid public discourse – actually understand the choices that they are making, because they have not stepped back and looked at the history of rhetoric.

GB: Can good political rhetoric or public speaking only play its proper role in a democratic context? PHOTOGRAPH: INDIA TODAY GROUP / GETTY IMAGES

JRS: There is always this thing – are we a democracy or not a democracy? The truth of the matter is that it is an accordion, and of course there are other civilizations where it might look much less democratic, but it may have all sorts of mechanisms for public discourse. I think about Thailand, for instance. I have a friend there named Sulak Sivaraksa, who is probably the greatest political Buddhist, thinker and talker. He brought down dictatorships

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they give it. They might have glanced at it. I think, therefore, that we are – in many ways – suffering from what I described, in The Unconscious Civilization and Voltaire’s Bastards, as an absence of belief among public leaders in the true value of public discourse.


in Thailand a couple of times, went to jail. Nobody has ever killed him; they are afraid to kill him. He is a great public speaker in a slightly arcane way, such that when he says something, he simply says it – and you know that it is not rhetoric in the sense that it is distanced from people’s reality. It has an impact. GB: Can one be a great public speaker in a non-democratic context? JRS: No, not in a dictatorship. GB: Was Hitler a great public speaker?

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Great speakers, like Brandt, are very much themselves; that is, they do not sound like anybody else. So the fact that they do all sorts of odd things is simply part of their character; it is a sign of honesty.


JRS: No, I think not. I do not speak German, but I watched very carefully Leni Riefenstahl’s work on him. I never have really understood why it is not obligatory that all university students – in fact, all high school students – should have to sit carefully through the full version of Triumph of the Will. If one wants to understand democracy, rhetoric, populism, modern advertising, cheating, much of it is born in Triumph of the Will. A great deal of what Hitler and his people were using is now the meat and potatoes of the advertising industry – indeed, the meat and potatoes of a great deal of bad rhetoric. They invented the stuff about the personal stories because, of course, they were supported by the working class. GB: So this is the ‘egoization’ of rhetoric? JRS: It is about producing rhetoric that has nothing to do with reality. Populism has always existed: that is what Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is about; that is what Mark Antony is doing. But the real modernization of rhetoric happens in the 1930s. Because people do not go back and look at the actual intellectual model used by Mussolini, Hitler and other people, they do not recognize when those tools are being transferred by speech makers into selling of a political programme. Very few technocrats – inclined as they are to avoid public discourse – actually understand the choices that they are making, because they have not stepped back and looked at the history of rhetoric – particularly in the 20th century. Marshall McLuhan understood what was going to happen in communications almost half a century before most of the machines that would do it were invented. He did not have to imagine machines in an H.G. Wells way. In the same way, the genius of the Nazis and Fascists was that they understood – even when the

mechanics of communication were very limited – how many doors were opened by communications technologies, and what you could do with them. And that is why speech writers and advertisers are today still living off of what was invented by those people. GB: How should an aspiring political rhetorician understand his or her role in the context of the proliferation of these new media (like Twitter, Facebook and Google)? JRS: Generally, it is what I said at the beginning: it all comes back to saying precisely what it is that you wish to say, and not what someone else wishes you to say. In order to do that, you have to know what you wish to say – and in order to do that, you have to be educated in a certain way. This does not mean going to particular universities; rather, you have to have read an enormous amount. For example, in most journalism schools – which are highly relevant in all of this – people are essentially trained as if they were technocrats, whereas what a journalist really needs is a very thick skin and – even more importantly – a very strong ethical core. The ethical core is built on reading an enormous amount, and on understanding the nature of political battle – intellectually and ethically. For within two weeks of getting your first job, somebody is going to come to you to try to get you to change your story – because you are insulting their advertisers, insulting the owner, or something of that ilk. If you do not have that ethical core, then you cannot write the appropriate article. The same thing goes for people going into politics. The core of a great political leader is not cleverness; it is ethics! That is why, when you have great leaders, it almost does not matter whether they are to the right or left of centre – provided that they have an ethical core. So de Gaulle – I did my PhD on de Gaulle – would, of course, make mistakes. But he knew a great deal about style and the relevance of style to content. He was brought up in a republican tradition by a gentry family. That is very interesting, and he knew that. He had that capacity – as most great speakers do – to reach back into the language of the past in order to get you over the present and into the future. You cannot, as a great speaker, remain in the language of the present. (See the Feature article on de Gaulle and his lessons for the new century by Amine Jaoui in GB’s Winter 2011 issue.) GB: Do you think that we entering an era of increased (global) multilingualism? JRS: Yes. We went through 50 years of people believing that English was the only language that mattered. And, of course, that was particularly pushed by people who only spoke English. My experience PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF J.R. SAUL

