Brexit, Trump and BBIN: Reality check to Globalisation?

Was David Cameroon overly confident in calling the European Union (the EU) Referendum? Had the U.S (the Americans) paid enough for its allies? Is Bhutan trying to race at toddler stage …

If a random person is to make a sense from the words and phrases such as ‘Global Village‘, ‘World at your finger tips’, ‘Porous Border‘ and  ‘Global Citizen‘, the response would be ‘Globalisation‘, ‘International in character’…in other words elucidating the phenomenon of ‘Globalisation‘. The world has become increasingly global!

Greece is not as democratic as America is, Europeans and Americans are as devout Buddhist as Bhutanese and Tibetans are, French fry appears to be a preferred starter among Bhutanese restaurant goers, Football enjoys a status of international game and English the language…

Enabled by scientific innovation and technological progress, the flow and transfer of information have become fast. Concomitantly, political, social and economic lives of people change, paving way for international system, practices and models respectively. Besides, issues such as Climate Change, terrorism, human rights, poverty and trade help bring international community ever closer.

The United Nations (the UN) was born in 1945 and the EU, the erstwhile European Economic Community (the EEC) in 1957. Several regional organizations followed: ASEAN, MERCOSUR, OPEC, the African Union, NATO,  and SAARC albeit differing vision and objectives. Freedom of movement of people and goods and services are at the core of these organizations. A ‘Global Village’ is born?

Against this backdrop, Kenichi Ohmae was inspired to write two seminal works, viz. ‘The Borderless World‘, and ‘The End of the Nation State’. However, nationalist sentiments continue to subsist. And, the events (political) in 2015 and 2016 told us the story.

British, in 2015, voted to exit from the EU on the ground of regaining British sovereignty, reviving local economy and to control immigrants. The pro-EU Prime Minister, David Cameroon resigned immediately. He should not have called the Referendum itself? British Prime Minister, Robert Heath eulogised securing UK’s membership to the EEC in 1973 as his highest achievement. UK’s membership was twice, in 1963 and 1967, blocked by France under the leadership of President, Charles de Gaulle. The EU is a project of regional economic and political integration.

In November 2016, the Americans elected, the outsider Donald Trump as their  45th President. Trump rallied his campaign around strict vetting of immigrants, particularly from Muslim countries, building wall bordering Mexico and his trademark slogan, ‘Make America Great Again‘. Throughout American history, in other words, world history ever since America came into existence, it has played pivotal role in shaping international politics through international relations: the two World Wars, the UN, the Far East, the Middle East are but few.

The Bhutanese government, in 2016, introduced an International (Regional) Convention, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal Road Vehicles Agreement (BBIN) for ratification in the Parliament. The Agreement is expected to ensure transportation of cargo and passengers in the territories of participating countries. Amid series of debates and discussions, the Agreement got endorsed in National Assembly, the Lower House of the Parliament where the ruling Party had 32 (33 now) seats out of possible 47. In the subsequent session, National Council, the Upper House, also known as the House of Review (drawn from its mandate) overwhelmingly voted against the Agreement citing reasons of national security, cultural deterioration, environmental concerns and lack of readiness in infrastructural capacities. Bhutan is the founding member of SAARC to which all three other participating countries are with whom she has also formal diplomatic relations.

Holistically, the future of globalization is not as bleak as it appears to be. British voted out from the EU with approximately 51% of the eligible voters opting out and majority of the elderly among them. It can be inferred that younger generation are in favour of globalization and once they become decision makers, globalization will gain added attention.

Trump’s victory can also be attributed to electorates preference for an outsider, i.e. fatigue of establishment politics and of course not to dismiss the alleged Russian interference. Further, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, it was her defeat in electoral college (sine qua non) that gave Trump, the victory. Nothing is conclusive?

In BBIN’s case, the Parliamentary procedure in ratification of the agreement is still available. The Parliament, on the command of His Majesty the King, can convene a Joint Sitting for the deliberation.

However, these events prove as reality check for fast growing forces of globalisation. The declining influence of Nation State is not declining in actuality? The rise of National Front in France under the leadership of Marie Le Pen is a movement to reckon with. The rhetoric of national security, territorial integrity and revival of local economy will continue to serve as the cornerstone in preserving the status and influence of Nation State both in concept and practice. The rise of regional organisations may in itself may not indicate the swift embrace of ‘Globalisation‘. Rather, the flip side of it can be a shield to safeguard national interests through regional groupings, particularly, because majority of the regional organisations came into existence after the UN, the international body formed in 1945.

Dechen Rabgyal

I am from Drepung, Mongar, Bhutan.