For this final installment of Think Globally, I would like to take a break from talking about things as they are to focus instead on how I wish they were. Looking over some of my columns from this past year, I think there were weeks when I became so disheartened over all the bad things going on in the world that I forgot about the ideals I hoped to promote.
With that in mind, here is a list of positive and plausible developments that I look forward to seeing in the coming days, months and years:
I would like to see real UN reform, where a country’s power in that body is in direct proportion to the power of their own population. I would like to see a multitiered membership system, where brutal regimes are ineligible to chair human rights committees or qualify for International Monetary Fund loans. I would like the UN to abandon the pretense that all governments are equally representative of their populations.
I would like to see Aung San Suu Kyi freed from house arrest to finally take the reins of government in Myanmar, the country she was elected to lead back in 1990. I would like to see her lead the country out of stagnation and into full cooperation with its neighbours and the international community.
I would like to see the emergence of a strong sphere of economic cooperation in South America that raises the standard of living of everyone on the continent and presents them with opportunities right at home. I would like to see the same thing happen with Mexico and Central America.
I would like to see Cuba rejoin the world after the death of it’s 80-year-old dictator. The Cuban people deserve better than to be ruled by an aristocratic thug in perpetuity.
I would like to see the world’s wealthy democracies pressure the Chinese government into respecting their religious minorities and democracy advocates in the runup to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The Chinese government has managed to buy weapons, technology and most-favored-nation trading status, but free people shouldn’t let the world’s largest police state buy a clean human rights record by remaining silent about its abuses in the interest of ‘harmony.’
I would like to see China carefully and steadily evolve into a free and prosperous country, and for the Chinese people to repossess their history and culture before taking their place among the world’s richest and most powerful countries. I would like to see the full potential of all of China’s more than one billion people unleashed.
I would like to see the North Korean regime collapse and for the world to help North and South Korea reunite, complete with a mini-Marshall Plan to rebuild the North.
I would like to see the Democratic Party return to its roots of liberalism and populism and cease being a Marxist anti-Republican hate group. There was a time when Democrats actually had a positive, constructive vision for their country and the world, instead of the obstructionists sniping from the sidelines that they’ve become. The world’s only hyperpower needs two competing proactive visions in order to function, not one vision and one antivision. I hope they quickly rediscover their purpose in time to win the next Presidential election in 2008. If they can’t renew their party with a positive plan, then I hope they keep losing until they do.
I would like to see Iraq emerge as a stable constitutional democracy with a raucous and free political system and a strong economy in which everyone is free to participate. I would like the children of the ruling elites from other Middle Eastern states to visit it and return home to ask their parents “Why not here, too?”
I would like to see more of the self-proclaimed dissidents, intellectuals and activists of America and Europe spend time trying to understand and help the Third World and less time engaged in partisan squabbling about the First World. I would like to see them renounce their fixations on their favorite bad guys and favorite victims, and to look at the world dispassionately and help those most in need and stand up to the worst aggressors.
I would like to see the young people of Iran finally succeed in wresting control of their civilization from the monopoly businessmen dressed up in religious costumes who have ruled them for nearly three decades. I would like Iranian exceptionalism to describe a highly educated, rich and free religious country, not a group of apocalyptic madmen brandishing nuclear weapons and exporting terrorism to prop up their illegitimate regime.
I would like to see Nicolas Sarkozy succeed Jacques Chirac at the helm of the French state, and for him to lead France and Western Europe out of the economic dead end in which it’s currently stuck. I would like to see Europe become a good-faith partner in addressing the geopolitical challenges that confront the world instead of passing their weakness and indecision off as maturity and restraint.
I would like to see the admittedly less corrupt Hamas government liberalize the Palestinian economy and break the Arafat clique’s control over all goods and services in the West Bank and Gaza. I would like the Palestinians to have hope for a better life that’s founded in a free society with economic and educational opportunities for their children instead of on the destruction of Israeli society. I would like to see Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other neighbours begin to invest in the infrastructure of peace instead of in the infrastructure of war. And regardless of who wins, I would like free elections to continue so that the Palestinian people are able to hold their own leaders accountable for their quality of life.
I would like to see India emerge as a full-fledged economic and military superpower to widen the circle of freedom and prosperity in the world and to provide a necessary counterbalance to the powerful dictatorships in the region and the world. I would like to see them draw other South Asian countries into their sphere of prosperity the way Japan has in East Asia.
I would like to see the current governments of India and Pakistan take full advantage of this window of opportunity to sign far-reaching peace and economic cooperation treaties, to ensure that war is too expensive and counterproductive for more belligerent and irresponsible future governments to risk.
I would like to see a change in the political culture of many of Africa’s countries where a new generation of real leaders emerges to fight corruption, poverty and disease and to change the prospects for the continent, instead of stealing all they can before they’re chased out by the next strongman. I would like the world to begin to hold African leaders and governments to the same standards as those of other countries, instead of allowing lower expectations to lead to dismal results.
I would like to see charities and non-governmental organizations return to their mandate of helping those in need instead of playing politics on the international stage. I would like to see more of them act like Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, which focus on feeding the hungry and healing the sick instead of coming up with critical soundbites and issuing partisan press releases.
I would like to see Canada begin to put its money where its mouth is by becoming a world leader in peacekeeping and international development, instead of a world leader in talking about them. I would like to see Canada take stands on the major issues of the day instead of ferreting out peripheral issues to champion without cost.
Overall, I would like to see the free world use its wealth and power to pressure dictatorships to reform, and to calibrate diplomatic and economic relations with them according to their respect for human rights and political freedom. I believe that in today’s world, lack of freedom and human rights are the root causes of both poverty and war.I believe that freedom and respect for human rights are the essential precursors for peace and prosperity to take root. I believe that recent history bears this out.