Section 11: Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival

Section 11: Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival

“Why Small Countries Can Be Global Players … The “Globalized” Authoritarian City-States … Small-Country Vulnerabilities in a Globalized World”
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  • 11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > Why Small Countries Can Be Global Players > Lecture
  • 11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > The
  • 11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > Small-Country Vulnerabilities in a Globalized World > Lecture
  • 11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > Making Connections > Interview Video

11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > Why Small Countries Can Be Global Players > Lecture

  • Today, about half of the world’s 242 countries and dependent territories are small or even micro national and political entities.
  • So the major question we will examine in this section is, how do so many small countries survive and even thrive in an age of globalization? What do they have that other small countries do not? Small countries can be divided into advanced and less-developed categories.
  • According to the 2012 Corruptions Perceptions Index, published by Transparency International, 14 of the 15 least corrupt countries in the world, counting Australia and Canada, are small countries.
  • In summary, it is well known that small countries dominate on various quality of life and global citizenship world rankings and even rankings for competitiveness.
  • Many small countries also belong to the list of least-developed countries that are divided into landlocked developing countries and small island developing states.
  • Skilling argues that the advanced small countries benefit from more effective government; more coherent national strategies; a greater capacity for innovation, education, and creativity; promotion of human development and social outcomes; and high levels of social capital and trust that promote social cohesion and reduce the potential for internal conflicts.
  • Singapore’s Economic Strategies Committee, the Danish Globalization Council, and the Mission for Finland Project show small countries engaging with globalization in a focused and deliberate way.

11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > The “Globalized” Authoritarian City-States > Lecture

  • Media accounts of a small country’s assent to global fame or global player status are invariably selective, and often incorporate state propaganda designed to create a positive image, and concealed repressive conditions.
  • There are different ways for small states and territories to prosper, and even to project power in a globalized world.
  • In 2012, The Guardian reported on what it called “the emergence on to the world stage as a considerable diplomatic, cultural, and even military player of a tiny state whose huge ambitions to spread influence around the globe are fueled by enormous wealth and devotion to a strict interpretation of the Qur’an.
  • ” Oil and natural gas reserves have made Qatar the world’s wealthiest society per capita.
  • The Qatar government has become politically active following the Arab Spring movements supporting anti-Gaddafi rebels in Libya, and anti-Assad forces in Syria.
  • This investment was celebrated in July 2012 with an inaugural ceremony that featured the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and was streamed live around the world.
  • Qatar has become heavily invested in world football.
  • Following an opaque and controversial selection process managed by the notoriously corrupt international football association, FIFA, Qatar is scheduled to host the football World Cup in 2022.
  • For years Qatar has bought and given citizenship to African, Bulgarian, and Chinese athlete to win international medals for the Emirate.
  • Additional million workers are due to come to Qatar to build the stadiums and roads for the 2022 World Cup.
  • This partnership between the world’s most important and corrupted international sports federation and a fabulously wealthy and repressive monarchy is a perfect illustration of how easy it is for the ambitious globalizer to combine spectacular public projects with inhuman treatment of the workers who build them.
  • In their own ways, FIFA and the Qatar regime are impresarios that offer spectacles to the world.
  • The world’s media report the triumphs of the global elite while ignoring the virtual imprisonment of the working poor.
  • The international city of Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates, survived its near bankruptcy in 2009, and has achieved world class status as a city-state success story.
  • Dubai International Airport is the major hub in the Middle East, and by international passenger traffic the third-busiest airport in the world.
  • It’s campaign for global stature aims at making Dubai a commercial mecca for entrepreneurs from around the world.
  • What Dubai’s publicists do not mention is the fact that Dubai has been built by hundreds of thousands of semi-enslaved Asian workers, and that affluent Emirates and expats are served by thousands of foreign and indentured female servants.
  • It is one of the world’s leading financial centers and one of the world’s busiest seaports.
  • The rule-by-fear government of the People’s Action Party regime judiciously combines a Western democratic vocabulary with a particular set of traditional values that it claims are unique to Asia.” To summarize, what have we learned from these brief descriptions of these three very small but celebrated societies? Of all these globalized authoritarian city-states- Qatar, Dubai, and Singapore- have benefited from public relations strategies that have been aided and abetted by compliant media that generally praised or even sensationalized economic mega-achievements, real or alleged, while most often ignoring social conditions that include modern versions of slave labor, and social controls typical of a police state.

