Dr. Susmit Kumar

In spite of the outbreak of military conflicts every few years, much of the world is heading towards unity. As discussed in chapter 5, most Islamic countries are going through crises of a similarly violent nature, i.e., Islamic militancy. On the other hand, the rest of the world is witnessing a macro trend toward unification in the form of the E.U. (European Union), ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), AU (African Union), and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations).

It took a couple of centuries to form the nation that is the present superpower, i.e., the United States of America. Until the mid-1700s, the U.S. was just a collection of villages and towns, but over time it evolved. Similar was the case with the European Union, which has now united most of Europe, something beyond the imagination at the onset of last Century. The origin of the E.U. lies in the establishment of European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) by the Schuman Declaration of 1950. France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg were its founding members, and signed the Treaty of Paris in 1951. Then in 1957, two new communities—the European Economic Community (EEC, a customs union) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom, for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy)—were established by the Treaties of Rome. In 1967, these three bodies were merged to form the European Community.

During the next 25 years, several treaties were signed and several new countries were admitted into the E.C., and then finally the European Union was created under the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and in 1999 a common currency, the Euro, was introduced. The first direct elections to the European Parliament were held in 1979, and in 1986 the European flag was adopted. The European Union now consists of a Commission, Council, and Parliament: The European Commission is the executive branch; the Council of the European Union consists of the ministers of member countries; and the European Parliament is composed of representatives directly elected by the citizens of E.U. member countries, elections being held every five years. The European Court of Justice is composed of 27 judges, one from each member country. The European Central Bank, headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, controls monetary policy within the Eurozone. In 2004, an agreement was signed to create a European Union Rapid Reaction Force (EURRF), which will have 60,000 soldiers available in 2007. Over the next several decades, the European Union will become the United States of Europe: It will control its members’ military forces, and member states will have uniform constitutions, uniform laws, etc. Only a century ago, an organization like the European Union and a common currency like the Euro were beyond anybody’s imagination. With two world wars as catalysts, however, a multi-polar and strife-ridden Europe has been transformed into a unified and peaceful Europe within a century. Only a few trouble spots like Kosovo and Cyprus remain, though after the lost decade of the 1990s, Russia is trying to regain some of her lost power by exerting it economically (especially via its huge gas reserves) on its neighbors. This is natural, since Russia is going to play an important role in the international arena on account of its military and economic capabilities. Fifteen of the E.U.’s 25 nations get as much as 90 percent of their natural gas from Russia. i As the U.S. and E.U. have evolved, so can other collections of states.

ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) consists of all Southeast Asian countries. Its origin lies in the foundation of the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) in 1961, which consisted of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. In 1967, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand signed the Bangkok Declaration establishing ASEAN for economic cooperation among its members. In 1984, Brunei Darussalam became its sixth member, Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Myanmar joined in 1997, and Cambodia joined in 1999. Every year, the heads of ASEAN member countries meet to discuss and resolve regional issues. In 1994, a regional forum was founded to foster constructive dialog and consultation on political and security issues, and confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region. It now has 26 member countries—the ASEAN nations, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Timor-Leste, and the United States. In the next several decades, ASEAN will also follow the path of the European Union; i.e., it will become a political, economic, and military organization with a common currency like the Euro integrating the entire Southeast Asia. Although there are several trouble spots near this part of this world, only two—China-Taiwan and North Korea—are major ones that might result in full-scale war involving several nations. We will discuss these two issues in detail later on.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization in Southern Asia. It was established in 1985 by Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, and Bhutan. Afghanistan joined in 2007. Unlike ASEAN’s role in the integration of Southeast Asia, SAARC is unable to play a crucial role in the integration of South Asia due to rivalry between India and Pakistan. But once the differences between these two neighbors are solved, SAARC will play an important role in integration as the two nations’ cultures are more or less similar.

The African Union (AU) is an organization of 53 countries formed in 2001 after the merger of the African Economic Community (AEC) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The aims of the AU are to have a single currency and a single, integrated army. Its organs (parliament, judiciary, etc.) are more or less similar to those of the European Union. During the mid-1990s, close to one million people were killed in the Rwandan genocide. Since 2003, more than 450,000 people have been killed in the Darfur region of Sudan. Seven thousand African Union troops were sent to Sudan in mid-2005 on a peace mission under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1564, but they are ill-equipped and too few to stop the genocide there.

UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, is going to merge two existing free-trade organizations, MERCOSUR and the Andean Community, with a target date of December 2007. It will eventually also integrate South American countries on the pattern of the European Union, with a common currency and parliament, with its capital in Quito, Ecuador. The target date for complete union along E.U. lines is 2019. Its member will be Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Guyana, and Suriname. Panama and Mexico have observer status.

In the next several decades, all three organizations—SAARC, the AU, and UNASUR—will follow the path of the European Union and become political, economic, and military organizations with common currencies integrating their respective regions. Subsequent to this, we will see a global umbrella organization integrating these organizations, which we may call the World Union or Global Union. It will be formed according to a bottom-up approach, unlike the United Nations, which was formed after the Second World War on top-down lines, with five nations having veto powers. The socio-economic theory of Prout promotes a bottom-up approach to a world government.

Whatever we are witnessing in the Middle East and North African Islamic countries, i.e. rise of Islamic militancy is not Samuel Huntington's theory of Clash of Civilizations, but instead it is a step towards the integration of entire human civilization in the world.

1 “EU to meet on Russian gas dispute”, CNN, January 3, 2006.

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