the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world
PROSPECTS FOR INTEGRATION AND DISINTEGRATION IN THE WORLD
That the world is coming together is a cliché. That it should is a strenuously-debated proposition. But in each case certainty and decisiveness are claimed, and in neither case do they exist. It is true that distinctions are vanishing in the world; but new distinctions are forming at the same time, and often those who can state as fact that the world is becoming more homogenized can state as equal fact that it is becoming more complicated. Both are true in limited ways and neither absolutely. As for whether the world would be better served by more or less distinction, that, too, depends on the nature of the distinction. And none of these distinctions can be considered in isolation.
The purpose of this study is to synthesize the available information on current and historical developments relating to integration. (Its opposite, disintegration, can usually be semantically included as negative integration ― the same process in reverse.) Integration as a matter of study cannot be definitively analyzed; the study itself must be integrated. In this discussion the main approach is and must be generalist, considering simultaneously all aspects of the world situation, and their interactions. Such a comprehensive review cannot be perfect. I have omitted material out of ignorance as well as from informed consideration. At the same time, I have not hesitated to go into some detail where appropriate and where, as a generalist, I am able. Some sections may therefore be of interest primarily to specialists.
In one sense this report is issued on my own authority; in another sense it is entirely derivative. No original field research was done for the report. All facts contained within have at least one other source. Virtually all have multiple sources, and a majority have countless sources. The research and reporting of thousands of individuals is included. It would be impossible to credit them all; and to select one source for any one fact would be completely arbitrary. In addition, to attribute each fact even arbitrarily would require a note nearly every other word. It would, in any case, make the report a tiresome read. Instead, an annotated source list is included which explains the nature of the major sources and what information is available from each. The journalism sources were especially important, and while it is impossible to acknowledge all of those whose work informs this survey, I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for the work of reporters around the world who bring these facts to light, usually with the most selfless of intentions, often at personal risk.
The presentation of regions, and of countries within regions, is typically done geographically, and in the case of regions proceeds north to south, west to east, following the usual global projection (which is neither as arbitrary nor as eurocentric as is sometimes suggested). In those cases where a native name or a more accurate transliteration can be used without unduly confusing the Anglophone audience, that has been done. And as this is among other things a status report, the date of the survey is crucial; the global situation is hardly static.
When considering integration and disintegration that is geographically based, the world breaks down surprisingly well by a number of criteria, with the regions showing strong connections in language, culture, politics, history, race, religion, economy, and physical geography. The extent of any one of these characteristics is often enough to define the regions; and there is a fair degree of uniformity across the categories. Some of these regions are fairly-well integrated and aligned on these criteria, some are quite diverse, and some places and cultures belong to more than one such region, typically where regions abut, such as Turkey, Moldova, Mongolia, the Caucasus, and the México-US border region. But taken as a whole, the existence of these regions and their overlapping determinants strongly indicates that the determinants work together, that integration is, so to speak, integrated, that it takes place simultaneously and synergistically across all spheres of activity. In European integration study, this is known as ‘spillover’ ― one form of integration leading to or even requiring another.
In the case of Europe, that was deliberate. The project began with integration of the coal and steel industries in six European states, with the key states being France and Germany. It was these two at the center of so much of Europe’s warfare. The economic integration of the industrial foundations of military strength, particularly of Germany’s military strength, under a supranational body would remove the independent ability of Germany or any other state to arm itself and attack, as well as provide for an immediate economic cost to war ― a state would be attacking its own economy by attacking another’s. The end goal was political integration, and while that has not fully come about, it has definitely progressed, and will progress further. In order to achieve economic integration, which by now is much deeper than merely coal and steel, the European Union states have been forced to cooperate politically to a great extent, pooling their sovereignty as it is euphemistically described. In fact, the member-states have surrendered a great deal of sovereignty to this supranational body, because only so could economic integration work. The common market, the level playing field, the elimination of internal barriers: all imply a common legal framework, and this is what the European Union has developed. And living within a single market, with free movement of persons, under a common legal framework, erodes cultural distinctions and even national identities. Some differences will always remain; but some distinctions that individuals draw are based solely on unfamiliarity.
But Europe is not sui generis. The processes at work in Europe are happening in other regions, of various sizes and compositions, and ultimately in the world as a whole. The world is in the process of sorting itself out, of determining which differences matter and which differences do not, and finding that even the differences that matter are diminishing over time. If world integration is inevitable, then it is only so because humans, cumulatively, are making the choices that will integrate the world. If we better understand the process and our own contributions to it, we will be in a better position to guide the process towards a deliberate outcome. We can, and should, take responsibility for the world we are creating.
As a matter of political sovereignty, here defined as impunity de facto, there are nearly, and perhaps greatly in excess of, two hundred fifty sovereign states in the world, as opposed to the one hundred ninety-two recognized by the United Nations and most of its members ― that is, themselves and the Vatican. One member, Lebanon, is no more than an autonomous province of another, Syria. One non-member, Taiwan, is a stable, prosperous, and now democratic state which formerly was recognized, is still recognized by a number of states, and is in any case tacitly acknowledged to be a state by all the world, including China. Of the five dozen or so unrecognized states, they fall largely into three categories: entities nominally affiliated with another state but with tacit sovereignty; contesting entities in conflict with and sundered from another state; and zones of mixed sovereignty, in which control is shared by more than one power. There are also numerous cases where the areas of control between sovereignties differ in recognition and reality. If the many unrecognized divisions in the world are perpetuated, it will only be apparent disintegration; and if they are ended, it will be genuine integration, or at least reintegration.
Global prospects for further political disintegration, or in a few cases integration, depend on a rationalization of the nation-state system. The nations and states of the world are far from alignment. The nation, the primary group identification for the individual, is usually based on common cultural or ethnic factors and a common evolutionary connection. While a few nations, notably the United States, have been defined by political boundaries, more often this form of nationality and nationalism is an imposition by a ruling class or a dominant majority, to augment its own power through the diversion of allegiance from cultural or ethnic nationalism. This is never more than partially successful, and always in conflict with the preexisting national identities.
Political realignment can be expected mostly as a result of attempts to harmonize state borders with national borders. The principle of self-determination demands that we support such efforts, even if done by force, for the opposite is to allow self-determination to be suppressed by force. It needn’t be pointed out that there is a consensus across the ruling classes against self-determination; self-determination weakens those already in power. The reality is a conflict between the assertion of a legitimate right and the assertion of an illegitimate right based on force and the status quo, cloaked in arguments about stability, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and charges of terrorism and ‘splittism’.
Language is both an object of integration and a facilitator of integration. But first it must be recognized that language, like geography, does not truly consist of clean lines around self-contained entities. While it is often recognized that the lay distinction between a ‘language’ and a ‘dialect’ is political, there is an assumption that linguists, at least, can make a technical distinction, and this is not true. The usual criterion, mutual intelligibility, applies on a continuum. Even unrelated dialects have intelligibility through borrowing, either one from another, or each from a third source.
Language is the use of symbols. A symbol is a sign whose association between perceptual paradigm and another concept is one of convention. (The first convention must be established by coincidence, where two interpreters ― human minds, in this case ― form the same association based on some common experience. That first convention can then serve as the basis for further conventions.) A logic is a system for deriving new symbols from existing ones, by combining or altering them according to certain conventional rules. The set of all symbols and logics understood by an interpreter is that interpreter’s idiolect. The intersection of two or more idiolects is a dialect. It is the linguistic joint product of a group, and such a joint product exists for every possible combination of language users, with the dialect for some groups (a close family, say) being quite large, that for other groups presumably being an empty set. It would be possible to consider fixed dialect groups, linguistic communities, linking persons by chains of intersecting idiolects, but such could conceivably have no common dialect, if two extremes on the continuum have no dialect between themselves. In this analysis, only ‘dialect’ is used, in place of both ‘language’ and ‘dialect’.
Linguistic evolution has primarily been through the process of division, a result of geographical isolation and lack of cultural interchange. Language change has always been a given. As populations were sundered, their dialects continued to change, and without the possibility of innovations passing between the populations, the dialects changed in separate ways and lost mutual intelligibility. Now, the process has actually begun reversing. Modern technology and the progressive integration of communications and infrastructure have made possible broadcast to large geographical areas, interpersonal communication by phone, satellite, and of course the internet, and the ready transportation of persons through the shortening of travel times. The process of dialect division is now over, exchanged for one of assimilation. This will happen around a broadcast standard, driven by culturally-dominant dialects and subdialects. Those dialects today that are still mutually intelligible will eventually collapse, through the tightening of paradigms and the expansion of symbol- and logic-sets.
There are and for some time will continue to be at least three linguistic tiers for the world. The primary form of communication is of course the local or vernacular dialect. In most of the world there is also a regional lingua franca, typically the dialect of the colonial power. The global dialect, as it stands and as it is likely to remain, is basically English. This is a historical accident, resulting from the advent of mass communication and cultural assimilation at a time when two successive states in the leading geopolitical position have been Anglophone. In particular, Britain and then the United States were the world’s leading industrial, commercial, and naval powers, and have projected their power around the world, securing the functioning of a global system conducive to their economic and strategic interests. This was done in English; and because mass communication requires a global dialect, English has that position. By the time the United States loses its preeminence, English will probably be secure in its position, in the same way that European dialects have been maintained in former colonies despite the withdrawal of the sponsoring power.
But the English vocabulary is drawn from three major sources, and has a history of importing and coining words which suggests that the common dialect will be only distantly related to the Anglo-Saxon from which it evolved. The existence of a global dialect, and its use in global institutions and as a bearer of global culture, will lead to its adoption by more and more communities as a local dialect, until it is in fact a common dialect. And though it will continue to evolve, it will do so on a global basis, and remain a common dialect.
On expectation of assimilation, there are a number of dialect groups that must be considered as one for the future, where mutual intelligibility is strong enough that intergroup communication is still possible. This will definitely include: Kinyarwanda and Kirundi; Czech and Slovak; Kazak, Karakalpak, and Kyrgyz; Hindi and Urdu; Farsi, Dari, and Tajiki; Malinke, Bambara, and Dyula; Thai and Lao; Sotho, Pedi, and Tswana; Portuguese and Galician; Zulu and Ndebele; Bulgarian and Macedonian; Baltic-Finnic (Finnish, Estonian, and Karelian); Scandinavian (Danish, Norwegian, New Norwegian, Swedish, and Scanian); Sukuma, Nyamwezi, and Sumbwa; Swahili and Comorien; Karamojong and Turkana; several sets of colloquial Arabic dialects; and the East Slavic dialects. It may well include: Portuguese and Spanish; most of the Türkic dialects; and the South Slavic dialects.
Orthography is an element of language that has historically been open to deliberate policy on usage, as opposed to the haphazard, individual usage policies that guide spoken language. While careful recordkeeping should be employed to ensure that information is not lost in obsolete texts, nonetheless rationalization should be further pursued in orthography when and where possible. For example, the Scandinavian (North Germanic) dialects should be written alike, with the exceptions being dropped, which is to say that Denmark adopt the spelling rationalization policy largely used in Sweden and Norway, ‘k’ or ‘s’ for ‘c’, ‘ks’ for ‘x’, ‘z’ for voiced ‘s’, while Sweden, in return, should adopt ‘ø’ for ‘ö’ and ‘æ’ for ‘ä’. The primary argument against the former is that it would take spellings further from the Romance/English spellings.
The adoption in the last century of the Latin script in Africa, Asia, and Türkestan has involved the adoption of special characters and diacritics. While this was unavoidable to an extent, the unfortunate reality has been that each new dialect to convert has created its own special characters and diacritics, instead of reusing those created before. For the moment, that has wreaked problems in computerized communication and severely limited the usefulness ― the whole point, even ― of the romanization. But this can and should be remedied, by collapsing various standards whenever possible. A similar phenomenon is present in the Cyrillic used for the non-Russian dialects of the Russian state; but this was a deliberate policy of divide et impera by Joseph Stalin, and there is already motivation, if not a plan, to rectify the policy.
An examination of the capital letters of Greek, Latin, and Cyrillic reveals a strong overlap, even if accidental (Cyrillic ‘С’ deriving from Greek ‘Σ’, Latin ‘C’ deriving from Greek ‘Γ’). The divergence in capitals is a good deal less than that in lowercase (a single ‘M’ for ‘m’, ‘м’, and ‘μ’). These factors can be used to simplify the display of all three alphabets in the same environment, and also to facilitate the reproduction of all three by computer or other means. (While this is being done now, it is being done at a high level of complication.) This Hellenistic alphabet could be used on international signage, passports, customs and shipping documents, in electronic communication, and in any other medium where a simplified international writing system is needed.
The Arabic script is well suited to the representation of Arabic, with its consonant root system. It is not well suited, though by now certainly traditional, to the representation of Farsi, Urdu, and other non-Semitic dialects. It has little chance of advancement beyond its current extent. Though there is a history of its use in Central Asia, attempts to revive it following independence in Uzbekistan have failed for now. Indeed, Uzbekistan is one of the areas where the Latin script is officially in use, along with Azerbaijan and Türkmenistan. Turkey, of course, serves as the model for this, as well as providing, generally, the typographical template. The one possible exception to this is Tajikistan, where cultural integration along linguistic lines would take it away from the Türkic cultures with which it is usually associated, and closer to the Persian cultures of Iran and especially Afghanistan, where ethnic Tajiks and others speak the Dari dialect of Persian. Conversely, successful transition to the Latin script in Türkic states of the Commonwealth of Independent States could have an effect on their kin in Iran and Afghanistan (Azeris, Türkmen, and Uzbeks).
English is, in addition, the world’s lingua franca, a trade dialect, a diplomatic dialect, a scientific dialect, a carrier of the emerging global culture and a facilitator of international communication. It will probably eventually supplant all the world’s dialects. In the shorter ― but still long ― term, it will drive out the native dialects in those areas where it serves also as the regional lingua franca or administrative dialect, particularly in Africa; that is, where English occupies the middle tier as well as the upper tier, it will eventually occupy the lower tier, the vernacular.
