Monday, 9 November 2015

Do we really want to go it alone all the time?

They say that perception is truth so perhaps I may be allowed ignorance to some extent of facts "on the ground" when the impression of reality is all I can rely on. I have long felt that collaboration - teamwork, if you like - was a preferable way of overcoming obstacles to going it alone. Not only are two heads better than one but more resources and fewer opponents result. So Europe has avoided conflict since its members agreed on cooperation. So, the principle of mutual defence [note that word] lies behind NATO. So, the countries of the world agreed to create the UNO to foster collective solutions to the biggest issues.

Then why is it now the case that these apparently laudable institutions seem to be by-passed by our own government, a key player in each? NATO is, it is true, cited as the vehicle for some actions but these are rarely concerned with mutual defence. Rather it is used in aggressive adventures. The UN fails totally to appear when a massive humanitarian crisis faces hundreds of thousands across Europe and the Middle East - even neglecting the disgrace of the Calais Jungle and its suffering inhabitants. And how pathetically self-serving have the leaders of the EU been when dealing with the crises facing both the elected government of Greece and its suffering people.
When institutions fail it is because its members fail to cooperate. This will inevitably lead to the further breakdown of the institution, leading to unilateral actions and inter-nation, "Balkan" conflicts, with the humanitarian aspects of the crises of the world left high and dry. Before this occurs, leaders need to look hard at both the reality and perception of their own loss of faith in collaboration and ask if this is really the fault of the institution or of their own leadership. They need to ask what is really best for the country and for the world. My perception may be shared, to the extent that supporters of cooperative institutions may end up voting to abandon them, if they are allowed to fail to perform as they should. Then the reality will be truly dangerous.
Tom Serpell

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