Category Archives: Cultural imperialism (general)

The German Left’s Palestine Problem

The German Left’s Palestine Problem

by Leandros Fischer

Die Linke’s position on Palestine has isolated it from the global solidarity movement and strengthened the party’s worst elements.

It was a truly bizarre scene, worthy of a Peter Sellers film: a man frantically running through the Bundestag’s lifeless corridors. Behind him, another man, David Sheen, accuses him of smears and putting his life in danger from Israeli right-wing thugs. The man is Gregor Gysi, head of the Left Party’s (Die Linke) parliamentary caucus. He walks to a bathroom and closes the door shouting to Sheen “Raus mit dir!” (“Out with you!”).

Annette Groth and Inge Höger, two Die Linke parliamentarians who were aboard the 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla, try to calm Sheen and his associate, Max Blumenthal.

What exactly happened?

It seems that Gysi went out of his way to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled to take place at Die Linke’s premises in the Bundestag. Another party MP, Petra Pau, co-signed a letter along with a politician from the Green Party and a Social Democrat heading the main Israel lobbying organization in Germany, urging the Volksbühne Theatre to cancel an event with Blumenthal and Sheen scheduled for November 9.

The letter claimed Blumenthal and Sheen were a “one-sided duet” who compare Israel to Nazis, and who had the nerve to stage an anti-Israel event on the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Pandemonium ensued after the release of the video showing Gysi heading to and from the toilet. Die Linke’s reformist right-wing not only forced the party’s parliamentarians who invited Blumenthal and Sheen to apologize to Gysi, but is now openly calling for their expulsion from the caucus, more or less accusing both of them of antisemitism.

Heike Hänsel, another allegedly sympathetic MP, went as far as to openly state that she will never work with Blumenthal and Sheen again. That a German party, even a left-wing one, should be somewhat cautious in criticizing Israel, in a country where the definitions of Judaism, Israel, and Zionism have been consciously conflated for half a century, should not come as a surprise. But that parts of its top brass should actively work with the media to smear two internationally known Jewish anti-Zionists as “antisemites” is truly alarming and casts serious doubts on the party’s ability to relate to the global Palestine solidarity movement.

The history of the German left’s attitude to Israel/Palestine is truly complex and for the uninitiated foreign leftist, perplexing and occasionally shocking.

When I first moved to Germany from Cyprus during the height of the Second Intifada, I didn’t pay much attention to the conflict other than instinctively lending my moral support to whoever happened to be the oppressed in this and any other conflict. But at university, I was shocked to find that when left-wing, mostly autonomist-minded activists on campus used to talk about Palestine, it wasn’t even to adopt the minimally acceptable position of condemning Israel’s brutal “pacifying” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but to romanticize the country as some kind of Middle Eastern Cuba under threat from Nazi-inspired Palestinian suicide bombers.

Clearly this attitude was not and is not representative of the entire left on this issue, but it nevertheless points out a more problematic trajectory than in other Western European countries.

While the fact that Germany is responsible for the industrial murder of millions of Jews partially explains the German left’s Palestine problem, the East-West dimension is equally crucial; Gysi has been the official face of East German post-communism for the last twenty-five years. The case of Die Linke merits special attention here, since the inner dynamics of an outcast left-reformist party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s modern Germany amid the contradictions of the Eurozone crisis also influence its approach to the Middle East.

The German Left and Palestine: A Brief History

Like the British Labour Party, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the trade union bureaucracy were stridently pro-Zionist in the 1950s and 60s. Postwar social democracy saw Israel as a socialist-inspired state, paving a “third way” between Western liberal capitalism and Eastern “totalitarianism.”

Such a policy was seen as permissible from a left-wing point of view. After all, German conservatives — despite paying reparations to Israel for the Holocaust — refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1965, despite secretly arming the new state. This was done ostensibly to uphold the “traditional German-Arab friendship,” but was in reality aimed at preventing a wave of recognition for the “illegitimate” German Democratic Republic (GDR) by the Arab states.

For young Marxist intellectuals on the fringes of the SPD, establishing diplomatic relations with Israel became a left-wing cause in response to a political establishment that integrated former Nazis into the state apparatus, most notably Hans Globke, a top advisor to Konrad Adenauer and co-author of the infamous Nuremberg race laws.

East Germany’s Communist government, on the other hand, had to follow the twists and turns of Stalinist foreign policy. Accordingly, the Soviet line on supporting the Zionist militias was adopted in the crucial period of 1947-49. On the other hand, the East German bureaucrats engaged in party purges in the early 1950s that effectively mobilized antisemitic sentiments against undesirable elements, prompting a Jewish exodus from East Germany.

With the Soviet Union’s pro-Arab tilt around the same time, the GDR also tried to outdo itself in anti-Israeli rhetoric to gain vital diplomatic recognition by the Arab states. The GDR was anti-Zionist insofar as it opposed Israel’s policies. But like the Soviet Union, it never questioned its settler-colonial nature, seeing Israel’s alliance with imperialism as simply a matter of bad choice. It was Israel’s territorial expansionism at the expense of Soviet allies that bothered the Eastern Bloc, not so much the discriminatory nature of its ruling ideology.

Meanwhile in the West, things were changing. Israel was now the United States’ prime ally in the Middle East, while the latter was fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam. Germany and Israel established official relations two years before and the war witnessed a multitude of pro-Zionist frenzy in the right-wing Springer press.

As Israel officially became a front-line state in the struggle against communism, West German students, organized in the Socialist German Student Association (SDS) were joining their peers in the United Kingdom, France, Scandinavia, and elsewhere, in proclaiming their solidarity with the Palestinian fedayeen. Palestinians were now not just a logistical refugee issue but visible subjects, with the more left-leaning organizations of the Palestinian Liberation Organization contributing greatly to the framing of this struggle as part of the wider endeavor for self-determination in the Global South.

After SDS disbanded in 1970, its different successor organizations also took up Palestine as a cause (although due to the German historical context, much less than in other Western countries). The most prominent examples were undoubtedly the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the Revolutionary Cells, two terrorist groups that were to a great extent armed and trained by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

While overemphasized, these were not the only examples. Palestine solidarity in one form or another existed along the entire spectrum of the Left — from the Maoist “communist groups” and Trotskyist and workerist tendencies, to the “milder” pro-Soviet German Communist Party and even the youth section of the SPD.

