International Institute for Strategic Research and Training
What kind of world is shaping up?
by Frank Owarish, Ph.D., MIEEE, Member of the Royal Economic Society, former Director of Training, UNITAR; WAFUNIF award outstanding Senior Executive, United Nations serving for over two decades
note: I am grateful for advice and inputs from Sam Owarish, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering
Prelude: First, I wish to use music to convey a message The world we knew: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1ANI5xg-vM
(Adaptation of lyrics by Frank Owarish, IISRT (nonprofit organization) focusing on the damage we have done to nature
Over and over we keep going over the world we knew
Once when we took things for granted
That inconceivable, that unbelievable world we knew
That we keep on destroying
And every bright neon sign turned into stars
And the sun and the moon seemed to be ours
Each road that we took turned into gold
But the dream was too much for us to hold
Now over and over we keep destroying the world we knew
The moon and the stars are not the same
Even Michael Jackson made a point
But we did not listen and kept going the wrong way
Now pandemic and climate got our attention
The youth keep pushing us for a better world
Over and over we keep messing the world we knew
The world has been dealing with the Covid 18 pandemic disrupting our way of life. Countries around the world keep on cooperating on a bilateral as well as multilateral basis. There are conflicts between and among countries as well as within countries. There are divides in economic and technological terms, globally and nationally. Competition is generally within the framework of international agreements, example trade through the WTO rules. Today, all countries can be said to be emerging and evolving given the challenges of globalization. Economic groupings play an important part in today’s world building on the strength of cooperation Regionalism is a dominant factor, but economic partnerships transcend geography e.g. The Commonwealth. China and the ASEAN plus 2 is a power bloc with the New Silk Road underway working with partners in the region as well as in various parts of the world. Previous G7: Top 10 Takeaways From the G7 (diplomaticourier.com) The 2021 G7 Summit held in the UK in June 2021, in the United Kingdom. Australia, India, and South Korea have been invited as guest countries. Besides the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders are expected to address trade, climate change, and technological changes.
The United Nations System, the IMF and the World Bank keep pushing the wheel forward helping countries overcome the challenges which can be overwhelming.
Case study in cooperation
Paris Summit: a “New Deal” for Africa (Spring 2021)
This economic summit was organized by France and saw the participation of African and European leaders to demand “an immediate moratorium on the debt” of the countries of the continent which exploded during the Covid pandemic. It took place in the presence of several international organizations. The final communiqué stresses the need to act together. And to do this, a common commitment must be made to accelerate the vaccine campaign against Covid-19 and to give more budgetary room for maneuver to countries heavily impacted by the crisis. Immediate financing needs were established and the French head of state affirmed that he and his partners were ready to reallocate the SDRs devoted to Africa and to constitute a round table which would amount to 100 billion dollars. . He said a “New Deal” is needed to bring a breath of fresh air to the continent. The economies of African countries plunged during this health crisis. The figure of 39 million people who may fall below the poverty line this year has been put forward. We learned that the countries present were representatives of the different regions of the continent. There was therefore no need to look for other explanations of how the summit unfolded.
Challenge to democracy in the US: attack on the Sanctuary of Democracy
The US faced the challenge of democracy as the sanctuary of democracy came under attack. President Biden called for unity with the first woman Vice President of the US albeit Kamala Harris standing next to him. Amanda Gorman preached hope and optimism: The Hill We Climb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ055ilIiN4
Biden’s appeal: A Time to Heal.
Review: Democracy in America is solidly anchored and despite the attack on the Sanctuary of Democracy on January 6, 2021, democracy prevailed: As “Democracy in America” (1835) revealed, Tocqueville believed that equality was the great political and social idea of his era, and he thought that the United States offered the most advanced example of equality in action (Google). Prior to that The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, set by France’s National Constituent Assembly in 1789, is a human civil rights document from the French Revolution. The Declaration was drafted by the Abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès and the Marquis de Lafayette, in consultation with Thomas Jefferson. Wikipedia
Today, democracy is fragile as pointed out by Joe Biden who also commented on attacks on voting right stating that ‘Jim Crow came back to life’. A nation divided. Extremism; nationalism. Populism. Democracy is not about creating divisions but rather about agreeing on differences and working together to find common grounds. However, the two parties appear to be polarized but can work together on fundamental issues.
In-depth analysis of democracy: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/edemocracy_an_emerging_force_for_change#
Law enforcement issues; social justice issues. The legacy of George Floyd.