11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > Small-Country Vulnerabilities in a Globalized World > Lecture

  • This section has focused so far on how large number of democratic and some authoritarian small countries and city states have managed to cope well with the pressures of economic globalization.
  • The small country experience of the globalization process has other dimensions that may have little or nothing to do with a country’s economic status.
  • Small and even much larger societies must adjust to the triumphal march of the English language across the globe.
  • Some countries are concerned about the survival of national film industries and support them with state subsidies as a matter of cultural self preservation.
  • The globalization of culture produces two different reactions to foreign cultural products in small countries.
  • In recent years, the small country of Greece has experienced a partial disintegration of their civil society as a consequence of national bankruptcy and the austerity measures the European Union has imposed on the Greek economy.
  • The much smaller country of Cyprus suffered its own humiliation in 2013, when the troika of Germany, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund imposed draconian measures on the banking system of Cyprus.
  • These traumas and failures have disproportionate effects, because these societies are small and exposed to the power exercised by larger countries.
  • By 2003, pressure from the United States and Israel had forced the Belgians to abrogate the principle of universality underlying the original law, thereby demonstrating that a small country had asserted of degree of authority it was too small to exercise.
  • Sweden and Canada, the latter of which I am also calling a small country, have at times adopted the role of moral superpower.
  • Another form of small country self-assertion is offering asylum to fugitives, such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, who are under threat from the world’s only superpower.
  • In summary, the relationship between small countries and the dynamic global framework within which they operate creates opportunities, along with the dangers that can threaten societies that are small, dependent, and exposed to potentially destructive external forces.
  • In this sense, danger and anxiety are the price the better-prepared small countries pay for the chance to achieve disproportionate success in the international competitions that constitute so much of what we call globalization.
  • In other words, if being small and potentially vulnerable offer special opportunities to achieve for example, a national consensus of strategic value, then being a small country is a status larger countries may at times envy.
  • The history of utopian fantasies about small places such as Switzerland, Sweden, Monaco, and Nepal, suggest that on the level of imagination, small countries and kingdoms have long been the envy of the world.

11. Small-Country Self-Assertion & Survival > Making Connections > Interview Video

  • Does a small country have an advantage over other small countries if it is a tax haven? Not necessarily.
  • If that market goes away and the small country is reliant on that particular industry or product, then it is going to have to scramble to find a way to replace the economic benefits that it has lost by specializing in a particular niche market.
  • In small countries that do very well, such as the Scandinavian countries, you will find a variety of economic activities that are beneficial, so that if one big drug company goes out of business in Denmark, for example, there are going to be other enterprises that are there to provide employment, and to pay taxes to the state.
  • Why might smaller countries have more realistic perspectives than larger countries about what is happening in the world? Interesting question.
  • There are at least a few economists who have thought about this, and the conclusion that they have come to is that a developed, well run small country is going to develop a kind of a sensing system about conditions in the outside world, that there is a sense of vulnerability that motivates them to pay more careful attention to the forces in the outside world than is generally the case in larger societies that feel less vulnerable.
  • How is it possible that small, progressive, democratic states like Norway and small, repressive, authoritarian regimes like Qatar are both successful on the global stage? Well, they are both very successful economically, and the answer in both cases is oil.
  • That if a small place has lots and lots of a coveted natural resource, in the case of Norway it’s oil and gas, in the case of Qatar, it’s oil, then it will, unless this resource is really mismanaged, this is going to give a huge economic advantage to a small country, or in the case of Qatar, a city-state.
  • Both of these small societies are going to have relatively high per capita incomes because there’s lots of oil revenue, and a relatively small number of people who are going to be claiming it in effect is as part of the national wealth.
  • How do small countries combat the influx of the English language? Small countries in Europe have created historically accommodated the power of the English language in the wider world by accommodating to it.
  • There’s another dimension to this, and that is to what extent is a small society going to, not as in the first case, be using English as a resource by which to build an economy, build careers, et cetera? But to what extent is a small society going to feel that the sheer power of the English language in a variety of media is going to constitute a threat to their own culture, is going to constitute a threat to their own language? Now, there are countries that set up committees that try to prescribe certain vocabulary to replace English words that are very common.
  • The skiers they produce have won lots and lots of Olympic and other international medals, and create a certain image for that country.
  • The small country theme is also related to the social justice theme in that what about the authoritarian, small country or city-state that does very well because it has economic resources, but which also suppress civil rights, and perhaps abuses on a massive scale the foreign workers it imports to do all sorts of manual and skilled labor? The same sort of principle applies to the offshore tax havens.
  • The theme of a global transportation system is relevant to certain small countries in the sense that Norway and Denmark, for example, have produced disproportionately large fleets of merchant ships, Denmark producing the biggest container ships in the world.

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