Death of a Movement: The Antideutsch

The collapse of a pro-Palestinian consensus is undoubtedly linked to the global retreat of the left that commenced in the late 1970s. The German radical left after 1968 was never a mass movement with a wide appeal in the working class, unlike its counterparts in Great Britain, France, and Italy. West German capitalism was better at integrating the upheaval of 1968.

In political terms, it was Social Democracy that was the main beneficiary of 1968. The radical left found itself increasingly isolated, a part of it turning to urban terrorism. The bloody crescendo reached its climax in the “German autumn” of 1977, when kidnappings and plane hijackings by the RAF ended in the deaths of two of its imprisoned founding members.

This only helped accelerate a turn away from the support of armed struggles in the Third World and toward broader ecological and pacifist movements, a turn that was given political expression by the Green Party. Some Marxist groups continued to operate but mostly ineffectually.

Meanwhile, other militant sections coalesced around the autonomist movement. The Autonomen continued to uphold anti-imperialism, including the Palestinian cause. They were a subculture as much as a movement, characterized by squatting and militant confrontations with the police. But their profound disdain for theory also made them susceptible to the effects of the cataclysmic political events that came in 1989.

In the face of a neo-Nazi offensive following reunification, a significant part of the autonomists adopted the worldview of the Antideutsch, the “anti-Germans.” These ex-Maoist remnants expressed the view that the biggest enemy for the German left to confront was the abstract notion of “Germany” as nation. An alliance was necessary with anyone perceived to be against “Germany.”

Israel did not figure prominently in the beginning of the Antideutsch movement. This changed after the outbreak of the Second Intifada and 9/11. The Antideutsch were already thrilled by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitlers Willing Executioners. They now fervently applied his idea of “eliminatory antisemitism” to virtually any movement opposing US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, be it secular nationalist or Islamist.

Matthias Küntzel, an ex-Maoist and Antideutsch ideologue in the tradition of the French nouveaux philosophes, even devoted an entire book to “prove” (without the slightest knowledge of Arabic) that the ideology of Hamas and Hezbollah was “Nazi-inspired.” By this point, the hardcore of the Antideutsch bid the Left farewell, proclaiming it “dead.” Remnants of the movement have since made common cause with far-right Islamophobes.

However, the cultural aesthetics and ideas of Antideutsch — a bizarre mix of techno music, self-managed housing projects, and endless discussions on the “structural antisemitism” of the anti-globalization and Occupy movements — characterize a large share of the current German radical left. This is especially true in eastern Germany, where a strong far right often engages in a demagogic, antisemitic kind of anti-Zionism. This, incidentally, is also the part of the country where the disastrous legacy of Stalinism and the chronic weakness of organized labor are more visible.

Newspapers like Jungle World that celebrate autonomy in Chiapas, queer politics, and radical ecology are stridently pro-Israel in their outlook. It’s not that all autonomists in Germany support Israel in every instance or are indifferent to the existence of Islamophobia. But openly questioning Israeli oppression of Palestinians is deemed out of bounds, since this could open the gates to existing latent antisemitism.

When Israeli bombs fall on the Gaza Strip killing and maiming thousands, many from the alternative scene abstain from protesting in solidarity with the victims, arguing that since Hamas doesn’t present an “emancipatory alternative,” there isn’t really anyone the Left can embrace.

In this, there is an uncomfortable and often unwilling convergence of autonomist discourses with the rampant Islamophobia currently plaguing Germany, with regular attacks on mosques coupled with calls on Muslims to “integrate” and “disassociate” themselves from ISIS. When a mob of five thousand hooligans, many of them active neo-Nazis, gathered in front of Cologne’s main train station on October 26 to protest “Salafism,” the far smaller counter-demonstration assembled under the abstract slogan “against racism and religious fundamentalism,” apparently eager to disassociate itself from the Salafism.

This had the rather unsettling effect of equating young discriminated Muslims with the direct political heirs of Himmler and Goebbels.

At a subsequent meeting convened to discuss the aftermath of the demonstration, I witnessed how left-oriented German students could genuinely not fathom why the counter-protest’s slogan was outright wrong. This drew the desperate ire of a comrade of Iranian background, a symptom perhaps of a deepening rift between significant parts of the Left and Muslims living in Germany.

Enter Die Linke

Die Linke is vital terrain to struggle against this tendency. Born from a 2007 merger between those fleeing the SPD’s turn to the center — as well as activists energized by the anti-globalization and anti-war movements — and the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor to the former East German ruling party, the party runs the entire gamut of the German left.

Those inside the tent include center-left trade unionists, Trotskyists, left-Keynesians, East German ex-communists, autonomists, and even an Antideutsch-inspired group with influence in the party’s youth wing. The party’s founding momentum was the result of a twin rejection of neoliberalism as well as “humanitarian intervention” abroad, which the SPD and the formerly pacifist Greens had championed in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

The question of Palestine has subsequently become a largely symbolic issue between those who see it as a matter of principle that an internationalist party should show solidarity with a liberation movement and those who envisage future Die Linke participation in a coalition government as a junior partner of the SPD and the Greens.

A layer of professional politicians from the PDS section — a mass party in the eastern states — leads the second camp. It had already participated in coalitions with the Social Democrats in a few states, including Berlin, where it has often subordinated its left-wing program to neoliberal fiscal concerns. The people currently calling for pro-Palestine MPs Annette Groth and Inge Höger to be expelled include supporters of these coalitions like Stefan Liebich, who professes to be a member of “Atlantik-Brücke,” a think tank dedicated to strengthening the German-American alliance.

They also include Klaus Lederer, Die Linke’s chairman in Berlin, who spoke at a pro-Israel rally during the 2008-09 war on Gaza. “Reflection” and “guilt” over East Germany’s record of “one-sidedness” in the conflict are stated as the main reason for this tilt to the Zionist point of view. Descending from the old GDR’s state-affiliated professional caste, it is not hard to recognize why being in government is seen as a more effective way to change things than being in a movement.

Gysi has been careful to play a more integrative role within the party. But during a speech in 2008 at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, the party’s think tank, he explicitly linked the prospect of Die Linke joining a future coalition government with the acceptance of the German Staatsräson, or national interest, shared by all other parliamentary forces. In addition to acceptance of Germany’s commitment to NATO and the European Union (EU), this includes assent to its “special relationship” with Israel.

