THE CONFLICTS OF GLOBALIZATION • Charles O. Lerche III

Written 25 years ago (source article has been taken offline)

We live in a world that is simultaneously shrinking and expanding, growing closer and farther apart….National borders are increasingly irrelevant. And yet globalism is by no means triumphant. Tribalisms of all kinds flourish. Irredentism abounds (Attali, 1991: 117).

Because of the great increase in the traffic in culture, the large-scale transfer of meaning systems and symbolic forms, the world is increasingly becoming one not only in political and economic terms…,but in terms of its cultural construction as well; a global ecumene of persistent cultural interaction and exchange. This, however, is no egalitarian global village (Hannerz, 1991: 107) (emphasis added).

The pace of global change is extremely rapid, and even those trained to track and analyze it have difficulty keeping up with new developments. However, trends are regularly observed and named, and these new terms become “buzz words” in the lexicons of governments, academia and the media. Such a term is globalization. Though it is, admittedly, rather vague, and the phenomena it is employed to describe extremely diverse, it does express a prevailing sentiment at century’s end that our lives are increasingly influenced by forces which have transcended borders, and which, precisely because of their scope and power, are changing, irreversibly, life on this planet. All levels of society are being reshaped by this process: the individual may find her/his livelihood threatened or identity thrown into question; localities and whole regions are forced to recreate themselves or die in the face of new economic forces; and nation-states themselves experience steadily decreasing freedom of action and ever closer ties to each other.

At the moment there is a serious contradiction between the fact that globalization is in full swing, and the fact that existing processes of global governance lack sufficient power, authority and scope to regulate and direct this process toward beneficial ends. As a result globalization is often disruptive and inequitable in its effects. It has also posed new challenges for existing public institutions while at the same time weakening their autonomy and support; and, paradoxically, provided the means for those it excludes culturally or economically to organize against its subordinating and homogenizing force. Many analysts have pointed to the turbulent nature of this planetary process and to the increasing frequency and variety of reactions to it. Drawing on this literature, this paper first attempts to clarify various aspects of globalization and then considers its potential for generating social conflict and unrest. Subsequently, human needs theory, as developed and applied by John Burton, is used to explore some of the roots of these conflicts and, finally, globalism is put forth as a positive, and potentially corrective, dimension of globalization.

Globalization: A Closer Look

Definitions
There are a variety of definitions and descriptions of globalization, which, though overlapping in many respects, do emphasize different dimensions of the process. Robertson’s is one of the first and the most general:

Globalization as a concept refers both to the compression of the world and intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole…both concrete global interdependence and consciousness of the global whole in the twentieth century (Robertson, 1992: 8).

Anthony Giddens’s adds an important dimension to the picture by emphasizing the interactive, or dialectical dimensions of the process:

Globalization can thus be defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. This is a dialectical process because such local happenings may move in an obverse direction from the very distanced relations that shape them. Local transformation is as much a part of globalisation as the lateral extension of social connections across time and space (Giddens, 1990: 64).

However, it is in regard to business and economics that the term “globalization” is most frequently invoked. What is referred to here is:

“…a qualitative shift toward a global economic system that is no longer based on autonomous national economies but on a consolidated global marketplace for production, distribution, and consumption;” (Holm and Sørensen, 1995: 5)

in which

“…distinct national economies are subsumed and rearticulated into the system by essentially international processes and transactions” (Hirst and Thompson, 1992).

The primary vehicles for this process have been the increasing transnationalization of production, and the resulting rise in influence of multinational enterprises, and even more importantly, the explosion in the volume and scope of transactions on international financial markets. In this regard, consider the following commentary on contemporary change in the banking industry:

Banking is rapidly becoming indifferent to the constraints of time, place and currency…an English buyer can get a Japanese mortgage, an American can tap his New York bank account through a cash machine in Hong Kong and a Japanese investor can buy shares in a London-based Scandinavian bank whose stock is denominated in sterling, dollars, Deutsche Marks, and Swiss francs (Waters, 1995: 89).

And one of its most often noted effects is the homogenization of consumer markets around the world, at least in certain areas–the so-called “McDonaldization” of global consumption.

Critiques
Though often touted as representing the height of economic rationality, globalization has also been portrayed as having a very dark side. Critics repeatedly point out that the contemporary form of globalization , driven by economic power, clearly promotes the hegemony of Western culture and corporations; puts jobs and communities at risk in the rich countries and exploits cheap labor in the poorer countries; increases threats to the environment; and undermines the foundations of democracy and social stability by subjecting national political institutions to forces of economic change beyond their control. Furthermore, as a recent volume of essays (Holm and Sørensen, 1995) has highlighted, globalization is uneven both in its processes and in its effects. It produces concentrations and deprivations which, in the aggregate, constitute an increasingly well-defined global power structure.
Claude Ake, a leading African critical thinker, has argued in this regard that:

Economic forces are constituting the world into one economy and, to a lesser extent, one political society. Nations participate in global governance according to their economic power, which is coextensive with their rights. The global order is ruled by an informal cabinet of the world’s economically most powerful countries; its law is the logic of the market, and status in this new order is a function of economic performance (Ake, 1995: 26).

