Walter Truett Anderson

Helpers or Invaders?

One primary characteristic of terrorism that sets it apart from ordinary warfare is its refusal to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants. To someone like the anonymous person or persons who drove a truck loaded with explosives into the Baghdad headquarters of the United Nations, there are only enemies. The deadly act recalls the promise of Osama bin Laden that was widely quoted at the time of the 9/11 attacks on the United States -- "We will kill your innocents."

It also appears to have exacerbated the simmering tension between the United Nations and the United States, and most important, it threatens to blur lines between peacekeeping and war-making.

There was an unmistakable note of criticism to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's remarks after the attack, when he said that he had hoped that the coalition forces "would have secured the environment" by now so that U.N. agencies could carry on their work of "economic reconstruction and institution building."

Annan's statement implied that there is a clear distinction to be made, in the work of nation building, between the warlike efforts of occupation forces and the peaceful efforts of aid and reconstruction agencies. How clear that distinction is in the minds of the Iraqi people in their country's present state of disorganization and discord is impossible to know. Certainly it was not clear in the mind of those who planned and executed the attack on the U.N. compound in the Canal Hotel.

The attack casts a dark shadow over the future of reconstruction work in Iraq, and it is intensifying the debate about how many troops are needed to maintain security. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld continues to insist that present force levels are adequate, but meanwhile the Bush administration is renewing efforts to get other U.N. member nations to send troops.

The reconstruction work by organizations other than the United States is not about to end, and will probably accelerate. Kofi Annan vowed after the attack that the United Nations would "not be intimidated" and that its work would go forward.

Furthermore, the European Union is planning to expand its own reconstruction role in Iraq, with a significant infusion of funds and a program focusing on "institution building" and training police and civil servants. This, a European policy analyst pointedly noted, is an area where the Europeans have "a comparative advantage over the Americans" as a result of their involvement in Eastern Europe.

The Europeans are also looking at the possibility of setting up a trust fund for Iraq. But one official, quoted in the online publication European Voice, made it clear that the EU was not going to do anything to "finance the occupation" -- the peace-work vs. war-work distinction again.

This sentiment -- the unwillingness to do anything that might appear to be supporting the American invasion of Iraq in the first place -- promises to be a continuing source of resistance to sending troops. The trouble is, peaceful work is best done under relatively peaceful conditions. Nation-building is generally understood to be something that happens after the end of hostilities. It also helps if the peace-workers are recognized and treated as such.

So, if aid workers in Iraq are not safe, should the U.S. military presence be extended to protect them? Some American military experts think we need many more troops there, perhaps hundreds of thousands more. Others believe that the U.S. presence only contributes to the threat, by being a focus of so much Iraqi animosity. This was the issue in another U.N.-U.S. argument. Before the bombing, the United Nations had asked for more protection around the Canal Hotel. Washington had refused, on the grounds that its visible presence would only increase the danger of some kind of attack on the hotel.

All this -- the squabbling, the uncertainty, the fear -- appear to be intensifying.

So from one point of view the bombing has been a great success, has done everything that could be asked of an act of terrorism. It has killed innocents. It has heightened discord. It has created a mood of terror. And it has made it clear that nobody -- not even the people carrying out aid work on behalf of the United Nations, the organization that in more optimistic times was described as mankind's best hope for peace -- will be able to stand safely above the fray.

Walter Truett Anderson is an associate editor of Pacific News Service, a political scientist and author of "All Connected Now: Life in the First Global Civilization" (Westview Press, 2001), recently released in paperback.

The Case for Global Citizenship

The phrase "We're all citizens of Mother Earth" may ring hopelessly idealistic to many, but the concept of global citizenship is taking on a new vitality and practicality in the current age of globalization, mobility and geopolitical instability.

Probably the most visible aspect of this is the rise of dual citizenship. Many people now enjoy full legal status as citizens of two (and sometimes more) countries. Once frowned on by most national governments, dual citizenship is now increasingly tolerated and in some cases encouraged by countries that let citizens retain their original citizenship when they become naturalized citizens of another country.

Although the people who are going about with two or three passports in their pockets may not think of themselves as global citizens in an idealistic sense, they have moved into a new terrain where the sense of national identity is less clear than it once was.

The basic idea of membership in a universal society that transcends all others is as old as the Stoics of ancient Greece and Rome. Today, it is being revived as part of a widespread move toward new social contracts, new ways for people to understand their political allegiances, rights and obligations.

It is a subject of intense interest among the world's ethicists who, dismayed by the seemingly endless clashes of nationalities, races, cultures and religions, search for a common ground of minimal values and norms for all. Some ethicists are secular; others are theologians such as Hans Kung of Germany, president of the Global Ethic Foundation, whose objective is to advance dialogue among the world's religions. "No peace among the nations without peace among the religions" is one of his basic propositions.