This relationship is evident in German sales of nuclear-capable submarines to Israel, as well as German vetoing of initiatives within the EU to upgrade the status of Palestine. By couching its support for Israel in moral terms, Germany is thus cynically providing a fig leaf for an otherwise morally indefensible status quo that profits its armaments industry.

On the other hand, Oskar Lafontaine, the former SPD maverick whose defection from the Social Democrats was crucial in forming Die Linke, has rarely commented on Palestine. The only exception was a 2006 radio interview during the war on Lebanon, where he spoke of an additional, indirect German responsibility towards the Palestinians.

In all of this, there has been a synergy between the Antideutsch within the party and key sections of the mainly eastern ex-Communists. The first group has engaged in smearing its political opponents as antisemites, something the latter has also taken up, since those outspoken on Palestinian rights often tend to be opposed to future participation as a junior partner government.

Mobilizing the media has been an important aspect of this slander. In 2011, a member of the Antideutsch caucus BAK Shalom – which regularly engages in occupation apologetics – published a “scientific study” on “anti-Zionist antisemitism in Die Linke” in the Frankfurter Rundschau, a mainstream daily. This caused a media storm, with the other parliamentary parties convening a special hearing in the Bundestag on Die Linke’s “antisemitism.”

Amid a subsequent heated internal debate within the party’s parliamentary caucus, a directive was issued prohibiting any discussion on the one-state solution, participation in the BDS campaign, or the second Free Gaza Flotilla. The decision was far from unanimous. Many MPs boycotted the bill, and others were forced into signing off after Gysi threatened to resign if it was rejected. While this has shielded the party from further accusations of antisemitism, it has also driven a wedge between the biggest left-wing German party and the growing global solidarity movement.

Since then, things have been quiet. The party doesn’t just unceasingly call for a two-state-solution, but has elevated it to a political identity, completely detached from realities on the ground and to be defended against Palestinian activists or Israeli leftists like the ones who called on Die Linke to disassociate itself from outfits like BAK Shalom.

However, a significant number of officials and activists actively avoid bringing up the subject, given its divisive potential. The historical weakness of the postwar German left and its constant fragmentation have led to an almost compulsive need for “unity,” even by people whose support for Palestine is not under question. This is often justified by framing the debate as a useless squabble that has no concrete effect.

Up to a certain point, this is understandable. Die Linke is engaged in a delicate effort to create a popular opposition to the powerful Merkel consensus. But this is also a dishonest approach, tantamount to denying the special responsibility of the German government in propping up the occupation, as well as the potential of the German left to actively challenge this collusion with apartheid and to engage in effective — not just symbolic — solidarity.

Israel and German Islamophobia

The internal dynamics of Die Linke and its structural position between opposition and accommodation contribute to its position on Israel. Unfortunately, those same dynamics have prevented the party from taking a principled stance against the EU. Out of fear of being seen as veering too close to the positions of the Eurosceptic right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (“Alternative for Germany”), Die Linke has emphatically rejected questioning the wisdom of the single currency, while at the same time rightly rejecting austerity in the European South, a somewhat unconvincing and contradictory approach.

But its position on Palestine is also derivative of the wider historical and social structure. For this is not just any issue; it is closely linked to Germany’s obsessive need for an assertive new post-1990 national identity, as well as the prevailing Islamophobic climate.

Ever since the Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer justified Germany’s first combat mission since 1945 in Yugoslavia by claiming the aim was to prevent “another Auschwitz,” the historical lessons from the Holocaust have been constantly perverted by Germany´s political elite to pursue dubious political goals at home and abroad.

German pro-Zionism has had the historical function of reintegrating Germany into the “international community.” With Germany now a respected member of that community, Angela Merkel has deemed “Israel’s security” as in Germany’s national interest, which only serves to exclude German Muslims for the fictitious narrative of a “Judo-Christian legacy.”

In this, there’s a convergence with the discourse of “failed” multiculturalism. The killing of the Kilani family in Gaza and the silence of Germany’s political class is a brutal example of which German citizens are considered worthy victims and which are not. A commentary in the Welt, a right-wing daily owned by the Springer Group, even accused Muslims of indulging in constant self-victimization. The publication didn’t receive the slightest bit of backlash.

The overemphasis on “Muslim antisemitism” is a further symptom of this pervasive new ideology. Just consider the protests against Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip this summer. Media outlets were filled with reports of “Muslim antisemitism,” as antisemitic slogans were heard during spontaneous anti-war marches, where “ethnic Germans” make only a tiny minority of participants.

To be sure, the danger of antisemitism in Germany is a real one and shouldn’t be underestimated. Verbal abuse against Jews has been reported, as well as an arson attack on a synagogue in the city of Wuppertal. As Richard Seymour has shown in the case of France, this antisemitism also exists within Muslim communities that happen to be the victims of constant discrimination themselves.

But this phenomenon is also partly the result of the media’s constant conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel, as Rolf Verleger, a former member of Germany’s Jewish Board of Deputies has pointed out. Even a great deal of the German left speaks of “antisemitism and racism,” the implication being that while racism is something easily analyzable, antisemitism is beyond logical explanation.

On another level, this confusion also stems from the Left’s practical inability to relate to events on the street and actively seek dialogue with Muslim communities. Instead, a troublingly elitist emphasis on largely abstract theoretical debates is the typical approach of a large part of Die Linke on this issue.

When party organizations in the Western state of North Rhine-Westphalia organized protests in Cologne and Essen against Israel’s war on Gaza last summer, reformist party officials in Berlin stated that they would not tolerate members of Die Linke marching on demonstrations where antisemitic slogans are heard. This was a top-down approach towards the contradictory nature of spontaneous movements in general, and one that was also accompanied by the media slandering of local party activists as “pandering to Islamic antisemitism,” often in concert with those same party officials.

Activists on the ground, however, have defiantly organized successful protests in Berlin together with Palestinian communities and progressive Jewish organizations, including parts of Berlin’s large Israeli expatriate community. The experience demonstrates that when protests are strategically organized and coordinated, the results open up a number of possibilities, not just to engage in practical solidarity with Palestinians, but also to break the wide gap between the organized left and immigrant workers. Indeed, one might wonder what the possibilities would be if Die Linke threw its entire weight behind such an effort, instead of letting the right-wing media determine its actions.

