The other day I was watching this documentary on TV about the internet revolution. The documentary seemed dated and had nothing ‘revolutionary’ to talk about. But it got me thinking on the amount of content on the internet in all shapes and forms. There is so much content out there that the mind boggles and I am slowly migrating away from the internet to the more manageable print media. But even with all this extra content I maybe better informed, I am none the wiser. I don’t know where is the next big idea going to come from, where or when is the next religion going to come or which company is going to be the largest/biggest in the next 10 years. What countries are going to be the top three or five in the world. Yes India, China and US will be there, but crucially where will the next Japan come from. Which country will punch many times above its size ?

In my economics class I was taught about lead and lag indicators and I have found them to be quite fascinating. The lag indicators are easier to identify – global warming is to me primarily a lag indicator and can be also used as a lead indicator. Another lag indicator is the G20 grouping which represents the slow decline of power of G8. Maybe a lead indicator of G20 was when  years ago Goldman Sachs grouped BRICS together. I certainly missed that and as I write this today I am struggling to identify the lead indicators in the world today. Even if I was to put aside the bigger questions and ask the more ‘mundane’ questions like – when will the Security council be expanded and who will be part of the new grouping, what will Afghanistan be like 5 years from now or will I still be blogging 10 years from now ?

Sometimes the obvious answer is not the right answer. Who would have thought that even five years ago that by 2010, the world would have more or less forgotten Iraq and moved onto bigger and better things. What little was left of Iraq memory was wiped out by the recession or by the upsurge of violence in Afghanistan. No one remembers that the war was fought on lies and is probably the most expensive settling of scores that the world has ever seen. Yet the old adage , to the victor go the spoils, continues. One architect of the war has retired to his ranch probably trying to be born again into someone else. The other who is now an ambassador of inter-faith peace, middle east peace, global warming resolution, advisor to big corporates and a star guest speaker, appeared before a parliament inquiry to defend his decision to go to war over Iraq.Everyone now has a different fish to fry. Someone is after Iran, others are after China, someone thinks that Russian is the new Satan. Two wars later the original Satan , Osama Bin Laden, is still around and is in the middle of a PR transformation to a global warming campaigner !

In 2o2o, who will the biggest devil, who will be the biggest sheriff and more importantly what will they be fighting about ?

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As a child I was quite taken up with the idea that I am , or atleast can be, an international citizen. A citizen of the world. It helped that my school used to preach ‘one village the world, one family the mankind’. Also as a fan of Nehru’s politics I was a keen follower of NAM (Non Aligned Movement). NAM ofcourse disintergrated in the 90s but my idea of being an international citizen lived on. It went hand in hand with my ideas of secularism, free speech, free and fair justice, live and let live etc. I hadn’t heard of free sex until too late or that would have also surely been part of my ideas! I looked at the future with starry eyes and couldnt wait to discover this beautiful world where everyone was part of my extended family.

However, as I have grown up and seen the world more I have to unlearn this bit like I have had to unlearn a lot of other things.  It has been particularly difficult to unlearn this because I don’t have another idea that I find compelling enough to replace the idea of being an international citizen. As the world marks the 5th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, I have learnt that there is no such thing as an international law. What is called as ‘international law’, is something that is made along the way by the rich and powerful countries of the world.  I have learnt that while there is talk about trying to save the world, a nation’s priorities always superceede international priorties. So in effect when a nation is purporting to act in the interest of like minded countries, it is actually acting in the interest of its own nation and at best hoping that it is in the interest of other like minded countries. I have learnt that what is correct for some is completely wrong for others. I have come to the conclusion that international law is a modern term for jungle law.

Iraq is a perfect example of jungle law in action. The aggressors were acting in their interest, their actions were sold to the world on the basis of lies, innocent people were killed and continue to be killed and yet the aggressors continue to say this was the right thing and continue to claim victory. Saddam was , rightly, executed for war crimes and yet the man under whose authority Iraq was invaded and tens of thousands of people killed continues to claim victory. No one in the civilised world questions openly the charade that continues to go on in Iraq. But the this becomes more understandable when we see that the war was fought by the US for its domestic interests. This is no international law, this is just domestic law being extrapolated half way across the world. If a single life is lost in the developing world, there is an inquiry to get to the bottom of the matter. Yet so many people killed in Iraq and no inquiry, no inquest.  This is surely no free and fair justice. The only reason because some countries of the world have the right to do this is because they are rich and powerful and get to dictate terms and conditions to those who are not.

So after all the progress made by humanity over the past centuries, is this what we have come to. Nothing has changed at all? What do we tell young kids these days? Read up on your law of the jungle because that will best help you deal with modern conflicts.