going around the world all of the time is that it is absolutely true that English is the working language of international restaurants and hotels, and that there are a lot of people who have got 50 to 100 words – that is, enough to get by. That has nothing to do with actual rhetoric or actual language or conversation; it is just nuts and bolts. The story of the last 20 years is the gradual collapse of a belief in globalization, and the return of nationalism. We have seen, for instance, a very serious return of German in Germany. (See the Feature article by Patricio Navia on the reinstatement of Spanish as lingua franca in Latin America at p. 26.) GB: Have these new micro-technologies like Facebook, Google and Twitter facilitated this task of public conversation? JRS: Hard to tell. We are in the middle of it. One day we have got these incredible breakthroughs – like the young people in Egypt and Tunisia – and that is obviously a great positive. On the other hand, we have governments and corporations spending billions of dollars to control all of this. The Chinese government has been amazingly successful at shutting stuff down. And business has been working furiously to commercialize all of this – turning it into just another way to sell beer, or to sell ideas. We really do not know what the end game will be. The arguments that are really prescient – Harold Innis’ and McLuhan’s – show that all of this has been coming for over half a century. We have known for some time that this is going to change the way that people communicate; however, we do not actually know at this point what the effect is. It may be as simple as this: that people will feel that they are at sea, and that they therefore have to go into rooms to be together, and to have people give old-fashioned speeches. GB: Do you have a view about the character and quality of Canadian political rhetoric?

GB: Canadian political rhetoric is not taught in schools. Would you agree? JRS: This is sad and wrong, because Canadian political rhetoric is actually very interesting. LaFontaine and Baldwin are very interesting. Diefenbaker in his prime was a very interesting speaker – very, very interesting. Lévesque was a fascinating speaker, because Lévesque was speaking ‘under-rhetoric;’ that is, he was chatting with people. In many ways, he resembled John A. Macdonald in his methods. Macdonald spoke in a very modern way; he would often turn his back on the Opposition in the Commons, and just chat with the members of his party. Pearson was painful. He just hated public speaking, but of course he said what he thought. It was one of those things where a great man – one of the greatest prime ministers Canada ever produced – stumbled through speeches; but these speeches were about something. Canadian political rhetoric is very interesting, because, at its best, it is all about figuring out how to talk to people who do not speak the same language, and who live in different regions and have different religions. So the rhetoric is very inclusive. One is speaking to a working coalition of people, and one cannot lose or alienate parts of this coalition if the country is going to function. On a final note, I should say that some of the most fascinating Canadian rhetoric comes from the Aboriginals. Big Bear and Louis Riel come immediately to mind! Big Bear – arguably the greatest speaker in Western Canada prior to the Métis rebellion – spoke some four or five Aboriginal languages. He would be regularly called upon to speak with other nations – holding court for four or five hours at a time. He spoke standing and – anticipating Innis and McLuhan – in a spatial mode. (See the Feature article by Roberta Jamieson on Aboriginal lessons for modern geopolitics in GB’s Winter 2011 issue.) | GB

The story of the last 20 years is the gradual collapse of a belief in globalization, and the return of nationalism. We have seen, as a result, for instance, a very serious return of German in Germany.