This is not just an issue of solidarity with a people abroad. It’s a pressing social issue. For in Germany, the powerful ideological domination of capitalism is also the effect of an extremely elitist educational system that separates children from an early age and places them into three distinct types of schooling, only one of which provides eligibility for higher education.

Not surprisingly, it is people from immigrant and working-class backgrounds that are most harmed by the structure of the education system, while the student left tends to be largely middle-class. If the German left is to break the hegemony of Merkelism, it must actively challenge Germany’s alliance with Israel, for it currently serves as the spearhead of a wider Islamophobic discourse that weakens resistance to neoliberalism at home by dividing opposition along cultural lines. This is done by intentionally conflating criticism of Israel with antisemitism, which in turn places the damaging stigma of the latter on those more likely to express solidarity with the besieged of Gaza.

On the other hand, the moral underpinning of German support for Israel cynically serves as a way of absolving German capitalism from its expansionist past, thus allowing German power to be projected abroad again; economically in the European South through austerity, and geopolitically against other imperialist powers like Russia. The historic circumstances are different, but Palestine is today to Germany what Algeria was to France in the 1950s — a source of chronic and self-inflicted weakness for the Left.

Which Way Forward for Die Linke?

The main challenge for activists within Die Linke is to link solidarity with Palestine to the struggle against all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia in Germany. Boycotting Jewish activists like Max Blumenthal and David Sheen is an obvious setback and one that reinforces the current ideological status quo, which ultimately works against the party’s stated goals. Gregor Gysi might have momentarily garnered the sympathy of the right-wing Springer press, but the social and political agenda he stands for has been weakened in the long-run.

Die Linke, after all, will only be accepted by the establishment if it dumps its key defining positions on neoliberalism and foreign interventions. No doubt, some key people on its right-wing would like nothing more than that. But this would render the party unnecessary and politically irrelevant.

The Left within the party is fragmented, a great deal of it placing its hopes in winning the internal debate against reformists on a programmatic basis. This is a mistaken approach, since the party and parliamentary structure is inherently biased in favor of those wishing to soften Die Linke’s positions for the sake of government participation.

What can tilt the balance is an active linking with the international solidarity movement, as some scholars of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung attempted last summer, pointing to the striking contradictions between the party’s internationalist identity and its stance on Palestinian national liberation. It’s part and parcel of creating a movement dynamic enough to challenge the “new German ideology.”

In Praise of Cultural Imperialism?

"Allowing ourselves to be swept up in the backlash against globalization would undermine America's ability to advance its self-interests."

In Praise of Cultural Imperialism? Effects of Globalization on Culture

By David Rothkop

Foreign Policy
June 22, 1997

The gates of the world are groaning shut. From marble balconies and over the airwaves, demagogues decry new risks to ancient cultures and traditional values. Satellites, the Internet, and jumbo jets carry the contagion. To many people, "foreign" has become a synonym for "danger." Of course, now is not the first time in history that chants and anthems of nationalism have been heard. But the tide of nationalism sweeping the world today is unique. For it comes in reaction to a countervailing global alternative that – for the first time in history – is clearly something more than the crackpot dream of visionaries. It is also the first time in history that virtually every individual at every level of society can sense the impact of international changes. They can see and hear it in their media, taste it in their food, and sense it in the products that they buy. Even more visceral and threatening to those who fear these changes is the growth of a global labor pool that during the next decade will absorb nearly 2 billion workers from emerging markets, a pool that currently includes close to 1 billion unemployed and under-employed workers in those markets alone. These people will be working for a fraction of what their counterparts in developed nations earn and will be only marginally less productive. You are either someone who is threatened by this change or someone who will profit from it, but it is almost impossible to conceive of a significant group that will remain untouched by it.

Globalization has economic roots and political consequences, but it also has brought into focus the power of culture in this global environment – the power to bind and to divide in a time when the tensions between integration and separation tug at every issue that is relevant to international relations. The impact of globalization on culture and the impact of culture on globalization merit discussion. The homogenizing influences of globalization that are most often condemned by the new nationalists and by cultural romanticists are actually positive; globalization promotes integration and the removal not only of cultural barriers but of many of the negative dimensions of culture. Globalization is a vital step toward both a more stable world and better lives for the people in it. Furthermore, these issues have serious implications for American foreign policy. For the United States, a central objective of an Information Age foreign policy must be to win the battle of the world's information flows, dominating the airwaves as Great Britain once ruled the seas.

Culture and Conflict

Culture is not static; it grows out of a systematically encouraged reverence for selected customs and habits. Indeed, Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines culture as the "total pattern of human behavior and its products embodied in speech, action, and artifacts and dependent upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations." Language, religion, political and legal systems, and social customs are the legacies of victors and marketers and reflect the judgment of the marketplace of ideas throughout popular history. They might also rightly be seen as living artifacts, bits and pieces carried forward through the years on currents of indoctrination, popular acceptance, and unthinking adherence to old ways. Culture is used by the organizers of society – politicians, theologians, academics, and families – to impose and ensure order, the rudiments of which change over time as need dictates. It is less often acknowledged as the means of justifying inhumanity and warfare. Nonetheless, even a casual examination of the history of conflict explains well why Samuel Huntington, in his The Clash of Civilizations, expects conflict along cultural fault lines, which is precisely where conflict so often erupts. Even worse is that cultural differences are often sanctified by their links to the mystical roots of culture, be they spiritual or historical. Consequently, a threat to one's culture becomes a threat to one's God or one's ancestors and, therefore, to one's core identity. This inflammatory formula has been used to justify many of humanity's worst acts.

Cultural conflicts can be placed into three broad categories: religious warfare, ethnic conflict, and conflict between "cultural cousins," which amounts to historical animosity between cultures that may be similar in some respects but still have significant differences that have been used to justify conflict over issues of proximity, such as resource demands or simple greed.

Religion-based conflicts occur between Christians and Muslims, Christians and Jews, Muslims and Jews, Hindus and Muslims, Sufis and Sunis, Protestants and Catholics, and so forth. Cultural conflicts that spring from ethnic (and in some cases religious) differences include those between Chinese and Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese, Chinese and Malays, Normans and Saxons, Slavs and Turks, Armenians and Azerbaijanis, Armenians and Turks, Turks and Greeks, Russians and Chechens, Serbs and Bosnians, Hutus and Tutsis, blacks and Afrikaners, blacks and whites, and Persians and Arabs. Conflicts between "cultural cousins" over resources or territory have occurred between Britain and France, France and Germany, Libya and Egypt, and many others.

