Is growing interconnectedness creating a more peaceful world?

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1 Question 2: Is growing interconnectedness creating a more peaceful world? Final exam - Political Science Tutorial Class XC - Louise Thorn Bøttkjær BSc. International Business and Politics Copenhagen Business School 8 th January 2016 Grade: 10 Sanne STU count 19,740 Page count 8.9 Table of content Introduction: does globalization create peace? 2 Interconnectedness in the peaceful West 3 Interconnectedness in the struggling East 5 Moving towards worldwide peace or worldwide war? 8 Conclusion 9 Bibliography 11

2 INTRODUCTION: DOES GLOBALIZATION CREATE PEACE? Even though the extent and consequences of globalization has been subject to frequent discussions, it is generally accepted that the world is getting more and more interconnected as flows of information, ideas and people stretch worldwide. We are moving away from what has traditionally been thought of as an international paradigm, consisting of independent and sovereign states that interact with each other primarily over high politics, that is issues such as security and power. What this paradigm shift that globalization since the late 20 th century often has been said to be, is a growing interconnectedness with complex bonds between not only states but also other actors on the political arena, such as Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) and Transnational Corporations (TNCs) (Heywood, 2014, 66). This means that there is also a greater interdependence between these different actors - changes in one part of the world has a direct or indirect impact on other parts of the world, be it affairs on a worldwide, regional, national or even subnational level (Heywood, 2014, 4,). The ideational order that appears to be the most influential as it spreads over the world is neoliberalism, its values particularly shaping the economical field but also politics and culture (Heywood, 2014, 155). Growing interconnectedness naturally has consequences for the world order - the question is whether the world has changed for the better or for the worse? The following discussion will look at how and where globalization has affected the presence of peace, defined as the absence of violent conflict, and make the case that growing interconnectedness is creating a more peaceful western world, but brings conflict to the East in general and the Arab world in particular. The first part of the paper will explore how globalization has accommodated peace in the western world (including Europe, the Americas and Australasia) in the economic, political and cultural sphere respectively, based on the fact that the West is largely consisting of developed countries. The next part will, again by looking at the economic, political and cultural sphere respectively, investigate why globalization has brought conflict to the East, Asia and Africa that is. It 2 (11)

3 will particularly be discussed how this development has taken place in the Arab world, including the Middle East and Northern Africa, which mainly consists of developing countries (United Nations Development Programme, 2014). The subsequent paragraphs will present an argumentation about whether we might be moving towards worldwide peace, worldwide war or neither. After that follows a concluding paragraph as well as suggestions for further implications of this topic. INTERCONNECTEDNESS IN THE PEACEFUL WEST The liberal model of economy where the market is a free and living organism guided by what Adam Smith called the invisible hand, instead of being controlled through state interference, is becoming more and more widespread (Heywood, 2014, 87). This development has taken place especially since the last decades of the 20 th century when the liberal economic ideas of the Reagan administration in the US together with the Thatcher government in the UK had a great influence on world politics, concurring with the end of the Cold War and thereby the collapse of communism and its planned economy (Heywood, 2014, 51). Since then, transnational trade and investments has only increased, and the flows of capital, labour and technology has become truly global (Bhagwati, 2007, 3), indicating that we are moving towards a single global economy built on a neoliberal system largely promoted by the western countries of the world (Heywood, 2014, 9). The more or less worldwide free trade is also reinforced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) created in 1995, an organization that has reached almost universal membership today (Heywood, 2014, 537). This growing interconnectedness within the economic sphere has arguably had a positive impact on the western part of the world and has played a big part in keeping peace in the West for mainly two reasons (Heywood, 2014, 100). First of all, the cross-border competition that comes with free trade and investment brings the global market to a natural equilibrium where the production of a certain good will be concentrated to the country where it is most cost efficient, thereby letting 3 (11)

