Brexit, Saudi Arrest Of US Citizens Exemplifies The Cost Of Too Much Globalization And International Entanglement
Sovereignty is what defines a nation. It is the supreme power of a government and People to act without the consent of a foreign People and power. For weaker countries, their sovereignty is beholden to the goodwill of world powers who must agree to uphold the sovereignty of all nations. As the world’s only hegemonic power, the sovereignty of the United States is only constrained by its willingness to embrace public policies that cede US sovereign power to international forces. In a globalized economy and International Community, all nations must sacrifice a certain degree of their independence in the name of peace, stability, security, and constructive cooperation. Ceding too much sovereignty, however, disempowers sovereign-nations and their ability to serve the interests of their Peoples. By weakening the sovereignty of nations, powerful international actors are empowered to pursue their interests and push their agendas at the expense of all Peoples.
With that in mind, the globalized economy serves as a perfect example of how nations can embrace too much globalization. Rising gasoline prices, for example, reveal how an over-reliance on a globally-priced fuel source inhibits the diversification of the energy markets and leads to the crescendoing rise in energy prices that is slowly pricing poorer consumers out of the modern economy. The over-reliance on globalized goods also entangles national economies into the global markets, which inhibits the kind of diversification national and local economies need to provide for the specialized needs of their Peoples. Trade and interconnected markets can provide significant benefits, such as access to lower-priced goods, novel products, and materials that are not readily available. It also gives businesses access to larger pools of consumers. By focusing too much on global demand, however, national and local economies lose their self-reliance. They become too dependent on globally sourced goods. This, in turn, makes nations and the Peoples of nations overly dependent on globally-sourced goods, which means they cannot act on their sovereign will.
Brexit serves as an example of what happens when a nation becomes too entangled in an international arrangement. Unlike most member states of the Europe Union, Britain remained fairly antonymous by refusing to join the Eurozone and adopt the Euro currency, yet it allowed its economy to be integrated into a single European economy. Struggling to untangle itself from the EU, Great Britain cannot seem to overcome political dysfunction in order to avoid the economic consequences of a no-deal break from the EU. So feared is the potential for a no-deal withdrawal that British leaders are desperate to delay a Brexit as they push for a reversal of the referendum that initatived the Brexit. Britain, much like all EU member states, entered into the EU to access the benefits of working within a continent-wide trade block. A majority of British voters then voted in favor of a Brexit, because they felt Britain could benefit more from trade. Because they became entangled in the EU, the cost of acting on the will of the British People is now too costly. Because the European economy, and global economy, is far too integrated, not participating in the EU imposes a far greater cost, even as participation comes at a high cost. Trump’s trade war, as another example, is also slowly revealing the high cost of trying to recalibrate US and ally interests rather than embracing blanket free trade agreements.
Beyond economics, globalization has a critical influence on geopolitics. Globalization amplifies the benefits of mutual cooperation between nation-states by making the benefits of cooperation more apparent. As the world grows more interconnected, cooperation between nations becomes more necessary. The benefit of cooperation and cost of conflict rise, thus the cost of aggression grows. On the downside, nations need to assert their interests and the interests of their Peoples. A conflict-free world is a world where the interests of the disenfranchised are not being addressed. The world certainly wants to avoid war, but nations must disagree when their Peoples have conflicting interests. When governments act against the interests of their Peoples, foreign governments must also be willing to conflict with unresponsive, and abusive governments. Nations must also be willing and able to act on the will of their Peoples. The more entangled nations become and the greater the cost of deviating from cooperation becomes, the less likely governments are to act on the interests of the world’s population.
Looking at US ally and trade partner Saudi Arabia, it is very difficult for the US to confront the Middle Eastern power. Not only would a confrontation between Saudi Arabia and the US threaten what stability and security exist in the Middle East, it would also inflate energy prices. The geopolitical and economic consequences would likely be far more detrimental than the confrontation between Russia and the US, which began with the Ukraine Crisis. One key measure of a nation’s sovereignty is the ability of a nation to safeguard the freedoms and rights of its citizens around the globe. Since the Saudi-sponsored assassination of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia has arrested two US citizens as part of a crackdown on dissident. Because the US is too dependent on the Saudis and globally priced oil, it cannot readily protect these US citizens and exercise its sovereign authority. The story serves as a bold example of how too much globalization and international entanglement can undermine the sovereignty of even the most powerful governments at the expense of the Peoples they are supposed to serve. It is one of an ever-growing list of stories from across the globe.
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