Another category that might be included in our taxonomy is quasi-cultural conflict. This conflict is primarily ideological and is not deeply enough rooted in tradition to fit within standard definitions of culture, yet it still exhibits most if not all of the characteristics of other cultural clashes. The best example here is the Cold War itself, a conflict between political cultures that was portrayed by its combatants in broader cultural terms: "godless communists" versus "corrupt capitalists." During this conflict, differences regarding the role of the individual within the state and over the distribution of income produced a "clash of civilizations" that had a relatively recent origin.

Finally, as a reminder of the toll that such conflicts take, one need only look at the 20th century's genocides. In each one, leaders used culture to fuel the passions of their armies and other minions and to justify their actions among their people. One million Armenians; tens of millions of Russians; 10 million Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals; 3 million Cambodians; and hundreds of thousands of Bosnians, Rwandans, and Timorese all were the victims of "culture" – whether it was ethnic, religious, ideological, tribal, or nationalistic in its origins. To be sure, they fell victim to other agendas as well. But the provocative elements of culture were to these accompanying agendas as Joseph Goebbels was to Adolf Hitler – an enabler and perhaps the most insidious accomplice. Historians can, of course, find examples from across the ages of "superior" cultures eradicating "inferior" opponents – in the American West, among the native tribes of the Americas and Africa, during the Inquisition, and during the expansion of virtually every empire.

Satellites As Cultural Death Stars

Critics of globalization argue that the process will lead to a stripping away of identity and a blandly uniform, Orwellian world. On a planet of 6 billion people, this is, of course, an impossibility. More importantly, the decline of cultural distinctions may be a measure of the progress of civilization, a tangible sign of enhanced communications and understanding. Successful multicultural societies, be they nations, federations, or other conglomerations of closely interrelated states, discern those aspects of culture that do not threaten union, stability, or prosperity (such as food, holidays, rituals, and music) and allow them to flourish. But they counteract or eradicate the more subversive elements of culture (exclusionary aspects of religion, language, and political/ideological beliefs). History shows that bridging cultural gaps successfully and serving as a home to diverse peoples requires certain social structures, laws, and institutions that transcend culture. Furthermore, the history of a number of ongoing experiments in multiculturalism, such as in the European Union, India, South Africa, and the United States, suggests that workable, if not perfected, integrative models exist. Each is built on the idea that tolerance is crucial to social well-being, and each at times has been threatened by both intolerance and a heightened emphasis on cultural distinctions. The greater public good warrants eliminating those cultural characteristics that promote conflict or prevent harmony, even as less-divisive, more personally observed cultural distinctions are celebrated and preserved.

The realization of such integrative models on a global scale is impossible in the near term. It will take centuries. Nor can it be achieved purely through rational decisions geared toward implementing carefully considered policies and programs. Rather, current trends that fall under the broad definitional umbrella of "globalization" are accelerating a process that has taken place throughout history as discrete groups have become familiar with one another, allied, and commingled – ultimately becoming more alike. Inevitably, the United States has taken the lead in this transformation; it is the "indispensable nation" in the management of global affairs and the leading producer of information products and services in these, the early years of the Information Age.

The drivers of today's rapid globalization are improving methods and systems of international transportation, devising revolutionary and innovative information technologies and services, and dominating the international commerce in services and ideas. Their impact affects lifestyles, religion, language, and every other component of culture. Much has been written about the role of information technologies and services in this process. Today, 15 major U.S. telecommunications companies, including giants like Motorola, Loral Space & Communications, and Teledesic (a joint project of Microsoft's Bill Gates and cellular pioneer Craig McCaw), offer competing plans that will encircle the globe with a constellation of satellites and will enable anyone anywhere to communicate instantly with anyone elsewhere without an established telecommunications infrastructure on the ground near either the sender or the recipient. (Loral puts the cost of such a call at around $ 3 per minute.) Technology is not only transforming the world; it is creating its own metaphors as well. Satellites carrying television signals now enable people on opposite sides of the globe to be exposed regularly to a wide range of cultural stimuli. Russian viewers are hooked on Latin soap operas, and Middle Eastern leaders have cited CNN as a prime source for even local news. The Internet is an increasingly global phenomenon with active development under way on every continent.

The United States dominates this global traffic in information and ideas. American music, American movies, American television, and American software are so dominant, so sought after, and so visible that they are now available literally everywhere on the Earth. They influence the tastes, lives, and aspirations of virtually every nation. In some, they are viewed as corrupting. France and Canada have both passed laws to prohibit the satellite dissemination of foreign – meaning American – content across their borders and into the homes of their citizens. Not surprisingly, in many other countries fundamentalist Iran, communist China, and the closely managed society of Singapore – central governments have aggressively sought to restrict the software and programming that reach their citizens. Their explicit objective is to keep out American and other alien political views, mores, and, as it is called in some parts of the Middle East, "news pollution." In these countries, the control of new media that give previously closed or controlled societies virtually unlimited access to the outside world is a high priority. Singapore has sought to filter out certain things that are available over the Internet – essentially processing all information to eliminate pornography. China has set up a "Central Leading Group" under the State Planning Commission and the direct supervision of a vice premier to establish a similar system that will exclude more than just what might be considered obscene.

These governments are the heirs of King Canute, the infamous monarch who set his throne at the sea's edge and commanded the waves to go backward. The Soviet Union fell in part because a closed society cannot compete in the Information Age. These countries will fare no better. They need look no further than their own elites to know this. In China, while satellite dishes are technically against the law, approximately one in five citizens of Beijing has access to television programming via a dish, and almost half of the people of Guangzhou have access to satellite-delivered programming. Singapore, the leading entrepot of Southeast Asia, is a hub in a global network of business centers in which the lives of the elites are virtually identical. Business leaders in Buenos Aires, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Moscow, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Rome, Santiago, Seoul, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo all read the same newspapers, wear the same suits, drive the same cars, eat the same food, fly the same airlines, stay in the same hotels, and listen to the same music. While the people of their countries remain divided by culture, they have realized that to compete in the global marketplace they must conform to the culture of that marketplace.

