Solution to Save the World: A Global Magna Carta
By Garry Kasparov*
When democracies make nice with dictators, the world’s worst regimes get away with murder.
The civilized world is in peril. Hezbollah, Iran, and North Korea continue to exist with minimal accountability for the danger they pose. Terrorists and dictators are welcomed to the arena of polite diplomacy, despite their total contempt, even hatred, for what Western civilization represents. Engagement and appeasement are failing as they always have. Today, a new framework is required to replace the old structures and agreements that dictate global diplomacy. I do not refer to reforming the United Nations. It is now so outdated that suggestions to reform it are themselves past their time. The United Nations was formed to freeze a crisis—the Cold War—not to solve crises. Our war today is a hot one, and it is not about territory, ideology, or commerce. It is about the value of human life. The world needs a new organization based on a global Magna Carta, a declaration of inalienable human rights that all member nations must recognize. Without guiding standards, we are being dragged down to the lowest common denominator. Communism was defeated not by moral relativism and long meetings but by an opposition possessing firm and unabashed moral leadership, combined with the increasing superiority of the West’s technology and standard of living.
My matches against generations of chess computers made it painfully clear to me that the march of technology cannot be stopped. The lucky moment we have inhabited, in which weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are prohibitively expensive and difficult to manufacture, is rapidly coming to an end. There is no single solution to prevent the proliferation of terror and WMD, but we must take the first step and recognize that no solution is possible with our current mechanisms. Right now, nations that talk democracy make dirty little secret deals with strategic allies who have no use for democratic values. These double standards must end. A united front of strict and strategic sanctions and aid packages is necessary for carrot-stick incentives to work. United military intervention to protect human lives must also be kept on the table. The values enshrined in a new Magna Carta must be defended as if they were borders, for that is exactly what they are.
Nations that value democracy and human life now control the greater part of the world’s resources as well as its military power. If they band together and refuse to coddle the rogue regimes and sponsors of terror, their authority will be irresistible. Their combined wealth can fund new technologies to cure their oil addiction, which currently empowers a preponderance of terrorists and dictators.
The goal with such a compact is not to build walls to isolate the millions of people living under authoritarian rule. Instead, it is to provide real leadership by example as well as concrete incentives to respect human rights. Look at the speed with which the incentive of joining the European Union has spurred dramatic reforms throughout Eastern Europe. This model should be replicated on a global scale.
In his famous 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill warned that the newly established United Nations must be “a force for action, and not merely a frothing of words.” We can see today that his warnings went unheeded. The so-called leaders of the free world talk about promoting democracy while treating the leaders of the world’s most autocratic regimes as equals. A global Magna Carta would forbid this hypocrisy and provide a powerful inducement for reform. The policies of engagement have failed on every level in every quarter of the world. It is well past time to recognize this failure and to try a new path.
*Garry Kasparov is chairman of the United Civil Front, a democratic activist group based in Russia. He was the world chess champion for more than 20 years.