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JRS: I have read most of Wilfried Laurier’s speeches, and he was one of the great speakers of the 20th century. He invented a way of speaking that is really astonishing, because he inherited what, by European standards, should have been a permanent civil war among Protestants, Catholics, Anglophones, Francophones and immigrants. He came to power in Canada at a point when it was a mess. His whole approach – his whole discourse – sought to demonstrate to people that they could live together while being different. That is in his speeches. He would pretend that it was English liberalism, because that was his clever way of getting by both the church and the Toronto elites. But it was not English liberalism; it was something

that he had invented. He was certainly the greatest speaker that Canada ever produced. His speech late at night in Parliament after the hanging of Louis Riel is probably the single greatest speech ever given in Canada. It is a wonderful speech. He stands up in the House – as the deputy leader of the Liberal party (the leader was Edward Blake). There is this long silence. Everyone in the House is hoping that the issue will just go away: the Conservatives know that they have done the wrong thing; and the Liberals feel that if they take the side of the Métis, they will lose elections for the rest of time. Laurier stands up, and says something like: “I know that no one wishes anyone to speak on this subject; however, I feel obliged...” After this wonderfully slow opening, there are entire paragraphs that are extremely moving and astonishing.


THE DEFINITION “Humanitarian intervention is only justified when… …it occurs in the context of the proper

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The RtoP mandate is to stop atrocities against civilians – no less, but no more.


application of the much more nuanced ‘responsibility to protect’ principle (RtoP, for short) initiated by the Canadian-sponsored International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in 2001, and unanimously endorsed by the UN World Summit in 2005. Until the emergence of RtoP, the only conceptual framework for debate about how to respond to genocide and other mass-atrocity crimes was Bernard Kouchner’s droit d’ingérence – that is, one-dimensional military coercion, about which there was not only zero international consensus, but bitter contest. By changing the focus from ‘right’ to ‘responsibility,’ and from ‘intervene’ to ‘protect,’ by making clear that there needed to be as much attention paid to prevention as to reaction and non-coercive measures, and by emphasizing that military coercion – which needed to be mandated by the UN Security Council – was an absolute last resort in civilian protection cases, RtoP laid the groundwork for the kind of consensual acceptance of forcible response that we are today witnessing in Libya, and that we recently witnessed in Côte d’Ivoire. Lest we forget that these are actions that had proved absolutely impossible to achieve in the horror situations of the 1990s in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. So let us please lay ‘humanitarian intervention’ language to rest once and for all. That said, so long as coercive military intervention for civilian protection purposes remains on the table as one possible option – albeit only in extreme situations, as it certainly does under the RtoP doctrine – it is very necessary to have a common understanding regarding the criteria that would justify it – morally and prudentially, as well as legally. Getting formal agreement on guidelines for the legitimate use of military force remains a work in progress, but the recommendation of ICISS, and Kofi Annan himself in the lead-up to the 2005 World Summit, are all most sound and helpful in this regard. The overall test for action should be as follows. The first criterion should be seriousness of risk: is the threatened harm of such kind and scale as

to prima facie justify the use of force? The second criterion is whether the primary purpose of the proposed military action is to halt or avert the threat in question. The third is last resort: has every nonmilitary option been explored, and found likely not to succeed? The fourth is proportional means: are the scale, duration and intensity of the proposed military action the minimum necessary to meet the threat in question? And the final – and usually toughest – criterion for justified military intervention is the balance of consequences: will those at risk – overall – be better or worse off? There is no push-button inevitability about the application of these criteria, and for the Security Council to adopt them would be no guarantee in itself that the objectively best outcome will always prevail. But I do believe that the existence of agreed criteria would: change and improve the quality of Security Council debate; maximize the possibility of achieving consensus about the cases in which it is appropriate to apply force for civilian protection purposes; maximize international support for whatever it decides; and minimize the possibility of individual states bypassing or ignoring it.” GARETH EVANS is Chancellor of the Australian National University. He is the former Co-Chair of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group, and past foreign minister of Australia.

...there is a large-scale violation of human rights, and the intervention does not itself lead to additional loss of civilian life.” TATIANA ROMANOVA is Associate Professor at St. Petersburg State University, and a senior researcher in the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

… the strict guidelines associated with legality are reinforced by the moral and political guidelines of legitimacy. Legality is determined by international law, as codified and constitutionalized in the UN Charter. Essentially, use of international force is lawful only if employed in self-defence in response to a prior armed attack or on authority of the UN Security Council. More concretely, the Kosovo war was an unlawful instance of humanitarian intervention, while Libya in 2011 was initially lawful, although at its operational stage it became unlawful because the force used flagrantly exceeded the scope of authorization – effectively shifting the narrow Security Council mandate to protect civilians by establishing a no-fly zone to a much broader and less clear ‘humanitarian’ mission of regime change by siding unreservedly with the anti-Gaddafi rebels. When it comes to legitimacy, the issues are more contested, because explicitly moral and political factors are brought to bear on the status of a given


realistically presented during the pre-intervention debate, a so-called humanitarian intervention will rarely be undertaken. Problems of feasibility also relate to the political will of the advocates of intervention. In many instances, the ordeal of an interventionist undertaking ends up, after much death and destruction, producing an eventual acknowledgement of failure. Perhaps the best example of this pattern was the American intervention in Vietnam. (The feasibility of military interventions was far greater prior to WW2 – especially during the colonial era, when military superiority could be translated into political outcomes at low costs for the intervener.) Finally, geopolitics clouds the sky that hovers over any given case of humanitarian intervention. Double standards are glaringly present. Why Libya and not Bahrain or Syria? And why not, say, Gaza? Or Chechnya? When what purports to be law treats equals so unequally, an ethos of suspicion seems appropriate. So far, RtoP, despite some good intentions surrounding the development of this norm, remains a creature of geopolitics. (continued) RICHARD FALK is the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University.

For the rest of Richard Falk’s answer and others,

Portraits of Libyans who were killed or have disappeared under Moammar Gaddafi’s regime are posted on a wall in Benghazi, Libya.

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use of force. The distinction between legality and legitimacy was relied upon by the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, which concluded that the use of force under NATO auspices was unlawful, yet legitimate. It was morally legitimate because it seemed to have been supported by the overwhelming majority of the society subject to the intervention, and because there was sufficient evidence to the effect that, without the NATO intervention, the Serb governmental and military effectives in Kosovo would have engaged in a pattern of ethnic cleansing – verging on genocide – in a manner similar to that in Bosnia a few years earlier. The political argument is more complex. It focusses on two sets of concerns: feasibility and political will. Feasibility refers to the sufficiency of the means available to achieve the ends proposed; that is, a reasonably objective assessment of the costs and resources required if the humanitarian mission is to be successfully completed. There is a tendency for promoters of interventions to wildly overstate humanitarian dimensions, and to grossly understate obstacles – claiming that a proposed intervention will be cheap and easy. The build-up to the Iraq intervention of 2003 was a classic instance of such a dynamic, but Kosovo and Libya, as well as Afghanistan, reinforce the contention here that when the actual costs of a proposed intervention are

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STRATEGIC FUTURES “The most important language(s) of this century will be... …les langues de la Chine, si l’on réfère

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The Great Firewall of China is imposing more and more restrictions on Chineselanguage communications, and is limiting the language’s influence in the rest of the world.


