EDITORIAL: Global leadership lacking
THERE SEEMS to be a global drift in direction in international affairs these days, with no one leader being able to provide the kind of leadership to give a measure of confidence to ensure peace and stability. In the Middle East, for instance, volatility and a sense of uneasiness is on the rise as relationships between stable allies of Turkey and Israel are deteriorating though Iran has made a wise decision not to send in aid ships across into the Gaza Strip, thereby averting a potential crisis. The consequences of the recent Israeli attack on aid flotilla are now being seen. As a mark of retaliation, Turkey has closed its airspace for Israeli military aircraft, rendering a blow to the strategic military cooperation of both countries. This is expected to further spill over into other important areas.Syria, on the other hand, seems to be losing patience and faith in diplomacy, as the elusive peace process remains stalled. So is the despicable situation of the Palestinians, as prolonged socio-economic embargoes have made life unbearable. Given the power vacuum, this situation could well indeed become casus belli, as world powers continue to ignore a rightful solution for the festering disputes of the region. Some see it a case of déjà vu prior to World War I when international diplomacy had come to naught and aggrieved member states were looking for avenue to air their grievances. The situation in Afghanistan is no better for President Barack Obama. A recent Newsweek opinion poll suggested that the war there was eating into his popularity ratings. A 53 per cent majority now disapproves of the way he is handling almost every major challenge facing his administration. Mr Obama, who had stridently opposed and voted against the Iraq war as a senator, has gone out of his way to project Afghanistan as a “good war”. Now nearly a decade into the war, it is still nowhere near a decisive victory or at least a “face-saving mission-accomplished” kind of withdrawal. Last week, at the G8 meeting in Canada, leaders of the industrialised nations apparently couldn’t find much to agree on in terms of the economic crisis facing world economies and, as a face-saving measure, turned their attention to foreign policy. There was no road map to deal with the critical issues of a crippling and growing global recession, negative growth and budget deficits. The industrialised nations sought to play safe by castigating North Korea and Iran, while hinting about a five-year exit timeframe from Afghanistan. The G8 leaders have abdicated their responsibility for the sake of collective political survival; most of whose political fortunes at home are shaky anyhow. Being at odds over how to strengthen the global recovery, each came up with its own country-specific remedy. All this raises questions about whether the G8 leadership has the intestinal fortitude to solve the many pressing issues facing the world at this most critical time.