Friday, March 22, 2013

New Global Landscape & Your Role as Global Leaders

The New Global Landscape & Your Role As Global Leaders
Remarks by
Ambassador (Dr.) Robin Renee Sanders, 2013 Woodrow Wilson Visiting Scholar

Westminster College Fulton, Missouri
(historic site of Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech)

March 21, 2013

A FEEEDS series blogspot

The New Global Community

It is said that every decade or so our world creates a new global order – as generations shift, leaderships transform, visions change, and creativity and innovation force us all to live our lives better, longer, differently and certainly with more challenges. Today’s global landscape is much, much different than the one in 1946, when Winston Churchill graced these halls and charted a way ahead out of troubled waters for the international community.  We are living in extraordinary times as world challenges are increasingly more daunting, but equally so are the enormous opportunities to make a positive difference. 

What does the New Global landscape Look Like?

So, what does the new global landscape look like; what role do you want to play in that landscape? What are the things you may want to change? And, What are the challenges you might face? I thought I would share some of the things that would be on my mind – based on what I know -- if I were in your shoes today.

Who are the New Emerging Leader Nations?

So let’ start with answering the question – who are the new emerging leading nations that are on the scene today and what they mean for the United States as strategic political or economic partners. And, then turn to those I would put into the group of nations I call “different drummer nations,” (or adversaries) which present challenging relationships for us based on past and present geo-political issues.

One thing for certain is that the player nations that you might put on either your emerging list, or different drummer ledger -- will change all the time (so you will need to keep an eye on the globe), and there will be times when countries will flip slides of the ledger on specific geo-political issues.

In either case there will be human or country cultural elements that you will need to pay attention to as you continue throughout the 21st Century such as:

-- How are their world views different from ours;

-- Are their obstacles we all face;

-- Are there changes we all need to embrace or do our utmost to fight against?

Who would I Put on My Emerging Leader Nation List (ELNL)?

In the category of new strategic political and economic partners, I would include the BRICs or what I prefer to call BRICA nations. I know most of you know the term – BRICs – meaning Brazil, Russian, India, China, and South Africa – as these nations have taken political and economic global leadership roles in last 10 years – whether we as the US agree with them or not. They have developed and forged new ties among themselves and with other nations in key sectors, and international fora. I prefer to use the acronym BRICA, a term I mentioned in an article of mine last year -- because outside of South Africa -- there are 7-8 other nations in Sub-Saharan Africa with GDP’s at 6-8 percent, greater than South Africa’s 3.5%, and they are pushing forward on their global political and economic prowess.  Hence, the “A” in BRICA represents for me these other high-GDP African countries, in addition to South Africa, leaving room for others Africa nations to be included in this club as they progress forward.

Of course, Russia’s GDP has had its ups and downs during the 10 year period when the BRICs group first emerged, and we already see China’s economy slowing down. We have issues with both on Human Rights, and closed society internal politics. Regardless, they are on my list for their shear global influence; and, they do have influence. In fact, the G-20 will be held in Russia this year.

In addition to the BRICs/BRICA grouping, there are also more south-south international and political groupings of which the U.S. is not part, (Arab League, Organization of Islamic States, China-Africa Summit, Group of 77, etc.), except sometimes as an observer, or an invitee to give a single speech. Even the BRICs held their own summit in India last year for the first time, and the Durban Summit this year will mark the 5th global meeting of the grouping. The bottom line is that all of these groupings are beginning to have an impact on what their members think and do. They have “new-think” approaches to global -- political, trade, and development and are building new strategic alliances.

Although the United Nations General Assembly is not a new sub-organization, more and more geo-political views – such as the recent positive vote on the recognition of Palestine -- get played out there as a result of the closed society that makes up the permanent members of the UN Security Council, -- where that membership has not changed since the creation of the UN.   Many emerging nations continue to press for a change in the UNSC permanent membership. The U.S. still remains against this; I think we are on the wrong side of history to do so in today’s changing global landscape.