au poids démographique important et grandissant de leurs locuteurs. Alors que le poids du nombre revêt une certaine importance, l’influence comme telle d’une langue ne se mesure pas seulement par le nombre de locuteurs. Il serait donc difficile d’imaginer que la langue anglaise perde son titre de langue universelle des affaires, particulièrement dans le commerce international ainsi que dans l’industrie touristique, tout comme dans le domaine de la science et de la technologie. La langue anglaise n’a-t-elle pas survécu à la chute de l’empire britannique! Elle est facile à apprendre, à lire et à écrire. Elle est également en tête de liste des langues utilisées sur Internet. En ce qui a trait au français, son influence demeurera certainement importante dans le domaine des arts et de la culture. Cependant, son érosion ne pourra être évitée qu’avec l’acharnement de certaines institutions et gouvernements». MARIE LAVOIE est professeure agrégée à l’École des affaires publiques et internationales de Glendon, ainsi que membre de la rédaction de Global Brief.

...Chinese – not so fast! One can argue that Chinese, spoken by more than one-fifth of humanity, and designated as one of the six official languages of the UN, is already one of the most important languages in the world. With China’s growing clout in international economics and politics, interest in learning Chinese is increasing around the world, and its global importance seems set to grow much further in the 21st century. However, the use of Chinese in international political, business and academic exchanges remains rather limited, and it is said to be the least used official language at the UN. Chinese is spoken almost exclusively in the Greater China region, and is very difficult for foreigners to learn, which evidently limits its international reach and appeal. As most learners see Chinese as a language of business, its popularity will largely depend on the business opportunities that China is able to provide and sustain. Learning Chinese may be the thing to do for now, as the Chinese economy is still powering ahead. But China’s growth is already slowing down, and there are growing concerns that the property

bubble may burst in the not-too-distant future. If China stops being the Holy Grail for international business, the importance of Chinese as a business language will also decline. Of course, the Chinese government’s policies also matter a great deal. Beijing has been setting up Confucius Institutes to promote Chinese language teaching overseas. At the same time, its censorship of media content and Internet discussions is hampering the free flow of information in the Chinese language. While Chinese has become the second most widely used language on the web, the increasingly sophisticated Great Firewall of China is imposing more and more restrictions on Chineselanguage communications, and militates against the language’s influence in the rest of the world. The rise of Chinese as a global language therefore seems well under way, but its long-term prospects depend on whether China’s development is sustainable, and on whether the Chinese people’s freedom of information and expression is respected.” QIANG ZHANG is the Chinese Media Analyst at the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

...le français, ringard? Détrompez-vous! Alors que certains réflexes anachroniques peuvent laisser penser que la langue française serait dépassée et qu’elle ne constituerait plus que le vestige d’un empire défait, force est de constater, au contraire, que la langue française n’a jamais été autant parlée, vivante et en phase avec la modernité. À ceux qui prétendent que la langue française garderait en elle les marques coloniales de la domination et de l’acculturation, il faut leur rappeler que le déroulé de l’histoire n’est jamais marqué du sceau indélébile d’un déterminisme tragique. Et lorsqu’une langue épouse les soubresauts de l’histoire, il n’en demeure pas moins qu’elle ne se retrouve jamais possédée par un groupe d’acteurs, ou identifiée à un pan de l’histoire. L’avenir d’une langue, en gestation permanente, se renouvelle sans cesse. Il est vrai que les enjeux mémoriels portent en eux des plaies douloureuses, dont l’apaisement fait parfois oublier que le dépassement n’est pas synonyme de reniement. La langue française, encore plus que d’autres, empreinte des valeurs d’humanisme, invite à cette dialectique de l’aliénation et de la libération. Ce qui faisait dire à Kateb Yacine que la langue française doit être considérée comme un «butin de guerre», rendant possible l’appartenance revendiquée, et non pas subie, à une communauté de personnes libres, la francophonie. Au fond, l’humanité profonde dont jouit la langue française se résume bien dans l’interrogation que porte Léopold Sédar Senghor: «Dans les décombres du colonialisme, nous avons trouvé cet