Portuguese is used in the former colonial possessions of Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé e Príncipe, Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, Goa, and Macau, as well of course as in Portugal itself. Galicia uses a dialect that is closely related, mutually intelligible, and will eventually merge with Portuguese. The Lusophone areas do have an international association, but their integration can have no significant regional component. For the most part, then, this integration will take place in cultural products, and in occasional preferential trade arrangements where language is important. Because there is no geographical connection, the persistence of Portuguese in some of these areas is improbable, particularly in Goa, Macau, and East Timor, where regional alternatives exist. But Portuguese is also notable in that its power has the most to gain from modern technology, since this to some extent cancels the attraction of regional alternatives.
French is a very important regional dialect in Africa and Europe, will persist in Québec, and may have a role to play in the Caribbean where French creole is an important vernacular and regional dialect. Its presence in Indochina has surely peaked, though. It competes there with local official dialects, and offers less as an auxiliary cultural dialect than English. And in the Pacific, where English is so widespread, the usefulness of French will quickly end should France ever divest its territories. Still, given the pride, even chauvinism, of Francophones (no different from their Anglophone rivals) in their dialect, the African, European, and Caribbean domains of French are secure for some time, and possibly the only dialect which is indemnified from the potential expansion of French is English, as for example in West Africa. French benefits in this matter from deliberate promotion by the French state and others.
The other major linguae francae are all strictly regional in scope. This includes Russian in its former empire, Spanish in the western hemisphere, Swahili in East Africa, Standard Arabic in the Arab world, Malay in southeast Asia, Hindi-Urdu in the Indian subcontinent, and the state-internal lingua franca of Mandarin Chinese. Spanish, for example, is spoken primarily in a large contiguous area in the western hemisphere, and in the central part of the Iberian peninsula, and in little besides. It will be driven out by competing dialects in other former Spanish colonies ― by Arabic in the Western Sahara, by Fang and French in Equatorial Guinea, by Tagalog and English in the Philippines. But it is already the only dialect for much of the population of the former Spanish colonies in the New World, and it will continue to gain at the expense of the aboriginal dialects, even major competitors like Quechua.
Dialect extinction is to some extent regrettable but in any case unavoidable. As a negative, this extinction results in the loss of information, in the kind of diversity that occasionally leads to breakthroughs in thinking. As a positive, linguistic assimilation facilitates communication and understanding. Individuals stand mostly to gain from assimilation; society stands both to lose and to gain from the replacement of many dialects with one. The appropriate policy is one of neutrality, neither suppression of dialects (as is now done with Kurdish), or protectionism for them (as is now done with French).
While there is certainly some geographical component to religious integration, it is also a globalizing phenomenon. Like all aspects of cultural integration, it benefits from modern communications. The ability of the Anglican Church to remain unified and coordinated in the British empire was dependent, for most of the empire’s existence, on the speed of Britain’s ships; in the modern Commonwealth, it is nearly as easy for the Archbishop of Canterbury to call or e-mail a cleric in Johannesburg as one in Kent. And as with language evolution, religious evolution now happens globally, rather than regionally. A heresy now affects the whole of a church; at the same time, the hierarchy will become aware of such phenomena instantly.
There is also the possibility of division and schism among sects. It is probable that one or more of the denominations, even major denominations, will rupture over the issue of homosexuality. This has already been foreshadowed in the international Anglican church, where liberalization in England itself, and in North America, has caused a backlash in more conservative countries. The Southern Baptist church in the US has seen the beginnings of a similar split. Ironically, the world’s largest church, Roman Catholicism, which has historically been the product of several major Christian schisms, notably those separating it from the Orthodox, Protestant (Lutheran and Calvinist), and Anglican traditions, is probably immune to further schism. Catholics are aware of their church’s conservatism and will either reform it slowly and collectively, or leave individually. On the other hand, religion is perhaps most vulnerable to the principle of entropy. Given the size of new religions, it is impossible to detect the emergence of all of them, or to track the emergence of new religions in history for comparison; but each creation of a new religion introduces new distinction into the world, and there are as many possibilities as there are persons, an ever-increasing number.
Schism and proliferation are not the only possibilities. While it must be recognized that syncretism is ultimately just another avenue to schism, there have been successful mergers of denominations, such as the Unitarians and Universalists, and merger of smaller denominations in the US with mainline Protestant churches, as well as the formation of ‘communions’, as with the US Lutheran and Episcopalian (Anglican) churches, or ‘covenants’, as with the Methodist and Anglican churches in other parts of the Commonwealth. In time, as sects evolve, and evolve, moreover, from the same external pressures, they will evolve towards common points. As doctrine shifts and rites become more generic, sectarian differences will be minimized, and will finally be resolved through executive action. In this way there may be further consolidation among Protestant denominations. Beyond that, ecumenism within Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism may lead to greater understanding, doctrinal or liturgical harmonization, and a kind of reciprocity of recognition. Christians have produced a degree of entente. Muslims have gone further, creating the Organization of the Islamic Conference. In both cases, identification with the overall religion is often quite strong, sometimes trumping the sect identification. It is also possible that the ecumenical non-descript monotheism indicated, for example, in the term ‘Judeo-Christian’ and in the rhetoric of many political leaders and some religious leaders will lead to a non-denominational reality.
Religious integration is not necessarily a good thing in all cases. The emergence (or at least the recognition of the emergence) of al-Qa‘idah has shown that a globalized religious ideology can be more dangerous than a parochial one (though one could argue that the ideology itself in this case is parochial). Al-Qa‘idah’s vision of a revived Caliphate, a single theocratic state for the entire Ummah, or Muslim world, is an excellent example of an integrationist effort that has serious oppressive potential, seeking to impose the most extreme version of Islamic fundamentalism, which exists in only a few places, throughout the Islamic sphere. But then the last so-called Caliphate, under the Ottoman sultan, was hardly all-powerful, and the Qa‘idah ideology glosses over the distinctions between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and non-Arab ― successfully, to an extent, but only among its limited followers.
The strongest global integrative force is economics, specifically trade. The aptly-named Washington Consensus in favor of a particular version of capitalism may not actually be a consensus (except in the Giscard sense), but it does have present dominance. Its ideal is a world of universal private ownership and the unfettered acquisition, production, and exchange of resources, goods, services, and capital. A number of organizations exist for the direct promotion of this. The Group of Seven, the seven industrialized states with the largest economies, gathers regularly at the ministerial level to discuss the management of the world’s economy; and there is no question of the basic assumptions or of the fact that these seven finance ministers can, in fact, control the world’s economy, as much as anyone can. As an outgrowth of this power and mindset, the International Monetary Fund, which once administered the world’s currency union de facto, is now a lead institution in propagating the macroeconomic, financial, and monetary policies of the Washington Consensus. Annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (often referenced by the name of its usual meeting place, Davos Switzerland) have encouraged a common thinking among the world’s politically- and economically-powerful individuals. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is essentially an extended version of the G-7 ― industrialized democracies with a high GDP per capita. It includes (with overlap) all the states of the EU, NAFTA, and NATO, as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Slovakia, and Switzerland. And while the World Bank (a group of institutions around the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is not oriented by mission towards spreading the Consensus, nor by size of loans able to control the nature of economies in the developing world, its imprimatur, as that of the IMF, is so important to other lenders that in fact the Bank can control what developing states do, and it is now widely felt to be an instrument of the Consensus, demanding structural economic reforms as a condition for its own loans and those that follow it. While there is a basis to this perception, there are staff throughout the Bank and the Fund, including at the highest levels, who recognize the limitations of the full capitalist model.
Theoretically, a free trade area eliminates internal tariffs, a customs union eliminates internal tariffs and sets a common external tariff, and a common market eliminates all internal barriers to the movement of persons, goods, services, and capital. The World Trade Organization, an outgrowth of one of the original Bretton Woods institutions, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, may eventually establish a nominal common market for the world; but even the United States does not actually have an internal common market, and the distances between locations will never cease to be a factor in the movement of either persons or goods. The WTO has been officially notified of the following customs unions: the Eurasian Economic Community; the European Union along with Andorrà, Turkey, Greek Cyprus, and Malta; the Czech and Slovak Republics; Mercosur; the Caribbean Community; and the Central American Common Market. Many more free trade agreements have been registered, and an increasing number of service agreements (that is, free trade in services rather than goods). These regional agreements, and the aspiringly-global WTO, are removing legal barriers to economic integration, and this process will continue. And even bureaucratic impediments are being removed: through the World Customs Organization, a so-called Harmonized System for customs administration has extended to virtually all (98%) of merchandise trade. But there is also a significant amount of posturing and false pronouncement; free trade and common markets are nowhere achieved cleanly, or finally, or irrevocably.
But legal obstacles to economic integration may be among the last to fall. Economic integration is being driven by two other factors, physical and cultural integration. As communications, travel, and shipping become cheaper, faster, and more accessible, provision of goods and services on a global scale becomes an attractive possibility. As humans are exposed through technology to each other and to modern material culture, including technology itself, their desires assimilate. While some cultural protectionists, in for instance Canada or France, concern themselves with US dominance of mass culture such as film, they ignore the facts that, in the modern world, US producers of cultural products are playing to a global audience, that the US market is itself open to products from other cultures, and that there is a demand in global markets for the globalized culture, in some cases dissociating it from its US base and in some cases celebrating that base. The same phenomenon can be seen in other products, especially automobiles and electronics.
Cartels, most famously the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, have recognized both the requirements and the benefits of economic globalization. OPEC has striven for a global monopoly in oil ― regional monopolies are meaningless in a globalized economy. At the same time, a cartel has a natural interest in matching its intended universality of production with a universality of distribution. Lacking both competitors and barriers, profits for essential goods are virtually limitless. But a similar incentive applies short of the establishment of a cartel or a monopoly. Taking advantage of so-called economies of scale, companies have expanded, formed joint ventures, and merged in the global marketplace. This is most advanced in regions, like Europe, where the state-based economies are already integrating; the same process takes place globally as well.
In addition to these formal inter-state arrangements, a number of currencies are tied to other currencies, primarily the dollar and the euro (formerly the Deutschemark), either through a fixed exchange rate, or through a variable exchange rate kept within a small range or around a central rate; the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing right (SDR), which is itself tied to various currencies, has been used in this way also (though the IMF itself concedes that the SDR is of decreasing international importance). Currencies may be used officially or unofficially in states that do not issue their own currencies, here again primarily the dollar and the euro. And finally, currencies may circulate alongside official currencies, particularly if the official currency inspires little confidence; the US dollar not only often takes this role, it is also the hard currency most held in reserve by banks to maintain confidence, though the euro (again, formerly the Deutschemark) competes somewhat with the dollar on this.
The dollar circulates everywhere. But it is in official use in all US territories, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panamá, Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Arab Palestine, Afghanistan, East Timor, Micronesia, Belau, and the Marshalls. (It circulates alongside a local currency in Guatemala, Panamá, Perú, and Bolivia; and in El Salvador, which presently expects to phase out the local currency.) Currencies fixed to the dollar include those of Bermuda, the Bahamas, the Eastern Caribbean, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Belize, Djibouti, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Malaysia; the local currency is fixed at parity in Bermuda and Panamá. Currencies tied to the dollar through a narrowly-variable exchange rate include those of Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Maldives.
The euro is officially used in the twelve member states of the euro zone: Ireland, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Austria, Italy, and Greece, and most of their territories. It is used with EU approval and right of local issuance in Andorrà, Monaco, the Vatican, and San Marino. It is also used officially in Kosova and Montenegro, and circulates alongside a local currency in Croatia. Currencies tied to the euro include those of Estonia, Lithuania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and the Franc Zone (UÉMOA, CÉMAC, the Comoros, and the French Pacific territories, all of which have a franc fixed to the euro).
In the Pacific, the Australian dollar is used in Australia and its territories, and Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Nauru. The New Zealand dollar is used in New Zealand and its territories, and in Tuvalu and Pitcairn. Macau fixes its currency to the Hong Kong dollar; Brunei’s currency is at par with the Singapore dollar. There are only two independent currencies in Micronesia or Polynesia, those of Tonga and Samoa.
There are two basic options for a universal monetary union. One is the simple adoption of one of the existing currencies, presumably the US dollar. The other is a fixed exchange rate, as obtained in Europe in the years immediately proceeding the introduction of euro notes and coins. With this latter option, for the true value of a common currency to hold, a simple conversion would need to obtain, 1 US dollar = 1 Canadian dollar = 1 euro = 100 yen, and so forth. In either case, the mechanism highlights one of the main functions of a currency, a measure of value, and the main benefits of a common currency, transparency of prices. The dollar is most likely to serve this function because of the widespread awareness of its value. The other main function of currency is a store of value, and stability is key to this; and though certain policies of the US government (id est, debt financing of the government) are not conducive to stability and user confidence, the dollar remains, for the present, the currency viewed as most stable (as judged by its use). The single currency would end the cost of currency transaction, and also the hazard of currency speculation. On the negative side, certainly from the point of view of jealous sovereign governments, it would eliminate the possibility of independent monetarist manipulation of interest rates, and the ability of a government to regulate trade through monetary policy. This last policy is clearly a zero-sum game; while each individual government may have an interest, political or economic, in such competitive positioning (in gambling, essentially, on a win), the world as a whole does not benefit, since there is always an equal and opposite loser. In balance, monetary integration is a desirable option. It should be pursued globally and regionally.
International law, a combination of laws governing state actions and global laws governing individual and corporate actions, is in fact a nebulous assortment of treaties and agreements which largely bind states and their citizens only voluntarily, not only in the original process of accession, but even in the implementation by acceded states. Sovereignty remains a useful concept in analyzing state actions, and if states were never absolutely free to act as they desired, and are arguably becoming less so, still they have a great deal of latitude and impunity, since they can only be held accountable by other states, through various sanctions which ultimately, to be effective, must include force. This means in practice that state power determines the extent of international law, as with the recent intervention by the United States and a few allies in Iraq.
