In this post you can see another short video clip I filmed of Niall Ferguson during the 2011 Israeli Presidential Conference. This speech took place at a smaller panel session together with a number of other notable academics and policymakers. You can find a full list of the other speakers here: http://www.presidentconf.org.il/en/panel.asp?rId=2.
In my view, the 24-hour news cycle of today’s media, combined with the sheer information overload of the internet, means that those who wish to keep track of global affairs are exposed to a huge amount and variety of rapidly changing events. In this kind of environment, it is all too easy to get lost in the minutia of hundreds of seemingly unconnected facts and lose sight of the real “big picture”. In the panel session that I filmed, the speakers were asked to outline their impressions on future global trends and the changes likely to take place in the international system.
The video excerpt I provide here, picks up the discussion at the point when Ferguson begins to consider the future changes of international organisations such as the UN, NATO, IMF and WTO. He argues that if greater efforts are not made to incorporate regional emerging powers from the so-called “developing world” such as India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey into multilateral international organisations, the world will revert to a pre-1945 bilateral system of “diplomacy and conflict”. Indeed, he argues that at present China prefers to conduct its affairs in this fashion, choosing to deal with the United Kingdom and Germany bilaterally rather than through major EU representatives or political bodies.
What are the consequences of all this? For Ferguson the post-1945 global order of the UN and associated institutions will be “deleted” rather than “reset”. This will result in the emergence of a situation of general disorder rather than order. Although he doesn’t expand much in this particular speech, those who are aware of Ferguson’s other major speeches will realise that he is hinting at something much more controversial. At the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia for example, Ferguson made a number of direct (and somewhat disturbing) parallels with the current state of global affairs and the build-up to the First World War. The full video for this speech can be found on Ferguson’s official website, if you follow this link and go to the bottom of the page (I highly recommend it) – http://www.niallferguson.com/site/FERG/Templates/General2.aspx?pageid=10