As seen from above at night, the border between the two Koreas is clearly distinguished by the bright lights of South Korea and the darkness of North Korea. The modernization of South Korea is the result of a truce between North and South Korea, divided by the 38th parallel. It was designed to prevent an acceleration of the Cold War to a titanic Hot War between the Soviet Union and The United States. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the two nations have had little more than a ‘Chilly War’ (my term).
However, at the geopolitical level, North Korea is a relic of the Cold War at its worst. Its leadership and populace are backward. (I tried to find a softer word, but failed.) Their profound ignorance was sharply revealed when women (unfortunately, without a drama coach) carried on a display of grief over Jong-il’s death. His son succeeds him, possibly as one of a triumvirate composed of his sister, her husband, and himself. North Korea is still in the mindset of the 50s. It also has the bomb.
When the Berlin Wall was torn down and the Soviet satellite nations easily broke from the Soviet Union, there was a global sigh of relief. The world had squeaked through a titanic battle of states that lasted almost a full century. However, Post-Cold War relics of the battle between communism and capitalism continue, notably in the tragic continent, Africa, even though Russia and China have somewhat relaxed their proliferation of Marxist communism.
There has been a reversal of the geopolitical dynamics of the twentieth century. Now, it is third world countries that evoke re-runs of the Cuban Missile Crises. The governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria continue to rule by heredity succession. The same is true of Cuba. The governorship of these nations is a family affair. Bizarre alliances have formed among nations as diverse as Venezuela/Cuba/North Korea. In the Islamic world the Shiites and Sunnis are still engaged in conflict with each other and Western Civilization. Incredibly, religious wars have resurfaced after centuries of dormancy. Iran, a powerful theological nation in the Middle East, is about to have the bomb.
With the aid of the Information Age, we’ve come as close as ever to world harmony. Fundamentally, the battle between communism and capitalism is over. But world peace is threatened by asymmetrical wars that do not recognize national borders. In today’s global context, borders consist of ideologies that overlap each other within and without national borders. This geopolitical time bomb is unlike the distinct national borders of the twentieth century. History is filled with patterns similar to this, particularly in what we now call the Middle East.
Prior to the attempted invasion of the city-states of ancient Greece by the Persian Empire, there had been wars waged for the acquisition of treasure. Greece was next on Persia’s quest for world domination. Wars based on a lust for treasure are interchangeable and make little or no impact on significant history. Key battles are soon forgotten. This was not so when Greek warriors, heavily outnumbered, stemmed the Persian tide in four major battles that saved the democracy that the Greeks had invented. That war, forced on the Greeks, was not like any other. Had they lost to the Persians, history would be radically different.
Democracy was born in Greece and was given a second chance in Revolutionary America. A third major test for democracy occurred when several democracies, including America, defeated Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan. That conflict once again preserved democracy.
Democracy is no longer in danger of disappearing. Too many people have experienced it directly or vicariously. But the unprecedented and exquisite level of technology has trickled down to third world nations. There are governments and even individuals who are hostile to democracy. Several leaders openly threaten to destroy Israel and America. Individual terrorists, religious fanatics, and even pirates (!) have crawled out of the Middle Ages. This time, they have access to advanced technology to fight the civilization that created it. They also have considerable ideological support from media- – -both here and abroad- – -that characterizes them as freedom fighters.
If free people do not curb their enthusiasm and impatience for a ‘global village,’ we may find ourselves in a dark age wherein anything is possible, including worldwide Sharia Law or some other dreadful form of world government.
I allow myself to get lost in the seductive pageantry of an Olympic event. I love watching the parade of young athletes brandishing the colors of their nations, and the traditional honoring of Greece at the end of the opening parade, and the spectacular show that proudly displays the characteristics of the host nation. A bittersweet nostalgia overwhelms me when the torch is snuffed out at the ending ceremony.
The appearance of globalization is seductive, but in ideological terms, political globalization requires more time before it is safe for its realization. The goal of globalization should emphatically not be tied to economics or a one-world government.
The fundamental tenets of globalization are already embodied in the First Amendment of our Constitution. The rest follows.
There is no need nor is it desirable to turn the world into a monolithic state. Quite the contrary. Diversity celebrates life. America has already proved its success. It’s okay to be Russian, but not communist. It’s okay to be Muslim, but not a terrorist. It’s okay to be nationalistic, but not militant.
Until and unless world education is achieved, globalization is dangerous and can be no more than an illusion at best. The Information Age is on the side of democracy. Globalization must follow in the wake of an overwhelming majority of democratic nations.