The body most associated with international law and politics is the United Nations, which is theoretically comprehensive of the world’s states, though geopolitics has always meant the exclusion of some sovereign bodies, and the inclusion of parties that were not sovereign, or not to the extent recognized. Much of international law is now folded into the United Nations and its sundry agencies; most of the major interstate organizations are affiliated with the UN. Its most recent inclusion, the World Trade Organization, is still far from comprehensive in terms of states, but is working in that direction.
The International Court of Justice, better known as the World Court, is responsible for adjudicating state actions and interstate disputes. It is theoretically binding, and often binding in practice, but is again subject to the realities of sovereignty. It now has a companion, the International Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction on specific crimes against humanity in all states party. The US, notably, has excluded itself until exemptions for its serving military personnel are granted bilaterally by states party. This is currently a politically-dependent issue in the United States, though, and presumably a future administration more internationalist will sign the treaty and see to its ratification, as the Clinton administration intended. Ninety states have ratified, one hundred forty-three have signed. This includes nearly all of Europe and much of Africa and Latin America. Finally, there is Interpol, which coordinates police activities and information across state lines. Most states participate, with seven of the ten exceptions being Pacific island states.
Terrorism, which has become such a global focus (real and feigned) since the attacks of 2001 September 11, will both increase and decrease integration. Common concern on issues of terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has prompted cooperation among states and their militaries and police forces, and the suppression of other ideological differences, in much the way that the Cold War did, with the key exception being that most states are aligned against ‘terrorism’, however it may be defined. But the terrorism threat will in some ways hinder integration, particularly physical integration. The opening of borders to travel is now viewed as an increased risk. But risks of that sort have also led to mutually-agreed Italian military control of Albania’s territorial waters and US control of security in Afghanistan.
Integration of electoral politics is a function either of political integration of states, or of integrationist or globalist ideologies. The former is best exemplified by the political groupings in the European Parliament, where perforce even nationalist and anti-integrationist local parties have banded together to promote their interests. The largest grouping, as of recently, is the Christian Democratic and conservative bloc, the collection of mainstream nationalist parties. The latter can be seen in international Green cooperation (a predictable consequence of conservationists’ recognition of the global nature and scale of environmental issues), but is best exemplified by the party alliances, of which the Socialist International is clearly the most important. Significantly, while the Socialist International groups many parties from many parts of the world, it does not include a major party from any of the three largest democracies, India, the US, or Indonesia. There is also a Liberal International, though its members are less likely to be major parties or major participants in government.
Anne-Marie Slaughter describes a trans-governmental process in which related and corresponding agencies and technocrats in various states achieve through cooperation, information sharing, and coordination of policy what might otherwise be impossible for political leaders to agree upon. A parallel trans-cultural integration could be described, as perhaps exemplified by the long-standing existence of international non-governmental organizations. The environmental movement, as distinct from any political party or organization, has the mentioned reasons for operating internationally, and has seen some success in the establishment of international law to protect nature and the environment, such as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. And the so-called anti-globalization movement is itself globalized. It is directed, in fact, against the globalization of a particular vision of economics, though in rhetoric and often in policy it opposes globalization of any sort.
TECHNICAL AND PHYSICAL INTEGRATION
Science is an important integrated field. It is fully globalized and standardized. Virtually any differences that exist are not regional or cultural but theoretical. A significant historical exception would be the names of the transactinide elements, beginning with atomic number 104, which were given different nationalistic names in the United States and Russia, with a compromise emerging at, for instance, unnilquadium, literally One-Zero-Four. The spread of English as the dialect of science and technology is providing the last element of integration. Scientists have long been accustomed to sharing of information, research, and theory. Recent efforts like the international space station are only examples of governments following the lead of technocrats.
The integration of health and particularly public health is an imperative, but is caught between technocratic and political concerns. Globalized diseases such as AIDS and SARS have caught the public imagination, but have not led to dramatic shifts in policy. Technocrats are largely agreed on how to fight these diseases, and traditional infectious diseases like malaria, and even non-infectious diseases like heart disease. But, quite apart from a failure of politicians to fund these efforts, there is also a failure of politicians (as well as populations) to follow technocratic advice. The spread of HIV persists largely because of religious and social attitudes on birth control, sexuality, and homosexuality. The World Health Organization’s response to SARS was hindered by the Chinese political system, both in its closedness and bureaucracy at home, and in its prohibitions on Taiwanese participation in international organizations.
One area where an integrated approach is necessary and has shown success is disease eradication. A recent public health initiative, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, established a precedent for future health treaties. And the very existence of global public-health organizations is evidence of a successful integrating approach. These needn’t be explicitly international: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health in the United States are global in scope and value despite being based in and funded by one state.
The metric system, the colloquial counterpart of science’s Système Internationale, is a very successful example of formal integration and rationalization. It is used in most of the world, with the main exception being, of course, the United States. Other exceptions are present and former British Caribbean territories (the Virgin Islands, the Caymans, the Turks and Caicos, Antigua and Barbuda), Yemen, and Bangladesh. The changeover in the United States has been quite slow and reluctant. Its hastening and completion will probably require a combination of government action, business pressure, cultural globalization, and further science exposure in education, particularly primary education.
While committed conservationists tend to view even local conservation issues as a matter for global concern, certain conservation issues have a decidedly-global reach. Global warming is of course one, as are air pollution, ocean conservation, and deforestation. The matter of invasive species is largely a problem caused by globalization, by the human-accelerated exchange between previously-separated ecosystems. And on the regional level, physical integration and disintegration are parallel in one respect: as human development and settlement proceeds, with urban expansion drawing greater and greater numbers, producing megalopolises in many parts of the world, natural ecosystems become more sundered and more isolated, limiting species exchange and leading, over the very long term, to separate evolution of ecosystems. Only deliberate human choice can arrest this process. Humanity, particularly at the sovereign level, must decide to preserve remaining open spaces intact, and where that is not possible, to preserve natural corridors to connect open spaces. If, as seems likely, the population of the world eventually stabilizes and then begins declining, land can be returned to wilderness; and the preservation at this point of natural integration will help ensure some degree of restoration at that point.
The commonalities in the western hemisphere are largely a function of European colonization. The people of the hemisphere, though racially they may be aboriginal, European, African, mestizo, or mulatto, mostly speak European dialects, and statistically are virtually all Christian, especially Roman Catholic. The aboriginal peoples still exist, racially, culturally, and linguistically. But rarely does an aboriginal dialect have official status at the sovereign level, the exceptions being Quechua and Aymara in both Perú and Bolivia, and Greenlandic in Greenland. Otherwise, the official dialects are all European, and based on population this is confined mostly to Spanish, English, and Portuguese. (French and French Creole in parts of Canada and the Caribbean, Danish in Greenland, and Dutch in the Caribbean and South America also have official status.) Some aboriginal dialects have important local value, such as Mayan dialects, Tupi, and Guaraní. While their preservation should be encouraged, it is unlikely.
One hemisphere-wide organization exists, but the Organization of American States has no great institutional value, function, or even pretensions. The most likely point of integration is economic. This means, of course, deeper integration in the US economic sphere of influence. The United States is not only the largest economy in the world, and by far in the hemisphere, it is also the single largest trading partner for all but four of the states of the hemisphere, in either imports or exports or both. The Free Trade Area of the Americas, expanding from the North American Free Trade Area, and including all of the Americas but Cuba and Greenland, has the ambition of completing a free-trade agreement by 2005. Like most such arrangements, it will only create an area of freer trade. As mentioned before, the US dollar’s status as an auxiliary, semi-official, or even exclusive currency is particularly strong in the Americas.
Culturally and to some extent economically, México and the US-México border region form a transitional zone. Though México is culturally a part of Spanish America, and the city of México is the most important Spanish city of America, México is economically integrating with Canada and especially the United States. Northern México is better developed than southern México. The maquiladora belt along the northern border exists particularly for the US market. As border restrictions ease further, the numerous twinned cities will become still-more interdependent, culturally and economically, and to some extent in infrastructure and law. (These last two will be made likely through the spillover effect ― frequent movement of people and strong economic exchange demand a harmonization of standards and the facilitation of travel and transport.) The Hispanic population of the United States has, of course, historical links with Spanish America (notably México, Puerto Rico, and Cuba), and a natural cultural affinity.
The six are also full members of the Caribbean Community and the CariCom Common Market, with Montserrat being a full member and Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands again being associate members. The other full members are the Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, and Belize, the other associates are Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands, both British territories; and thus the only non-Anglophone member or associate member of CariCom is Suriname. (Haïti has applied and been accepted, and is officially listed as a member, but its status remains unclear.) CariCom has formed a customs union; the Common Market, though, is more of a project than a reality.
Of the other Caribbean units, two are US territories, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The other two are Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Economically, Cuba seems likely to remain isolated until democracy, while the Dominican Republic has applied to membership in the Central American System of Integration (SICA, see below). Culturally, they both belong more naturally with the rest of Spanish America than with the Caribbean, though again the peculiar geographical, economic, and environmental concerns of Caribbean islands would warrant cooperation.
Anchoring Latin American integration is the Mercado Común del Sur, Mercosur, comprising South America’s two giants, Brazil and Argentina, and the two smaller countries between them, Uruguay and Paraguay. Uruguay was once part of Argentina, and these two and Paraguay share a common Spanish colonial heritage. Brazil differs in dialect, of course, and it also has a different historical legacy, being one of the focal points of the slave economy in the New World. If Brazil and Argentina can overcome their differences and their rivalry, the prospects for Latin American integration are quite strong. At the moment, the project is being driven by the Brazilian president, Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva. With his enthusiasm, Chile has made encouraging statements not merely about economic integration but even political integration. Lula has proposed a union of Mercosur with the Andean Community ― Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, and Bolivia ― with which customs-system rationalization began in 1999. This union would be the basis for a strong negotiating position vis-à-vis the United States for the FTAA. And Lula and his government have supported a directly-elected parliament and a common currency as additional steps, as well as extending Mercosur integration to the rest of South America. But the presidencies of Lula and Argentine president Néstor Kirchner are too young to make definitive assessments. If the project is serious, it may require a revision of the Latin American Integration Association, which links the Mercosur states, the Andean Community states, and Chile and México. The exclusion of the Central American states clearly weakens the effort. The Río Group, which includes them and a Caribbean representative, is a comprehensive forum but little more.
Physical, for example infrastructural, economic integration has been a thoughtful consideration in Latin America. It is a specific element of Mercosur, and has been instituted in Central America as well. The latter, the Plan Puebla-Panamá, would integrate transport, tourism, and industry, including establishing a common electrical grid, linking all of Central America with southern México. In México this is viewed as a means of greater investment in its impoverished south, and in a way it is using integration with Central America to strengthen the internal cohesion of México itself. The Andean Community has plans for full electrical integration; Ecuador and Colombia have already done this. The Andean Community also has initiated a satellite-communication project.
Chile has been viewed, in Chile and in the United States, as the best candidate for expansion of NAFTA; this is primarily a legacy of the aggressive pro-business policies pursued by the Pinochet dictatorship. While the government of socialist Ricardo Lagos has pursued free trade with Canada, the US, and México, it has also shown interest in further Latin American integration; and the government of Lula in Brazil has deepened that interest. Chile, along with Bolivia, is already a part of Mercosur Social, an integrative body with the members of Mercosur.
Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panamá were united immediately after independence as Gran Colombia (with Colombia and Panamá being themselves united as New Grenada), as seen in the flags of the first three; this was a project of the revered Spanish-American hero Simón Bolívar. Perú and Bolivia were federated briefly in the early nineteenth century under Bolivian ruler Andrés de Santa Cruz. These states, less Panamá, are economically linked in the Andean Community, though all of them but Bolivia are so politically unstable that any progress towards any sort of integration is dependent on reintegration of the states themselves, especially the territorially-divided Colombia. Further, Venezuela and Bolivia have applied to Mercosur; it seems likely that the Andean Community will have very little future role to play in regional integration. But for the moment, the Andean Community remains a customs union making measured progress towards a common market, with easing of restriction on tourist travel as a first step towards free movement of persons.
With Panamá and Belize, these five have formed the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA), though Panamá historically was a part of Gran Colombia. Belize seems a logical inclusion for reasons of size and proximity, but is problematic for several reasons. First, it is only partially Spanish-speaking; officially it is Anglophone, and the dialect of the coast is an English creole. Second, it is a member of CariCom, showing an affinity for the Caribbean, its economy, and the other Anglophone states. Third, most importantly, Guatemala still regards Belize officially as a province, and while the two sides are at peace and have demarcated their border, a sudden shift to the right (or further right) in Guatemalan politics would probably reopen the issue. In the longer term, the political re-federation of Spanish Central America makes sense, but it would likewise make sense for the states of Central America to federate with México, which is itself a federation whose provinces (‘estados’, in fact) are of comparable size to the Central American states.
It was the diversity of Europe that prompted its integration, in a way, since the two world wars (often described as European civil wars) that so devastated Europe and encouraged its early integrationists were a result of so many proud and powerful nation-states in such proximity. The original idea was to make war between France and Germany impossible. But there is also a great deal of common culture and history in Europe. Nearly all of the region is Christian, and most of that is Western Christendom. The heritage of Greek and Roman culture, and of older Near Eastern culture, is shared (as it is by most of the rest of the world, due to European conquest and colonization). The states are democratic and relatively stable, and there is a strong tradition of social welfare. The dialects are mostly Indo-European, with the Italic, Germanic, and Slavic branches dominating, and the Greek and Latin vocabularies being held in common. The Latin alphabet is used in most of the region. And the economies of Europe are among the most advanced industrial and technological economies in the world, with the highest gross domestic products per capita; at the center of this is Germany, the largest economy and largest trading partner for the core states.
