The world is bigger than five not a slogan, but a realpolitik fact

  • 26 Eylül 2018 Çarşamba

Once again, we have arrived in New York with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

As you know, with the saying “the world is bigger than five,” Erdoğan has long chastised the U.N. structure that has continued since World War II. He has been insistently voicing this in his addresses to the U.N. General Assembly. The five states Erdoğan mentioned while formulating the slogan “the world is bigger than five” are the U.S., Russia, France, the U.K. and China – the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with the right to veto.

This situation already reveals that the U.N. is a status quo institution and a structure that created institutions and mechanisms legitimizing the order established after World War II and maintained under U.S. hegemony.

The general consensus of these five countries comes to the fore as the top guarantee of the continuation of the system – regardless of however it is. In other words, humanitarian plights, civil wars and the like in any part of the world cannot be solved by the U.N. without the unanimity of these five countries. The current example of this is Syria, while we experienced the Yugoslavian civil war and the Bosnia-Herzegovina tragedies exactly for this reason in the 1990s.

Therefore, this situation also automatically reveals a status quo on sharing. For instance, Russia’s rejection of something that is accepted by the U.S., or others, signifies nothing. Thus, the fact that “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most” never changes. In fact, last year U.S. President Donald Trump blew the gaff that the U.N. is a theater in this sense.

Trump is not happy with two things. First, the U.N. lectern is used as an objection platform by growing countries like Turkey, followed by former colonized nations, such as those in Africa that have remained silent so far, and these countries condemn the unfair decisions of the U.S. in ballots, such as the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Second, the old status quo on sharing has dissolved. China is preparing to retaliate with much higher customs duties than the U.S., and some say it is about to take measures against U.S. nationals making financial transactions in China.

When Trump said that the U.N. is unnecessary, he was making a valid point – and also the core of Erdoğan’s criticism. Trump said what is going on in the U.N. – the decisions and voting – are all a game and real decisions are made behind closed doors, arguing that there is no need for all this fuss and thousands of diplomats rushing and spending thousands of dollars. He said this system was not reasonable at all, inadvertently confessing how the U.N. game actually works.

Will these five states make joint decisions and use the U.N. structure to legitimize these decisions, even behind closed doors, in the new process that started with the trade wars? This seems pretty difficult now considering the rapidly deteriorating trade and political tension. Also, it is hard for the U.N. to continue as is because of new decision-making and trade unions established outside of the U.N., as a result of objections by countries like Turkey.

Today, the U.S. dollar is the basic reserve currency that circulates global trade largely in favor of the U.S. Thus, the U.S. can issue sanction decisions with impunity and block global trade with additional customs tariffs. In other words, it is trying to ensure that countries do not go outside the dollar-based system, which is becoming deadlocked parallel to the U.N.’s political functioning structure. This means that the U.S. will not be able to finance its deficits if the dollar ceases to be a reserve currency.

For this, Trump says on platforms like NATO that the U.S. is a “victim” due to excessive security spending for everyone. In other words, he warns against playing with the dollar as it finances not only the U.S., but also everyone else. However, the world is rapidly moving toward a new order that will end dollar dominance. Even academic research on this is quite serious. For instance, there have long been quests for currency systems ranging from gold-based ones to digital. As before World War II, regional local currency trade unions and banks were being established.

Then again, if the U.S. insists on this policy, it will have serious problems with strong and growing countries from now on. These problems will emanate from the dollar-based currency and trade system, as well as from regional sharing and regional sovereignty.

However, U.S. abandonment of this aggressive stance remains a more realistic and rational choice for itself and the world. On the other hand, in the context of the U.N. paradigm, U.S. problems with the other four countries may not be able to find a compromise, even behind closed doors as Trump says, let alone on U.N. platforms. The sanctions on China that came into force a few days ago and China’s response to them will be a very important beginning in this regard.

So, what kind of course will economic and political activities of countries like Turkey follow in the context of this general framework? And what kind of a course will Turkey-U.S. relations follow as of tomorrow, and how will it be reflected on the economy?

First of all, the U.S. should accept that the political paradigm embodied by the U.N. is over and that Erdoğan’s maxim “the world is greater than five” is no longer a political target, but embodies a realpolitik fact.

Second, the compulsory agreement between the five states is over today. Moreover, there is the fact of developing countries, the EU (Germany) and Pacific Asia (Japan and South Korea). In this regard, I predict that the U.S. will soon abandon its irrational attitude that would eventually lead to losing Turkey as an ally completely. Erdoğan’s move from New York to Berlin should also be considered. In this sense, there may be very positive developments in the near future which will lead to positive results in the economy in return.