But, no matter how you think about emerging leading nations – whether you include BRICs, call them BRICA, include other south-south countries and political groupings, or whether you think (or care) that their GDP’s are high or low….there are country cultural elements that we need to pay constant attention to in the ever-changing global landscape  of new emerging nations. Here are a few important points why:

-- These new emerging leaders do represent a “new think” in how to do business and what they want to see in the new strategic and economic global landscape;

-- We need to better understand their “new think” in order to truly manage and control our own strategic interest and geo-political relationships.  Using both China and Russia as examples again --  we need to find ways to work with them on some of our overall strategic goals. We were able to bring Russia along on Libya, but not yet on Syria. On North Korea sanctions, both China and Russia got on board in support of our position on the issue.

-- I do not believe we need to be constant allies on every issue, but we need to understand their human cultural issues and their “new global think” enough so that when we do need their allegiance on key international issues, we have a better idea of how to achieve our goals.  And, how to work with them in times of disagreement. In some cases it will be like keeping our  “frienimies” close. For example on the cyber-attack issues, I would argue we need to keep a close eye on both China and Russia.

-- On trade and development, how do we compete differently with these emerging nations – but keeping our fair and transparent goals in place so that we continue to build relationships for our businesses, goods and services? Clearly, we have issues with how China and Russia do business around the world as their businesses are not required to follow transparent practices in securing deals -- making the landscape unfair for our private sector that have to follow the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  

-- Brazil’s and India’s private sector are playing a bit fairer, but just do business differently with special support from their governments --  requiring less than “perfect” environments with developing countries, especially in Africa. We tend to want everything to be perfect before we go into some developing countries. As a nation, we are beginning to change this, as can be seen with our economic relationships with Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, even now with Burma, and  of course the number of U.S. businesses that have been in China and Russia for years.

-- The good news , however, is I still believe, and evidence does support that they many developing world nations still prefer U.S. goods for their quality, innovation, and our overall best practices approach.

-- Staying on the economic side, there are a few key sectors today that the “new think” nations are focused on because of high global trade, investment, and development demand: agriculture, infrastructure development, information communication and technology, environment, including renewables, energy (oil, gas), timber, and fisheries. I mention these because you too as new leaders will need to keep a mindful eye of what the key important sectors are as part of your strategic thinking.

The Different Drummer Nations & Our Challenging Relationships:

In this new global landscape there are both challenging factors, and challenging (or adversarial) geo-political relationships that would be on my list if I was a new global leader.

What are the Challenging Factors?

They are all wrap-up, in my view, in global demographics: What do I mean by demographics – everything that impacts outcomes and geo-political relationships – from economic disparity to population sizes and breakdowns by age and gender; world resource locations (where is the oil, timber, jobs, lack of jobs, etc., land and water resources; religious differences or groups that might impact world views, produce conflicts, affect perceptions of an action or statement (look at the positive impact the naming of Pope Francis has had on the Catholic Church) -- in essence what are the human, or country cultural differences of which you need to be aware. 

All of these things are elements in my demographic umbrella and as global leaders you may need to take these or others into account.

So some examples:

-- What regions of the world have the most arable land and available water resources? Africa and Latin America.

-- Where is the most economic income disparity today (despite our own economic challenges in the US)? Africa, Latin America, and Asia, with South Africa leading the way as the country with the world’s  greatest inequitable income distribution.

-- What regions of the world have the largest growing youth and gender demographics? Africa, tops the list (in fact it is called the youth bulge there), Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Asia (with Japan being an exception with an aging population, and China having - large young and old populations)

-- On women, if women as a demographic world group were a nation, it would be the third largest nation in the world behind China, and India.