The global marketplace is being institutionalized through the creation of a series of multilateral entities that establish common rules for international commerce. If capital is to flow freely, disclosure rules must be the same, settlement procedures consistent, and redress transparent. If goods are also to move unimpeded, tariff laws must be consistent, customs standards harmonized, and product safety and labeling standards brought into line. And if people are to move easily from deal to deal, air transport agreements need to be established, immigration controls standardized, and commercial laws harmonized. In many ways, business is the primary engine driving globalization, but it would be a mistake to conclude that the implications of globalization will be limited primarily to the commercial arena.

In politics, for example, as international organizations arise to coordinate policy among many nations on global issues such as trade, the environment, health, development, and crisis management, a community of international bureaucrats is emerging. These players are as comfortable operating in the international environment as they would be at home, and the organizations that they represent in effect establish global standards and expectations – facilitating the progress of globalization. The community of nations increasingly accepts that such supranational entities are demanded by the exigencies of the times; with that acceptance also comes a recognition that the principal symbol of national identity – namely sovereignty – must be partially ceded to those entities. The United States in particular seems to have problems with this trend. For example, the United States was involved in creating the World Trade Organization and now undermines its effectiveness by arbitrarily withdrawing from its efforts to blunt the effects of the Helms-Burton act. Still, the recognition that sometimes there are interests greater than national interests is a crucial step on the path to a more peaceful, prosperous world.

Toward a Global Culture

It is in the general interest of the United States to encourage the development of a world in which the fault lines separating nations are bridged by shared interests. And it is in the economic and political interests of the United States to ensure that if the world is moving toward a common language, it be English; that if the world is moving toward common telecommunications, safety, and quality standards, they be American; that if the world is becoming linked by television, radio, and music, the programming be American; and that if common values are being developed, they be values with which Americans are comfortable. These are not simply idle aspirations. English is linking the world. American information technologies and services are at the cutting edge of those that are enabling globalization. Access to the largest economy in the world – America's – is the primary carrot leading other nations to open their markets.

Indeed, just as the United States is the world's sole remaining military superpower, so is it the world's only information superpower. While Japan has become quite competitive in the manufacture of components integral to information systems, it has had a negligible impact as a manufacturer of software or as a force behind the technological revolution. Europe has failed on both fronts. Consequently, the United States holds a position of advantage at the moment and for the foreseeable future. Some find the idea that Americans would systematically seek to promote their culture to be unattractive. They are concerned that it implies a sense of superiority on Americans' part or that it makes an uncomfortable value judgment. But the realpolitik of the Information Age is that setting technological standards, defining software standards, producing the most popular information products, and leading in the related development of the global trade in services are as essential to the well-being of any would-be leader as once were the resources needed to support empire or industry.

The economic stakes are immense considering the enormous investments that will be made over the next 10 years in the world's information infrastructure. The U.S. government estimates that telecommunications investment in Latin America alone during this period will top $ 150 billion. China will spend a similar amount, as will the member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations. In fact, the market for telecommunications services is expected to top $ 1 trillion by the turn of the century. During the decade ahead, not only will enormous sums be directed toward the establishment of the global network of networks that the Clinton administration has dubbed the "Global Information Infrastructure," but those sums will pay for the foundations of a system that will dictate decades of future choices about upgrades, systems standards, software purchases, and services. At the same time, new national and international laws will be written, and they will determine how smoothly information products and services may flow from one market to another. Will steps be taken to ensure that Internet commerce remains truly free? What decisions will be made about the encryption of data that will impact not only the security of information markets but the free flow of ideas and the rights of individuals in the Information Age? Will governments allow the democratizing promise of the Internet to enable virtually anyone with a computer to contact anyone else?

The establishment of the Global Information Infrastructure is not just an enormous commercial opportunity for the world's information leader. The development of the rules governing that infrastructure will shape the nature of global politics decisively, either enhancing or undermining freedoms, thereby either speeding or slowing the pace of integration, understanding, and tolerance worldwide. The nature of individual and national relations will be transformed. Those wires and constellations of satellites and invisible beams of electronic signals crisscrossing the globe will literally form the fabric of future civilization.

Consequently, it could not be more strategically crucial that the United States do whatever is in its power to shape the development of that infrastructure, the rules governing it, and the information traversing it. Moreover, even if much of this process of developing what we might call the "infosphere" is left to the marketplace (as it should be), governments will control crucial elements of it. Governments will award many of the biggest infrastructure development contracts offered in the next decade: Some will assist their national companies in trying to win those contracts, and state officials will meet to decide the trade rules that will govern international traffic in the world's telecommunications markets, the global regulatory environment, encryption standards, privacy standards, intellectual property protections, and basic equipment standards. Governments will determine whether these are open or closed markets and what portion of development dollars will be targeted at bringing the benefits of these technologies to the poor to help counteract information inequities. Already some government intercessions into this marketplace have failed. Notably, Japan's efforts to shape the development of high-definition television standards sent that nation down an analog path in what turned out to be a digital race. Yet there are many places where there is an important role for governments and where the United States should have a carefully considered overarching policy and an aggressive stance to match.

Exporting the American Model

Many observers contend that it is distasteful to use the opportunities created by the global information revolution to promote American culture over others, but that kind of relativism is as dangerous as it is wrong. American culture is fundamentally different from indigenous cultures in so many other locales. American culture is an amalgam of influences and approaches from around the world. It is melded – consciously in many cases – into a social medium that allows individual freedoms and cultures to thrive. Recognizing this, Americans should not shy away from doing that which is so clearly in their economic, political, and security interests – and so clearly in the interests of the world at large. The United States should not hesitate to promote its values. In an effort to be polite or politic, Americans should not deny the fact that of all the nations in the history of the world, theirs is the most just, the most tolerant, the most willing to constantly reassess and improve itself, and the best model for the future. At the same time, Americans should not fall under the spell of those like Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia's Mahathir bin-Mohamad, who argue that there is "an Asian way," one that non-Asians should not judge and that should be allowed to dictate the course of events for all those operating in that comer of the world. This argument amounts to self-interested political rhetoric. Good and evil, better and worse coexist in this world. There are absolutes, and there are political, economic, and moral costs associated with failing to recognize this fact.