Critics also argue that there is a neo-liberal ideology of globalization which serves to “normalize” the process – to make it seem natural, inevitable and beneficial. Thus, while it is clearly in the particular interest of big multinational and global corporations to be free to move money, factories and goods around the planet seeking access to the cheapest factors of production, the most congenial regulatory environments and the most lucrative markets, the ideology of globalization promotes the belief that the interests of humanity and even of the earth itself will also be best served if world markets are:

“.left unfettered by ethical, moral, social, or environmental considerations.” (Ritchie, 1996)

In an analysis of the North American Trade Association as a case study of both the ideology and practice of globalization, economist Robert MacEwan presents data from the United States and Mexico to substantiate what he calls the “social failures” which are produced by the trade pact: greater income inequality, environmental damage and the decline of democratic control:

Greater income inequality is not the only social failure generated by the success of globalization generally and by NAFTA particularly. Environmental destruction is surely exacerbated with the success of globalization. The greater mobility of capital makes it more and more difficult for citizens of any one political unit to organize and use their government to impose regulations on polluting firms (MacEwan, 1994: 2).

Finally, he argues that globalization has a negative impact on the quality of politics and public life by placing restrictions on governments’ powers to intervene in their own economies, and, thereby:

“..limiting people’s power to exercise political control over their economic lives” (MacEwan, 1994: 2).

Though one should not necessarily take all this criticism at face value, it does reflect what can go wrong as corporations and capital have acquired the means to move and operate on a much broader scale. Furthermore, it conveys a sense of alarm that the nation-state as an institutional structure cannot cope effectively with these new developments, and, in fact, finds its own priorities and policies heavily influenced, if not dictated, by them. The question then arises, who will articulate and defend the public interest against the global reach of private financial and commercial interests, when the latter go too far? For instance, all but the most laissez-faire of economic thinking argue that governments must intervene to protect the public when markets fail, i.e. when they are no longer free and competitive. However, efforts to implement such a strategy at the global level, through various multilateral and international institutions, have achieved little. Consequently, world markets have become increasingly concentrated in major sectors.

Furthermore, while there is a case to be made for reducing expensive and inefficient government regulatory structures, the lack of adequate regulatory standards applying across borders does provide an incentive for multinational firms to choose less-regulated operating environments, and involves countries seeking foreign investment in a:

“race for the bottom” competition to see who can provide the most “free” and least regulated business environment (The Economist, July 1995: 114).

In the negative characterization of globalization, and this judgment becomes even more plausible when globalization is evaluated as an “engine” of social conflict.

Globalization and Conflict

Though the previous discussion is suggestive, the link between globalization and conflict requires further explication. Much of the literature distinguishes between conflicts which focus on issues of culture and identity, and others which appear to be primarily economic, and the discussion that follows adopts this approach while acknowledging that in practice the two elements are interrelated. Conflicts of world views and interests should not, however, be seen as inherently threatening or negative. Indeed many of the tensions of social change are largely unavoidable, and some are undoubtedly creative in their effects. At the same time, however, the analysis which follows suggests that if the human needs and rights issues involved are not adequately addressed, the incidence and intensity of social conflict associated with globalization are likely to increase steadily in the years ahead.

What Has Publicly Blaming Cyber Attacks on Governments Solved? • Foreign Policy Journal

Source: Original Article

Written by: Emilio Iasiello

Blaming cyber attacks on governments has become routine, but has it resulted in accountability, punishment, or reduction in hostile cyber activities?

In the ongoing cyber tete-a-tete between nation states, the digital domain has been used to conduct an array of operations including network exploitation, data theft, network disruption, and network destruction. Additionally, states have used the cyber domain and the tools therein (e.g., social media, chat rooms, bulletin boards, blogs) to enable other more traditional operations of statecraft such as propaganda, disinformation, and social/political influence operations. Long considered difficult to attribute, governments are more confident in publicly identifying the states they believe are responsible for covert cyber activities against them. In an effort to strengthen such claims, levying legal indictments against the individuals responsible—often foreign nationals with a direct tie to a government or a military—has become popular. The United States in particular has engaged in this practice, executing indictments for cyber activities since 2014 against state actors with direct or tangential ties to foreign governments.

The tactic seemed practical at first, bringing formal charges against suspected government actors, and by extension, implicating that government for supporting, or at least, giving tacit approval of, the activities. The May 2014 indictment against five actors tied to the People’s Liberation Army appears to have had direct influence in China and the United States agreeing not to not to hack each other for commercial advantage in 2015. For a brief period after, this seemed to work with a noticeable reduction in the volume of Chinese theft of intellectual property. However, this was short lived with China allegedly resuming normal level of cyber operations in 2018.

