International Political Situation Calls for Democratic Values

Sean Para, Columnist

I’ve written about a range of topics over the past four years, from international affairs to domestic politics to half-baked political theory. This is quite a week on which to end my column for the Review. With Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich dropping their presidential bids, Donald Trump has done what seemed unthinkable and has all but clinched the Republican nomination for president.

The past two decades have seen a peaceful liberal democratic world order give way to authoritarian regimes in Russia, Hungary and Turkey — to name a few — where democracies were once in development. Wars have broken out across the Middle East, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Great powers have returned to open competition as Russia, China and Iran seek to change the balance of power and end a period of unquestioned American hegemony by supporting violent proxies and establishing their own spheres of influence.

This week, the U.N. Security Council passed a measure reaffirming the international commitment to protecting medical facilities and workers. This would have been a less hollow measure had the U.S. and Russia, two permanent members of the Security Council, not recently bombed hospitals — Russia in Aleppo, Syria, and the U.S. in Kunduz, Afghanistan. It seems unlikely the measure will be enforced, given that the nations charged with enforcing it have violated it so recently.

It is hard not to be a cynic these days. But perhaps there is another route. We live in a world where more people have access to education and healthcare than in any other time due to rapid economic development. Democracy is, for the most part, a sham as oligarchs exert an undue influence on the electoral process and limit the candidates one can vote for in “free and fair” elections. Nonetheless, for the first time in human history, governments around the world are committed, at least on paper, to respecting human rights and dignity and working for the people rather than the elite. As deeply flawed as our system may be, this is an enormous improvement over previous systems of government that served only the ruling class.

In short, there is some hope for the future. We should not abandon the possibility of a better world, because despite all the problems in the world today, we are better off than we were before the modern era. Little actions can change the world. Be kinder to others. Think more about your friends and smile at strangers rather than blankly walking past them. Act as if you live in the world you wish for rather than the one you live in right now. Hopefully when our generation leads the world, we will do it with more compassion and far-sightedness than the current crop of leaders.

Para out.