Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Sources of Major World Problems:
Capitalism, Corporations, Corrupt Politicians
By Charles Mercieca
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 8, 2011
When people face a problem there are generally two ways that may be adopted
to hopefully reach a successful outcome. One of these ways will enable us to
solve the problem we face on a permanent basis, that is, in a way that such
a problem will not likely to ever surface again. The other way, which seems
to have been quite dominant in history to this very day, will enable us to
bring the problem under control in a number of ways but never on a permanent
Two Distinct Approaches
In order to comprehend the nature of these two approaches to the solution of
a problem we come across, it would be better to start with the illustration
of an example. Let us imagine there is a nice hall in town, which people
tend to use every now and then to hold some special event. Just a few days
before the event, some committee members visit this hall to make sure
everything is in order and under control. They soon discover that there has
been some water on the floor and the furniture was not in place.
Needless to say, they proceed to dry the water away and put the furniture in
order after which they return home satisfied looking anxiously forward for
the projected event. The day before, they double-check the hall again and
they find everything was in perfect order the way they had arranged it.
However, they do discover some water scattered here and there on the floor.
Of course, without hesitation they dried it up and everything was ready to
go. In fact, the following day the event went smoothly and every participant
was fully satisfied.
This was one way of solving the problem on the spare of the moment.
Unfortunately, this has been the dominant approach adopted throughout the
centuries when quite a number of people were faced with a problem. They use
methods that would solve the problem fast and smooth visibly on the surface
for the specified time that was needed. In fact, other groups in the past
that needed to use this same hall did experience the same problem and they
all tended to adopt the same approach for a solution.
The stated solution of the problem involved was based on an approach that
would enable us to overcome the obstacle of water on the floor simply by
wiping it out properly and effectively. If the problem we face anywhere in
the world keeps on being repeated that would mean that we have to get to the
source that causes such an involved problem to take place over and over
again. Our first step is to think and meditate while raising to ourselves
seriously the question: Where did such water come from in the first place?
Was there any leak somewhere, like from a pipe or even the roof?
Getting to the Source
If, say, we find out the leak was in the roof, then we need to go on the top
of the roof and cement the crack or small hole from where the water was
Once we block the very source of the problem, we may feel
virtually certain that such a problem of finding water on the floor of the
involved hall will not likely ever to be repeated again. This would be the
best and most effective way to solve a problem on a permanent basis, no
matter how long it may take us. As we may fully realize, our world is
literally saturated with serious problems.
There is surely one thing that all people from every walk of life and
profession have strongly in common. No one would like to be confronted with
problems of any kind whatsoever. Problems tend to create tension which may
lead to high blood pressure. They tend to make us lose our inner joy and the
full power of concentration when we are in the process of doing something
that is especially positive and constructive. Besides, problems in general
tend to be a nuisance, something that is generally undesirable.
Some 2,500 years ago, Greek philosopher Socrates underlined the fact that we
are capable of solving any problem in life we come across provided, he
added, we take seriously the first step. What is the first step? He
said this would be to bring the problem into the open for everyone to see
because, he continued, unless people are aware of the existence of a problem
they will do nothing to bring it under control. History has shown that when
people become aware of a serious problem, they would do anything to solve it
However, he stressed, once the people become aware of
the existence of a problem, they will immediately begin to figure out how
such problem may eventually affect them. And once they see that with clarity
action is immediately taken and the problem is solved. Since then,
Socrates has been fully vindicated century after century with no exceptions
whatsoever. It is good that we talk about problems and try to discuss them
the best we can. Yet, if we do not take positive and constructive actions
nothing should be expected to happen.
If we were to visit every
single major country in the world we would soon discover that people share
similar problems, regardless of their background, nationality, cultural
heritage, philosophical orientation and religious profession. And if we were
to go to the very source of all major problems we would quickly see with
crystal clarity that, on the whole, their respective government emerges to
become the real source of all their headaches. This reason is very simple
and fully clear. While the job of the government is to serve the people, in
practice such a government makes it a point to boss the people around.
