After 72 years of global peace, it’s easy to be complacent about geopolitical stability and to take it for granted. It’s easy to believe we are now too smart to ever again allow a repeat of the calamities of the first and second world wars.
The reality is we cannot, and should not, take peace for granted. While those of us younger than 70 years of age have never lived with global conflict, the history of mankind is one of almost continual military conflict. From the clashes of the great civilizations including the Macedonians, the Persians and the Romans, through to the Crusades, and eventually the world wars of the 20th Century, global conflict has been pretty much a constant feature in human relations.
That statement rings even more true when you add more localised but still very large wars of independence, state-on-state conflicts, civil wars and wars against non-state actors, including those in many of our own lifetimes such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. There is no room for complacency.
So what are the main threats; Islamic State, Russia, China, Iran or North Korea? I don’t believe so. The biggest threat is the collective loss of faith in the rules-based systems which have served us so well for the past 72 years, and a fracturing of the almost universal commitment to that order.
The United Nations is not perfect, far from it. Trade liberalisation has driven difficult structural change but its universal benefits have been substantial, helping deliver ongoing global growth and lifting billions of people out of poverty. Last week Australia notched 26 years of continuous economic growth. We have our challenges, but the current system has been good to us. When people start looking for something different, they need to ask what the consequences might be!
GET ON WITH IT
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the political parties could put the “climate wars” behind us? There can be no doubt that we need to reduce our carbon and other emissions and that we need an energy policy which creates an environment inviting of investment. Nor is there any doubt Australia will not be building any new coal-fired generators. Not because of any government policy, but because investors have moved on.
People want to see the major parties working together to produce optimal policy outcomes, rather than bickering. An environmentally responsible energy policy will require a bit of give on both sides. I say get on with it!