Repression is not defensible whether the tradition from which it springs is Confucian, Judeo-Christian, or Zoroastrian. The repressed individual still suffers, as does society, and there are consequences for the global community. Real costs accrue in terms of constrained human creativity, delayed market development, the diversion of assets to enforce repression, the failure of repressive societies to adapt well to the rapidly changing global environment, and the dislocations, struggles, and instability that result from these and other factors. Americans should promote their vision for the world, because failing to do so or taking a "live and let live" stance is ceding the process to the not-always-beneficial actions of others. Using the tools of the Information Age to do so is perhaps the most peaceful and powerful means of advancing American interests.

If Americans now live in a world in which ideas can be effectively exported and media delivery systems are powerful, they must recognize that the nature of those ideas and the control of those systems are matters with which they should be deeply concerned. Is it a threat to U.S. interests, to regional peace, to American markets, and to the United States's ability to lead if foreign leaders adopt models that promote separatism and the cultural fault lines that threaten stability? It certainly is. Relativism is a veil behind which those who shun scrutiny can hide. Whether Americans accept all the arguments of Huntington or not, they must recognize that the greater the cultural value gaps in the world, the more likely it is that conflict will ensue. The critical prerequisite for gaining the optimum benefits of global integration is to understand which cultural attributes can and should be tolerated – and, indeed, promoted – and which are the fissures that will become fault lines.

It is also crucial that the United States recognize its limitations. Americans can have more influence than others, but they cannot assure every outcome. Rather, the concerted effort to shape the development of the Global Information Infrastructure and the ideas that flow within it should be seen merely as a single component of a well-rounded foreign and security policy. (And since it is not likely to be an initiative that is widely liked or admired or enhanced through explicit promotion, it is not an approach that should be part of American public diplomacy efforts.)

Of course, implementing such an approach is not going to be easy in an America that is wracked by the reaction to and the backlash against globalization. Today, the extreme left and right wings of both major political parties are united in a new isolationist alliance. This alliance has put the brakes on 60 years of expanding free trade, has focused on the threats rather than the promise posed by such critical new relationships as those with China and other key emerging markets, and has seized on every available opportunity to disengage from the world or to undermine U.S. abilities to engage or lead effectively. It will take a committed effort by the president and cooperation from leaders on Capitol Hill to overcome the political opposition of the economic nationalists and neoisolationists. It will not happen if those in leadership positions aim simply to take the path of least political resistance or to rest on the accomplishments of the recent past. In a time of partisan bickering, when the emphasis of top officials has shifted from governing to politicking, there is a risk that America will fail to rise to these challenges. While the Clinton administration has broken important ground in developing a Global Information Infrastructure initiative and in dealing with the future of the Internet, encryption issues, and intellectual property concerns, these efforts are underfunded, sometimes managed to suit political rather than strategic objectives, shortsighted (particularly the steps concerning encryption, in which rapid changes and the demands of the marketplace are being overlooked), and poorly coordinated. At the same time, some of America's most powerful tools of engagement – which come in the form of new trade initiatives – seemingly have been shelved. This problem is most clearly manifested in the fact that fasttrack negotiating-authority approval has not yet been granted and in the real possibility that Congress will refuse to grant such approval before the turn of the century.

The Clinton administration and its successors must carefully consider the long-term implications of globalization, such as the impact of the rise of new markets on America's economic influence and how America can maintain its leadership role. Aspects of American culture will play a critical role in helping to ensure the continuation of that leadership. American cultural diversity gives the United States resources and potential links with virtually every market and every major power in the world. America's emphasis on the individual ensures that American innovation will continue to outstrip that of other nations. Working in its favor is the fact that the "Pax Americana" is a phenomenon of the early years of globalization and that the U.S. ascendancy to undisputed leadership came at the same time as the establishment of international institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund; thus, for all the challenges of adjustment, the United States has more leadership experience than any other nation in this new global environment. Also, though some may decry Americans' emphasis on "newness" and suggest that it is a result of their lack of an extensive history, it also represents a healthy lack of cultural "baggage": It is this emphasis on newness that puts the United States in the best position to deal with a world in which the rapidity of change is perhaps the greatest strategic challenge of all.

Identity Without Culture

The opportunity lies before us as Americans. The United States is in a position not only to lead in the 21st century as the dominant power of the Information Age but to do so by breaking down the barriers that divide nations – and groups within nations – and by building ties that create an ever greater reservoir of shared interests among an ever larger community of peoples. Those who look at the post-Cold War era and see the "clash of civilizations" see only one possibility. They overlook the great strides in integration that have united the world's billions. They discount the factors that have led to global consolidation and the reality that those factors grow in power with each new day of the global era – integration is a trend that builds upon itself. They argue that America should prepare for the conflicts that may come in this interim period without arguing that it should accelerate the arrival of a new era with every means at its disposal.

Certainly, it is naive to expect broad success in avoiding future conflicts among cultures. But we now have tools at our disposal to diminish the disparities that will fuel some of those conflicts. While we should prepare for conflict, we should also remember that it is not mere idealism that demands that we work for integration and in support of a unifying global culture ensuring individual rights and enhancing international stability: It is also the ultimate realpolitik, the ultimate act of healthy self-interest.

Allowing ourselves to be swept up in the backlash against globalization would undermine America's ability to advance its self-interests. Americans must recognize that those interests and the issues pertaining to them reach across the disciplines of economics, politics, science, and culture. An interdisciplinary approach to international policymaking is thus required. We must also fully understand the new tools at our disposal. We must understand the profound importance and nature of the emerging infosphere – and its potential as a giant organic culture processor, democratic empowerer, universal connector, and ultimate communicator. Moreover, it is not enough to create and implement the right policies using the new tools at our disposal. Policymakers must better communicate the promise of this new world and make clear America's stake in that promise and the role Americans must play to achieve success. The United States does not face a simple choice between integration or separation, engagement or withdrawal. Rather, the choice is between leading a more peaceful world or being held hostage to events in a more volatile and violent one.

David Rothkopf is managing director of Kissinger Associates and an adjunct professor of international affairs at Columbia University. He served as a senior official in the U.S. Department of Commerce during the first term of the Clinton administration.

