The poverty of world leaders

By: Dr Muzaffar Iqbal

If one were to read between the lines of Wikileaks’ documents, there is only one disturbing conclusion: at the end of the day, all that matters in the contemporary world is brute force. The ideals which used to govern world leaders in the past have all disappeared.

No justice is mentioned in these leaked documents, even a civil discourse on highly important issues is absent. There are no signs of any major concern for peace based on dignity and justice, only an obsession with controlling all that goes on in the world. One is troubled on finding clear indications of tinkering with the domestic affairs of many countries, as if they were American colonies.

In a way, much of what Wikileaks has dumped on the internet is mere detail: expressive, convincing, raw, forceful, enticing, even captivating. But detail, nevertheless. These details outline features of the contemporary world in various realms (politics, economy, diplomacy, military etc). They confirm what was already well-known: the modern world is beset with a deep malaise and no one has any cure for it.

At the heart of this malaise is a sick leadership. Those who are ruling the world are doing what they are doing because they have no intentions of finding solutions to a very large number of grave problems affecting the lives of millions of human beings. Not that they are not trying, but their failure is due to a fundamental problem in their own makeup.

That fundamental problem emerges from being just too full of themselves. The world leadership, as seen from inside the diplomatic exchanges now available to all, is just so full of itself and the petty interests of a small minority of the world’s population that one cannot hope to find an iota of hope in the future of the world so dominated by these people who are utterly bereft of any moral values rooted in any ethical system of proven authenticity. All that they have, as guiding principle, is self-interest viewed through a myopic lens.

Most of this leadership is young. It has emerged in the aftermath of a radical change at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This change was not obvious until 9/11, even though the twentieth century had led to accumulation of power in a limited number of power-centres. This concentration of power inevitably made the new leadership Pharaonic in its behaviour. But there is a greater problem in this emergent reality: this leadership does not really represent the will of the people whom it governs.

This lack of representative leadership is an outcome of how a complex mechanism, involving money and power brokers, has emerged the world over in the name of democracy. Anyone who can count knows how much money is involved in elections and how this money is collected. It is this money and manipulation that brings to power a self-serving lot, which now controls global material resources and war machines in great proportions.

It would be too much to ask for wisdom, but at least some sense of dignity could be considered a sine qua non for those who are meddling with the lives of millions around the world. Yet, all one can infer from the documents released through this historic disclosure is unending intrigues, devilish plots, and duplicity of the worst kind – all driven by phobias and manias.

There is simply no escape from this fact that one country is attempting to run the entire world through its military muscle and economic power – a frantic effort to control the affairs of other polities and a constant struggle to buy, coerce, or silence all who do not follow the dictate. And all of this is being done with such indiscriminate haste that there is no possibility of any serious analysis or evaluation, not to talk of the impact of brute force on lives, environment, and natural habitats.

All that matters, it seems, is quick results in countries as small as Afghanistan and as large as Pakistan and as servile as Egypt. Regardless, certainly there is a price to be paid for all the follies which distinguish the so-called diplomacy of the contemporary world.

The price, however, is not paid by those whose ugly deeds have become common knowledge now; price is paid by those who have nothing to do with these intrigues, plots, empty diplomatic moves, and decisions to invade other countries on the basis of cooked up lies and outrageous plots.

The disasters lurking now on the world scene are so huge that there is no sense of security left for anyone except for the very isolated and remote parts of the world. Most people in the world are now living in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. This includes those whose deeds feature so prominently in the leaked documents.

To be sure, it is a self-defeating and never-ending task, as Karzais and Musharrafs of their making inevitably get out of hand. It is a truism to say that puppeteers are never done with moving their hands, but apparently those who are obsessed with controlling the whole world have not heard the Bard: “Let Hercules himself do what he may, the cat will mew and dog will have his day.”

(The writer is a free lance columnist).

NOTE:This is a cross post.

