In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful
President Ilham Aliyev, a Practitioner of the new Foreign Policy, Dr. Ismail Serageldin, my mentor, Excellencies, Colleagues, Honorable guests.
Thank you for inviting me to this distinguished platform, the 7th Global Baku Forum.
Today we are here to discuss a new foreign policy capable of meeting the demands of the present and the future.
Uncertainty is the defining theme of our world today. Buffeted by destructive and disruptive changes defining news headlines, the international order created in the mid-20th century is not responding to the challenges and opportunities demanding a world order, with rules managing interdependence at the global, international, regional and state levels.
The challenge of foreign policy is whether either of its terms is appropriate to the current context. Is it foreign relations or forging and managing of partnerships that require focus; and is it stories and perceptions of decision-makers regarding levels and types of order and disorders that constitute policy or principled pragmatism applied to establishing the required cooperation and coordination to balance order, freedom and peace? As policy has been largely reactive at the global level to a fast changing context, the scale, scope and simultaneity of uncertainty has become the defining challenge for our generation of statesmen and women. As stagnation at the institutions and organizations and atavism from the dominant mental models of the mid-20th century have become constrain the required imagination and effort to overcome the past and own the present is required.
Organized in distractive silos –security, trade, development— environment with distinctive rules and stakeholders, focus on owning, leading and managing the task of agreeing to and fashioning a global order answering to the 3rd decade of the 21st century is not at the center of our focused attention.
The scale, scope, and simultaneity of our problems — ranging from environmental change, to the fourth industrial revolution and the fifth wave of political violence in the form of transnational terrorism and Criminal organizations—repeatedly pose the question of global order and search for creative solutions to problems of order at each level. Global, International, Regional and National.
There is clear dissatisfaction with the agreed rules of the game established post-WW2, and a tangible departure from those agreed-upon rules, as manifested by aggression and state Sponsorship on terrorism, but there is yet to be an agreement on an acceptable, wholesome alternative. Thus, we have fallen back onto the monsters bred by fear, isolation and misunderstanding—a lazy, instantaneous and dangerous approach. Simply put, the definition of the 21st century is at stake.
We must redefine foreign policy. What is the alternative to the siloed approach?
The counter offer of a problem is an opportunity. The challenge is to see opportunities and use foreign policy as a tool to create cooperative advantages, as we had just heard from President Aliyev. The level of cooperation and coordination required to manage the process interdependence creatively rather than reactively is our task of the moment.
The post-WW2 era offers a lesson. As former Secretary of State Dean Acheson wrote in his 1969 account “Present at the Creation” and I qoute: “The task began to appear as just a bit less formidable than that described in the first chapter of Genesis—to create a world out of chaos, a free half, out of the same material without blowing the whole to pieces.”
Today there is another opportunity to create, and we are here, present at and responsible for materializing the opportunity of new creation.
Being president of a state that has multiple priorities which require simultaneous attention at all levels, I have drawn many times from a concept taught in the business world—the concept of interdependence. The idea is to approach problems reciprocally, or simultaneously, because they are interdependent.
Reaching an agreement on the definition of a new world order is imperative. It requires us to face the simultaneity and complexity of global problems. If we prioritize one problem over another, then the one problem we neglect now will come back soon to haunt us.
To manage interdependence, first, foreign policy approaches need to understand and cope with the networks and Corporations at play across the globe today—both virtuous networks and destructive ones.
Second, the fourth industrial revolution needs active management, as it is of human making but not of human design. The future is automation and digitalization, and if we do not harness it to create opportunities and employment now we will be faced with a backlash of mass unemployment and an even larger divide between equality and inequality. Such a backlash would have an adverse affect on global security.
Third, foreign policy approaches will have to focus on cooperation rather than confrontation. There isn’t a problem—from security, to migration and trade—that does not require coordination among and between states and societies. The critical task is to make the foreign familiar. Moving from foreign policy to partner policy is a different conceptual journey that needs to be undertaken by today’s statesmen and women.
We need to think about its operational definition and what is required from us, as leaders and managers, to define it. This has not received sufficient attention and debate.
We should delegate this task to a group of leaders to seriously brainstorm approaches and the Baku Forum is an excellent avenue. Partial solutions, however brilliant and important, risk misalignment. Our solutions must address interdependence of competing global problem through principled pragmatism.
If we understand the issue of interdependence than the task shifts from managing crises to defining the rules of the game to provide predictability. Uncertainty would then be replaced with a new horizon of stability.
Thus defining new rules is the central task, then shifting to those new rules.
In the 1950s following World War 2, a new world order was created for only half of the world. Today, the task is to create a truly global world order. Today, leaders must devise and execute both a national vision, but also a global vision, which requires a new level of effort, imagination and balance.
There are two primary examples of how uncertainty was dealt with in the 20th century. The first was how Europe found its way into a world war in 1914. Christopher Clark argues that “the protagonists of 1914 were sleepwalkers, watchful but unseeing, haunted by dreams, yet blind to the reality of the horror they were about to bring into the world.
Keynes in 1919 argued that the peace treaty made no arrangements “to adjust the systems of the Old World and the New”, therefore, predicting that :great privation and great risks to society have become unavoidable”.
By contrast, American diplomacy in the 1950s was a totally creative and imaginative effort. Most of our global institutions today, including the bretton wood institutions, the UN and the World Trade Organization, are a result of the efforts of this period. The Marshal Plan truly was a result of lessons learned, a practical comprehension of the warnings of Keynes.
Now, we must be creative and imaginative once again if the 21st century is to belong to all of humanity. Our undeniable interdependence makes partial rules and solutions impractical—those who feel left out by them will naturally challenge them, perhaps violently and destructively.
Statesmen and women today have two options: 1) we can to sleep walk into the impending crises of the future, or 2) we can muster the imagination and creativity required to develop a new world order, one that merges our national visions with regional and global visions, in the spirit of humanity.
These reflections emanate from my daily tasks. In Afghanistan, we have had the misfortune to be the site of destructive forces. We have been the site of the Soviet invasion in the 1970s, and the planning of Al Qaeda’s attacks of September 11. We have also been the target of attacks by transnational terrorist networks, and an operational base for transnational criminal organizations poisoning the world with heroin.
On the other hand, our long historical reputation has always been that of a roundabout, a place where ideas, goods and peoples freely flowed.
We are keen to once again transform our pivotal location at the heart of Asia into a platform for regional and global cooperation. Afghanistan presents an opportunity for the region and the world, for a host of interdependent issues, from trade, security, and economic growth.
But it requires a creative and imaginative approach. Afghan men and women, particularly the 75 % under 35, are eager to engage in a world order where war and poverty can be overcome. We Afghans see our future not in the material manifestations of our misfortune, or even within the boundaries of our own vision of national development, but instead as both initiators, participants, and ultimately beneficiaries of regional and global cooperation and opportunities.
Therefore, the theme of this conference is not an abstract notion for us, but a vital question for our future.
Let me conclude by thanking President Aliyev for hosting this important forum, for participating to security of Afghanistan in particularly for inaugurating the lapis lazuli route in the northern route to the co-chairs and the board for focusing on a vital issue of our time. I also would like to thank the people and government of Azerbaijan for the extension of the famous Azeri hospitality.
In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful