Newmedia on Tue, 4 May 1999 22:46:34 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> World Government Update #1

Given the increasingly clearly "new imperialist" context for the current
war in the Balkans, it might be appropriate to occasionally update our
archives regarding the shape and texture of the post-governmental era in
which we all now live.

Here are but a few of the related items that have recently been spotted:

1) On the widely-watched Sunday morning "McLaughlin Report" U.S. TV show,
the host put the question to his panel, "If the NATO Charter were to be
sent again to Congress for passage, what would happen?"  Only the
"liberal"  columnist from Newsweek (a "McLaughlin" regular) said that she
thought that it would win approval.  Two others indicated that it would be
rejected flattly while the fourth thought that it would be blocked from a
vote in the Senate.  The host flashed six points on the screen which he
described as the new NATO strategic commitment for intervention into the
affairs of once sovereign nations.  These points included both "human
rights" violations and "failure of reforms."  McLaughlin described the
current orientation of NATO as tantamount to "World Federalism."

2) The Tuesday, May 4 London "Financial Times" carries a number of
interesting notes.  The lead editorial calls into question the
nation-state based "voting" system now in place at the World Trade
Organization (WTO).  The current deadlock in selecting the next WTO head
"risks undermining the WTO's authority and poisoning relations between its
members."  One-nation one-vote apparently doesn't work anymore.

The FT's "Comment and Analysis" piece is equally intriguing.  Titled
"Learning to Live Together" this Brian Groom essay ties the "devolution"
of British governance (the impending Welsh and Scottish parliamentary
elections)  to the increased movement towards similiarly "devolved"
systems on the European continent.  "UK devolution is the latest phase in
a process that has brought self-rule to regions of Germany, Spain,
Belgium, Italy and even France, once the epitome of centralized

And, then there's the legal conundrum ahead.  The FT reports, "The
Independent Television Commission runs a high risk of having any fines it
imposes overturned by the courts once the Human Rights Act comes into
force." It appears that the adoption of this act, which is somewhat
open-ended as to its effective date, will dramatically alter appeals
processes and even the basic application of some British laws.  Affording
rights to both individuals *and* corporations, there is a growing concern
that the ability of nations to police multi-nationals may be sharply
curtailed in the name of "human rights."

3) In Tuesday's NYTimes, foreign affairs columnist and "new imperialist"  
spokesman Thomas Friedman offers yet another explanation for the stunning
refusal last week of the U.S. House of Representatives to approve of
NATO's airwar against Serbia.  Under the theme that "foreign policy stops
at the water's edge", Friedman thinks that domestic affairs --
particularly the school massacre in Colorado -- has simply withdrawn
people's attention from distant events.  Continuing with his theme about
the inevitability of his version of "globalism", Friedman treats all
indications on the part of U.S.  citizens and their representatives that
they don't want to go down the "globalist" road as lack of understanding,
distractions and old-thinking which will need to be patiently updated.

Attempts to identify the U.S. as the dominant force in this "new
imperialism"  must stretch the available facts severely.  For 40+ years,
the effort to sharply curtail the sovereignty of nation-states has been
strongly opposed by both the population of the U.S. and by many in the
U.S. leadership stratum.  At one level, this conflict in the Balkans can
be seen as another effort to win over the "hearts and minds" of Americans
to supporting the erosion of their own rights and freedom.

More to come, from time to time,

Mark Stahlman

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