Globalization: The "Boogy-man" of Third World Economies

Category: World Affairs Topics: Globalization Views: 1202

A relatively new term has been added to the world wealth of political terms: Globalization. Like other concepts, Globalization can possess a positive or a negative connotation, depending on the person and the place where it is addressed. Like democracy, where certain countries find it the only way to a progressive life, others see it a nightmare and a justification for the strong to exploit the weak. Unlike the concept of democracy however, Globalization has been openly criticized by third world leaders who see it as a death sentence to their delicate and fragile economies, which have no chance of standing up before major world economies, trade alliances and newly formed coalitions.

But while many countries with already dominating economic infrastructures have joined in some form of economic coalition or another, motivated by ambition of prosperity, most Arab, Muslim and third world countries appear to be motivated by the fear of being crushed by the globalization gold-rush. Although fear is likely to lead to decisions engulfed by uncertainty and mobilized by haste, the fact is, some of these countries' leaders are genuine in their attempts to assemble a unifying body with regional bases. By itself, that is a considerable achievement.

Although the collapse of the Soviet influence was not the only variable to influence today's political economy, such a fall had to contribute to the new global approach of world economy as well as politics. Following this dismantling, many world economies abandoned old policy and adopted new ones. In such circumstances, economic interests have sparked a new kind of war, in which the United States, Europe and emerging Asian capitalists have been key. But a true master of the world's economic domain was yet to be decided.

To increase their chances for gaining a larger share, many countries have united in several forms. Older unions have been revamped or strengthened, and new ones have come to life such as the EU, NAFTA and ASEAN.

Concurrently, most Arab countries have remained at a standstill. The same old contingency of poorly managed centralized planning and unwise, yet unquestionable military spending continue to dominate Arab economic philosophy.

But ignoring the sweeping effects of the global market is by no means a dependable strategy to avoid its harm. Such an approach has proven ineffective in squeezing more life into the barely standing economies, even for those known for their financial wealth and abundance of natural resources. The competition has simply grown too fierce for individual states to handle it alone, not to mention that many of them already have shabby competitive capabilities.

It has become vital for a large economic body that includes Arab and Muslim countries to be produced. Otherwise "a sudden death" in a merciless world market is imminent.

Fortunately, a sincere effort has been made to bring about the needed vision and movement, regionally and on a larger scale. Notable enthusiasm was reported at the recent Cairo Arab Social and Economic Council's 65th session. Council members have evidently realized the need to create an economic entity similar to the one adopted by the EU. By 2007, a free trade zone in the Arab world is foreseen to be in effect. What makes such a venture more promising than others is the fact that it has been already in the making, starting in 1998 when a 10 percent tariff reduction was implemented. Earlier in March, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, supported by many Arab officials who were gathered at the Arab Labor Conference held at Sharm El-Sheikh, called for "greater regional integration to combat the dangers of the new world economic order."

Nonetheless, realizing the danger of fragmentation by itself is likely to fail in securing a lasting unity. Many complex political disputes still linger amongst Arab and Muslim countries, whether it is a border disagreement, the hosting of each other's opposition or just plain disliking of each other's political style. How can those countries pass safely through these dilemmas so as to confront their challengers in a healthy and truly united front?

Confronting political tension is vital, especially before it turns into full-scale conflict. However, falling victim to long term political disputes, while there is an opportunity to bring an end to it, would badly damage the needed progress on many levels, nationally as well as regionally. It is time for these states' governments and rulers to re-prioritize their issues of concern, and focus on essential ones before it is too late.

We don't have to be in complete agreement and flawless harmony to work together. Some challenges call for immediate action, leaving no time for hesitation and decades of destructive propaganda that provokes nothing but hatred, undermining the needs of the people, and paying little attention to the devastation of the economy. It is likely that if Arabs and Muslims invest in genuine efforts to form a low-key economic coalition, as a starter, they will learn how to trust each other and to feel comfortable facing their problems together. As a result, the level of their unity can be upgraded not only in economic issues, which appear to be the priority at this time, but also in their political stands, which shall always remain an inescapable necessity.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Globalization
Views: 1202

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