-- Poverty, food security, corruption, lack of good governance, lack educational and employment opportunities are also top of the list for Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. 43 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 per day, and in most of Africa it is less than $1.00 a day. By 2020 1 million more people in the world will be pushed into poverty on top of the current 3 billion; globally 22,000 children die each day due to poverty; 1.1 billion children in the developing world don’t have access to clean water, and live in poverty; and 75 per cent of the world’s -- wealth is in the hands of 20% of the world’s population.

-- I call these issues the FEEEDS issues

-- All of these demographics are important because they do affect geo-political and economic relationships, and world views which can be very different from our own.

What are the Links between the Challenging Factors and Challenging-relationships:

-- Examples today of cause and effect of some of the above demographics: the Arab spring and its redo or continuation in fragile states like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and so on.  Rising extremism and Al Qaeda-affiliates across the Sahel region of Africa, remaining conflicts in Iraq, the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, and ongoing terrorist attacks in Pakistan, lots of uncertainty in Syria, and our negative sum game relationship with Iran. I have already mentioned North Korea.

-- On Iran, even if we are not dialoguing with them other countries are, including Russia. The worry and question on Iran that I have is how much political influence they might be garnering today that they may be storing up to use later as it continues its outreach in Africa and Latin America.  It was not missed that Ahmadinejad attended Hugo Chavez’s funeral.

-- Are we in the United States leaning forward, or looking out ahead enough at these demographics and the array of different drummer countries to deal with the geo-political issues they might present for us? We are looking at some, but certainly not all -- and we need to.

-- You as global leaders will need think about these issues; Think about building relationships; Think about the strategic long term with both emerging leader nations and different drummer countries.

So How do We Engage?

We must engage differently than we have in the past; we must listen more; and, understand each country may have its own path to democracy. The question is how we assist, if asked to help, while also taking care of some of the same issues right here at home. We can seek to share our values and principles without appearing heavy-handed, and unconcerned about the plight that everyday people face with the searing demographics I just mentioned.

I do believe that there are global human values that most people hold dear: they want to be able to feed, clothes and house their families; live with dignity and respect for human rights; access to health systems, have affordable education for their children; a living wage through job creation or through entrepreneurial expression, providing voice for the voiceless, encouraging free press and good governance within a recognized legal, tax and transparent framework, and a reduction/elimination in corruption.

There are key activities we need to support more than we do such as increased vocational and entrepreneurial training, providing more assistance in basic primary and secondary education; and, innovation in food security.

-- Although we have improved a bit over the last several years, we need to continue to move away from providing our tacit support for some oppressive governments, encouraging peaceful transition to change from closed to open societies. The world is interconnected and what happens elsewhere will eventually affect us.

-- You as future leaders have an opportunity to play a role in these changes in almost any way you choose – but have some sense of the global landscape you are facing: seek to understand these human cultural differences that each country has, pay attention to the array of possible demographics, and be innovative on how we might help address them. 

In concluding,
At Westminster, you have this wonderful tradition of walking through the sacred original six columns that use to be part of Westminster Hall. At graduation you walk back through those impressionable pillars, knowing that the intervening years have provided you with the building blocks to become a global leader.
You have learned in the midst integrity, fairness, and respect. I would add then to your list the need for a better appreciation of human and country cultural values (what I  have been calling in my lectures --  human cultural communication), and demographics that go with them.  It is a complicated, tough global environment, and players and challenges will constantly change. You will need to understand and try to address these changes without losing the sense of who were are as a nation.

We must fight enemies whenever and wherever we can, but not pick fights unnecessarily.  This includes being tolerant of others who see the world different as long as they do not choose to do us harm. We do not always have to agree but in the first order seek ways to work for the greater good.  President Eisenhower in the 1950s use to call this “thinking in time;” meaning -- thinking strategically about the times in which you live; thinking smart about the global environment you are in. You are the new global leaders. So, Educate, Lead, and Inspire in shaping the new global landscape; I will be counting on you to do this. Thank you.

Sources:; twitter/#rrsafrica; Nigeria’s Finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala; CCTV;; The Global Human Development Report – research date 7.23.2012.