Over the last century, Peoples around the world sought sovereignty and formed nation-states. Romantic illusions of independence, freedom and autonomy beckoned irresistibly. In 1948, at the formation of the United Nations, hardly 50 worthwhile nations-states participated. Today, the UN counts more than 195 sovereign members. The creation of nation-states has been the most successful development of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The digital age is changing all that. You may think that digital sovereignty is the issue that counts today, but it hardly exists in our globalized world. If sovereignty is a question at all, the world has but one sovereign cyber superpower, and that is the USA. China may be a big cyber country but is by no means a mighty cyber power. The world depends on Internet, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Google, Facebook etcetera, all products by USA-companies.
The Internet as we know it today, on-line and off-line, is transforming into a full-time on-line global reality. Cloud computing is one more tool to facilitate the new reality.
In contrast, to the new reality was " Northern Thunder" last month's military exercise in Saudi Arabia with 20 participating countries. It was a grand display of outdated and antiquated warfare thinking. The largest military exercise, ever, in the Middle East, fizzled out, mostly due to pompous nationalist pride and arrogance of the participants over logistics, and lack of electronic coordination.
Waring factions, fighting over territorial borders in sand deserts with tanks and heavy firepower is a grand absurdity. It is of no interest or consequence to world's welfare and wellbeing. Saudi Arabia and its allies may as well have reenacted Laurence of Arabia’s sword yielding Camel Corps Brigade, attacking Aqaba.
A more up-to-date warfare version became evident in 2013. The American-Israeli cyber attack, led by Israel's Unit 8200, on Iran’s secret uranium ultracentrifuge enrichment facilities, crippling over one thousand units and rendering them useless instantly, initially without Iran even noticing it. It brought Iran to the negotiation table, and Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran became a reality. Not a single shot was fired, nor any fighter plane left the tarmac. Today, wars are fought in cyberspace, and not over territorial borders, and without a national flag and national identity.
Sovereignty by nation-states has become the ever more romantic illusion that it was in the first place. Global interdependence in trade and commerce is growing by the day, whether you like it or not. The world without a global cyber industry is unthinkable. This industry, which facilitates everything and what everybody does on earth, does not adhere to any sovereign fantasy by any populist political leader.
Doomsday-sayers may scramble to media platforms to make their voices heard while painting romantic, idealistic images of the past. Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for USA-president, as well as the terrorist group, ISIS, suggest delusional worlds of the past as Utopistic solutions, worlds back to total isolationism, back to the Stone Age of mankind.
Political rulers, large or small, who do not take global cyber-reality into account in every action they take, and in every law or rule they initiate and implement, are wasting the wealth, prosperity and future of their people.
Sovereignty is obsolete and totally counterproductive to the welfare of mankind.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle