The neglected risks of global politics -- dealing with the nuclear threat





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Published on May 14, 2012

Panel with
Topic Leader:
John K. Defterios (US)
Anchor of Global Exchange & Editor of Emerging Markets, CNN International

Yukiya Amano (JP)
Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Prof. Pervez A. Hoodbhoy (PK)
Visiting Professor, LUMS School of Science & Engineering

Wolfgang Ischinger (DE)
Ambassador & Chairman, Munich Security Conference

The notion of risk has undergone a remarkable, some would even say dramatic, narrowing in its use in recent years. Whenever there is talk of risk, the roots of the financial and economic crisis spring to mind, as well as the many risks that have since become apparent within the global financial system and the sovereign debt crisis. Only rarely, the public's attention shifts to other topics, as could be seen in the way the events in the Arab world have mesmerised the public and politicians alike. Apart from this, many other important issues do not seem to strike too many people's minds.

This is staggering, given the current geopolitical and security challenges at hand. Neglecting these challenges while focusing mainly on the economy shows a very limited understanding of what globalisation is about. In the Middle East, the tensions are growing over Iran's nuclear intentions and a pre-emptive strike against the mullah regime is no longer inconceivable. With Syria descending in civil war and Iraq wobbling after America's departure, the region is further destabilised. Saving the Euro will little help the Europeans, if at the same time the world economy is in danger of being cut off of its oil and gas lifeline in the Gulf. Albeit not important economically, Afghanistan is an unsolved hotspot too, affecting the whole region, especially its neighbouring countries Pakistan and India -- both still deeply entrenched in a potentially catastrophic cold war. Further East, China is making no bones about its ambitions in the Pacific and South-East Asia, clashing with America's interests time and time again.

Are all these risks forgotten? Probably not. They have strong advocates among international organisations and experts around the world. But they seem to be neglected and are not on the foremost agenda of most political decision makers -- regardless of their dangerous and deadly potential. The panel highlights the key geopolitical and security issues at stake and explores their importance and prerequisite for a working global economic system. Special attention is given to the nuclear threat in the Middle East and South Asian region, thus focusing on questions like non-proliferation, balance of power and the immediate tensions that have grown over Iran's and other nations' nuclear programmes.

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