Fifty years of US communication imperialism

Fighting for communication control

Liberalism is for others. Although it insists on unlimited access for American products from the rest of the world, Washington has not hesitated since the end of the second world war to intervene financially, politically and diplomatically in sectors it considers strategic for maintaining US dominance. Communication is one of these sectors, and the most critical one, from both the industrial and the symbolic point of view, for mastering the

The UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, and the WTO: Diversity in International Law-Making?

ASIL Insight
The UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, and the WTO: Diversity in International Law-Making?
By Joost Pauwelyn

With surprising ease, 148 countries meeting in Paris last month signed off on a new UNESCO convention to protect cultural diversity.[1] 

Commentators have labeled the new treaty as a thinly disguised attempt, led by France and Canada, to offer a shield against the spread of American culture, in particular Hollywood movies.[2]  On the premise that cultural goods cannot be treated as mere commodities, the text grants nations the sovereign right to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions within their territory against the sweeping tide of globalization (Articles 5 and 6).  The convention recognizes, moreover, that special situations may arise where cultural expressions (movies, music, magazines and other cultural industries) in a state’s territory are at risk of extinction, are under serious threat, or are otherwise in need of urgent safeguarding.  In such cases, states parties may take “all appropriate measures? to protect and preserve cultural expressions in a manner consistent with the provisions of the convention (Article 8).  Although an International Fund for Cultural Diversity is set up (to be funded by “voluntary contributions made by the Parties,” Article 18), the convention is, ultimately, more a shield granting governments the right to favor domestic cultural activities, goods and services, than a positive commitment to ensure minimum standards of protection or to allocate resources.[3]

The pact was overwhelmingly accepted.  Only two UNESCO members, the United States and Israel, objected.  The United States called the treaty “deeply flawed,” protectionist, and a threat to freedom of expression.

Whatever the merits of how best to sustain minority cultures ? through public institutions, subsidies and screen quotas, as the convention implies, or rather by vigorous antitrust rules and the free flow of ideas, as its critics retort ? the episode offers an intriguing glimpse into the increasingly complicated world of international law-making. 

The major bone of contention in the negotiations was not about finding the most effective policy for different cultures to flourish.  It was rather about how the new treaty “explicitly permitting the protection of cultural industries ? would relate to existing free trade rules at the WTO.  But even that question was left unresolved in article 20 of the convention ? an article that goes both ways.[4] 

Most of the countries negotiating at the WTO and UNESCO are one and the same, but the decision-making rules at the WTO in Geneva are not the same as those at UNESCO in Paris.  At the WTO nothing moves without consensus, including in particular the go-ahead of the United States.  A new treaty at UNESCO, however, can be made by majority vote (even though it is then binding only on those who ratify it). 

Are France and Canada hereby shrewdly circumventing their WTO commitments?  Not necessarily.  International law is not made only at the WTO, and even the WTO leaves the door open for rule creation elsewhere.  This exit option for like-minded countries to further liberalize trade (as they did by creating NAFTA or the EU) or to refine the application and exceptions to free trade principles (as they did in environmental agreements and now at UNESCO) is a crucial safety valve to enable legal refinement and to cater for the enormous diversity between the WTO?s 150 members.  In the long run it also supports the legitimacy of the WTO itself by taking steam off the argument that the WTO is dominated by Western capitalist values. 

The will of 148 countries meeting at UNESCO must therefore be respected, also by the WTO.  Yet a major problem remains.  What about the nay-sayers?  Can France now justify trade protection for French language books or even foie gras[5] as against the United States?  Can Canada now safely protect its magazine industry against the sweeping force of US bestsellers such as Sports Illustrated?  According to the traditional rule that states cannot be held by laws without their consent, the answer should be no, so long as the United States is not a party to the new UNESCO convention.  Yet, in cases such as US ? Shrimp, the WTO has already referred to outside environmental treaties that were not ratified by all disputing parties.  It did so following what it called “evolutionary? interpretation “in the light of contemporary concerns of the community of nations.”[6]  It could be argued that agreement by 148 countries over the need and ways to protect cultural diversity amounts to an expression of such a “contemporary concern of the community of nations.”  But a counter-argument would surely stress the vehement US objections against the new treaty.

If ever this dispute were to reach the WTO ? not an unlikely event given the unique compulsory nature of its dispute settlement process ? the WTO will have to walk a fine line between two objectives.  On the one hand, it must respect international law validly made and agreed to elsewhere so as to respect the wide diversity of its membership and to allow for further refinement of its own rules (here UNESCO rules in a WTO dispute between, say, France and Canada).  On the other hand, the WTO must respect the cardinal principle, grounded in democratic decision-making, that no state should be held by international law that it has consistently objected to (here the United States, which cannot be bound by the UNESCO convention in a WTO dispute with, for example, France). 

In any event, the WTO presumably would not wish to isolate itself from the rest of the international law-making world by closing its eyes to any legislative initiative agreed on outside its own building, be it consented to by the disputing parties or not.  There is room for diversity both in Paris and in Geneva.

About the author
Joost Pauwelyn, an ASIL member, is a former WTO official now teaching international law at Duke Law School.  He is the author of “Conflict of Norms in Public International Law,” Cambridge University Press, 2003, and, most recently, “The Transformation of World Trade,” 104 Michigan Law Review 1 (2005).


[1] An advance copy of the text of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (adopted, 20 October 2005) can be found at

[2] Countries Turn Backs on Hollywood, BBC News, UK Edition, 20 October 2005, available at

[3] The hortatory language in Article 7 ” which sets out the convention’s main obligations ? is telling:  “Parties shall endeavour to create in their territory an environment that encourages “” and “Parties shall also endeavour to recognize the important contribution of ?”.

[4] Article 20 of the Convention, entitled “Relationship to other treaties:  mutual supportiveness, complementarity and non-subordination,” directs, in its first paragraph, that other treaties must be interpreted and applied taking into account the new UNESCO convention (stressing further that the new convention is not subordinated to any other treaty) but, in its second paragraph, admonishes that the new Convention does not modify other treaties.

[5] The pivotal term “cultural expressions? is defined in Article 4.3 as “those expressions that result from the creativity of individuals, groups and societies, and that have cultural content.”  Cultural content, in turn, refers to “the symbolic meaning, artistic dimension and cultural values that originate from or express cultural identities? (Article 4.2).

[6] US ? Import Prohibition of Certain Shrimp and Shrimp Products, WT/DS58/AB/R, 12 October 1998, para. 129.