March 28, 2015
Power-Seeking Individuals Flocking to the World's Major Cities Threaten State Security
By Muhammad Irfan
This article points up the fact that educated individuals around the world are migrating in droves to major cities and gaining more and more influence in shaping state policies affecting international relations. Strategies are suggested by which this potential danger to state national interests and survival can be effectively countered.
In the Qur'an, the detailed tenets ranging from 21 to 38 in the Chapter, or "Surah," An-Naml comprehensively describe in terms of the time the importance of data collection, data analysis, and the use of diplomatic tools, threats and displays of power to defend the state's security and national interests. Today, however, new strategies must be pursued in conjunction with these practices to cope with emerging challenges.
According to scholars, among various new factors that directly affect the global system today, one of the most important is the steady migration of talented, ambitious individuals and innovative organizations to urban centers around the world. These new forces and actors are influencing the capabilities and international relations of the nation-states in which they take root. As a result, each state must now formulate new strategies and practices to safeguard its important national interests, and possibly even its survival.
The number of highly capable individuals migrating to major global urban centers is increasing day by day, exerting a growing influence on each national government's capabilities. Such persons take full advantage of learning opportunities, media channels, and social media, and are therefore well acquainted with global trends. Global urban migration is in fact booming, and it is estimated that by the year 2050 fully 70% of the world's population may be living in its major cities.
As individuals settle into these cities in greater and greater numbers, they become more and more engaged, influential and powerful. They establish organized networks, create economic booms, and help their cities gain global importance. Their contributions are already clear in places like Dubai, Beijing, Mumbai, New York and other mega-city centers.
Scholars believe that, if this trend continues, issues that were once only local to the cities involved will rise to the level of global significance. They will affect inter-state relations, and thereby influence a state's international policies. A recent example is the massive public demonstration in Istanbul against the construction of Gazi Park.
Given the booming trend to settlement in the world's major cities, preserving the state's national interests and even its survival are quickly becoming significant concerns. As a response to those concerns, it would seem that what is needed first is a comprehensive approach to potential internal and external challenges. Principally, focus should be placed on internal non-state actors who attempt to influence national policies. A second major concern should be actors and organizations that are prominent in international economic affairs.
Steps that might help to protect state national interests and even its survival include the following:
(a) Coordination among national capitals, which is important because of the technical and communications facilities in these centers. Diplomatic missions in the capitals can oversee the coordination, thereby lessening the possibility of any deterioration in inter-state relations.
(b) National governments should identify individuals and organizations engaged in systematic efforts to increase their influence, cooperating with them to the extent necessary to relieve grievances and avoid miscalculations.
(c) National governments should ally themselves with actors that appear to have important influence in foreign countries and should work with them to help make that influence redound to their own benefit. Although such an approach seems counterproductive to some reasonable policy makers, it seems to me a realistic strategy for upholding the state's national interests and ensuring its survival.
(d) It will be necessary to keep a close eye on local conditions in foreign lands and to plan viable strategies accordingly.
In conclusion, I should emphasize that the most robust diplomatic efforts are required to avoid the potential debacle for state national interests and survival that can result from the systematic efforts of individuals and organizations to increase their influence, or appropriate political power, in their continuing settlement in major cities around the world. Coordination among national capitals is perhaps the best way to safeguard the national interests and survival of states while also maintaining good state-to-state relations.
Muhammad Irfan has authored many books. He is an internationally recognized scholar. He has presented his papers in national and international conferences. He is also a freelance journalist and contributes to both national and international print media.