Why international politics are becoming so radical
By Chitwan Khosla, Features Editor
International relations have never held as much importance as they do today. Due to the extensive network of trade and economic ties, often called globalization, global politics have become the sensitive pulse all economists are keeping careful watch of to keep their country’s economies alive. Unfortunately, many fail to realize that global politics are not limited to the economic relations among the nations, but are affected by and affects many other issues like civil and human rights, diversity in social and ethnic groups, and environmental issues. Over the last five decades, international relations have developed a very steady stance on the reputations of the nations. It seems that there has been a paradigm shift in terms of international relations in recent years—perhaps the dominating factor behind it is terrorism.
Terrorism is a multi-faceted problem and indeed is a worldwide issue affecting almost every person on this planet. It needs to be tackled with global co-operation and strategic alliances and decisions. But have you ever wondered why the global leaders are shying away from other issues and placing more of their bets on their counter-terror plans?
It wouldn’t be incorrect to state that apart from his historic win, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gained immense popularity internationally when he announced that Canada would resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees. Similarly, 2016 US presidential campaigns are highly radicalized due to the polar opposite views on terrorism and the Syrian refugee crisis. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner candidate, has been very vocal in expressing his concern that those Syrian refugees may be Islamist State militants in disguise, and hence won’t allow migration of the refugees if he wins. He said in a recent interview in New Hampshire: “I am putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, they are going back.” Trump has faced a lot of backlash from the public and is criticized at international meetings for his stance. At the same time, Trump has garnered enormous support, and his following has increased substantially. This highlights how, along with focusing on domestic issues, political leaders are putting forward their agendas and ideology on terrorism and global relations to win over potential supporters. The diplomacy seems to fade away, and being fundamental is in fashion. Even foes who share the same viewpoint have become friends.
As obvious as it sounds that terrorism is a crime against humanity and no one religion can be associated with it, one can’t ignore how communities are becoming hostile because of it. When a Sikh is stopped at the airport and asked to remove his turban because he is believed to be a threat to national security (as happened with Jasmeet Singh a.k.a. Jus Reign), it becomes an international debate whether it is an instance of discrimination or a necessary precaution. And when the authorities are asked to justify acting in this way, the replies always loop around the idea that precautionary measures are the need of the hour.
According to the United Nations (UN), as reported by the Associated Press in October 2015, “Millions of Syrians, many risking their lives in crowded boats and rafts, have been fleeing a civil war that has killed more than 250,000 people since March 2011. As many as 9 million have been displaced, including more than 4 million who have fled the country.” This shows that the UN researches and acknowledges these facts, and creates policies and collective decisions to help the refugees. Why then, are so many countries in the UN hostile to extend the help that needs to be provided to the refugees? This is because the views of millions of people are not appropriately voiced through the right platforms. When Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, says that we should end terrorism and not the terrorists, she is praised and quoted as “making more sense than most global leaders.” On the other hand, when politicians play the power game by saying that terrorists need to be wiped out of the planet, they are branded as heroes. Now, the questions is do the same people support both views? Is everything so black and white? Why don’t we have a proper outline of what the citizens of pro-refugee countries really want or don’t want?
Those in authority and those on the way to authority have a strange responsibility and power of making or breaking a perception. The common people don’t know what happens behind the closed doors of the highly publicized meetings, but what they do know is that there is a “danger” that looms over their lives. Is the only danger the compromising of internal security by the militants? It doesn’t seem to be. There is a palpable fear over countries’ unsure economic positions, which, ironically, are hidden behind the sympathetic helping hands. It’s true that people are hostile to refugees in the European Union and in North America because they’re afraid of losing their jobs in an already difficult labour market. The taxation burden also cannot be ignored. There is also a fear that refugees will emerge as a community of their own and will negatively affect the social structure of cities and countries. These arguments are what are used against the general population as a part of “ideological terrorism,” which can make a belief or a perception rule the actions of a group, a society, or even a nation.
No one was in control when the Jihadist movement started, but we are in control of how it will end. We have spent billions fighting terror in the last 15 years. Our soldiers have been martyred, and we have fallen into the mouth of financial crisis as global citizens. Do we wish to continue this for another 15 years? If pragmatic steps are not taken, it will continue for that long, because terrorism is a very complicated problem that can’t be solved by just focusing attacks on it.
Then what do we do? Without compromising national security, we can choose to make decisions based on the quality of the leadership skills of the political leaders we elect, and not based solely on what they believe should be done to the refugees. We need to analyze their agendas, but we also need to be sure that we don’t become the victim of perception. Instead of regurgitating what we are being spoon-fed, we need to question what the governments are doing or are willing to do to ensure a harmonious, appropriate, and fair resettlement of the refugees. Adequate attention also needs to be paid to how the citizens cope with the inflow and the government actions on the ground level. Jobs need to be created, but not selectively, and food and shelter need to be facilitated to everyone.
Let’s free ourselves from the vicious cycle of focus on terrorism, and look for ways to improve the socio-economic standards worldwide. When a family is well-fed and happy, only then they can productively participate in the betterment of the neighbourhood.