outil merveilleux – la langue française. La colonisation a été une aventure humaine. Comme toute aventure humaine, elle a charrié de la boue et de l’or. Pourquoi ne faudrait-il prendre que la boue et ne pas retenir les pépites?». Au-delà de ce triomphe sur le passé, il convient également d’observer que les nouvelles pages de l’histoire ont laissé place à un monde fragmenté pour les nouvelles générations. Un monde où les tensions deviennent de plus en plus palpables, entre des logiques géopolitiques antagonistes qui voient se confronter les rêves d’unilatéralisme et les mouvements de fragmentation, voire parfois, de repli identitaire. Alors qu’on célébrait l’année dernière le cinquantenaire des indépendances africaines, lesquelles s’étaient exprimées en français, l’actualité récente nous a montré que c’est aussi dans cette langue que les peuples du Sud de la Méditerranée ont porté leur revendication d’une société plus libre, plus juste et plus démocratique. C’est le signe que la langue française continue de véhiculer des valeurs universelles. Elle incarne résolument l’avenir, en invitant au dialogue des cultures, à l’ouverture sur l’autre, et à l’enrichissement réciproque». CLÉMENT DUHAIME est Administrateur de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

...la langue arabe – mais la langue arabe


FADI EL-ABDALLAH est poète et écrivain libanais. Il occupe actuellement, par intérim, la position de porte-parole et chef de l’unité des affaires publiques au sein de la Cour pénale internationale.

For the rest of Fadi El-Abdallah’s opinion and

The Tower of Babel, from the Book of Genesis, painted by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1563.

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n’est pas une lingua franca; cette dernière (à l’origine désignant la langue des francs croisés) désignait une pure langue d’usage, d’échanges commerciaux et maritimes, mais aussi militaires et guerriers, née de la proximité créée par les croisades et par les voies maritimes méditerranéennes. La langue arabe, en revanche, est la langue maternelle et identitaire de 350 millions de personnes habitant des contrées vastes (14 millions de kilomètres carrés) et extrêmement riches mais, hélas, souvent opprimées par les dictatures. La modernisation de la langue arabe, à partir du 19e siècle, était avant tout littéraire et journalistique. Il a fallu libérer cette langue des dogmes et lourdeurs de l’usage pour la rendre apte à exprimer un rapport nouveau avec la modernité. À partir de ce moment, la langue arabe est devenue le lieu d’une revendication identitaire à double face: rejet des

dominations turque et européenne et affirmation de l’idéal de l’existence d’«une» nation arabe. L’appartenance à cette dernière étant, en réalité, déterminée par la maîtrise de la langue: «est arabe celui qui parle l’arabe», disait déjà le prophète. À travers les journaux, les radios, les chansons, les films et les feuilletons télé (qu’ils soient en arabe «classique» ou en dialectal), une identité culturelle sous-jacente a été réaffirmée comme espace économique et culturel unifié d’échanges, où les richesses millénaires des populations de la région peuvent à nouveau s’exprimer et circuler. Les nouvelles technologies (chaînes satellites et internet) n’ont fait que rendre cet espace commun plus accessible à ses habitants. La force de contagion de la révolution tunisienne dans la région arabe n’est que l’affirmation, dans la sphère politique, de l’existence de cet espace arabe commun où les populations partagent une langue et des espoirs. Par cela, la vague des révolutions pour la liberté et la dignité affirme le bien-fondé des organisations régionales (la Ligue des États arabes et le Conseil de coopération du Golfe) et pourrait les légitimer s’ils se mettent à l’écoute des réclamations des jeunes populations. ( continuation)

others, visit the GB website at: www.globalbrief.ca



Language, Logic and Lies Why we keep talking, talking, talking BY DOUGLAS GLOVER

T Douglas Glover is a Governor-General’s Award-winning novelist and short story writer. His last book was The Enamoured Knight, a study of Cervantes and

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Don Quixote.


