Sunday, 29 November 2009
November 2009 - A Meaningful Numbers Game?
Iraq is again in the UK headlines because of another Inquiry into the contentious war, and the Chilcot inquiry’s analysis of the lead up to war is a reminder of the substantial debate generated during that period and the thousands of people who took to the streets in protest. Looking back at the world-shaping events from the first half of the decade inevitably (for a blog such as this anyhow) leads to comparison with the upcoming December Copenhagen UN climate summit - a potential world shaper at the death of the 00’s. And the question arises, what will be the impact of the public and NGO pressure on the decision makers in Copenhagen?
This is of course, on the face of it, an inescapably depressing comparison to make because in the case of Iraq a worldwide mobilisation of public and political opposition didn’t stop the invasion. Yet for those who are seriously optomistic and can see a glass half full at forty paces, there maybe lessons and (fractured) shards of hope from the Iraq experience. What there was a was widespread and energetic noise on Iraq that didn’t go away and calcified into consensus (all be it too late), in light of the evidence and outcome, that “i/we/they were right after all... it was a bad idea.”
Next month on the 5th of December The Wave takes place in London with thousands of people aiming to push world leaders in Copenhagen for a fair deal that straightforwardly aims to address the problem of climate change. A week later and thousands more will be protesting on the streets of Copenhagen itself. The people protesting have to hope that the numbers are high and the numbers will count.
A lot of the press coverage of Copenhagen in November has focused on people, that is, the world leaders playing down of the likelihood of a legally binding deal and speculating which of them is going to be there. The German Media group Deutsche Welle reported 65 Leaders were coming and since then Obama (a man with impressive numbers 1.8 million people came to his inauguration) has confirmed as has Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
Numbers in the room will be important. Obama says he’s going to get an “operational deal” and gain momentum from the summit, the implication of course is as reported there won’t be a legally binding deal. Numbers on the streets outside may not secure a legally binding deal (which would be a inescapably disappointing) but could influence the force of the momentum Obama says he wants to generate.
At the Chilcot inquiry this week Sir Christopher Meyer said the "unforgiving timetable" for the invasion meant that the momentum gained by public and world political pressure didn’t have time to count on Iraq. In the week that has seen Norway opening a prototype plant capable of generating power through osmosis. Here’s hoping that people in the streets and the noise has a lingering effect that counts in time.