As the world strives, challenges and opportunities
Transnational business corporations play an important role in the world today, redefining economic rules with the law of opportunity cost prevailing. In context, trade deficit has to be redefined. Think about goods made in China and exported to the US. Job creation needs new approaches. Jobs going away to low-cost countries, India and Mexico are cases in point. In the past decades, South Korea has emerged as a technological giant. India is emerging as a technological giant as well. The World is Flat as per Friedman
An electronic world with no boundaries has been shaping up with multifarious opportunities and challenges. Generation Z undertakes exchanges via social network. Whither Generation Alpha?
Cyber Security: A challenge posed by cyberattacks are not to be underestimated; cyber security appears to be elusive. Even Microsoft Exchange servers came under attack. The cyberattack on the Colonial Oil Pipeline got our attention.
Above all, COVID 19 and its variants came and threw a curve ball upsetting our traditional way of life with lockdowns and all the ‘jazz’. Looking for explanation as to its origin, investigation by WHO found ‘prima facie’ that the virus did not originate in Wuhan (market or lab). There is surprisingly a lack of scientific research and there are more questions than answers on the subject. Some countries seem to have avoided the virus, for example Taiwan. According to authorities, the virus is in the air and some people are more likely to catch it, depending on their health conditions and the conditions of living. Transmission is an important factor. We have also heard that the virus spread in closed environment not properly ventilated. Statistics show that the virus is likely to spread in communities deficient in some amenities. One scientific hypothesis worth exploring is that the virus comes from the ‘garbage’ emanating from the immense debris of human made devices launched in space to make life on earth easier but an immense number of these have been disintegrating affecting conditions of life on planet earth with a tough price to pay, for instance ‘dust’ affecting our breathing system. According to recent news, COVID is here to stay and we should accept the new normal. Vaccination helps but has to be worldwide for herd immunity of the human race, else the emergence of mutants and variants will continue with transmission as a factor. Vaccination is having an impact with re-opening underway in many states in the US. On the positive side, COVID is pushing new technological developments. The virtual world is a reality and in context education is being re-invented. Work and entertainment are being re-defined. COVID has triggered human ingenuity and creativity. Some countries seem to be doing well while avoiding vaccines: These Countries Did Well With Covid. So Why Are They Slow on Vaccines? (msn.com)
The Covid 19 Challenge: onto the re-opening, road to normal or new normal, new challenge with Delta variant
Problems and solutions
Business closures: Covid-19’s Toll on U.S. Business? 200,000 Extra Closures (msn.com) 2020 lost year with lockdowns, big loss of jobs, small businesses shutdown. 2021 the challenge is helping those in need and the $1.3 billion package is an appropriate response to the situation also helping the economy. Looking also beyond recovery to economic growth: US economic recovery and growth including sizeable reduction in unemployment.
Powell tells ’60 Minutes’ that US economy is at an ‘inflection point’: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jerome-powell-full-2021-60-minutes-interview-transcript/
Job strategy in the US warrants considerable re-thinking. Important in context is boosting small businesses and fostering ‘intelligent’ job creation. It does not pay to chase jobs which have gone to low-cost countries, case in point Mexico, India, China.
US Job’s package: Harris, senators work behind scenes on jobs package (msn.com)
Jobs created in context of the US Infrastructure package range from jobs for working to middle classes. Also, jobs in tourism, the hotel industry and health are important as they are here to stay and not going away to countries with lower costs
SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund: Restaurant Revitalization Fund (sba.gov)
The US economy grew a robust 6.4% for the first quarter 2021: US economy accelerated at a robust 6.4% rate last quarter (msn.com)
The digital nomads are growing and even the new nomads in the US have become a way of life.
Review of key points: lockdown with employees working from home, business closures (including several restaurants, dining inside and outside), redefinition of jobs as some jobs disappeared; families facing multiple difficulties, also problems not just with Covid 19 but strain from the difficult circumstances; many countries face problems bigger than those of the US; India experiencing a crisis of mega magnitude; South Africa, Brazil are cases worth mentioning. Education facing many challenges
Biden’s comprehensive approach: Five takeaways from Biden’s first big speech to Congress (aol.com)
Review of key points: Biden plan to help families, small business, job creation; Federal Reserve Plan to help boost the economy; economic growth of 6.4 % in the first quarter; many companies are recruiting and find no applicants, there is apprehension that the job benefits may be a factor
Biden’s Plan for Racial Wealth Inequity: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/biden-plans-new-housing-small-business-programs-to-tackle-racial-wealth-gap/ar-AAKBj2k?ocid=msedgdhp
Strategic issue: The Demographic Drought https://economicmodeling.com/demographic-drought/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_2411010_nl_The-Edge_date_20210602&cid=ed&source=ams&sourceId=2266770
Goldie Blumenstyk: Been hearing a lot lately about employers’ difficulty filling jobs right now? Just wait. Tracking mass retirements of baby boomers, low birth rates, and declining levels of labor-market participation among millennials and Gen Xers, experts at the economic-modeling firm Emsi have predicted a radical demographic shift that will ripple through higher ed, as well as the rest of the economy.