The European Union comprises fifteen member states: Ireland, Britain, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Italy, and Greece. Ten states are due to join in 2004: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta, and Greek Cyprus. Referenda have passed in all nine states that have held them, and the last, Greek Cyprus, has passed a parliamentary vote instead. While the European Commission has completed negotiations and the European Parliament has endorsed the expansion, the fifteen member governments must still endorse the deal individually, which is not a certainty, but is expected nonetheless. [That expansion has since taken place, as has a further expansion at the beginning of 2007 to include Bulgaria and România.]
There are other important integrative institutions in Europe, particularly NATO and the Council of Europe. And there are countless opt-outs within the EU’s integrative projects, most notably the euro and the Schengen agreement. But eventually the European Union will be comprehensive, encompassing all states in the region, serving as the focus of all forms of integration, its provisions applying equally to all members. From there, it will gradually become a single federated state, and eventually a unitary state, rationalized in its divisions, probably by dialect. This may take further decades, but the trend of European integration is fairly clear.
The Union currently deals primarily with economic issues, but there has been a great deal of spillover into other areas. It has proven impossible to integrate economically without harmonizing many other laws; and economic integration has also contributed, slowly, to the development of a European identity. The single market program meant that differences in regulations on quality, consumer safety, and environmental protection were barriers to trade, and needed to be resolved. Environmental protections are best established at a regional or global level if they are to be effective. To facilitate economic integration, trans-European networks for transport and communications needed to be further developed. Partially to make the single market function without massive migration of persons, and partially as a result of European identity, the Union uses much of its budget to redistribute wealth within the Union, promoting economic development of the poorer regions. And the largest budget item, the Common Agricultural Policy, arguably has this purpose as well; at the very least, it was in origin, by design, a shift in wealth from Germany to France, on the assumption that Germany stood to benefit disproportionately from integration, particularly the early industrial integration.
Under the European Union structure, a large number of dialect groups are politically united: the British Isles; much of Scandinavia; Portugal and Galicia; the Basque Country; France and Wallonia; the Netherlands and Flanders; the Catalan areas; Corsica and Italy; and Germany, Austria, and Alsace-Lorraine; it will soon reunite the Baltic-Finnic, Greek, and Czech and Slovak areas, and presumably at some point will reunite the Serbocroatian areas, the Hungarian areas, and Bulgaria and Macedonia. It also brings Ireland and Northern Ireland together again. However, efforts at ethnic-national cohesion by Hungary have been met with anger from neighboring states, who feel that the effort undermines their own at state-national cohesion (that is, the attempt to supplant identification as ethnic Hungarians with identification as Românian, Slovák, Serb, or Austrian citizens, to identify with the state rather than the people).
The points for potential disintegration have mostly to do with nations and cultures: Basques in Spain and France, Catholics in Northern Ireland, and Corsicans in France (all of whom have spawned violent resistance movements); the Scots and the Welsh (particularly the former), the Flemish in Belgium and France, Catalans and Galicians in Spain, Swedes in Finland. But there are also economic motives for disintegration, often overlapping with cultural motives. Flanders is better developed than Wallonia, northern Italy than southern Italy. (Western Germany similarly outmatches eastern Germany, but the situation is likely to be equalized long before western Germans would conceivably start agitating for separation as the Flemish and northern Italians are.) Pressure for autonomy, independence, or a restructuring within the European Union is strong and likely to wax for some time. This pressure has led to some devolution of power in Spain, more in Britain, and substantial devolution in Belgium. Corsica is being offered a degree of autonomy rather contrary to the centralizing tendencies of the French Republic; though the first offer has been rejected by Corsican voters for complicated reasons, to the dismay of both the powers in Paris and those seeking eventual independence. Hopefully and quite possibly, when the European Union becomes a single state, it will rationalize its internal borders, as Belgium has done, to take into account cultural lines, and to better assign cultural tasks, such as education and communication policy, to the appropriate level. Education in the Basque Country, for instance, is clearly a matter better suited to Gasteiz than either Madrid or Paris.
The eventual inclusion of the excluded states ― Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein ― is almost certain. Trade with the EU largely requires adherence to EU laws and regulations. Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein have joined with the EU to form the European Economic Area, and have not only agreed to adopt much EU law, but also to contribute to the EU’s economic-development budget, as a price for the expanded market. Iceland and Norway are members of the “borderless” Schengen free-travel zone following their previous membership in the Nordic Passport Union with EU members Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Norway’s two dialects will integrate with those of Sweden and Denmark. Iceland and Norway are members of NATO. And élite sentiment in both Norway and Switzerland has been in favor of membership, evidenced by government policy, even if referenda have gone against. In time, the cultural and especially economic reasons for participating will outweigh sovereignty concerns, and the continent will unite.
Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia have been united politically for most the previous century. But any reintegration is likely to take place under the umbrella of the EU. For linguistic reasons, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina will experience further cultural integration, though the same religious differences that originally divided the Serbo-Croatian speakers into three groups, Orthodox Serbs, Roman Catholic Croatians, and Muslim Bosniacs, will persist. Likely not until they are able to think of themselves as Europeans first, who speak the same dialect but happen to practice different religions, will the divisions become unimportant. Presumably Montenegro and Serbia will split in three years’ time, and enter the EU separately; but the improvement in Serbia’s political climate may change that. The solution to the Kosova issue is likely to take place in the context of the EU as well. The simultaneous admission of Albania and Serbia to a more-fully-integrated EU, with Kosova nominally a part of Serbia but effectively autonomous under European law, will probably be employed not merely to satisfy the Serb claim but also to avoid opening the issue for Europe’s other minorities, while at the same time avoiding the untenable reality of turning Kosova, which will by that time have been an autonomous Western protectorate for perhaps a decade, over to Serbia against the express desire of its large Albanian majority.
Liechtenstein is largely a Swiss canton, comparable in size, speaking the predominant Swiss dialect, joined in customs and monetary union. Switzerland is a loose federation to begin with; its association with Liechtenstein is just somewhat looser. The only key difference is that Liechtenstein, being legally distinct, has been free to further integrate with Europe, as some of the Swiss cantons would also do if given the option. It has joined the EEA and subjected itself to EU law. The two states will probably join the EU together as soon as a majority of Swiss voters are in favor. [Switzerland has since applied for membership in the Schengen area.]
The European Commission envisions a common market extending as far as Israel, incorporating the Mediterranean, and possibly parts of the current Commonwealth of Independent States. Whether this will also include Turkey ― which is to say, whether Turkey is seen as permanently excluded from the EU ― rather varies from one member-state to another, from one leader to another. Turkey, like Cyprus, Malta, Andorrà, and the EEA states, has a customs union with the EU, but it alone of those states seems blocked from joining.
In addition to common environmental laws and the common agricultural and fisheries policies, Europe has a growing unity of the environmental movement, and the growing success of the Green political movement, which is now a government party in many states, as well as a large bloc in the European Parliament. And there is a plan to turn the remaining uninhabited east-west border land ― the Iron Curtain ― into a greenway through Europe. This land remained undeveloped as a security buffer, and is therefore suited to wilderness park land, though under both public and private control.
NATO itself includes all the EU states except the neutrals ― Ireland, Sweden, Finland, and Austria. It also includes Norway, Iceland, and Turkey, along with Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (soon to be members of the EU), and the United States and Canada; and the microstates of Monaco, Andorrà, and San Marino are effectively protected by NATO. It plans to admit the Baltic states, Slovakia, and Slovenia next year as those five also join the EU, as well as România and Bulgaria, which are not expected to enter the EU until 2007. Further expansion into the Balkans will probably happen on a similar schedule as EU expansion, to incorporate Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosova, Albania, and Macedonia. The trend in Austria is towards membership, with both current governing parties in favor; the issue is still open in Finland. The remaining neutrals will probably abandon their neutrality first through membership in a strictly-European defense union.
The EU, on an opt-in basis, has planned a defense agency for 2004, to work on “defense capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments”. France and Germany have set up a joint training school for helicopter pilots, and will field a joint helicopter attack force for an EU rapid reaction force. And though it is as much an economic as a military matter, the defense and in particular aerospace industries across Europe are consolidating, and consortia like Airbus and the European Space Agency have been established to replace member state efforts. The current system of multinational brigades, such as Eurocorps but also including the Multi-National Corps Northeast (Poland, Germany, Denmark, and potentially Norway), and two other Polish collaborations, with Lithuania and Ukraine, will promote the idea of integration and assist in the development of working systems, but will eventually give way to a standing European military.
The US is naturally the key player in NATO, and has since World War II been the guarantor of Western Europe’s defense. That will probably not continue much longer, as Europe is pressed to do more, especially to spend more, on its own defense. But in turn, the US will be forced to give up some control over NATO, by sharing commands, and by treating Europe as a full partner. The obvious mechanism for this is for the European Union, either before or after it develops a single defense of its own, to join NATO as a whole. The EU would maintain the European Command, the US the Atlantic Command. Europe would provide the land forces to defend itself; the US would provide the naval forces to defend Europe and North America, and carry out NATO missions abroad. The expansion of NATO into other spheres, such as Kosova and Afghanistan, strongly suggests that it is an alliance that will continue, as it has for more than a decade since the Cold War ended. In any case, Russia is still a threat, the most worrisome neighbor that Europe or North America has, unstable and chauvinistic (which is not to discount European and North American chauvinism).
Certainly defense is a feature of state responsibility even when no threat is apparent, and projection of power abroad is not something practiced only by the US. The US is noteworthy for this, though. It has a presence in more than a hundred states. It serves as the navy for the world’s shipping system, is the real force for defense in many of its allies, and is in the case of Iceland the only military. At present, the US prefers to operate in this capacity without either the assistance or the restraint of partners, but that will certainly change in time, and its most logical partners are to be found in NATO, with which it has an established working relationship. As the EU is now conducting foreign military operations as a unit, for instance in the Balkans (both on land and, through Italy, at sea) and the Congo, it will eventually be the second pillar of this global defense system ― though Canada and, for the near future at least, Turkey, will be junior partners, and at some point consideration should be made to include other compatible states, such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, all of which are technologically advanced and established defense partners of the US.
On the surface, Arabia would seem to be the best candidate for further integration. Already the peoples, countries, and states of the Arab world have much in common, so much so that they generally identify themselves as one nation. The majority populations throughout the Arabian peninsula and North Africa are Arab and Muslim, with strong group identification in both cases. There is a common formal dialect, Modern Standard Arabic, which exists alongside a number of related vernaculars. There is even, loosely speaking, a common topography ― virtually all of Arabia is desert of one sort or another. There are significant minority populations, but these are mostly also Arab, as in Lebanon, or also Muslim, as with the Berbers and the Kurds. There is, unfortunately, a common political reality, dictatorship. The most democratic Arab government is the least sovereign, Arab Palestine. And the question of Israel also serves as an unfortunate source of unity. Finally, the comprehensive organization of Arabia is the League of Arab States, or Arab League, which comprises every Arab state including Palestine, and also three Indian Ocean states with important historical ties to the Arabs, Djibouti, Soomaaliya, and Comoros, all three of which are majority Muslim and use Arabic as an official dialect.
The Maghreb (Arabic for “west”) refers to everything west of Egypt, and therefore includes Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania. These states have formed a grouping, the Arab Maghreb Union; but this is so far merely a grouping. There have been political mergers of Arab states, such as that between Egypt and Syria, and proposed mergers, such as between Libya and the Sudan. The unification of North and South Yemen, viewed as a result of the end of the Cold War, has been troubled, coming apart at one point, but is holding for now. The union de facto of Syria and Lebanon can be expected to last at least until the advent of democracy in Syria. The Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara may not continue indefinitely, given armed resistance and international pressure, but is for now a fixed conjunction. Jordan’s population is majority Palestinian, it once occupied the West Bank, and its king is married to a Palestinian, so cultural and possibly political ties with the emerging Palestinian Arab state will be strong.
The primary religious divides within Arabia are both under artificial suppression. The Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq have not been tested in their ability to cooperate yet, and with Sunni Arab domination of the majority Shia and the ensuing resentment, rapid progress is not to be expected. Perhaps the only hastening factor to cooperation is that at least some semblance of cooperation will be required to end the current occupation of Iraq, and that means not only agreement on a democratic form of government with protection of minority rights, but also a demonstrated willingness to abide by it. Since Shiites are a majority even in Baghdad, there is no realistic way to provide for independence or even autonomy for the Sunni community, and in any case the international community would erect the usual roadblocks to partition. In Lebanon, a system of coexistence, not particularly democratic, has been established, sharing power among Shiite Muslims, Maronite Catholics, and Sunni Muslims (there are also numerous other large religious minorities). But Lebanon’s occupation by Syria in reality means that this coexistence is not yet a proven communal solution.
The Berbers in Algeria and to some extent in neighboring states, and the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, are the largest national minorities in the Arab states. The Arab rulers (never yet democratic majorities) have used different methods of maintaining dominance. Algeria has banned Berber political activity and even the Berber dialect, Tamazight. Iraq has colonized the most important parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, which is to say the oil-producing areas, with Arabs. In both cases, the situations are slowly being changed. Suppression of Berber culture is easing in Algeria. Iraqi Kurdistan will likely win significant autonomy in the forming Iraqi state, if only because it has been independent de facto for twelve years, and even democratic (though not united, with the two main factions each holding half of the territory). But the policy of colonization did mean that self-determination for important cities like Kirkuk is no longer a simple matter.