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  • Laila  On December 10, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Excellent summation Dr Muzaffar.
    Here lies the dilemma that faces the world’s powerful states like America: The modern world they pretty much invented has started to challenge them. The airplanes they constructed have become potential weapons of their terrorist enemies. The nuclear bombs they first made are now “proliferating” in ways which give them the creeps. And the Internet they have created to make life easier is giving them hell by exposing their own secrets.

    In all such cases, we see the empowerment of the so-called “non-state actors” – radical groups such as al-Qaeda or even individual activists such as Julian Assange, the shadowy man behind the WikiLeaks affair. For such actors, who probably see themselves as the Davids of the age, stones to use against contemporary Goliaths are getting increasingly abundant and lethal.

    So, instead of the “end of history” that political scientist Francis Fukuyama predicted in the early 1990s, what we are entering is probably a very unpredictable era in history, where global law and order will be more and more challenged by numerous forms of defiance, insurgency and even anarchy.

    If I were an American policy maker, I would sit down and seriously worry about all this. And I would first try to understand the new reality out there, which renders old ways of “strategic thinking” pointless. We have seen many examples of the latter in the past decade, with American analysts, often of the neo-conservative camp, referring to how they defeated the Nazis or contained the Soviet Union in the past, and arguing for similar strategies against today’s “radical Islam.” The obvious fact that the first two were well-defined political entities, whereas the third one is a free-floating idea did not get enough notice.

    Similarly, in the past, the grievances of small communities in remote parts of the world probably did not matter much for policy makers. What rather mattered were the deals the latter made with the rulers of states, who could well be dictators and tyrants. But now such unprincipled deals are all the more dangerous, for their angry discontents can find very effective tools to make their points.

    • SAMEEH  On December 10, 2010 at 2:41 am

      If WikiLeaks implies lessons for Americans, it does for others as well, including the Turks – who seem to be at the very centre of American attention, with Ankara being the number-one source of confidential diplomatic reports.
      The most important lesson, I believe, is for conspiracy theorists – if they would ever really learn. Believe it or not, these over-suspicious Turks, and millions who take them seriously, honestly believe that America has been ruling Turkey for decades with proxies. Many secularist Turks, for example, suppose that the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government is an an American puppet, and a Washington project, designed to fulfill Uncle Sams need for moderate Islam. Just enter a Turkish bookstore, and you will find dozens of popular books making that expound upon this lunatic argument.
      Yet there is no shortage of conspiracy theories on the Islamist side either. Here, the popular belief is that America has orchestrated all military coups in Turkish history, and has been toying with anti-AKP forces since then. So, when a critical voice comes out from Washington against the AKP government, these Turks suppose that the button has been pushed, and the military-judicial complex has gotten a signal to stage some form of a coup. Yet all the WikiLeaked reports from Ankara emphatically indicate that Americans are observers of Turkish politics – not its designers.
      For me, this is just a confirmation of what I have been arguing all along: What happens in Turkey, first and foremost, is the work of us, Turks. That is in fact how the world often runs. Direct foreign interventions, such as the infamous CIA-managed coups against Mohammed Mossadegh of Iran or Salvador Allende of Chile, are exceptions, not the norm.
      And even if the Americans are really cooking up big conspiracies, it seems that they are more likely to fail than succeed. Just look: they cant even keep their secret files in secret!

  • Sheheryar  On December 10, 2010 at 6:23 am

    outstanding summation …

  • Syed Wajahat Hussain  On December 10, 2010 at 9:20 am

    I wonder if any one knows where the earth is headed with this kind of information emerging from within the ruling core.
    Perhaps the Almighty has a plan for us encoded in these acts that defeat the common comprehension of life on this planet.

    Syed Wajahat Hussain

  • Tasneem Hasan  On December 10, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Parliaments of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Kashmir and India are instruments of International Leaders to embezal funds from IMF and World Bank. Trueman Doctrine has been exposed. Iraq has squezed economy of US and EU. NATO troops in Afghanistan shall DRAIN US and EU Civil Rights and Education Development to point of No Return.

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