It is being explored by political thinkers, who are trying to make sense of what is often called a "post-Westphalian" world -- no longer divided neatly into sovereign nation-states, as Europe was in the years following the 17th-century Peace of Westphalia, but instead turned into a complex tangle of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, networks, corporations and regimes. In this new world, says Richard Falk of Princeton, people no longer have one clear allegiance but rather an "emergent matrix of citizenship, complex, uneven and fluid."

And global citizenship is being explored by ordinary people who need to figure out what to identify with, what kind of a position to take amid all the political conflicts swirling about the world, and where to turn in the search for justice. This need becomes particularly intense, even desperate, for the countless migrants, refugees, travelers and tourists who find themselves far from their countries of birth and required to rely on foreign governments or international organizations.

There was a time when a person had rights as a citizen of his or her own country, but not much in other places. Now all people have rights -- at least on paper -- in all countries, guaranteed by the many treaties that have been negotiated since the end of World War II. That change, although far from being put into universal practice, is slowly redefining the legal status of all people and the obligations of all national governments.

It may be that "citizenship" isn't even the best term for describing the new patterns of identity and allegiance, rights and obligations springing up in the world. Some people invent words like "denizenship" to describe the rights of resident noncitizens in foreign countries, or "netizen" to describe the growing importance of "virtual communities" of cyberspace that have no geographic locus.

"Cosmopolitan," another term with a long history, is also being dusted off and put to use as a way of making some sense of the new realities. David Held of the London School of Economics, an eloquent spokesman for this perspective, writes about the emergence of "cosmopolitan governance" in which people have multiple citizenships -- memberships in the various local, regional, national and global systems that impact their lives.

Another, more personal way of looking at cosmopolitanism in 21st-century terms is to stress people's freedom to create new identities for themselves, choosing from the many options available from the world's cultures and lifestyles, or, as Jason Hill, a young Jamaican-born philosopher puts it, "the right to forget where you came from."

Whatever global (or cosmopolitan) citizenship is, it is not simply a matter of renouncing all previous ties and pledging allegiance to the United Nations or to some yet-to-be-invented world government. The people around the world who are searching for a new understanding don't expect that to happen in the foreseeable future. They are articulating a vision in which national citizenship is still real and important, but no longer the powerful definer of personal identity it once was.

This understanding is as yet embryonic, unformed, nowhere near as solidly defined as citizenship was in the very recent past. We know what we were, but, as we advance haltingly into the 21st century, we are no longer certain what we may become.

Walter Truett Anderson ( is a political scientist and author of "All Connected Now: Life in the First Global Civilization" (Westview Press, 2001), which will be issued in a new paperback edition this summer.

The Anti-globalization Movement Changes Its Tune

The anti-globalization movement isn't really the anti-globalization movement any more. Some of its leading activists are beginning to describe their cause in terms that don't imply dismantling the whole network of linkages that now encircle the world in order to somehow return society to a local or regional scale. And some academics are now attempting to stake out a position on the left that promotes a different model of globalization.

It wasn't long after the anti-globalist movement surfaced that its critics began pointing out that it wasn't exactly un-globalist itself. A movement that crosses all national boundaries, that relies so heavily on electronic communications, that so effectively summons people to come from all over the world to march in the streets of whatever city might be hosting an economic conference was clearly a global one, however vigorously its rhetoric might condemn the evils of globalization.

So now, in recognition of this, some of the rhetoric is beginning to shift in the direction of standing against a certain kind of globalization. You find activists calling themselves "the true internationalists," and organizations talking about the "anti-corporate globalization movement," or the "global social justice movement."

For example, the statement of principles of the World Social Forum -- the counter-conference held in Brazil at the same time as the World Economic Forum in New York -- declared its commitment to "globalization in solidarity," and to "building a planetary society centered on the human person." One of its key paragraphs stated: "The World Social Forum is a world process. All the meetings that are held as part of this process have an international dimension." In fact one of the major criticisms of the conference was that it wasn't international enough, appeared to have an overrepresentation of left-wing Brazilians and only a window-dressing of participants from the rest of the world.

On the academic front, economists such as Dani Rodrick of Harvard -- author of "Has Globalization Gone Too Far? -- are now proposing policy alternatives that call for even more globalization -- but with a different emphasis. Speaking at the World Economic Forum meeting in New York, Rodrick proposed that the next free trade agreement ought to liberalize the rules so that workers from poor countries would be allowed to work for a limited time in rich countries, send home part of their pay and eventually return to apply their new-found skills in service of local economic development. Speaking on the same panel, Charles Sabel of Columbia University said: "I don't think there is any dispute anymore that economies need the discipline of connection to world markets. But it doesn't follow that nations have to sign up for every one of the free traders' rules."