The biggest national issue in Arabia is, of course, the Arab-Israeli conflict. While Israel is a sovereign state, it is surrounded by, and to some extent dependent on, its Arab neighbors; historically it is, viewed rationally, a minority nation in Arabia. The common Semitic heritage has no appreciable value in settling this conflict. The common religious heritage is, in fact, a hindrance. Islam is a syncretistic religion, and has from the beginning employed the methods of syncretism in an effort to convert; in the case of the Jews, this meant honoring the Hebrew patriarchs, considering certain Jews to be early prophets, positing Gabriel as the mediant author of the Qur’an, and considering Jerusalem to be a holy city. Jerusalem was originally to be the central city of Islam, but when the expected conversion did not take place, Muslims reoriented (literally, as this is the origin of the word) towards Mecca. The sanctification by Islam of Jerusalem, and the subsequent claim of Arabs on the central historical location of Judaism, has been as great an obstacle to peace as the Zionist program of colonization of Arab lands (though it is worth noting, in the dispute, that Jews seem to be aboriginal to Palestine, while Arabs are not). The only certainty at present is that peace is predicated on mutual recognition of an Israeli and a Palestinian Arab state. This would be facilitated by reverting to the old proposal of internationalizing Jerusalem, which would not belong to or serve as the capital of either of the states. And a final agreement will probably involve greater concession of land to the Arabs in exchange for abandoning the right of return, the claim of Arabs on land that remains within the final Israeli state. But no predictions as to the details or schedule of a final agreement can be reliably made.
But the requirements of regional integration may contribute somewhat to a solution. This will include, as everywhere, the pressure to cooperate regionally on trade, since proximity and lack of available options will drive the Arab states to trade with each other, and Israel to trade with them. Israel, in its modern form, has as much connection to Europe as to the Middle East, and some in Europe view it, partially for cultural and partially for economic reasons, as a partner and possible member of the European Union; but that is a remote prospect. The larger impetus for regional integration in the Middle East, to include Israel and Turkey, is water. Unless and until desalination becomes an affordable technology, fresh water will be a source of conflict and a matter requiring cooperation. Put simply, the issue is explosive. Turkey, for example, is the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Those like Turkey with fortunate placement and natural control cannot afford to exert that control fully, as in doing so they would unite the region against them. If Turkey were to consume all of the water in the Tigris and Euphrates, Iraq, Syria, and Kuwait would surely threaten and eventually use military force. Region-wide management of fresh water resources, surface and ground, could bind the states closer together and even nurture the beginnings of understanding.
The UAE is itself a federation of six traditional monarchies, with Abu Dhabi taking precedence and Dubai the next most important. This could well serve as a model for a political federation of the Gulf states. Obviously Saudi Arabia would be the chief state in a federation, from the size of its population and economy, and from its status as guardian of most of the Arab homeland, including Mecca and Medina. But this sort of political integration is unlikely to happen at present, when the political systems of all the states are in flux. Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and to some extent Oman are democratizing, however slowly, and the effective ruler of Saudi Arabia, crown prince Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al-Saud, is thought to be a cautious reformer. Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifah, has announced his intention to create a constitutional monarchy. While it would be possible for the current rulers, all largely autocratic, to commit their states to a federation, it would be unstable, given the likelihood of future changes. There are also internal pulls towards even-deeper religious conservatism, which have led to charges against the Saudis in particular, of tolerating fundamentalist terrorism, though this strategy has not kept the Saudi government from being a target itself.
A deeper economic merger, on the other hand, is probable and sensible. A common currency tied to the US dollar would be a relatively-small step, unnoticeable in effect in the short term, while representing the usual surrender of state control. A common market is already under construction, and here the autocracy of the region is a facilitation, in that the political will is easier to generate and implement, and yet even the rulers stand mostly to benefit. And it would be an integration which any emergent democracies would have little reason to undo, unlike political integration.
Cultural integration will happen in the Gulf region sooner than many other places. The pan-Arab commonalities of religion and language are even stronger here. But, again, there are sectarian differences, and even under the most liberal interpretation, there are significant differences in the vernacular from one side of the peninsula to the other.
Africa is more diverse even than Europe, and without some of the strong cultural bonds and economic similarities that originally allowed the European project to succeed. Indeed, many of the cultural bonds were imported from Europe and imposed upon Africa ― European dialects, legal systems, political ideologies, and religion, so that Christianity competes with animism and other traditional beliefs, and is often wrongly presumed to be the only religion in most of sub-Saharan Africa. French, English, and Portuguese are the official dialects in most of Africa, only rarely sharing the status with an African dialect, and in one of those rare cases, Afrikaans, the dialect is not aboriginal but European. Otherwise, the strongest commonality in Africa is the history of slavery, colonization, and deliberate underdevelopment.
The Arab-black African divide lies clearly at the Sahara, and it is this, more than religion specifically, that divides Sudan; though the implementation of religious law by the Khartoum government certainly aggravates the distinction. But Islam has also penetrated into black Africa, and serves as a major point of division, north from south, in Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire is now physically divided, with northern resentment of long southern rule finally shaking the state’s reputed stability. In Nigeria, the domination has tended to be of the north, though under democracy southerners have won the presidency (Olusegun Obasanjo is a southern Yorùbá Christian; Moshood Abiola, elected but never installed, was a southern Yorùbá Muslim). All the provinces (‘states’) of Nigeria’s north have adopted shari‘ah law, noted for punishments that seem draconian to non-Muslims; and this has further heightened the divide.
In terms of aboriginal dialects, sub-Saharan Africa is largely the domain of Niger-Kordofanian dialects, especially Bantu. Topographically, Africa is mostly savannahs and rain forests. The major exception is the Namib desert, which has a strong, but hardly complete, overlap with the range of the Khoi-San dialects. The other linguistic exceptions are Nilo-Saharan and Austronesian, concentrated in the northeast and Madagascar. One certainty throughout the continent, though, is that ethnolinguistic lines do not follow political borders. Groups are divided and bundled with no thought for nationality or dialect. This has given rise to the subsidiary, artificial nationality and nationalism mentioned earlier. Those who dominate the state, whether military or other dictatorships, or democratic majority, have an interest in the new nationalism, as a justification for the perpetuation of colonial borders. Those who adhere to the original nations have an interest in rationalization; but here they are against not merely the dominant force within their own states, but the community of states as a whole, the dominant forces of all of which are opposed to rationalization of borders, and the loss of legitimacy and even power that would accompany that.
As far as continent-wide integration, an institution does exist, including North Africa as well. The African Union, deliberately modeled after the European Union, is a transformation (in theory) of the old Organization of African Unity, spearheaded by Mu‘ammar Qaddhafi. The organization has fifty-three members, including the island states to the west, Cape Verde and São Tomé e Príncipe, and to the east, Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, and the Seychelles. It includes the Western Sahara and for that reason does not include Morocco, but every other recognized state on the mainland is a member. While it no longer seems to be driven by a single personality, its goals of economic and political union are far too ambitious at this point, with Africa possessing neither the political will nor the stability for such a project. The likelihood of any sort of integration on this scale is quite small. There are, however, realistic plans for a common force, comprising stand-by components of member armies, to intervene in conflicts and humanitarian situations by 2010. Importantly, the AU has accepted the principle that a security council of the Union could intervene without the permission of the involved state.
The francophone areas of Africa are largely contiguous, including the former French colonies of West Africa and Equatorial Africa, and the former Belgian colonies of Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, extending into North Africa to incorporate Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Unconnected to this mass are the Indian Ocean territories, Madagascar and the Comoros. The islands east of Madagascar, the Seychelles and the Mauritius group, speak a single French-based creole, though Britain was the colonial power for most of the area. In all of these areas, French remains an official dialect. It has also been adopted as a co-official dialect by Equatorial Guinea, surrounded as it is by the Francophonie.
Anglophone Africa includes the British colonies of Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and Nigeria, and the independent colony of Liberia, in West Africa, and British Somaliland; and it includes a long swath of territories in southern and eastern Africa. The geographical possibilities for integration obviously lie in the south and east. The British legacy has also established civil and legal similarities, though South Africa, with its mixed colonial heritage, does not share in that to the same extent.
Islam, as implied, both unites and divides. It can unite cultural groups within states, and divide those groups from other groups who are not Muslim. Beyond that, the value of Islam in integration is limited within Africa, though it does provide a point of unity with Arabia. Christianity exists in Africa in two major sects, Catholic and Anglican, as well as minor sects and the unique Ethiopian church. Social issues such as HIV-AIDS and homosexuality divide African Christians from each other and from others in their global communions.
West and Central Africa
The Zone Franc, a monetary union of France and many of its former and current colonies, has a subsidiary unit in Africa, the Zone Franc CFA, which itself has two units: the Union Économique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine, or UÉMOA, comprising Niger, Mali, Burkina, Bénin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, and Sénégal; and the Communauté Économique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale, or CÉMAC, comprising Chad, the Central African Republic, Cameroun, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea. (Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea are former colonies of Portugal and Spain, respectively, however.) The two zones have separate central banks and currencies (CFA stands for ‘Communauté Financière Africaine’ in the west and ‘Coopération Financière en Afrique Centrale’ in the east), but these are maintained at par with each other, and maintained at a fixed rate to the French currency, formerly the franc and now the euro, in which the central banks keep their foreign reserves. In addition, each of the groupings is a customs union.
There exists a plan for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the Gambia to form a second unified monetary zone, whose currency will be the eco, which will then merge with UÉMOA to form a single West African Monetary Zone. A more reasonable plan would see each of these states admitted, individually and as appropriate, to UÉMOA, adopting the franc CFA. The schedule calls for the eco zone by 2003, and merger with UÉMOA by 2004. Since the more problematic and difficult plan is favored, the project itself is unlikely.
Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have formed the Mano River Union to promote economic integration (Guinea, though Francophone, does not belong to UÉMOA). But for some time they have been united primarily in war, as insurrections have dominated all three states, the insurrections feeding each other, and insurrection in one state being fed by the recognized government of another. Sierra Leone is primarily at peace, with a democratic government restored; but Côte d’Ivoire has now been riven by insurrection, again being fed by cross-border destabilization. The big factor, other than ego, driving these wars has been diamond mining.
English in West Africa can have very little unifying effect beyond state borders, though it can do so for Liberia and Sierra Leone, and its function within states is not to be neglected, since the states are themselves integration projects. French can do more, given that the Francophone states are all contiguous, and most (excluding Guinea) are a part of UÉMOA. But it is very important not to overlook African dialects in consideration of this process. Two dialects in particular are spoken over sizable portions of West Africa. Fulani is spoken from Sénégal to Cameroun, generally coexisting with other native dialects. A set of mutually-intelligible Mande dialects dominates the inland territories of western West Africa, including Mali, Sénégambia, Guinea, and Côte d’Ivoire. As with all of Africa, most borders cut across ethnolinguistic lines, so it is perhaps sufficient to remark on the most significant divided groups, Yorùbá, Hausa, and the Gbe dialects, all spoken in the east of West Africa.
Another Qaddhafi project, the Communauté des États du Sahel et du Sahara, or COMÉSSA (not to be confused with COMESA) aims to form a free-trade zone and common agricultural market for northern African states; it includes Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Chad, the Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Sénégal, the Gambia, Burkina, Togo, Bénin, and Nigeria.
Two broader regional efforts have been made for economic integration, and the overlap, and the unwillingness of the two groupings to merge, strongly suggests that neither is particularly serious. The Southern African Development Community groups all those states including and south of Congo-Kinshasa and Tanzania, along with Mauritius and Seychelles. (Seychelles has indicated that it plans to withdraw.) The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, COMESA, excludes South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, and Tanzania, but includes Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, and Egypt, along with Madagascar and the Comoros. While the SADC has historically followed a path of non-confrontation and non-interference, it has recently agreed to a plan calling for involuntary intervention in states where there is war, atrocity, or failure of democracy.
An area where southern Africa has provided both a lead and a test case has been the integration of wilderness protection. A large number of cross-border refuges (‘game parks’) have been established, including a large and expanding refuge in South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Separately, there is an effort by an entrepreneur to privatize game parks throughout southern Africa, which would bring them under unified management, and theoretically afford a high level of wilderness protection, though that is unproven.
In addition to the five states mentioned, Swahili is spoken in adjacent areas of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, and Somalia, and in the Comoros. Despite the unsustainability of its romanticized position in Western imaginations, Swahili does have the genuine potential to unite East Africa, and this is an opportunity that should be exploited. The biggest issues in the area that may detract from this are political instability and the complications of economic development. Only Kenya is truly democratic, and that only recently. Uganda is legally a one-party state, Tanzania effectively one. Uganda is experiencing an insurrection. The federation of Tanganyika and Zanzibar is politically troubled, particularly because the only effective political opposition is in Zanzibar. And certainly Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania are multiethnic states, and ethnic identities remain strong.
The adjacent states of Rwanda and Burundi are historically-identical societies, with the same dialects (Kinyarwanda-Kirundi primarily, with Swahili and French each having a realm of operation), the same racial composition and social stratification, the same colonial history. They would be among the world’s best candidates for complete political and cultural integration if each weren’t experiencing exactly the same disintegrative force. The mix in Rwanda-Burundi society between Hutu and Tutsi, properly viewed as an intranational caste distinction, has led to well-known bloodshed in the last decade but has been an issue for much longer. The mutual distrust and the dramatic reversals of fortune for each group in the colonial and post-colonial periods have led to societies at war with themselves.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have been politically united before. Eritrea is culturally a continuation of the same mix of ethnolinguistic groups of northern Ethiopia, and dominated, since the overthrow of Mengistu, by the same group, the Tigrinya (from an area, Tigre, that straddles the border). It uses the same Amharic script. The two states (or more to the point, their current dominant parties) were allies, initially, having cooperated in the overthrow of Mengistu. They have since fought an utterly senseless territorial war that could fairly be blamed on both sides. Taken together, the area is home to numerous nationalities, and it remains to be seen if the reorganization of Ethiopia as a federation of nationalities can stem the separatist impulse. In particular, the Oromo are the largest group in Ethiopia, the native people of the capital region, but have been subject first to the Amharic and now to the Tigrinya. Their homeland is in the center, and independence for Oromia would mean the division of Ethiopia into at least three parts. Reasonably, there would be an even-looser federation of nationalities, including Eritrea and adjacent parts of Sudan and Djibouti, while the Somali portions of Djibouti and Ethiopia (as well as Kenya) would be joined with a reintegrated Somali state.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, of Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Uganda, and Kenya, was begun to deal regionally with the issues of drought and famine, and has since expanded its mandate to economic cooperation. But only one of its member governments, Kenya, has an actual popular mandate, and it is also the only state without internal or external conflict. Certainly development, and combatting drought and famine, are worthy and necessary goals; but all, in particular ending famine in this region, could best be addressed first with an end to conflict, dictatorship, and corruption, which is why the Authority has little chance of accomplishment. Less ambitiously, the IGAD is promoting law-enforcement and border-control cooperation, and considering greater information sharing, including a common database.
At its greatest extent, circa 1980, the Russian empire, properly understood, included the full membership of the Warsaw Pact and Afghanistan. Russia has also, at other times, controlled Finland and wielded influence over China and parts of the world more distant, as a part of the Cold War contest with the West. While some legacies of that control remain, the potential for reintegration is largely limited to the current territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States ― the Russian Federation, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Türkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Everything to the west of that border is oriented towards Western Europe, probably irrevocably. The remaining area of the former empire has, for various reasons, been excluded from the project of European integration, though much of the culture, including Russia itself, is European. The dominant integrating criterion of this region, aside from its exclusion from the West, is, of course, Russian influence. To begin with, Russians have colonized much of the area, with no intention of assimilating themselves, and certainly with the original intention of Russifying the empire. The Russian dialect remains, as it is often termed, a “language of interethnic communication”, a lingua franca. As the working dialect of the Russian empire, it is still widely spoken throughout the CIS, used in business, education, and the media. The Russian state’s economy is by far the largest, its military by far the strongest, its influence in the rest of the world much more extensive. While the Russian sphere is no longer a single political empire, it is clearly oriented towards one culture and one dominant nation, with a powerful state at its heart.
Further, most Russians share a religion with many Ukrainians, Belarusians, Georgians, and Moldovans. Those citizens of the Russian state who are not Orthodox mostly share a religion with the Azeris, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Türkmen, Kyrgyz, and Tajiks. The Ukrainian, Belarusian, Kazak, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, and Tajiki dialects are still written exclusively or primarily in the Cyrillic alphabet, as are the dialects of Siberia that are neither Slavic nor Türkic. And the Ukrainian and Belarusian dialects are closely related to Russian, possessing a high degree of mutual intelligibility, and likely to coalesce with it over time.
Economics has much to do with the integration of the Russian sphere; regional economic cooperation is increasingly attractive, and for many of these states, with no chance of participation in the West, turning to Russia was the only option. Central Asia generally has a broader range of options, based on Islam, or Türkic culture, or in the case of Tajikistan, Persian culture. In that case, a history of integration and the presence of Russians throughout Central Asia is likely to tip the balance.
It is important to note, when speaking of states, that few of the CIS members are democratic. The democratic forces of the Gorbachev era tended to be national-revivalists. They adopted old national symbols, aligned themselves with traditional religions, pushed official status for the local dialect, and in all other ways tried to de-Russify their cultures. The Baltics, with the most recent history of independence, were the most forward with this process, and will have, by 2004, largely sundered themselves from the Russian sphere, though Russian minorities remain behind from the policy of colonization. After the Baltics, Armenia, Georgia, and Ukraine showed the strongest decentralizing tendencies; they, along with Kyrgyzstan, have been the most democratic since 1991, but none is fully democratic today. Armenia, which is the most democratic, is still very nationalist, but has recently seen the abuse of the electoral process by the incumbent president, Robert Kocharyan, a native of Nagorno-Karabakh. In most of the remaining states, the current rulers are simply autocratic holdovers from the Bolshevik period, who have recast themselves as nationalists but have no democratic practices whatsoever. Belarus is ruled by a new figure, Alyaksandar Lukashenka, who tellingly has begun re-Russifying, even re-Bolshevizing, the state.
The Community of Sovereign Republics is the framework for full political integration of Belarus and Russia, being driven by the personality of Alyaksandar Lukashenka. Vladimir Putin seems more willing than enthusiastic about this, particularly since Lukashenka’s vision is of a new superstate in which Belarus and Russia are equal partners, Russia is therefore subordinate, and Lukashenka is the leader. This, needless to say, is political fantasy. It is the closest any state has come to reintegration with Russia, but even were it the will of the two peoples, it would still be an unnecessary duplication. A union state already exists: the Russian Federation. Logically Belarus would be a member of this, and the Russian federal government would remain the highest authority. But while there is undoubtedly sentiment within Belarus for unification, there is also strong nationalist sentiment against. Should Lukashenka succeed, it will only create one more ethnic problem for a future Russia to solve.
The war in Chechnya, and its scorched-earth tactics, are clearly designed by Vladimir Putin, a neo-imperialist, to dampen any further aspirations for independence from Russia, by Tatarstan or Dagestan or any other minority area (Dagestan itself is not a nation but a collection of minority nations). It is unlikely that a subdued Chechnya will remain so; the issue of independence will be reopened, when democracy is restored to Chechnya. The recent referendum, in which Chechens supposedly endorsed perpetual union with Russia, was rigged. Suspicions are also warranted that the blaming of Chechens for the series of apartment bombings in Russia that justified Putin’s reinvasion after years of effective Chechen sovereignty was, in fact, a framing. In short, Chechnya is being cemented to Russia through force and deceit. But this did not end Chechen aspirations during the Bolshevik period, and will not end them now.
Efforts were made immediately after the establishment of the CIS to maintain collective security and a common armed forces; but these were hindered by cost-sharing and sovereignty issues, and in the end, with some acrimony, the security assets of the former union were divided up, with Russia remaining the only nuclear power. A Collective Security System has been established among Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Armenia; a Central Asian Cooperation Pact among Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan; and a Council of Border Troop Commanders, excluding Moldova, Georgia, and Tajikistan. As a rule, security cooperation has proceeded on an à la carte basis, and with little concrete effect except the intervention of the Russian military in various areas and conflicts.
As an effort towards economic reintegration, the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC), comprising Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, has been established; it is a customs union, with visa-free travel, and aspires to be a common market. To counter Russian influence, Ukraine originally set up a counter-bloc within the CIS, known as GUAM, consisting of Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, now GUUAM with the admission of Uzbekistan. But Ukraine initiated the discussion with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakstan which led to the recent agreement on a new economic union, to become reality within five to seven years. This highlights two facts: Ukraine itself is divided between nationalists and integrationists; the CIS states are rather profligate with their establishment of institutions.
The Ukrainian division is largely east to west. In the east, the population is more conservative, pro-Russian, and Orthodox. In the west, the population is more nationalist, pro-West, and Catholic. Without the ability to form a strong and lasting pro-Western consensus in Ukraine, the nationalists are likely to fail to move towards the West, and the east will remain the sole option.
The numerous overlapping institutions in the CIS will have to be brought to some degree of order before they are to become meaningful. Concentric circles are possible, with the CSR having the tightest bond, where a common currency is already planned (under a timetable that Lukashenka has recently rejected) and a joint parliament under discussion. Outside of that would be the EAEC, with a common market, and beyond that, the CIS, with a loose form of political and economic cooperation. But even this is rather redundant, since a true common market really does require a single currency, and as mentioned the tighter political integration of the CSR will either never happen or will lead to full incorporation of Belarus into Russia. But it certainly would not make sense for the EAEC to establish a full economic union, and then for some of the members of that union (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) to be excluded from deeper economic cooperation with other members (Ukraine).
The state of Moldova lies between Europe and Russia, culturally as well as geographically. Historically, Moldova was a principality lying on both sides of the present România-Moldova border. The majority cultures on both sides speak the same subdialect of Românian, now written on both sides with the Latin alphabet as used in România, and both sides are Orthodox. Independent Moldova even uses a variant of the Românian flag. Only political control originally divided the two halves of Moldova. And when the Russian empire was breaking up, the nationalists of Moldova were pushing for a realignment with the West, even reunification with România.
The two significant minorities in independent Moldova are the Gagauz, an Orthodox Türkic people, and the Transdniestrians, mostly Russian, some Ukrainian, but in any case Slavs with a strong eastern orientation. These two groups have no interest in unification with România; and Transdniestria has been effectively independent from Moldova for as long as Moldova has been independent from Russia. These minorities are a strong force drawing Moldova to the east; any move to reunite with România would probably mean the loss of Transdniestria for good, which would be problematic, considering the location of the industrial base in Transdniestria (as well, of course, as the usual governmental concerns about surrendering territory for any reason). In addition, some nationalists have shown a reluctance to give up their newfound independence. Some Moldovans have ideological and historical attachments to Russia. And for the near term, integration with România would probably be full political integration, whereas integration with Russia would allow more local control, hence more power for the powerful interests within the state, who would ultimately drive the decision. It should be noted, though, that the authorities in Moldova have considered an application to the CSR, as inflammatory as that would be.
Georgia has numerous disintegration issues. Two of its regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, have successfully broken away from Tbilisi’s control, though without international recognition. In both of these, the inhabitants do not identify as Georgian nationally, and speak a distinct dialect; in South Ossetia’s case, there is (of course) a northern element of the same people, separated from South Ossetia by the Georgia-Russia border. A third region of Georgia, Ajaria, consists of a people that speaks the Georgian dialect but practices a different religion: while most Georgians are Orthodox, the Ajars are Muslim. Georgia has been one of the most reluctant to participate in reintegration with Russia. With the Baltics, it refused at first to join the CIS. But without allies or partners elsewhere, it soon realized that Russia was to make partners of its rivals, and became a reluctant participant in the CIS. Relations with Russia are by no means cordial, though, as each accuses the other of support for separatist causes, Georgia being accused of supporting Chechen separatists, Russia being accused of supporting Abkhaz separatists (and indeed, Russia has been militarily involved in Abkhazia).
At its broadest, Türkestan includes all members of the Türkic ethnolinguistic groups ― the Türks, Gagauz, Azeris, Türkmen, Uzbeks, Kazaks, Karakalpaks, Kyrgyz, and Uygurs. The last six live in a contiguous area in Central Asia, and are the dominant group in four states as well as provinces in China and Afghanistan. The Azeris are a major group in Iran, living in an area adjoining independent Azerbaijan (which is sundered from the rest of Türkestan not by another people but by the Caspian Sea). Like their neighbors to the south, the Türkic peoples are virtually all Muslim (the Orthodox Christian Gagauz would be the main exception). They have a common nomadic heritage, though certainly a diversified economy now. And some of their dialects are clearly mutually intelligible; in the opinions of some Türkic speakers, virtually all of them are. Others would note that at the very least, a continuum exists, with neighboring dialects being mutually intelligible.
Recent history has created three distinct political histories. The Türks of Turkey were masters of the Middle East through the Ottoman Empire, defeating the Byzantines and conquering the Arabs. When that ended, they adopted a republican, strictly-secular form of government. Turkey is basically democratic now, though the military co-governs, intervening whenever secular or national supremacy is threatened. Turkey is oriented towards Europe, and culturally has much in common with European culture, though it has also contributed a central component of common Islamic culture (along with Arabic and Persian). The tenuous nature of its democracy and significant restrictions on human rights, particularly vis-à-vis the Kurds, have been the ostensible obstacles to European integration for the Türks. Anti-Islamic prejudice is clearly another. But the forced secularism has, if anything, a negative impact. In fact, the military’s policies of intervention (against democracy), nationalism (against Kurdish identity), and secularism (against religious rights) are all hurting Turkey’s standing with Europe. The new government of Tayyip Erdogan, with roots in an Islamist party, seems to be taking the state in the right direction on all counts, if Turkey belongs with Europe as the military seems to think; and yet all assertions contrary to nationalism, secularism, and military privilege are inviting another military intervention.
The Gagauz, Azeris, Türkmen, Uzbeks, Kazaks, Karakalpaks, and Kyrgyz have in recent history been under Russian domination. For the most part they are all living in Türkic-dominated states, the Gagauz again being an exception. The Karakalpaks have an autonomous region in Uzbekistan; the other five have their own nation-states. But the Russian national presence remains strong, particularly in Kazakstan, where Kazaks are not a majority. The Türkic cultures have been advanced since independence, though certain Russian privileges have been maintained, and the Russian dialect remains in use for communication throughout the Russian sphere. The main limitation to that has come in Türkmenistan, where the dictator Saparmyrad Niÿazov has created a personality cult that in part depends so much on national identity (he has named himself ‘Türkmenbaşi’, head of the Türkmen) that he has begun a serious program of de-Russification, including the informal forbiddance of the Russian dialect, and most recently has forced any Russians who choose to remain to give up their dual citizenship, which would mean that they, like the Türkmen, are no longer free to leave. This is an extreme; but the other four Türkic states in the CIS are autocratic as well (Kyrgyzstan was, for a time, democratic, but that time has passed), and their leaders also make use of national identity and myth.
The remaining Türkic people live under other states along the borders of this core group of Türkic states. There are Azeris and Türkmen in Iran, Uzbeks in Afghanistan, and Kazaks, Kyrgyz, and especially Uygurs in Xin Jiang in China. In Afghanistan the Uzbeks are significant, at present at least, because of their military force, led by deputy minister of defense Abdel Rashid Dostum, a warlord from the north and participant in the Northern Alliance that fought and overthrew the Taliban. But even there, the prospects of successful separatism are low, in the face of the international nation-state system and the non-Türkic majority in Afghanistan. In Iran and China, prospects of separatism, where sentiment is stronger, are far weaker. Indeed, in China the Türkic lands have been subject to Hàn (majority Chinese) colonization, and the Uygur separatists have been recently classed by the government with international Islamist terrorists like al-Qa‘idah, with the implication clearly being that their cause is not recognized, though it never was, and their actions will be dealt with harshly, which is also not a change. The change in situation is primarily that China now expects (and receives) more international sympathy for its repression of the separatist movement.
