International Governance: Beyond Special Interests, Agendas, and Conspiracy Theories
Politics is dominated by self-serving special interest agendas, mutually destructive rivalries, distracting propaganda, and extreme polarization. Politics is supposed to help facilitate governance and public policy by improving communication between the governed and their leadership. Regrettably, all the nastiness of politics now does more to sabotage public policy, undermine trust in civil society, and divide people along even the pettiest of issues than it does to help solve the problems we face as communities. While the effects of degenerative politics on domestic issues are experienced on a daily basis in all countries, the same kind of dysfunction impacts international affairs and efforts to solve international issues.
Looking at the Syrian Civil War as a prime example of international discord, a legacy of special interest-driven foreign policies, self-serving agendas, and conspiracy theories have divided the world over Syria. Instead of trying to address the root causes of the Syrian Civil War, i.e. Assad regime’s failure to properly govern, and the consequences, e.g. the destruction of Syria, the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the Islamic State threat, the focus is on whose agenda is served by the removal of Assad and whose agenda is served by the survival of the Assad regime. Thanks to an often-disastrous legacy of self-serving European, American, and Soviet intervention in the domestic affairs of weaker nations, international efforts to address serious issues are, once again, being undermined by international rivalries and conspiracy theories.
In reality, these things do not matter. Where sound policy arguments should be the deciding factor in any effort to solve domestic and international issues, past wrongs of world powers, the personal and national interests of various parties, emotionally manipulate propaganda, and political agendas are undermining, and even paralyzing, efforts to address the Syrian Civil War and numerous other issues. Disagreement and dissent strengthen policies as long as the goal is to resolve a particular issue. When the objective is to fulfill the interests of one’s self, or country, at the expense of others eventual failure is guaranteed. Instead of undermining and paralyzing efforts to solve issues, because it happens to serve the agenda of someone disliked, the focus must be on sound policies.
In a world filled with mounting crises that are often driven by conflicting interests, it is easy to divide the globe along political borders, thereby hiding the true nature of global conflicts. Countries have always gone to war against other countries while the enemy of a nation’s People has traditionally been the People of the enemy state. It is, after all, far easier to respond to the hostility of a foreign power by condemning an entire country. In reality, nations are composed of special interest groups with diverging views and interests that often conflict. As such, the condemnation of entire civilizations tends to serve the interests of those who seek to empower themselves through division and conflict.
The blunt truth is that rogue elements within the United States, including the CIA and NSA, have committed great wrongs in places like the Middle East for the sake of guaranteeing supposed “American interests.” On the other hand, these wrongs were committed under past American leadership by past US officials. Although the US and Russia continue to have an adversarial relationship and rogue elements within the US are still engaging in underhanded dealings, the American People as a whole struggle to identify and correct the behavior of these wrongdoers. The Americans are not the enemy of the Syrians or the Russians. Frankly, the American government can change with every election, yet hardliners continue to hold onto the outdated notion that the US and its allies are the enemies of their countries when the only effective option is sound public policies.
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