Michael: Routing Around FailureThe internet is a good model for how power is structured in a globalized information-based society. Just as on the internet, if even a major node in the global network fails, the business of the world simply routes around the failure. So, too, with world politics today; the Bush Administration has utterly failed to deliver leadership on key common issues facing the world today. In response, the world is routing around the failure.
Enter former President Clinton’s Global Initiative. Clinton has established a conference, modeled on Davos, drawing eminent figures from government and the private sector to discuss four topics of global concern on the eve of the UN annual session in New York. The topics discussed may change from year to year, but, unlike Davos, each invitee will asked to give a personal pledge to make a change on at least one topic at the end of the conference, and be held to account by Clinton for it the next year.
The four topics this year read like a litany of the Bush Administration’s failures of leadership in a globalized world: poverty, religious conflict and reconciliation, climate change, and good governance. As we saw at the G8 conference, the Bush Administration has proven unwilling to take seriously the issue of global poverty. As we see daily in the ongoing divisive rhetoric of the ‘war on terror’, the Bush Administration has proven unable to defuse the escalating tension between the world’s religious traditions. The broken Kyoto accords, the empty gestures toward hydrogen power, and the overflowing pork-barrel the Bush Administration ironically calls an ‘energy policy’ demonstrate the utter failure of this Administration to plan for the world’s future energy needs. Despite the illegitimate election of 2000, the voters’ rights abuses of subsequent elections, the electoral farces staged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ever-widening campaign finance scandals besmirching the entire political process, the Bush Administration remains steadfastly committed to business as usual. On these most critical global concerns, this Administration is 0 for 4.
In the global network required for creation of a better world, the White House node is down. So, in the classic conservative tradition, the role of leading the world on the most important challenges we face will have to be privatized. And none too soon.