The Türks of Turkey have sought to reestablish cultural ties with the Central Asians, reinforcing their position as a border culture drawn in multiple directions. But the European aspiration makes this, at most, the creation of a sphere of influence. Türkic integration as it is likely to happen will be entirely within the Russian sphere. Political integration is unlikely given the very personal forms of rule that exist. Cultural integration is a certainty, since the main distinction among the Türks at present is one of psychological identity alone, and this could easily be what in other contexts would be called a tribal identity. Competing with that is a state identity that, as in all cases, is used by rulers to augment their own power. Nonetheless, it cannot be discounted, and it means that Kazaks and Kyrgyz will have governments and government education and propaganda efforts reinforcing their separate identities, even as their dialects converge (and they are already quite close) and modernization makes their former national distinctions irrelevant. What can be expected, then, is a two-tiered identity, with the smaller group and with the larger; and culturally the functional group will be the larger, especially as Central Asia becomes more technologically developed, and as the current authoritarian restrictions on expression are lifted, whether that takes years or decades.
Economically, all integration will take place with Russia, for historical reasons and also because in the global drive for economic integration the CIS states have few options. Türkmenistan for the moment seems likely to be excluded from that under any scenario. For the rest, a common market and a currency union are real prospects for the coming decades. Political integration both is unlikely and would be ill advised, and for the same reason: the poor history of democracy and liberalism in every one of the states of the CIS.
The mountain and plateau region north of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman is the domain of the Iranian dialects, predominantly Kurdish, Persian, Pashto, and Baluchi. Like their neighbors on all sides, these peoples are mostly Muslim. They dominate three states ― Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan ― though only in the last case as a single nationality. Iran is led by Persians, with Baluchis forming a minority in the southeast, Kurds in the northwest, and a number of non-Iranian minority groups, particularly the Azeris in the northwest. Afghanistan has two primary linguistic groups, speaking Pashto and Persian (the Dari subdialect), but Persian is the dialect of the Tajiks, Hazaras, and Aymaqs, and an auxiliary dialect as well. Independent Tajikistan has a dominant Persian (Tajiki subdialect) majority, but also Kyrgyz and Russian speakers. On the western end of this region, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria control the remainder of Kurdistan; on the eastern end, Pakistan controls the remainder of Baluchistan and Pashtunistan (though it should be noted that the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan are generally not controlled by the central governments of either state).
Afghanistan is a multinational state by design, and while it has little rational basis, there is no reason to expect rationalization. Furthermore, the state has been divided politically, with Islamist opposition to the Russian occupation, non-Islamist opposition to Taliban rule, and now warlord control of the provinces with a central government that is itself only a loose federation. The two dominant groups, the Pashtun and the Tajiks, cohabit tenuously. Much of the central government’s coherence is personality-based, and the death or defeat of Hamid Karzai or the ego of Abdel Rashid Dostum could at any moment end the cooperation. Afghanistan is also, even literally, a crossroads, a place where numerous cultures meet, bordering on many powerful cultures, and to the extent that its sundry provinces are at some point reunited politically and economically, they are unlikely to unite culturally and the resulting conglomerate is unlikely to unite with any of its neighbors in any significant way.
Religiously there is some, but only some, potential for integration. Iran is Shiite, which few Islamic cultures (and none of its neighbors) are. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, even the two Islamic theocracies were unfriendly. Iran will presumably not remain a theocracy for much longer, and the relatively-educated and cosmopolitan Persians might upon democracy set an example and provide a focus for some form of regional cooperation and collective advancement. Linguistically the cross-border cultural integration of the Kurds, the Baluchis, the Pashtuns, and especially the large body of Persian speakers is something to be expected, and for the most part this will involve linguistic assimilation as well.
Historical India, or Hindustan, possessed a culture based on the Sanskrit dialect and the Hindu religion. Modern Hindustan can be identified with all those peoples, living in the Indian subcontinent and its neighboring islands, who are descendents of this culture, either linguistically or religiously. It therefore would include most of the British Raj (notably excluding Burma), virtually all of the successor states of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, much of Pakistan, and parts of Bhutan. These, as well, are the seven states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. In addition to a heritage in ancient India, they have a more recent heritage in British rule, establishing an English legal system, and establishing English as an administrative, commercial, and educational dialect. Many of the major dialects of the region, including Hindi-Urdu, Bengali, Sindhi, Punjabi, Nepali, and Tamil, are used across interstate lines.
It was religion, of course, that led to the partition of India in 1947, and religion remains the key obstacle to reintegration. But in fact, India has a substantial Muslim population ― nearly as large as Pakistan’s and larger than Bangladesh’s ― and so has the same problem internally. The current government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is variously described as Hindu fundamentalist, conservative, and nationalist, but in some ways these are all the same. Hinduism is closely tied to Indian identity. While Shinto is a kind of national default religion, in the sense that most Japanese believe in it by virtue of being Japanese, Hinduism is (or, historically, was) a national default religion in the sense that it could be defined by whatever it was that Indians believed. And Hinduism has historically been tolerant, as with the missionary work of Teresa of Calcutta. But the waxing strength of alternative religions has led in the last century to Hindu revivalism, which led to the BJP government and also aggravated the Hindu-Muslim divide. India itself is not likely to come apart because of religion, but neither is it likely to overcome the sectarian divide where Pakistan is concerned. And the creation of a Pakistani national identity separate from the original “Indian Muslim” identity, as well as the frequent warfare with India, certainly has not brought Pakistan closer to reconciliation.
Kashmir is divided, and will remain so. It is not, in any case, a single place by any cultural or political measurement. There are numerous ethnolinguistic groups in the Kashmir territory. The most common religion may be Islam, leading to the Pakistani claim, but a complete assignment to Pakistan strictly for majoritarian-religious reasons would not be self-determination either, given that smaller regions in Indian Kashmir are majority Hindu or Buddhist, and many Muslims on both sides of the line of control would prefer independence to Pakistani sovereignty. Practically, Pakistan cannot defeat India in a war (it has lost three times in the past), nor can armed insurrectionists in Indian Kashmir, with or without Pakistani support. India has not conquered Pakistani Kashmir, though it could do so at some cost. That cost seems now potentially to include nuclear retaliation by Pakistan, which makes the project even more unlikely. Though India has recently allowed genuinely-free elections in Kashmir, that is still some distance from a referendum on independence or affiliation with Pakistan, and there is no reason but Pakistani self-delusion to believe that Kashmir would freely choose to be part of Pakistan.
India is, by constitutional mandate, divided internally along linguistic lines, though the process is predictably politicized, and has led in recent years to revisions that have more to do with identity than intelligibility. Still, here as in few other places cultural coherence follows political lines (if only provincial lines), and provides a more rational framework for further cultural integration. India’s famed subdialects are often gathered in territories under an administration using a standard dialect with which the subdialects are mutually intelligible. This will lend force to the standardization that would have happened in any case, through the media of mass communication. There is, on a broader scale, a division between Sanskritic (Indic or Aryan) and Dravidian dialects, with the latter concentrated in the south and occupying, due to historical conquest by the Aryans, a lower stratum in Indian society. But the Dravidians are mostly Hindu, and this adheres them to India as a whole. Only progress on leveling will ensure that this ceases eventually to be a problem, but as India is a democracy, a central government must reckon with the electoral strength of the south, and indeed there has been participation, is participation now, by Dravidian nationalist parties in central coalitions.
On one matter India’s democracy has not reflected the power of the masses, which is caste discrimination. While some of this, specifically against the Untouchables, has long been outlawed, it persists nonetheless. And a long-standing program of quotas in all aspects of life, including political representation, has not erased the caste system. The central government has resisted any comparison of caste with race and therefore racism, but in the long term, under humanitarian pressure, it will be forced to concede this eventually. Even so, discrimination will not end, and the economic and social stratification of Indian society will persist significantly well into the present century.
India does have other religious minorities besides Muslims, but the only significant geographical impact is in Punjab, where Sikhs form a small majority. Some among them have advocated separatism for ‘Khalistan’; but with such a small majority, this proposal is both unrealistic and unreasonable.
‘Bangladesh’ is a name that refers to the territory of the Bengali dialect, and that strong linguistic identity suggests that the two halves of Bengal remain in spirit a single nation. The Indian state supported the secession of Bangladesh (East Pakistan) from Islamabad, and one of Bangladesh’s major parties is pro-India, neither harshly opposed. A more Muslim-friendly India would be an attractive partner economically and politically, while the ability to reunify Bengal would have appeal on both sides of the border, even if there is little momentum for this.
Sri Lanka is itself divided, nationally, linguistically, religiously, and politically. The north and east of the island are held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, with Tamil Eelam being the Tamil homeland on Sri Lanka. The Tamils, a Dravidian people, are Hindu, like those on the subcontinent; the majority Sinhala culture is Sanskritic but Buddhist. Within each part of society the question of the intercommunal relationship is the central political question, with Tamils divided between those who favor cultural autonomy and those who (like the LTTE) favor independence, and the Sinhala divided between those who favor granting autonomy (but not independence) and those who oppose any accommodation at all. Obviously the only potential intersection is for autonomy. And recent developments have supported that, with the LTTE dropping its demand for full independence, and the Sinhala electing a government willing to make peace and concessions. But the divided Sinhala government is hindering this effort, with the president, Chandrika Kumaratunga, maintaining a belligerent nationalist stance in favor of a unified, Sinhala-dominated state; and the Tamils have already made their only available concession, and have secured very little, as yet, in return.
SAARC is a comprehensive forum for regional cooperation, but even on economic matters its chances of succeeding are small. India has called for a new ‘South Asian Union’, but there is far too much distrust between India and Pakistan. However, there is much more potential for cooperation and even integration among the other members. This means, in practice, integration with India. While the other states and cultures of the subcontinent are open to the idea, and in some cases have embraced it, it would be facilitated by an Indian state that reemphasized its multinational, multicultural identity. It would require a return to secularism in India for the most part, since only Nepal is solidly Hindu. But such a position by India would in turn ease tensions with Pakistan and reopen the possibility of comprehensive integration. This would certainly make sense on numerous levels, especially economically, and though the dominance of India in that scenario is apparent, India is not and was never supposed to be a nation-state, and at some point political integration of all of SAARC, including Pakistan, can be expected under a framework that eliminates the religious or linguistic dominance of any one group.
The plateau of Tibet and the Himalayan fringes are dominated by closely-related Tibetan dialects, the Tibetan script, and lama Buddhism. The Tibet Autonomous Region has recently been recognized by India, host of Tibet’s government-in-exile, as a part of the Chinese state. The historical area of Tibet proper is three times larger than the current autonomous region, and nearly all of this lies within China. The smaller Tibetan peoples in the south, in Bhutan, Sikkim, and Ladakh for example, are either within India or in the Indian sphere of influence. Linguistically the Tibetan dialects are related to the Chinese dialects. In other cultural aspects Tibet is more connected to India. And politically it has been under Indian and British Indian influence in the past, but is now under Chinese political control. The Tibetan region is therefore another example of a border region between two poles, while retaining an identity of its own. Culturally the connection of the southern peoples to each other and to Tibet proper will likely increase in the future, especially as China democratizes. This will be even stronger should some part of Tibet proper, most likely the territory of the autonomous region, become independent at some point. The possibilities for this are greater than the current chauvinism of the Chinese state might suggest. Russia provides the best comparison, having devolved half its territory upon democratization, while not at any point becoming less nationalistic. And considering that model, the return of Tibetan territories reassigned by China to other Chinese provinces is unlikely. But the autonomous nature of Tibet, the relatively-low degree of colonization by Hàn, the cultural distinctiveness and ties to the Indian sphere, and at least some political aspiration for independence all point towards an independent Tibet after a democratic China. Economically, this area would likely be tied to both China and India, as it will be even before independence, if détente between China and India progresses.
The most important unifying factor in East Asia has certainly been China ― through direct rule, trade, and persistent cultural influence. The Chinese cultural sphere includes the territories of the Hàn peoples, the Sinitic dialects, the Chinese ideographs or hàn zì, and Confucianism. It would not include, then, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, or the Türkic areas to the northwest. It would though, broadly speaking, include Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Viêt Nam. As Chinese-controlled territory has shifted, the depth of cultural influence has changed as well. And Hàn colonization has affected the demographics of the region, so that, for instance, the Mongols and Türks no longer occupy as much territory within the Chinese state as they did a few decades ago. Political control is an important cultural determinant; the strength of Mandarin as an administrative dialect and lingua franca in the peripheral areas within the Chinese state can only increase, just as Chinese influence has ebbed in the former empire. Viêt Nam and Korea, for instance, no longer regularly use Chinese ideographs for writing, though ideographs remain in use among the educated for traditional purposes. Mandarin is losing its status in Taiwan with democratization, in favor of the local dialect, southern Min, which is also spoken on the mainland opposite Taiwan.
Upon democratization, as mentioned with Tibet, recent history argues for the secession of some of China’s territory. Tibet is the most likely, given its distinctive identity and its small Hàn population. Xin Jiang, or Eastern Türkestan, is also a possibility, though Hàn colonization has weakened the case for independence and Xin Jiang’s mineral resources would make it a difficult prize to surrender, the example of Russia notwithstanding. Inner Mongolia’s population would most logically secede and join Mongolia, but Hàn colonization has rendered this a virtual impossibility. It would be possible in all three cases to redraw administrative boundaries, to allow more of Tibet to secede, or less of Xin Jiang or Inner Mongolia, but this has not been the practice in recent post-democratization dissolutions.
