Taiwan, Khashoggi and Shifting Paradigms

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Monday November 5, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Embassy stunned the world. It was not the first obvious recent murder or attempted murder, but its circumstances were most compelling.

North Korean in exile, Kim Jong-nam, was assassinated at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, 2017. Presumably he was seen as a threat to the leadership in North Korea.

On March 4, an attempt was made to poison former Russian military officer and double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. He had been freed on a spy swap with Russia and they were living in Salisbury, England. Was his "escape" from prison the motive?

The murder of dissenters and dissidents is not something new. However, under the current global village paradigm, any murder committed on foreign soil is equivalent to entering another nation's home to murder a personal enemy. It displays a blatant disregard for that nation's integrity and hence Turkey's ire in exposing details of Khashoggi's killing.

In addition, the brutality of Khashoggi's case points to more. The horrific circumstances represented a crime not just against a person, but also against human rights and humanity regardless of culture or nationality.

Khashoggi was apparently tortured before being killed and dismembered, and the shifting Saudi explanation spiraled from denial to eventual admitted premeditation.

Taiwanese have been down this road. They can recall how despite many murders in Taiwan's then one-party Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) state, it was the 1984 murder of writer Henry Liu in California that created the disrespectful anomaly that the US could not ignore and finally triggered the US demand for justice.

Such murders present anomalies that go beyond the global village paradigm; they express a wider message that speaks for human rights across the planet.

This is the issue. Today, with the speed of developing modern technology news of such murders is instantaneously known throughout the shrinking global village. In turn, all this points to a newly emerging paradigm, that of one global home.

Anomalies are always the predecessors of paradigmatic changes and shifts; because of this, the concept of crimes against humanity in a post World War II world is becoming a driving force.

All nations are realizing that they are interconnected on one planet, in one home, Earth, and they must therefore work out these issues, hence the growing realization that "we are all in this together."

In The Concept of the Political, Carl Schmitt stressed that the specific political distinction for nations was "between friend and enemy." That seemed to divide the world easily enough.

However, Schmitt was writing in a pre-World War II world, and the scope of that war would quickly produce the need for the United Nations (1945), the World Health Organization (1948), and the revival of the international police organization in 1956.

The nations of the world now see that there are enemies much larger than the enemies of any one state or nation. These enemies have no respect for national boundaries. This is the gist of the newly emerging global home paradigm.

On the environmental front, a prime enemy is global warming. It threatens the planet, and no nation can claim favored status with it. Many nations may even aid and abet this growing enemy.

Crime also disrespects borders. Drug trafficking, sex trafficking, money-laundering etc. are international problems and demand a need for joint police work.

Pestilence, poverty and war sweep the planet and constantly create continuing problems of migrations and refugees.

These enemies illustrate that the concept of the nation state after the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia is not set in stone; a paradigm shift is coming.

This is where the world is now. Anomalies that stress interconnectedness of all are increasing to challenge the previous paradigm where nations are members of a global village. Within this new perception, nations no longer have the leisure to indulge in zero sum competition; they must work together.

Nations cannot solve global problems with a "Me first" attitude. The painful admission that nations must now face is found in the oft-repeated challenging words of the ancient Jewish scholar Hillel on the constant tension between the individual and community. "If I am not for myself, who will be for me, but if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?"

As each nation stands individually in the macrocosm of the human community, it must realize it cannot be only for itself.

This brings us then to the additional anomaly of the prosperous nation of democratic Taiwan.

While nations grapple with the growing reality of their interconnectedness, this problem is all the more exacerbated by the fact that Taiwan continues to be treated as an outsider and denied membership in the UN, WHO and Interpol.

That is the irony, because Taiwan has a population larger than 70 percent of the nations in the UN; it has a GDP larger than 85 percent of those nations; and the quality of its universal healthcare exceeds 80 percent of those nations.

How can this valuable asset in addressing world problems be denied entry?

The opposition that created the anomaly of Taiwan continues to be China, the true enemy of Taiwan's democracy.

China does this despite its own problems. It fosters indoctrination camps for the Uighurs in Xinjiang and ignores its broken promises of democracy to Hong Kong. It offers poor health care to hundreds of millions, and allows organ harvesting while its growing rate of internal corruption continues to increase.

If progress is to be made, the other nations must find a way to resolve this anomaly and welcome Taiwan as a participating member.

Khashoggi's death shocked the world, but his death is only a symptom of how far the nations of the world have to go.

Taiwan's exclusion is another such symptom that needs to be recognized.

The anomalies mount; the human race faces many new enemies. There will be no quick solution. Taiwan is more than willing to be a contributing member. Other nations must help find a way to help make it a participating member.

After all, "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem."