After 50 years there is a clear challenge to make global institutions such as
the UN, IMF, World Bank and GATT (now WTO) more effective in achieving peace,
prosperity, equity, stability and harmony in the world.
Moreover since September 11th 2001, it is paramount that cultural issues be
addressed, and that effective communication and cooperation across cultural
divides be developed, in reforming the global system:
- culture is critical to the goals of social / political development and to
the rate / scale of economic performance; and
- cultural differences are an obstacle to communication and a potential
source of international misunderstanding and distrust.
To meet these challenges it is proposed that the US sponsor / establish a
cross-cultural world project, a New 'Manhattan' Project for Global Peace and
Prosperity, on behalf of the US-led Coalition against Terror.
The New Manhattan Project (NMP) would be a world collective of excellence,
experience and enterprise, working through a cross-cultural set of specialist
teams and practitioner / stakeholder forums, that could point the way to a
stronger framework for global peace and security.
Aims of the NMP
- develop realistic medium to long term strategies for promoting global
peace and prosperity - thereby reducing global inequity, increasing
ecological sustainability, better reconciling cultural differences and
potentially curbing hate and terror;
- engage stakeholders, from affected organizations and from communities in
the developed and developing world, in evaluating and implementing these
strategies in culturally effective ways; and
- create a model cross-cultural community for ongoing informed interaction
on social, historical, cultural and technological issues.
- to review, re-develop and strengthen the United Nations and its
- to reform the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization through a new
'Bretton Woods' process involving developed and developing regions;
- to develop modern 'Marshall Aid' programs for the world's most
disadvantaged regions such as some in Africa, the Middle East and South /
- to develop strategies for developing regions to appropriately adapt
Western systems for technological change, innovation and education that
allow such regions to assimilate / manage these processes and their ongoing
- to develop global strategies for coping humanely with, and caring for,
large people flows due to conflict / oppression, social / economic failures
or environmental disasters.
Characteristics of the NMP
NMP would integrate the work of leaders, experts, scholars and practitioners
in a multi-level project involving:
- A Review Panel of global leaders (eg in politics, business, technology) to
initiate, oversee and assess the NMP;
- A network of interconnected Specialist Teams to develop proposals related
to key NMP objectives. The Teams would:
- involve selected / nominated
scholars, experts and practitioners drawn from developed and developing
- cover different sectors (eg academia, industry, government, NGOs,
communities) and disciplines (eg law, environment, technology, history,
- blend creativity, experience and innovation; and
involve male / female parity and a blend of ages;
- Stakeholder Forums to evaluate and report on practical implementation of
Specialist Teams' proposals. The Forums would be drawn from those with
experience in organizations that would have to implement the proposals, or
communities who would be affected by them, and would operate in ways that
are appropriate to their organizational and ethnic cultures.
Term: 2 + years
If this draft has merit then a small planning team might be sponsored to:
- do the necessary legwork (eg review prior proposals for reform of the
world order; identify practical methods for undertaking a cross-cultural NMP
- prepare a more comprehensive proposal.
Why a NMP? - A CPDS View
The only way to win the 'war against terror' is to eliminate its breeding
grounds - eg inequalities that arises from economic ineptitude,
alienation from the global order and despotic political systems. It is noteworthy that an 'Operation Noble
Eagle' was originally reportedly proposed to the US-led Coalition against
Terrorism to involve a very broad strategy in which military action played only a small
There is no known alternative to the 'democratic capitalism' (that has been
developed in various ways in various societies) as the basic framework for a
global order. For example, the inflexible option apparently favoured by Islamist
extremists seems unlikely to work in practice (see
Discouraging Pointless Extremism).
None-the-less there are serious problems. In practice the basis of global
order is being undermined, and political and economic disorder like that that
followed the collapse of 19th century globalization is not impossible
(see The Second Failure of Globalization?). For example:
- The US, in unilaterally pursuing a war against terrorism, is in some danger of being
seen to adopt an imperial style which could produce friction
and alienate potential allies
- The financial system appears unstable - with periodic crises (eg the Asian
crisis of 1997-98; defaults in Russia / Argentina; 'irrational exuberance'
(ie an asset bubble) in the USA; and massive unresolved bad debts in
Japanese / Chinese institutions);
- Financial imbalances could render economic growth
unsustainable - if, as may well be the
case, they have their origin in structural incompatibilities between different
models of socio-political economy which result in an unsustainable potential
demand-deficit in the global economy;
- Serious global environmental constraints appear to be too slowly being resolved;
- UN machinery doesn't work effectively - and there has been expectation
about fundamental reform to deal more effectively with security arrangements [1, 2,
4] following several
years of earlier reform efforts;
- The Bretton Woods triplets (IMF, World Bank and WTO) are promoting 'free
market' solutions that do not in themselves create the capabilities required
for economic success. A process to diffuse the knowledge and institutional
capability required for economic leadership seems to be needed;
- WTO discussions about further multilateral trade liberalization have
- Global inequality is extreme - with 30% of humanity in grinding poverty
and 20% in sometimes-unhealthy affluence; and
- improving global awareness about inequalities increases friction - and
the potential for conflicts that can only make it more difficult to solve
the above problems.
A useful way to visualize the present situation might involve a large number
of 'teams' (major people groups) playing in a field. Several of the teams
are playing 'football' (democratic capitalism) and this makes them relatively
strong and rich. In fact they are so strong that they can set the rules
governing all the teams - and decide that the rules of football should prevail.
However many of the teams on the field are not football teams. There is a team
of baseball players, of swimmers, of judo-players, and of athletes. They are not
well equipped to play football, are not doing very well, and would prefer to
play games with different goals and rules. Furthermore football is a fairly
rough game - and the playing field is suffering a fair bit of wear and tear.
It had been expected that the Doha round of trade negotiations under the WTO
would liberalise trade whilst taking more account of the interests of developing
countries (McCormick R. 'A prosperous Australia is no island',
Financial Review, 12/2/02).
However even this would have been inadequate to resolve
the difficulties which many communities suffer as a result of incompatibilities
between their traditional cultures and Western-dominated globalisation (see
NMP could provide an opportunity for: (a) people from the various 'teams' to talk about
the rules and goals of future games and how they should be run and (b) various
different types of 'teams' to consider how they might need to adapt to play well.
Updated October 2003