These steps away from simplistic anti-globalism are still relatively small ones, drowned out by theatrical protests, bombastic rhetoric and media reports that thrive on conflict and confrontation. But they are important steps nonetheless, significant attempts to bring a new voice into the global dialogue. A movement that aspires to "build a planetary society" is going to have to move beyond the protest stance and become more practical and proactive than it has been so far. Until it does, it will be vulnerable to critiques such as the recent Foreign Affairs article by economist Jagdish Bhagwati, who sees a deep dissonance between "empathy for the misery of a distant elsewhere, and an inadequate intellectual grasp of what can be done to ameliorate that distress."

With some imaginative progress along those two fronts -- becoming much more explicitly globalist and at the same time more vigorously proactive -- the movement might evolve into a real alternative philosophy of how to achieve good governance and sustainable development in a fast-changing global civilization. Unless it does, the best we have as alternatives to the present neo-liberal thrust of globalization are protectionism and socialism -- which didn't do a whole lot to solve the problems of previous centuries, and are not likely to prove the salvation of this one.

Walt Truett Anderson ( is a political scientist who writes widely on technology and global governance. He is the author of "All Connected Now: Life in the First Global Civilization" (Westview Press, 2001).

Fuel from the Farms

Although the world's petroleum supplies have turned out to be far greater than some pessimists believed a few decades ago, sooner or later oil will inevitably be either hard to get or outrageously expensive -- or both.

The prospect of hundreds of thousands of new automobiles in developing countries such as China and India makes this all the more likely.

As the age of petroleum draws to its close, a whole range of new fuels and energy technologies are waiting in the wings. One is ethanol -- good old familiar grain alcohol, but now produced, with the help of genetically-engineered bacteria, from a wide range of organic wastes, everything from cornfield leftovers to wood chips to grass.

A bunch of germs stewing in a vat full of compost material may not seem a particularly glamorous example of 21st-century high technology, yet some observers believe it could be one of the major breakthroughs of our time.

No less a technology-watcher, former CIA director James Woolsey wrote in a Wall Street Journal article a few years ago, "The production of ethyl alcohol from biomass may turn out to be as revolutionary as the production of integrated circuits from silicon, vastly affecting the world's distribution of wealth and the fundamentals of international security."

Since then others have come to the same conclusion, and ethanol technology is currently being pushed strongly by scientists, agricultural organizations and the federal government.

This enthusiasm is partly based on the fact that there is a lot of biomass in the world, and a great deal of it is lignocellulose -- straw, cornstalks, grass, wood -- material that human beings can't eat. Not a particularly efficient fuel in its natural state, and until recently could not be converted into alcohol.

The alcohol we use now is mainly produced from edible (and expensive) grains such as corn. Cornfields of the future might continue to produce corn for food, while some of the material called "stover" -- stalks, cobs, husks -- is returned to the field, and the rest of it is sent to a nearby "biorefinery" to be processed for fuel.

This has important implications, both global and domestic.

Global strategists such as Woolsey like to consider the political possibilities. He sees the United States becoming less concerned about offending the sensibilities of oil-producing states, the agricultural Ukraine becoming less dependent on oil from Russia, China feeling less pressure to dominate the oil-rich South China Sea, subsistence farmers in Africa and Latin America being paid to grow crops for fuel.

Agricultural economists are more interested in the potential for improving the lot of American farmers and farm regions. They see farmers producing new cash crops, perhaps becoming part owners of cooperative refineries, while rural communities are reinvigorated by new income and job opportunities. Biomass refineries will likely produce not only ethanol but probably a variety of chemicals for industrial use, and feedstocks for making textiles and plastics.

Unlike some other new alternative fuels and technologies being discussed and developed, ethanol can be phased in without enormous changes in cars or driving habits. Most cars are already able to burn "gasohol" -- a gasoline-alcohol mix -- containing up to ten percent ethanol, and newer flexible fuel vehicles can use up to 85 percent ethanol. Even pure ethanol-burners are a distinct possibility -- millions already are rolling on the road in Brazil.

From an environmental point of view, ethanol is a mixed blessing.

Ethanol-powered vehicles are extremely clean-burning and put out less than one percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles. They compare equally well to battery-powered vehicles which ultimately depend on electricity produced by burning fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, environmental activists can be expected to take a hard and skeptical look at anything involving a new application of biotechnology.

Considering the current momentum, it seems likely that ethanol will play a significantly larger role in the U.S. economy in this decade, and a much larger one beyond that -- depending on the speed of technological progress, governmental support and public acceptance, and the vagaries of the global oil market.

The transition will likely be not-too-noticeable for consumers, a big shift for U.S. agriculture, and potentially an enormous change for the world in general. We may have ended the Cold War, but we are still mired in 20th-century petroleum politics. A competitive alternative to petroleum could, as an article in Foreign Affairs suggested not long ago, "democratize the world's fuel market."

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