Still, proponents of the indictment strategy have pointed out that an important gain was made—persuading China to curb its previous levels of data theft; in essence, the indictment appeared to have influenced a state’s cyber behavior. While it did not last, it could be argued that even the momentary success suggested that the approach was viable and just needed adjustment for to accomplish strategic deterrence. After all, shortly after the 2014 China-U.S. agreement was made, China entered into similar understanding with Russia in 2015, and ultimately led the G20 (including China) to make a comparable arrangement in November 2015. Many G20 nations were among those that China had also targeted via its global cyber espionage and intellectual property theft operations.

Unsurprisingly, these agreements have not deterred commercial cyber theft, nor more traditional cyber espionage activities, particularly from China that likely views industrial cyber theft a national security imperative for the country’s continued economic development. As long as China sees economic strength as essential to its emergence as a global leader, supporting Chinese companies that are important to accomplishing this goal could be perceived as less about commercial advantage and more about preserving its national interests. This is an important nuance to keep in mind when understanding why China continues to do what it does. Countries finally began to see the futility in trying to make certain countries like China honor these agreements in 2019 when 27 governments signed a joint statement to advance responsible state behavior in cyberspace. Notably, neither China nor Russia were signatories.

Where diplomatic overtures have thus failed, the U.S. has resorted to indictments and has since levied them against official and non-official actors linked to Iran, North Korea, and Russia. As of this writing, these indictments have not yielded the obvious objective—state deterrence from conducting the crimes for which they have been charged. However, this raises the hopeful question—if deterrence wasn’t the primary objective, have indictments achieved what was truly intended? Certainly, indictments could be foils used to further other U.S. political or economic objectives. If so, their influence may not be readily seen as instrumental to achieving seemingly unrelated strategic goals.

Another likely objective is to get on record that a particular government is responsible for illicit cyber activity, thereby letting the world know of its culpability. This seems to be closer to the mark. Prior to May 2014, attribution made in public was mostly accusatory and based on speculation and suspicion, or at least without providing classified evidence to strengthen claims. Indictments have since changed that paradigm, purposefully made for global consumption and to make it clear who the charging state believes to be behind a specific incident. Since there is little hope that any of these individuals will be extradited to the United States, indictments seem less about arrest and prosecution and more about demonstrating capability to identify culprits by detailing their operations. Simply, punishment does not appear to be the primary motive.

Other states have now joined the public attribution bandwagon. In March 2020, Chinese computer security company Qihoo 360 reported that the CIA had been conducting an 11-year cyber espionage campaign against Chinese organizations and in April identified South Korean cyber espionage activity targeting Chinese health organizations for COVID-19 information. Qihoo 360 works closely with the Chinese government, which has prompted concerns with companies like Microsoft collaborating with the company. Although not an official arm of the Chinese government, its stature as a global cyber security leader and a primary supplier of security and monitoring equipment to the People’s Republic of China raises the question of how the company could be used as the voice for leadership. Iran, too, is no stranger to calling out perpetrators of cyber attacks, citing the United States and Israel for various cyber attacks. Even North Korea blamed the United States for knocking it off the Internet, after the former had accused North Korean hackers of attacking Sony in November 2014.

It remains to be seen if or when other foreign governments will step up to the next level and levy cyber indictments against other countries. It is likely that they will wait and see how the United States fares with this approach and if any favorable results are realized. The recent removal of two Russian companies from indictment set forth by special counsel Robert Mueller illustrates a potential impediment to indictment strategy, further raising the question of its effectiveness at deterring future cyber incidents by state and/or state-related entities. One of the companies challenged the charges, hiring a law firm to defend it, marking the first time a defendant has been willing to go to court on a cyber-related indictment. The potential threat of exposing classified information was one reason provided for this result. The fact that the charges were dropped may encourage other indicted individuals and entities to follow suit, potentially derailing the strategy, reducing it to an exercise in making formal attribution.

Cyber operations were once clandestine and mysterious; now, states are emboldened to pull back the curtain and sanitize them in the public spotlight. What remains consistent for now is that public attribution—whether via accusation, indictment, or naming and shaming—has done little to change state behavior, decrease volume of activity, or deter future activity. It’s clear that any one approach—whether it be a legal action, economic influence, a retaliatory strike, or diplomatic engagement—is not a silver bullet, and should not be done independently of each other if any progress is to be made in how cyber space is used for and against states. They must be done in concert and in proportion to the inciting incident, and with a quantifiable, reachable, goal in mind. Absent that, the stakes are not high enough to incite the change that’s often talked about but never done. Perhaps states should consider the fable of the shepherd boy who called wolf before making public attribution. Calling wolf frequently does not get the volume of support to stop the threat; rather, it numbs ears so that they don’t listen and ignore signs that that pack is closing in.