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Time to re-invent global system

world Updated: Nov 29, 2008 03:11 IST
Fred Weir

The world community took a wrong turn at the end of the Cold War, and now finds itself amid a hostile landscape, surrounded by unfamiliar problems that cannot be resolved using the existing instruments of international security.

That, at least, is the message coming out of the Kremlin with increasing urgency of late.

Russian leaders argue that growing global financial mayhem, deepening distrust between Russia and the West and the worsening threat of nuclear weapons’ proliferation all stem from the US decision to go-it-alone after the USSR collapsed, effectively creating a unipolar world order.

The mounting list of challenges cannot be addressed by adjusting old methods, they argue, but only by turning a clean page and re-inventing the global system.

That’s what happened after World War Two, when victorious leaders created the United Nations, along with a whole web of new institutions to enforce international law, manage global economic policy and many other functions. No one imagines that system ever worked marvellously, but Russian leaders point out that it’s clearly broken now.

Instead of continuing to expand the US-led military alliance NATO into the former Soviet sphere and thus forcing Russia even further into isolation, the West should completely re-think the basis of European security, they suggest.

Last week Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promoted the Kremlin’s idea of a new European deal, which would make Russia a full player in a new non-military security organisation, at a human rights conference in St. Petersburg. “We need a legally-binding document that would provide equal security for all,” and not just for NATO members, he said.

At the G-20 conference in Washington two weeks ago, President Dmitry Medvedev advocated a similar clean sweep for global economic management.

He blamed the hegemony of the US, with its aggressive free-market ideology and loose monetary policies, for spreading financial chaos around the world and called for building a new “multi-polar” order, with multiple currencies replacing the dominance of the Almighty Dollar and a profusion of “financial centres” around the globe.

It sounds great, but is it feasible?

“One thing’s certain: the present arrangements are not working,” says Yevgeny Bazhanov, vice rector of the Diplomatic Academy, which trains Russian diplomats.

“With a new Washington administration soon arriving with a mandate for sweeping change, we hope that people will look at global security afresh and agree with us that the entire system needs to be redesigned from the bottom up.”