Gulf states show way forward with stabilty: Fukuyama
Francis Fukuyama during the World Government Summit. - KT ohoto by Shihab
Dubai - The Gulf states showed the rest of the world that having a rule of law makes economic growth possible
The Gulf region is leading as an example in its efforts to bring stability in the Arab World, a top political scientist said.
Speaking on the second day of the World Government Summit (WGS), renowned political scientist and economist Francis Fukuyama said the Gulf has been playing their part well.
"[Gulf States] have credible rule of law and property reliability to educate commercial disputers, and that's the liberal part," said Fukuyama, during a panel discussion with Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. "You don't have the democratic accountability of formal elections, but from what we have seen in different parts of the world, it isn't critical for economic prosperity."
Fukuyama noted that Gulf states showed the rest of the world that having a rule of law makes economic growth possible. "You have that component of governance, stable state and ability to deliver services if you have the rule of law [in an era] where the big tragedy in the Arab World is getting to a stable state," said Fukuyama as he referred to the instability in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Getting to a viable state is a question of legitimacy, he added.
One of the biggest threats to global liberal order, he said, comes from within the democratic states of Europe and the US. Fukuyama pointed to a populist backlash against globalisation where not everyone fits into the developed rich world.
"We are moving to a multipolar world and finding alternative sources of power, but adjustments will be difficult," he said, stating Syria as an example where a regional structure needs to be established to pit the limits to what the "great powers" are willing to do.
"We are moving towards a big possibility of serious clashes between the US, Russia, Iran and Syria, and we need a structure to make sure it doesn't get out of hand."
Fukuyama added: "We need to get back and focus on things other than identity, if you will get people to accept political structures that take account the de facto diversity of our world today."
Emerging technologies are challenges
Tech giants have a responsibility as global utilities in regulating information that appears on their platforms.
The political scientist said players have lately used social media to publish fake news, spread propaganda and form conspiracy theories.
"People may say propaganda has always existed, but things that took weeks and months to propagate in the traditional system can now be spread in seconds on social media," said Fukuyama, of platforms like Facebook and Google that remain unregulated.
He said emerging technologies has put the world ahead at risk of cyberwarfare, where the attackers are unknown and keep innovating with "new weapons" in each attack. Cyberwarfare gave rise to virtual terrorism organisations in the Middle East.
"We are far from creating rules on the road. We have to start with big players like the US, Russia and China but they don't agree that there's a common problem that lies ahead. So there must be a shift in mutual relations before we get into that area," said Fukuyama.
Another critical challenge in the system, he said, is the shifting global balance of power where Chinese economy is overtaking the US, and using the internet to cement its authoritarian rule.
"Rising power is destabilising to social order," he said, "and I'm not saying that China is particularly aggressive. but once a country gets power, it is much more likely to misuse it than if its constrained by other players in the system."
Democratic countries will continue to face struggles as individuals identify with their needs to be recognised as part of a group, be it on racial, ethnic or gender lines. "Democracy is based on us being equal political agents, with rights to shared power but living in democracy proved not to be enough as we seek to be recognised," said Fukuyama.
Going on until February 13, WGS features 130 global speakers in 120 key addresses and interactive sessions, aiming to create new models of international cooperation by leveraging new technologies to develop governments.