4 countries focus on their area of expertise in terms of skills, knowledge and natural resources. As well as cross-border competition, the liberal economy model also generates competition within states, which in turn creates possibilities for anyone to make profit and therefore increases entrepreneurial incentives and willingness to work. All in all, the liberal market competition leads to lower unemployment rates as well as bringing wealth and prosperity to the West, which contributes to contentment and peacefulness among the people (Heywood, 2014, 66, 101). Secondly, the complex interconnectedness that stems from cross-border investments makes states economically interdependent on each other. This means that an international conflict would both economically and materialistically hurt not only the parties involved, but arguably also other trade partners that are not involved, which in turn would disrupt an array of interstate relationships. A cost-benefit analysis of whether or not to use violence to solve a conflict in the West today therefore clearly concludes that diplomatic consensus and compromise is preferable as it will be mutually beneficial for all (Heywood, 2014, 480). As capitalism has extended over the world it has brought with it a tendency of cooperation and diplomacy as the principal way to solve interstate disputes in the West; along with the economic liberal values, the view of liberal democracy as the ideal way to rule is simultaneously spreading over the world. During the 20 th century big parts of the West that were not already democracies, went through a democratization process resulting in an almost completely democratic western world (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015). The end of the Cold War in the late 1990s only seemed to further signify the win of liberal democracy over communism (Heywood, 2014, 187). The democratic peace thesis says that the fact that democracy is characterized by consensus and compromise has an inside-out effect on foreign policy, which is evidently true in the West where the willingness to cooperate is spilling over into international relationships and creating a more peaceful way of conducting politics, not only within democratic states but also between them. (Heywood, 2014, 69). Linked to this is the trend for developed countries to shift focus from high politics to low politics, meaning that 4 (11)

5 states are becoming more concerned about issues such as welfare, trade and the environment instead of spending resources on defence and power politics. This tendency too generates a greater extent of cooperation and thereby peace (Heywood, 2014, 66). Growing interconnectedness has also meant a greater exchange of culture through constant flows of information, images and people across borders. The ever increasing amount of travelling and interaction between people from different parts of the world, as well as the vast streams of immigrants that the wealthy and stable societies of the West has attracted, is undeniably contributing to a much more multicultural and diverse society (Heywood, 2014, 480). Since the liberal values that dominate the West are underpinned by an individualism where the national identity does not play as big of a role as the predominant value of freedom to live your life as you please, a greater understanding and respect for other cultures is taking place in the western world (Heywood, 2014, 191). In fact, the notion of individual freedom and morals has induced intense activity among different minorities to mobilize and fight for equality, which has resulted in a widespread and continuously expanding acceptance for all individuals background and lifestyle. This growing equality and acceptance, along with the benefits of a free market and democracy, has resulted in a seemingly enduring peace in the western world, where armed conflicts between states have been absent for decades (Cfr.org, 2016). INTERCONNECTEDNESS IN THE STRUGGLING EAST Although consumer capitalism is a concept that has worked to preserve peace in the West, it has had significantly less success in the developing world. As economic globalization has progressed, widely promoting the West s neoliberal values underpinned by the claim that capitalism will advantage everyone, the World Trade Organization has managed to gain almost universal membership (Heywood, 2014, 100). This means that almost the whole world is opening up their markets to international 5 (11)

6 trade. The problem with this is that the global competition that has emerged and works to focus production to where it is most cost-efficient, forces a big part of the developing countries into a position where they have to conform to agriculture and raw material production to meet the demands of the western world. The structure of free trade is simply biased in the advantage of developed countries as developing countries gets exposed to an unfair competition when they open up their markets to the major industries of the West (Heywood, 2014, 537). This holds developing countries back from economic growth and development and, through widespread poverty and lack of prosperity, discontent grows among the people and leads to instability and potential conflict (Heywood, 2014, 479). Not only does the West indirectly exploit the developing world through the structural inequalities of trade, but so called Transnational Corporations, of which 90% are based in developed countries, get international subsidies that allows them to move their production and investments to wherever the most beneficial for their firm. This tends to be equivalent to wherever is cheaper to produce and TNC s have often been accused of exploitation as they have moved their production abroad in order to take advantage of a work force that requires a lower minimum wage, looser working condition restrictions and weaker trade unions. It is also not uncommon for TNCs to possess even more power than a whole state, which can put a developing country in a vulnerable position where it is largely depending on one firm to provide employment (Heywood, 2014, 94). In addition to this, there is also a peril for some countries in the East to suffer from the resource curse, where their abundance of sought-after natural resources such as oil or diamonds risk being exploited by the rich West (Heywood, 2014, 416). This undermines developing countries stability and breeds anti-westernism in general, and perhaps anti- Americanism in particular as a lot of the biggest TNCs originate from the United States (Heywood, 2014, 51). 6 (11)

7 In addition to the economic changes that spread via the growing interconnectedness over the world, liberalism also brings with it an idea of freedom that inspires aspirations of democratization. This has incited the politically committed youth of many developing countries in the East, particularly in the Arab world, to revolt in an attempt to oust their dictators in order to implement a liberal democracy with free and competitive elections. However, even though several regimes were successfully overthrown in the Middle East and northern Africa during the so called Arab Spring of 2011 and the first democratic elections were duly carried through with in some of the states, it has become evident that these countries were not ready for a western-style democracy. One factor behind this is the fact that Islam is such an entrenched religion and lifestyle in the Arab world, which does not function together with neither the secularism or individualism connected to western-style democracies where a much greater respect for varying opinions has to be present for it to work (Heywood, 2014, 210). As a result, the Arab revolutions created power vacuums which triggered civil disputes and gave opportunity for relatively well-organized radical Islamists, who are prone to violence, to gain power (Heywood, 2014, 207). The Arab spring is a clear example of how growing interconnectedness brings conflict to the East, as globalization seems to speed up development and thereby possibly disrupting organic and incremental change with fatal consequences. With globalization, an extended attention is also being payed to the idea of global justice, which logically builds on a notion of universal morals (Heywood, 2014, 21). Although human rights are widely accepted to be of tremendous importance, it is not realistic to believe that universal morals work in practice since the cultural differences, as well as political and social differences, between and within the western world and the eastern countries are numerous (Heywood, 2014, 84). As mentioned earlier, one of the major contrasts to the West is the entrenchment of Islam in the Arab world, where religion is not only a belief in something but also a cultural tradition and lifestyle with very specific morals and guidelines on how to conduct life. The western societies on the 7 (11)

8 other hand, are characterized by secularism and individual freedom which clashes fundamentally with Muslim values and their priority of national culture. One example of this is feminism and the importance thereof which is growing steadily in the West as a part of a march towards a more equal society. In the Arab world, feminism does not always take the same form as it does in the West; whereas it is important for western women not to be controlled or limited by men, some Muslim women see the exclusion from public life, dress codes and other rules as a symbol of liberation (Heywood, 2014, 203). The fact that the West might promote an extended amount of human rights compared to the East could be seen as a form of cultural imperialism where the West tries to force their morals onto the rest of the world and thereby fuel anti-westernism and perhaps even radical Islamism (Heywood, 2014, 189). MOVING TOWARDS WORLDWIDE PEACE OR WORLDWIDE WAR? End-of-history theorists like Francis Fukuyama (1992) argue that we are on our way, via interconnectedness, towards worldwide liberal democracy which will eventually bring with it the end of all armed conflict, an idea based on the democratic peace thesis mentioned in previous paragraphs (Heywood, 2014, 538). Although it is true that the world has not seen any total wars, that is wars involving all aspects of society, since the Second World War (Heywood, 2014, 247), what end-of-history theorists fail to recognize is that conflicts has not necessarily decreased that much with globalization, but merely shifted from interstate conflicts to civil wars and terrorism (Ourworldindata.org, 2016). Furthermore, even though interstate war between democratic countries is nonexistent, there are examples of democracies getting involved in armed conflicts with autocratic states. This is clearly the case of the war on terror which President George W. Bush initiated in 2001 which has entailed military attacks, including pre-emptive ones, on several countries in the Middle East (Heywood, 2014, 49). This implies that democracies are not necessarily pacifist but can also give in to using violence when provoked. Now, it is indeed correct to claim that there are zones of peace in the world, but there are nevertheless also zones of war, and it is hard to argue that we are going 8 (11)

9 towards worldwide peace, albeit equally as hard to argue that we are going towards worldwide war. Clash of civilizations theorists like Samuel P. Huntington (1993) argue that we are heading towards a clash of civilizations, meaning a world order with growing tensions between different cultures. The most likely conflict to intensify during the 21 st would be the one between the western civilization and the Islamic civilization, and there are certainly signs of this happening (Heywood, 2014, 196). There are indications that antiwesternism is growing in the Islamic world, based on several factors discussed in above paragraphs, and during recent decades terrorist attacks have indeed been carried out in the West by radical Islamists more than once. However, there are several factors that prevents a clash of these civilizations from happening. One major factor is that it is a relatively small group of extreme Islamists, and not all Muslims unified, that has launched the terrorism and violence that is going on today, which is affecting their own people to a much larger extent than it affects westerners, in terms of suffering (Heywood, 2014, 205). This means that if this West-Islam conflict actually is intensifying and threatening to turn into war, it would not become a clash of civilizations but rather a battle between a group of radical Islamist terrorists and the West. However, the West seems to try to end the violence there is, to an extent as large as possible, through diplomacy as opposed to starting a war, which again suggests that a full on war between the Islamic and the western civilization is not likely to happen (BBC News, 2015). CONCLUSION Hopefully this discussion has served to make the case that growing interconnectedness has created an asymmetrical world in terms of peace and war. The West, including Europe, the Americas and Australasia, is enjoying a lengthy and seemingly long-lasting period of peace. The East on the other hand, and in particular the Arab world, is suffering from a period in time characterized by instability, conflict and violence. This 9 (11)

10 seems to be the result mainly of the fact that liberalism is spreading and increasingly becoming a worldwide ideal, which has positive or negative implications on different parts of the world depending on what system and culture it is implemented in. It also seems apparent that it is globalization within several different spheres that has worked together and created the unfortunate international political climate in the East as well as the peacefulness of the West. The main influence in all of these fields is liberalism, which has its origins in the West. For further depth into this discussion, it might be interesting to investigate the role of the US in globalization. It has been suggested by some scholars that the US is still a global hegemon with incredible power, having more influence on Intergovernmental Organizations than any other country (Heywood, 2014, 234). In fact, the US has even been the initiator to several IGO s, either single-handedly or partly, implying that these are built to serve American interests and that the US thereby reinforces neocolonialism (Heywood, 2014, 100). It might also be interesting to discuss where China fits in to the line of argument put forward in this paper. China is generally accepted as a superpower today; it is the second larges economy of the world with consistently high growth rates and they are one of the biggest trading states, as well as exporter and importer, in the world. At the same time, in the ranking of the worlds countries after level of development, China ends up no higher than the middle (United Nations Development Programme, 2014). Furthermore, the Chinese economy is market-based since the 1970s, but the country is simultaneously ruled by a single party as a communist state (Heywood, 2014, 238). In conclusion China is a country that contradicts in more than one way the liberal assumptions of what the recipe for a wealthy and stable state looks like. 10 (11)

11 Bibliography BBC News, (2015). Syria conflict: US and Russia signal new push at UN. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2016]. Bhagwati, J. (2007). In defense of globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cfr.org, (2016). Global Conflict Tracker. [online] Available at: global/global-conflict-tracker/p32137#!/ [Accessed 7 Jan. 2016]. Fukuyama, F. (1992). The end of history and the last man. New York: Free Press. Huntington, S. (1993). The Clash of Civilizations?. Foreign Affairs, 72(3), p.22. Ourworldindata.org, (2016). War and Peace after 1945 Our World in Data. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2016]. The Economist Intelligence Unit, (2015). Democracy Index [online] pp.3-8. Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2016]. United Nations Development Programme, (2014). Key to HDI countries and ranks, [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jan. 2016]. 11 (11)

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