Violence Replacing Diplomacy
This governmental approach has been the source of enormous suffering that
has resulted in so many people being poor and homeless as well as being
deprived of adequate health care, if any at all. Besides, people are
deprived ruthlessly from most of their sacrosanct human rights, which
includes free education from the cradle to the grave. A government that
provides such an element to its own people is enabling its nation to be
fully developed as to become highly constructive in all national endeavors.
People of all nations do not want their government to resort to wars to
solve human differences. Yet, as we have witnessed in history, the people
are fully ignored and wars are waged that always end up with tragic
consequences. This means people are forced to experience unnecessarily that
in a war everyone is a loser and no one is a winner. Today we have reached a
point in history where conventional wars do not make sense any longer. It
has been predicted that World War II might have been the last conventional
war in human history.
We all remember the so called 9/11 attack on New York and Washington, DC in
2001. The attackers did not represent any government. They consisted merely
of 19 young men, mostly from Saudi Arabia, whose only major war equipment
they carried consisted mostly of a few knives. These are described as
terrorists who do not carry any badge or identification. On the other hand,
the USA, which was trained in conventional wars, invaded Afghanistan and
demolished the structure of cities while killing thousands of innocent
As though this was not enough, the USA invaded Iraq under false pretences
where tens of thousands of innocent people were massacred, in addition to
causing some 2 million refugees, while creating thousands of orphans.
Nowadays the real enemy consists merely of a handsome of young individuals
who want to take matters in hand since they feel their respective government
is eventually corrupt and cannot do things right for the people. The best
way to deal with future enemies of this type is through education.
Let us here bring to our mind the preamble of UNESCO, which states: Since
wars being in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses
of peace must be constructed. Of course, we cannot expect to solve the
manifold problems we face overnight. We have to educate a new generation
that views the entire world as its “native-land,” as Roman philosopher
Seneca advocated in the first century. In fact he insisted saying: We will
have a permanent world peace when we educate all of our children to look at
the world and say: ‘Omnis orbs terrarium patria mea est – the whole world is
my native land.’
Importance of Global Community
Since Seneca made such a statement, 2,000 years have passed and there has
never been a sizeable period of world peace. All of these 20 centuries that
passed since then have been characterized by struggles and wars that
inflicted suffering and death on several millions of innocent people.
Confronted with this reality we should not be discouraged. We still have a
chance, an opportunity to turn things around fast and smooth to the best we
can. Recent events across the USA and other countries have been a gigantic
step in the right direction.
We are referring here to the “occupy” peaceful protests where highly
concerned citizens demonstrate in front of governmental buildings as well as
in squares and parks. People want to show that the time for continued
suppression of their sacrosanct human rights is over. If we were to make a
careful study of the human rights in virtually every major country we would
soon discover that there is hardly one nation in the world that literally
respects human rights, not just on the surface by words but especially in
practice as evidenced in actions.
Ironically, the United States is perhaps the most vocal country in the world
that condemns violations of human rights as they occur from time to time.
This is good and quite encouraging. The only tragedy we witness here lies in
the fact that in its own territory, the USA does not practice what it
preaches to others. For example, the USA was quick to condemn the brutal
ways that were used recently in such countries as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and
Syria against young people who protested peacefully the tyranny they have
experienced for years.
