THE RECENT FINANCIAL CRISIS is “hyperlink” crisis, said BG George Yeo in a speech at the Global Governance Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel, Singapore on 5 December 2008. Opportunities and problems can arise when the world is linked so closely together:
“When we talk about globalisation, we are talking about the way in which we bring different complex operating systems together. It is like the internet. The internet was an ARPA discovery. That by each operating system accepting a certain protocol, TCP/IP, different systems could interconnect even though they have different legacies and different deep programmes. Built upon this, through hyperlinks, we could communicate as if we belonged to a common system….
“The recent financial crisis is a crisis of that hyperlink, or an aspect of that hyperlink. The global imbalance – so much has been written about it, this is not the subject which I am going to talk about tonight. Except that the financial crisis is a problem of the higher system which links us all together….
“If we look at globalisation today, it is really an American construct, the hyperlink – the HTML language, the XML language – is basically an American language. It is expressed in accounting rules, financial rules, the way armies are organised, industrial standards, financial standards and so on. The problem is when the US becomes excessive in this missionary zeal. Political scientists like Kissinger talk about the dual strain in American foreign policy. There is the national interest which defines the foreign policy of all countries, but there is in American foreign policy always an additional strain, a call to an American ideal, a desire to spread the word, to democratise the world. To a point, that is very attractive and to an extent it enables the world to be globalised. But beyond a point, when you start intruding into the deep operating system of particular countries or tribes, it creates problems.
“When America goes into Iraq and tries to democratise Iraqi society as if it has no legacy…
“Coming back to the issue of global governance – America has to lead, but America has to lead in a way which acknowledges the diversity of the human family…
“If we are all the same, something is very wrong. Countries are different, tribes are different, cultures are different, and in global governance, the basic building block must acknowledge that diversity and that difference. But that which binds us all together, that hyperlink, that for a long time will be American in its essence.”
Note: If you’re on Facebook, see his Facebook note and read the comments there.
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