Hong Kong belongs culturally to southern China, to the Yuè culture of the southern provinces, and will belong more and more to the economy of the southern provinces as well ― though this represents more of a convergence of the southern economy with Hong Kong’s than vice versa. There is no chance of independence for Hong Kong from China at this point. Its political future therefore lies with Guang Dong and Guang Xi, and since they are themselves unlikely to break away from China after democratization, Hong Kong is destined only for deeper political integration with China. Certainly in a democratic China, there would be no further need for Hong Kong autonomy, though it would probably remain politically distinct should China pursue a federal future as a democracy. There is no particularly-good reason to suppose that Hong Kong’s full political integration into the Chinese state will not happen before democratization. The Chinese state has centralizing tendencies and is completely untrustworthy on the subject of political rights, so that the handover agreement with Britain, providing for a fifty-year period of protected status, could be abrogated at any time, though not without consequences to the standing of China in the world, and to the economy of Hong Kong, the benefits to China of which are probably the best guarantee of Hong Kong’s future autonomy.
Taiwan is culturally Chinese, and by recognition de jure is politically so as well. Of course, it is a state by all other considerations, and its independence is blocked, again, by the chauvinism of the Chinese state. It has a strong (if young) democratic and liberal culture, and views this as part of its identity, so that reunification with a dictatorial China is considered unthinkable. A future democracy on the mainland is likely to maintain some nationalistic claim to Taiwan, but it will not be nearly so aggressive about it, and will conversely be much more likely to see success. Taiwan’s future is also with China. But as Taiwan belongs to a minority Sinitic culture, and is economically far advanced beyond the level obtaining throughout the mainland, even a democratic China will be less attractive to Taiwan than continued independence, possibly even with recognition. Arguing from the other side, Taiwan does have cultural ties and increasing economic ties (through trade and investment) with the mainland, particularly with the areas opposite the Taiwan straits. Complete dissociation is thus unlikely. Taiwan stands to benefit from further economic integration, and some degree of political cooperation would facilitate that.
Considering all of these factors, a concentric form of political federation or confederation is the probable outcome of the coming realignment of the Chinese sphere. The parts most adherent to the center will be those closest culturally and geographically to Bei Jing. Next out will be the large population centers with non-Mandarin Sinitic cultures and divergent economies, Shàng Hai, Guang Dong, and Sì Chuan. Further out will be the Sinitic areas with the most advanced economies, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Finally, in the loosest confederation, will be Tibet and Eastern Türkestan. If this arrangement proves successful, providing for an appropriate level of political and cultural autonomy but also the economic benefits of regional integration, it may not only still separatist sentiment on the periphery, but also attract the participation of Mongolia and perhaps parts of southeast Asia, possibly even central Asia. This, though, is dependent on a global change in thinking about interdependence and sovereignty, such as is taking place through WTO negotiations, and European integration.
Economic integration in East Asia is at present progressing less through institutions and more through informal investment, particularly on the part of entrepreneurs in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore. As mainland China develops, particularly on the southeastern coast, its entrepreneurs will participate more fully in the process. This process will contribute to interdependence, and increase the likelihood of East Asian integration in other ways, including cultural and economic. But Japan in particular is an estranged member of the East Asian community, and will face some difficulty in overcoming regional memories of World War II era aggression and atrocity. Japan also has economic, cultural, political, and security ties to the West, as increasingly do South Korea and Taiwan, and of course Hong Kong. Thus, even regional economic integration will be slower coming in East Asia than in other regions. In security matters, the orientation for most of these states is towards the United States, and in most cases against China. Having the US as chief defender of the region does not allow for as much independent cooperation within the region. But Japan and South Korea have engaged in security cooperation on the issue of North Korea (albeit with US participation), and have jointly hosted the World Cup. The two, perhaps along with the region’s other advanced economies and Western allies, might be natural candidates for greater engagement and perhaps some sort of integration, but only if the example of France and Germany is not unique. At the least, European integration is decades ahead.
At some point Korea will reunify; this is a commonly- and justifiably-forgone conclusion. There is strong popular sentiment for this on both sides of the border. Each side recognizes the fundamental unity of the nation of Korea, with a common history, dialect, and ethnicity. The obstacles, of course, are politics and economics. The north is totalitarian, a good deal more closed than East Germany was, and a great deal more destitute. Even if the Kim régime were to fall bloodlessly and the inheritors to capitulate to the south, the state of the north would not permit reunification in the near future, as there is virtually no independent economy in the north, and certainly no democratic culture. Relatively speaking, West Germany was in a much better position to absorb and pay for East Germany, and even it has struggled, with high unemployment and renewed racial intolerance being among the consequences. The tentative steps towards Korean reunification have been steady intergovernmental talks, limited family reunions, and some southern investment in the north, not only in the international power project (meant originally to head off a North Korean nuclear program), but also in a joint industrial park in the north; there is also a plan for rail links. Such ventures do have the ability to very slowly raise the northern standard of living, but North Korea’s erratic policies, as with its nuclear program, serve to retard any such efforts.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, is strictly a geographical convenience. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei have Malay as a common dialect, and Thailand and Laos have related and mutually-intelligible dialects, but there are no other cultural commonalities. Viêt Nam, Cambodia, Burma, and the Philippines are the other members. Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity all have strong presences in the region. The Philippines and Thailand are developing stable democracies, and Indonesia is democratic now as well, so even the myth of ‘Asian values’ is no longer region-wide. And, considering the economic focus of the association, there are considerable economic differences, ranging from Singapore to West Papua (Irian Jaya).
Mongolia as a culture and a state is tied to several regions. Religiously, it shares the lamaist Buddhism of Tibet, from which it is geographically isolated. There are Mongols living in Inner Mongolia in China. Beyond that, though, Mongolia is connected more to the peoples of Siberia and Türkestan, including close linguistic relatives in neighboring parts of the Russian Federation. Its traditional pastoral and nomadic way of life, like that in Siberia and Türkestan, is rapidly being replaced by modern urban industrial life.
The easternmost region of the world includes the islands of the South Pacific (roughly south of the Tropic of Cancer), Australia, the Malay archipelago, and the southern end of the Malay peninsula. Even the continental elements, Australia and peninsular Malaysia, are oriented towards the sea (a fact which, historically, has meant that Japan belongs to this region as well as to East Asia). Aboriginally this area was almost entirely the domain of a single language family, Austronesian (which includes an outlier in Malagasy, on Madagascar). Culturally it can be subdivided into several clusters ― the Indies, the Philippines, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia, and Australia ― which, in that order, demonstrate a spectrum of assimilation into the global culture. Australia, whose aboriginal groups are largely assimilated already, their native dialects mostly extinct, is there.
Chinese settlement in the Malay area, and the real and perceived commercial success of this minority, has provided a source of friction throughout. The governing élite in Singapore is culturally Chinese, but in Malaysia and Indonesia the conflict between the Malay and Chinese ethnic groups has important consequences. In Malaysia this is played out to some extent through organized politics, with the governing coalition supporting Malay dominance, and the Chinese minority supporting the democratic opposition. In Indonesia, the Chinese minority is a target of opportunity during times of crisis, holding a status roughly equivalent to Jews in Europe in former times, perceived as economic masters and the objects of resentment.
The lingua franca known variously as Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia, and Bahasa Melayu is a uniting factor for Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and to some extent Singapore. It should be noted that the status of this dialect predates Indonesian or Malaysian nationalism or European colonization, and is native to much of Malaysia but not to Jakarta. It is not and has never been, therefore, the political extension of ethnic dominance, and for that reason has a rare neutrality for an official dialect ― though it is being employed, as suggested, to foster a substitute nationalism. Among the four-state region, again with Singapore being the least affected, Islam is also a source of unity. The four seem inclined to pursue economic integration through ASEAN, but culturally they form a natural bloc within Southeast Asia. At some point decades in the future, the four states will be effectively united around their commonalities, though differing political climates at present, and the mentioned efforts within Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore to overcome internal cultural divisions, to form one nationality where many exist, will make political integration, which always requires the longest time, an even-more-remote prospect.
The Pacific has benefitted, and stands to benefit yet more, from modern technology in its incorporation into the larger world. In particular, the isolated islands are becoming connected to each other and to the continents through modern communications, most recently the internet. Niue, to take an example, has taken a very progressive approach to the internet, with connection subsidized, and wireless internet access now more advanced than most of the planet.
An impetus for greater political cooperation has been provided by global warming, which may have (and certainly does have in the perception of the states themselves) a heavy impact on low-lying island states, which stand to lose much, even all, of their territory from modest rises in sea level. The Pacific states have, relative to their population, disproportionate voting strength in international institutions, and that may strengthen the cause of international accords on global warming. Because of the sizes of their populations, economies, and industrial bases, they cannot have a significant direct impact on the issue.
Papua-New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu are all users of an English creole (known respectively as Tok Pisin, Pijin, and Bislama), and with Fiji and New Caledonia form the Melanesian region. The first three instituted the Melanesian Spearhead Group to work on joint issues, including the independence of New Caledonia from France; and Fiji is now a member as well. With strong geographical and cultural connections, this grouping might lead to further integration, but most of the members have their own disintegrative issues. Papua-New Guinea is divided by the Bougainville/Mekamui insurrection, Solomon Islands by strife on Guadalcanal between natives of the island and immigrants from Malaita, and Fiji between Melanesian Fijians and Indo-Fijians. (There is also a Polynesian culture on Rotuma.) All three central governments are democracies, but Fiji’s democracy is dubious, given that the first and only Indo-Fijian-led government was toppled by a Melanesian coup, followed by a revision of law and constitution which went some way towards legitimizing the coup and disenfranchising the Indo-Fijians.
A COMMONWEALTH OF DEMOCRACY
A typically-overlooked but crucial focus of integration is ideological, something that has been little in evidence since the end of the Cold War conflict between capitalism and Leninism-Stalinism-Máoism (which was often mischaracterized as a conflict between democracy and tyranny, or between capitalism and communism-socialism). The democratic states occasionally use liberal democracy as one of several organizing parameters in their institutions, but not consistently. The European Union, the Organization of American States, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Commonwealth are examples of groupings that have employed liberal democracy internally as a guide. But the Commonwealth has at most suspended a member, like Zimbabwe, for egregious violation of principles of liberal democracy, which weakens the case for including parliamentary democracy as one of the legacies that the members are supposed to have in common. The commitment of the OAS to democracy is recent and largely coincident with the democratization of the hemisphere. There are at present only one clear non-democracy, Cuba, and one probable non-democracy, Haïti, in the hemisphere; the Castro government is excluded from the OAS, and the weakness of democracy in Haïti is a matter of concern. But the support of the US for the most recent putsch in Venezuela has certainly undermined the centrality of democracy in the hemisphere. The OECD is composed entirely of democracies, but economics is more a factor in their selection. The EU began and in some ways still functions as an economic association, but its leaders have seen democracy as an important element of the free-market economies that they were working to integrate, and have included Spain, Portugal, and Greece, for instance, only when they were democratic, and are applying the same standard to eastward expansion. The recent (temporary) suspension of Austria, when the far-right Freedom Party was included in government, demonstrated that the EU was willing to take the issue further; though Austria’s partners spoke of problems of “democracy” in Austria, they clearly meant not democracy but liberalism. And indeed, liberal democracy is an example of what is now viewed as a shared value of the EU, making it more than simply a common market. The EU has explicitly endorsed the promotion of liberal democracy internally and externally as an appropriate matter for the union.
But the most important global organizations for integration, the UN and the WTO, do not consider democracy at all. The UN is theoretically geographically comprehensive, and the WTO is theoretically meant to be so. But each has, for different reasons, excluded states and specifically democracies. This, in turn, has made some of these organizations’ goals much more difficult to achieve. The UN works for international political cooperation, peace, and the rule of law. But tens of its members do not even practice democracy and the rule of law internally, and many others of its members fail to promote them geopolitically. The WTO has been hampered by the global lack of agreement on the appropriate weight of democracy, human rights, and economic justice in economic and trade decisions.
While there is something to be said for a comprehensive organization like the UN, absent of course the political machinations that ignore certain geopolitical realities, on the whole the democracies of the world would do better by their own values and for their own interests to replace both the UN and the WTO, as well as NATO, the OECD, and the Commonwealth, with a new commonwealth, organized explicitly around liberal democracy. Within this organization, all democracies and only democracies would be admitted, each would commit to ever-increasing political liberalism, and their principal international relationships would be within the group.
Politically, international law would be redefined. Full diplomatic recognition would be accorded to democracies. No principle of state sovereignty would exist; states would derive their legitimacy from their actions, and from the electoral will of their citizenries. Mutual defense would be inherent in the formation of the commonwealth. In addition, the members would agree to be bound by the principle of respect for liberal democracy, internally and externally, so that there would be the presumption of internal and external action in support of liberal democracy. This action would be presumed to extend as far, if necessary, as military intervention.
Economically, this association of democracies would be the ideal arrangement to avoid the political disagreements on the relative weight of trade and justice, and the moral problems of abetting dictatorship and corruption. At least within the commonwealth, it could be agreed that trade was indeed a good thing, and if genuinely free, as opposed to favorable towards the most developed members, would avoid further that moral question. The ultimate goal would be a single economy for the commonwealth ― a single market, common currency, and unified laws governing commerce. Included in that would be common protection of air, water, and wilderness, through laws and regulations, and through land-reserve programs crossing state borders.
Integration of the right sort is a good thing; of the wrong sort, by definition, not a good thing. And while there is certain to be an entropic complication of the world, for the most part the trend, from both deliberate and inadvertent human action, is towards a more integrated world. The world will ultimately be united politically, economically, and culturally, at least as much as any society is today. Our choices should be made to bring about a world society that reflects the best that modern societies have to offer, and while some elements are arbitrary, of equal value, and should be preserved in as much diversity as possible, other elements are clearly not of equal value. To the extent that liberalism and democracy are not deemed expendable by those whose societies have them, and are the objects of striving and great sacrifice by those whose societies do not, we should build those into our institutions of integration from the beginning, the better to make them an inseparable part of our future world.
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