Exposición del embajador Bilahari Kausikan en la conferencia "The big ideas of Lee Kuan Yew", realizada en la Universidad Nacional de Singapur el 16 de septiembre de 2013.
There is something more than a little incongruous about tagging a conference >>The Big Ideas of Mr Lee Kuan Yew>I am not great on philosophy and theories. I am interested in them, but my life is not guided by philosophy or theories. I get things done....
An international relations theorist would no doubt call Mr Lee a realist. But no simplistic label can do justice to the eclectic complexity of his approach towards international relations and geopolitics. I suspect that if anyone were foolhardy enough to ask Mr Lee which of the main schools of international relations--realism, institutionalism, liberalism, constructivism--most influenced him, his reply, if he were in a good mood and if he had even heard of these theories, would be 'all of the above and none of the above'.
Mr Lee is above all an empiricist. He saw the world for what it is and never mistook his hopes or fears for reality. Mr Lee is not devoid of idealism. After all, he risked his life in the struggle against the communist United Front for ideals. Still he knew that in world affairs, as in all fields of human endeavour, not all desirable values are compatible or can be simultaneously realised.
I think Mr Lee would not, for example, disagree with the proposition that a world governed by international law and international organizations would be preferable for a small country like Singapore. But he would certainly question whether a world of sovereign states of vastly disparate power could really ever be such a world. He understood that international order is the prerequisite for international law and organization. So while you may work towards an ideal and must stand firm on basic principles, you settle for what is practical at any point of time, rather than embark on Quixotic quests.
Mr Lee's 'big idea' was Singapore. On that he always thought big: Singapore as we know it today would not otherwise exist. In so far as any central organizing principle infused his geopolitical thinking, it is a laser-like focus on Singapore's national interest. He saw the world canvas whole. But unlike too many self-styled 'statesmen', Mr Lee never succumbed to the temptation of capering about on the world stage for its own sake. When he expressed an opinion, it was always to some purpose, even though the purpose may not always have been immediately apparent to everyone. He looked at the world strategically with a broad and long term vision; he played chess not draughts.
His geopolitical thought is based on an unsentimental view of human nature and power; a view shaped by experience, particularly, as he on several occasions has said, his experience of the Japanese...