27 November 2009

THE Commonwealth ~ Platform For Prosperity...

Leaders of the Commonwealth of Nations -- nations linked mostly through ties with the historic British Empire -- are meeting this week in Trinidad & Tobago. I'm fascinated by this organization because I think it's such a great idea -- and because so few people apparently get it. It's the 60th anniversary of the formalization of the Commonwealth and it's bereft with self-doubt and muddled misdirection. As the Economist notes in their piece Wider still and weaker?
"...leaders arriving in the Caribbean will be presented with two reports, both of which are remarkably blunt, considering that one was funded in part by the Commonwealth’s small Secretariat, and the other came from the Royal Commonwealth Society, the largest of the NGOs that promote the club. Both reports suggest that the group must acquire more bite, as a promoter of democracy and human rights, or else it might as well shut up."
I hope the leadership do not focus too myopically on primarily human rights and environmental issues instead of more broadly and constructively -- on issues of free trade, the everyday economics of families, increasing entrepreneurship, education for all, essential infrastructure, sustainable development, and other core elements of human prosperity -- i.e. those things crucial to our common wealth, in short. Overall, I'm quite personally enthusiastic about what I think of as THE Commonwealth -- a global institution that can embrace a growing family of humanity (as evidenced by including ex-Portugese Mozambique and hopefully ex-Belgian Rwanda), that emphasizes the practical benefits of common English language for business, basic rule-of-law, emphasis on investments, and the like. The Commonwealth is a platform for prosperity in sub-saharan Africa and greater south and east Asia -- and prospectively even in the MENA region currently outside the bloc. Indeed, I think the English-savvy countries of the EU -- especially the Dutch, Germans, and Scandinavians -- would be better off banding together joining into the current Commonwealth and building towards a global Economic Commonwealth. This seems like a natural secular successor to NATO, for instance, one emphasizing common economic prosperity instead of narrowly defensive security. Furthermore, it would be neither limited to geographic co-location -- the challenge of most economic groups from ASEAN onward -- nor blithely open to anyone, malevolent dictators and kleptocrats alike -- the prime problem of the UN (and for that matter, the AU and USAN)

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