A World in or Out of Order?: A Hundred Years since WWI

The panel ‘A World in or out of Order: A Hundred Years Since WWI’ discuss the lessons learnt from history and whether there is indeed a global world order.

The panel moderator Ghida Fakhry begins by questioning the current world order, wondering whether it has already begun to weaken at the core, as a result of many factors: the world has changed radically since 1945, and the current vacuum in global leadership is opening a wide door to populism and a rejection of globalism.

She asks about the impact this lack of cooperation among states could create and its consequent aftermath. She also questions the United States’ global role and points to a decline in its leadership due to Donald Trump’s discourse.

The first speaker, Robert Dixon Crane, addresses the issue of justice and stresses that justice is the product of a harmonious interaction between peace, prosperity and liberty. He also mentions that it is not enough to simply focus on the present, but also essential to focus on the long-term future. Crane explains that countries of the world, including Turkey, should work on filling the leadership gap since the influence of the United States is gradually decreasing as it is not leading in the pursuit of compassionate justice.

Şükrü Hanioğlu addresses the moderator’s question on what lessons can be derived from the Ottoman Empire’s experience in maintaining relatively stable societies, despite the divergent religious and ethnic groups that they ruled over. He explains that the Ottoman administration was flexible and accustomed to the needs of the regions and this enabled them to maintain rule in distant lands for so long. He also stresses that the Ottoman Empire was not a colonial empire as compared to the European colonial empires for it did not have overseas territories. It was a multi-religious and polyethnic empire. The Ottoman era was not perfect but it had a status quo, which is what the Middle East currently lacks.

Moderator Ghida Fakhry then asks William Hale about the legacy of the Sykes Picot agreement in the Middle East. He explains that this agreement was produced as a result of reconciling all the forces that were fighting in WWI, namely Britain and France, as well as Sharif Hussein and his sons who were also promised lands in exchange for their support against Ottoman rule.

Thus, the Middle East was left in political fragmentation, which is still witnessed to this day with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Syrian conflict and the Gulf-Iranian tensions.

Thomas P.M. Barnett when asked about his prediction for the region, suggests that the region will suffer high levels of violence for several decades to come. He explains that when the countries in the region begin to tire from war and realise how far they are lagging behind others, then they will start looking at regional integration schemes. Barnett further mentions that when looking at trends of statistical analyses on a per capita basis, this current era seems to have unprecedented predictability and prosperity. Wars are less frequent. They tend to be shorter and less lethal on a per capita basis, and interestingly the lowest ever seen in human history. He believes that the United States is capable of replicating its model interstate integration around the world which is now known as globalisation.