When recently American young men and women demonstrated in New York and
other cities to protest the way the poor and the middle class were exploited
by US corporations, hundreds of police dressed with helmets and full
military equipment went to confront these peaceful demonstrators. They went
like they were soldiers going after their enemies to destroy them if that
were needed. In fact, they hand-cuffed and arrested several of them without
mercy. They also sprayed pepper on them that some of them could hardly see.
students in California gathered peacefully to protest the exorbitant fees
increase of their university that would make it literally impossible to
finish their studies, hundreds of police went to confront them dressed in
helmets like they constituted a part of the military. These police, directed
by local government officials, used violence against these innocent and
harmless students that injured quite a number of them. These American police
were no more or less brutal than the police in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and
Syria in addition to a few other countries that we witnessed in recent
Safeguard of Human Rights
While the US government
condemns the brutalities of police against peaceful demonstrators in other
countries, it condones and even instigates such police brutalities against
peaceful demonstrators in its own territory. The sole purpose of the United
States to have hundreds of military bases around the world is not to bring
freedom and democracy to other nations. All these elements serve merely as
instruments for the USA to police the whole world and to control it in any
As stated earlier, the job of the government is to
serve the people and not to boss them around. To this end, the government
must listen periodically to what the people have to say especially relative
to their imminent vital needs. One of the best documents on human rights is
the United Nations Charter on Human Rights. In spite of this, there is
hardly any country that observes fully well this well-written and inspired
charter. Let us quote a few examples for us to realize what has been stated
with great clarity.
In accordance with this UN document, all human
beings have a sacrosanct right to move around freely anywhere they wish in
the world. Yet, a number of governments, the USA included, prevent their
people from visiting a number of countries. For example, Americans are not
allowed to visit Cuba, their peaceful neighbor and quite a few other
countries. By way of contrast, Canadians are not prohibited by their
government to visit any nation of their choice. Needless to say, when people
travel they need to have some kind of identification.
common identification that has been used for centuries is known as the
passport. In spite of this, for many countries, a valid passport is not
enough. Unless they issue you with the so called “visa” you are not free to
visit your chosen nation even if you have many friends there. If this were a
matter of routine or a means of making an extra income, since one has to pay
a fee to secure the visa, then perhaps we may close our eyes. But in a
number of instances, the visa is mysteriously denied.
especially referring to the refusal of issuing a visa to teachers whose sole
purpose to travel is to participate in an international academic conference
or even a global peace convention. These are all governmental blatant
violations of human rights. It would be appropriate if we were to make
serious studies relative to what motivates governments to violate constantly
and systematically the human rights of so many people in general. Among
possible reasons we may enlist ignorance, indifference, paranoia,
irresponsibility, prejudice, stubbornness, machismo, stupidity and abuse, in
addition to others.
Eventual Control of World Problems
The tremendous violations of human rights we witness periodically in the
world at large are too many to enumerate. However, it would be appropriate
if we were to study the violations of human rights in every single country
while trying to pin point with clarity their very source so that we may go
after it and block it for good. Since power corrupts and absolute power
corrupts absolutely, we cannot have the same people in government for the
rest of their lives. We have to devise a plan to have people in government
for only a fixed time.
This is important because even if those in government happen to be good
people initially, they will eventually, sooner or later, begin to
demonstrate the symptoms of eventual corruption as time rolls on. Let us
also keep in mind what Blessed Pope John Paul II said in Mexico during the
decade of the eighties when asked as to whether he thought world peace was
possible. He said: Yes but only after two great evils of the 20th century
are gone: communism and capitalism, because they both advance their causes
through the exploitation of people.
Some leading political scientists tell us that if we were to eliminate all
of the evil of communism and capitalism and try to preserve anything good we
may possibly find in these two systems, we may hopefully create a viable and
desirable government for all people to have and to cherish. This would
involve the election of all governmental officials where the news media will
bring systematic news about all those running for office free-of-charge.
This would also involve that all people will have free health care and free
education for life.
After all, the people are the backbone of the nation. If they are healthy
and well educated we will surely have a strong nation. If people are
unhealthy and barely educated then we will have a weak nation. This type of
government may be referred to by a number of names including such names as
social democracy or democratic socialism. This will certainly bring to an
end the monopoly that that big corporations have on government officials
whose job nowadays ceased to serve the people but to boss them around.
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
International Association of
Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Hon President & Professor, SBS
Swiss Business School, Zurich