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NEW YORK — It is reportedly the largest gathering of heads of state
in history.

New York traffic is snarled and Manhattanites are testier than usual
as the world’s political heavyweights descend on the city. New York’s
finest are braced as dozens of groups organize demonstrations against
various governments — 91 protests are reportedly planned.

Yesterday afternoon, bomb squads were summoned to examine a
suspicious parcel left near the U.N.’s media liaison offices.
Helicopters traverse overhead and the city has moved into red alert as
the United Nation’s Millennium Summit gets under way.

The leaders of nations will be urged to sign U.N. treaties in various
stages of global acceptance, including the controversial Rome Statute
that initiates the International Criminal Court, or ICC.

Across town at the State of the World Forum, Mikhail Gorbachev
demanded that a new and expanded role for the United Nations be
instituted. The Forum, a six-year-old project of the Gorbachev
Foundation headquartered in San Francisco, seeks dialogue among world
leaders in government and “civil society” sectors in search of a new
paradigm for civilization on the threshold of the millennium.

That paradigm — the Forum vision — sees the U.N. moving into the
power position that opened up at the close of the Cold War. During
yesterday’s press conference at the New York Hilton Towers, Gorbachev
proposed a radical expansion of U.N. powers.

Former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev

“In 1988, I spoke of a new role for the U.N., a new body. In addition
to the Security Council, we must have an Economic Council and an
Environmental Council with authority equal to that of the Security
Council.”

The former Russian Premier denied that he was proposing controls on
economic freedom, but insisted, “I am suggesting that we must give
rights to this body [Economic Council], to develop rules to prevent
explosive situations.” One observer questioned whether this proposal was
not simply an upscale version of Marxist central economic control.

Gorbachev went on to explain that as unregulated capitalism
globalized world markets, failure of smaller economies brought
recessions, and rioting in the streets is the likely consequence. An
“Economic Council” with the power to regulate capital is designed to
“insure stability” and “ultimately transnational corporations will have
to accept this,” Gorbachev said.

As the Forum — scheduled to coincide with the main event, the U.N.’s
Millennium Summit — moved into its third day, it became clear in
successive sessions that each speaker had a new angle on the same idea:
The United Nations should coordinate global governance.

Some speakers focused on environmental governance, others on
educational efforts aimed at producing citizens with a commitment to
global peace and justice. Global governance seeks stable world
conditions so as to ensure the rights of humanity to clean air, stable
markets and personal rights. Of course, some mechanism of enforcement is
required if the rights of all are to be protected, say Forum
participants.

Good globalism is a reshaped globalism, stripped of the “Washington
consensus” of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, said John Sweeney,
president of the AFL-CIO, a co-panelist with Gorbachev and Canadian
billionaire George Soros. “Corporate globalism,” he said, “brought
inequality between nations” and a “violation of human rights.”

Soros, introduced to the 500 Forum attendees as “the quintessential
voice of globalism,” was blunt in his assessment of American
corporations and the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.

“[They] are not a good example of ‘compassionate conservatism’,” he
said. Opposed to the U.S. desire to reduce the scope of the troubled
International Monetary Fund, Soros claimed, “that is not the solution.”

Instead, he suggested that IMF loans could be made directly to
individuals and Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGOs, without the
need for national guarantees. This plan in effect de-nationalizes
capital, an idea that brought rousing cheers from the NGOs present. A
free-floating market is a “moral hazard,” the billionaire said, and “it
results in instability — how much instability can the world stand?”
The answer, according to Soros, is for “civil society” to promote
international law. Citizens and NGOs were urged to pressure their
governments to sign U.N. treaties.

A New York physician attending the Forum said he was “stunned and
angry” at the overt anti-American sentiment that he felt characterized
several of the presentations.

“Most Americans have no clue what is happening in New York right
now,” he commented. “Don’t they know that other nations have the most
to gain and Americans the most to lose if these proposals are ever
adopted?”

Veteran U.N. observers cautioned, however, that it is important to
recall that the proposals made by U.N. staff and State of the World
backers are not synonymous with objectives of member nations. Nations
and their heads of state are not anxious to trade away sovereignty and
power for a “new paradigm” of globalism.

The State of the World Forum and the United Nations Millennium Summit
will run concurrently Wednesday through Friday.

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