Studying global relations (law and economics on an international scale) has been full of many lessons I wish every person could learn. Not yet done – but here are just five things I’ve already learned, in Tell-It-Like-It-Is style (i.e. I’m not using fancy phrases, okay, I promise).
- There is absolutely no reason for wealthy, developed nations not to get along. There are many excuses (most of which center around the need to “protect” or “isolate” the individual country from the global marketplace), but there are no reasons. In times of plenty, we should not be greedy – we should be gracious. In times of strife, we should not be aggressive – we should be thoughtful. In short? We should work together and base decisions on reason – not emotion. Insert book suggestion: Al Gore’s Attack on Reason.
- You are born where you are born, and there’s nothing you can do about that. So, when I have a discussion with one of my colleagues at the Institute as an “American,” I am aware that I am not a superpower. I was merely lucky enough, and I was very lucky, to have been born within the borders of a superpower. We don’t discuss things as countries, we discuss things as humans. We bring our expertise to the table, but the overall discussion is global. What’s good for the world will be good for humanity.
- Religion has absolutely no place in when discussing geopolitics. I mean exactly that. The singular reason to discuss religion at all, in serious global discourse, is for the purposes of determining geographical areas of prosecution and intolerance in regard to human rights. There is no place in geopolitics for one’s personal religious beliefs or preferences (coming from a devout Catholic).
- Negotiating truly is an art form and this is why. Negotiating needs, at least, two willing and able participants. To be willing to negotiate means one is willing to be vulnerable, humble, and open. To be able to negotiate means one has been given a proxy or authority to do so. Imagine how many times a day world leaders do this without our knowledge? So, if there is hope this can be done countless times every hour, there is hope this can be done (WTO Members, I’m looking directly at you) once a day. Negotiating keeps war, poverty, strife, collapse at bay. It is the entire ballgame, but rests securely on both criteria being fulfilled.
- The worst times in Switzerland to hold discussions about international policies are the following: just after lunch, when there is a major news story unfolding, if the sun is shining in the city, if there is snow in the mountains, or if there is no more wine on the table. This leaves a great window: when it is raining, the carafes are full of a good Humagne Rouge from the Valais, and there are men AND WOMEN at the table. This is ideal.
Gotta love Handel and the Bible…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNcZgu9yFjU They make my point for me.