The Emsi report on this “sansdemic” (meaning without people, or in this case, without enough people) is called “The Demographic Drought.” The firm isn’t the first to document these phenomena, but its report is a helpful compendium and analysis of some key trends. Coupled with the latest findings from the U.S. Census Bureau on the nation’s slowing population growth (partly the result of a slowdown in immigration), the report makes for some useful reading for anyone thinking about where higher ed might be headed.
The US brings world leaders together addressing climate change. Great initiative of President bringing world leaders together on Earth Day 2021 for a Climate Summit with the US re-joining the Paris Treaty on Climate Change and the US taking several initiatives to turn climate challenges into opportunities; world leaders gave clear indication of the policies they are pursuing
Bill Gates stated that Climate Change is more important that COVID 19.
Views of world leaders: http://internationalinstituteforstrategicresearch.info/climate-summit-earth-day-2021-2/
Sustainability, a case study: NOA Brands
A closer look at the world, VP Harris: A fragile World At Naval Academy Graduation, Harris Focuses on Strengthening a ‘Fragile’ World (msn.com)
Landmark US-South Korea Cooperation: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/biden-s-invisible-foreign-policy-success/ar-AAKpRwR?ocid=msedgntp
Recession in the EU: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/30/euro-zone-gdp-q1-2021-amid-new-covid-lockdowns.html
Most of the region’s largest economies — Germany, Italy and Spain — saw a decline in activity during the first three months of the year.
France was an exception, with Europe’s second-largest economy posting better-than-expected growth.
Looking ahead, however, economists are confident about 2021 for the euro zone
Rethinking about China; it is more about what the US could do to stay ahead: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/think-again-about-china/ar-AAKxdeT?ocid=msedgntp
China wants to make friends with the world https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/china-s-xi-jinping-wants-to-make-friends-with-the-world-but-beijing-can-t-kick-its-wolf-warrior-habits/ar-AAKCmUn?ocid=msedgntp
How the Chinese Communist Party outwitted American Capitalists (Newsweek) https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/how-the-chinese-communist-party-outwitted-american-capitalists/ar-AALEFYa?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531
US and other Western companies leaving China: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/us-and-other-western-companies-leaving-china/ss-AANlKtC?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531
Biden-Putin Summit in Geneva: Biden, Putin likely to hold summit in Geneva (msn.com)
An inside look at Russia: Photos That Show What It’s Really Like to Live in Russia (mydailymagazine.com)
The Middle East is running out of water: https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/the-middle-east-is-running-out-of-water/ar-AANAoUc?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531
Yet desalination has been around for a while
“It is a timely plea for global cooperation in an era where many countries are facing unprecedented difficulties. The world is indeed becoming flat. Even in the UK, the government is planning an economic levelling up of the country. There are negatives as well, the liberal democracies of the west seem to be declining, and authoritarian leaders are either continuing or springing up in many countries, e.g. China, Russia, Turkey, India, Mauritius, etc. Among the positive, sexual abuse is less tolerated compared to the shenanigans that the vulnerable were subjected to. Despite the economic and technological rise of the east, the world will be a better place if the west maintains its strategic superiority” (Sam Owarish)
Overall, there are many challenges but there are also many opportunities. COVID 19 pushed IT applications in all sectors from education to business to entertainment. Zoom and other video conferencing tools have opened up new opportunities; think of the new format of the Golden Globe Awards 2021 and the Academy Awards 2021 showing the creativity of human beings. Climate change is forcing us to discover that the ‘green’ economy is not a burden but a new world of opportunities. The digital economy is real, fast expanding, in fact experiencing a boom. The financial markets are being redefined.
Bottom line: The East and the West remain in an intense competition while cooperation is ongoing; US-China Relations: dealing with competition, cooperation and conflict; US-Russia, is NATO defense, offense or both? US-EU: more cooperation needed; US-Iran: dialogue and cooperation seem to be possible; North Korea remains an enigma.
Instead of a zero-sum game we could have a win-win game by working together; the United Nations has served its purpose of preventing a world war and, in the wisdom of the founding members, it provides powerful tools for conflict resolution. Diplomacy may at times proves to be difficult but in the words of Prof. Fisher from Harvard University diplomacy works if given a chance. Remember the three C’s: cooperation, competition and conflict and what to do in each instance.
Global Citizen is worthy of attention in its efforts to help the world: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/