he great 18th century French diplomat Talleyrand once said that speech was given to man to disguise his thoughts – a counterintuitive claim that explodes many sentimental myths about both communication and diplomacy. People never say what they mean: communication is not exchange, but aggression – and secrecy is at the heart of diplomacy. That is why we have reached the end of the age of diplomacy. With unseemly haste, the new digital era has ushered in the end of individual privacy, just as it has ushered in the end of official secrets. Any whistle-blowing idealist or malcontent can download a thousand state secrets in seconds, just as credit card companies, phone companies, Internet sites and security cameras daily harvest data about our lives – some, if not all, of that information sold or shared for commercial purposes. Every day, diplomats blush to have their unedited, private remarks and reports published to the world. Diplomats are the mouthpieces of governments, which also like to keep secrets – doubly secretive as such, for diplomats renounce the expression of personal views, just as they tend to keep their country’s true intentions tight in their hearts. Thus, diplomats always bear the mark of Cain – the sign of untruthfulness; an unsavouriness, as it were, for their professional hypocrisy The existence of such secrets has always been an open secret. The cynicism – the façade of sagacious courtliness of the diplomatic class – has always been blindingly obvious. Idealists like to hold diplomacy in contempt, but this contempt is often shadowed by half-denied self-recrimination. As Talleyrand well knew, what is corrupt in the world of diplomacy is corrupt in language in general; what we see – or think we see – nakedly in diplomacy is nothing less than the will to power that is the essence of communication itself. Language made the human ape the most dangerous of beasts, but also capable of expressing grand thoughts and tragic beauty. Actually, two theories of language are in play. The idealist (and the common sense Everyman) hews to the notion that communication – the exchange of meaning – is the primary role of language, whereas the cynic and the diplomat accept that language is a game of self-assertion and persuasion. This is why Plato disliked rhetoricians and poets, who had a similarly cavalier attitude toward truth.

But this style of diplomacy – the hollow, yet wiley courtliness left over from the era of Talleyrand (the prestige of the diplomat being one of the last glimmers of a feudal twilight) – is in decline, superseded on the one hand by corporate globalization (with its sleepless, around-the-clock, around-the-world ebb and flow of electronic money and data), and on the other hand by the spontaneous eruption of regional underclasses without a structured leadership, but loosely organized via virtual connexities supplied by cells phones and the Internet. Thus, the world was recently treated to the spectacle of the White House and the US State Department watching Al Jazeera for the news from Tunisia and Egypt, because the usual diplomatic channels of information gathering and analysis were hopelessly slow in comprehending the simultaneity of history in the new age. Ironically, this was taking place just as Wikileaks was emitting a stream of diplomatic secrets – cables, communiqués – such that, in that moment, almost everyone in the world seemed to know more than the diplomats. At this juncture in the evolution of late capitalism, amid the instantaneous networks of global commerce and electronic media (characterized by simultaneity, instead of by sequence), we are changing the way in which we communicate. Decades ago, Marshall McLuhan coined the ridiculous phrase “global village” to describe what he understood to be happening, but his analogy could not be farther from the truth. Villages are finite, relatively small networks that depend on linear, word-of-mouth transmission of data: the new protocols of exploding, simultaneous, virtual networking means that a man in Misrata can flash a photo of a tank exploding not just to his neighbour in the street, but to millions around the world instantaneously. The world has not become a village; rather, the village has become a total and unpredictable world. But prediction is a fool’s game. The paradox of language is that it is both an impossible and a necessary tool of communication. The only way to explain the fact that language does not work is to use language. This is an impenetrable mystery, like the paradox of the Cretan barber – something to dog philosophers to their graves. Diplomacy has this Janus-like quality in spades. Truth is conquest; communication is impossible; diplomats prevaricate; but we keep talking, talking, talking. | GB

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Global Brief #7  

World Affairs in the 21st Century

Global Brief #7  

World Affairs in the 21st Century