Foreign Affairs

Globalization: Survival of the phoniest

As increased globalization forces countries to pretend that they like playing with all the other kids in the playground despite fearing they’ll have their toys stolen, never has there been more blatant self-interest cloaked in the phony pretext of outreach or do-gooding. Nowadays, a country is expected to appear both broke and overtly generous — otherwise, you’re just a jerk.
 
Take Canada, for example. Canada used to be run by nanny-state leftists more concerned with looking like boy scouts to the rest of the world than with any kind of self-preserving action. Now, as it benefits from six years of conservative governance, it’s loading up on military hardware in anticipation of Arctic resource protection; it has just expelled select Russian diplomats and charged a Canadian naval intelligence officer for allegedly peddling what were likely Arctic strategy-related secrets; it’s flashing its huge oil reserves to various international suitors as oil extraction projects finally come to fruition. All this makes Canada insufferable at a time when the world is supposed to be leaning over a common bathtub, slitting their wrists in unison. As a French friend who had nothing but positive things to say about Canada only a year ago told me this week, “What has Canada done for the little black kids in Africa? Canada only cares about itself!”
 
A “good” global citizen is apparently expected to go around in a crisis helping all the others with their oxygen masks at the risk of passing out and being of no use to anyone. It’s expected to take in any and all newcomers, be driven by overwhelming emotion to give all its money away to dodgy foreign regimes, and bask in the prevailing global brotherhood forged by empty pockets, bad marriages, kids who are juvenile delinquents and pets who can’t grasp the “pee pad” concept.
 
So how can a country assuage the guilt of having its act together and not come across as some kind of weirdo who’d really just prefer to sit on the couch licking the sour cream Frito Lay dust off his fingers rather than socialize? Well, there are clubs for that, son! Pick a pandering — anything from aboriginal rights to environmentalism — to serve as the politically acceptable context for seeking to further increase your bottom line. Just don’t actually start believing what comes out of your own mouth about it — because then you’ll end up broke — the European Union being the gold standard of this.
 
Two such prominent clubs are the BRICS group of developing economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), and the new Eurasian Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to soon follow). And a lesser known group formed in 1996 but just now becoming prominent: The Arctic Council, comprising Russia, Canada, other nations with Arctic interests… plus China and India, aiming for observer status.
 
Notice a pattern here at all? Who’s the compulsive club joiner? Who’s the little Nikolai No-Mates shoehorning his way into every club, no matter the cause? Russia. I doubt it’s because they have the biggest hearts, although Vladimir Putin may try to prove that with a photo if I press the issue.
 
And why would China and India want to “observe” a club consisting of countries interested in the Arctic region they’re nowhere near? Because they’re equally interested in the environmental sanctity of the region like the rest of the club members, sillies! Feelings! Huge hearts! And China was really upset when one of its businessmen — a self-proclaimed poet and mountaineer — tried to buy 0.3 percent of Iceland to build a nature resort and was rejected. He says if he keeps failing in his bid, he’ll try Denmark, Norway or Sweden — all Arctic Council countries. The man’s going to get his polar bear park if he has to move every ounce of oil out of the way to see his dream become reality.
 
Globalization has forced everyone to be seen as open, meaning secrets have to be kept and stored under the very words one speaks. In this new era of grotesque pretexting, pretext club joiners with the biggest developed resilience to a constant fire hose blast of verbal sewage to the face will be most revered.

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