As Ugo from S. Vittore (a theologian of XIII century) said: “Who finds sweet his own homeland is no more than a tender beginner, who feels every land like his own is already strong, but is perfect only the person for who the entire world is only a foreign country”.
Perfection is only for the saints but at last let’s try to feel sometimes strangers at home…feel that the geography of our mind is not necessary the truth, that democracy in a place can mean arrogance in another, that the points of views matters as cultures do and that moral rules are relatives to tolerance. So here you can read some thought of an Italian man, living currently between the US and Italy, but who traveled for long time and felt at home and stranger in places where he would never expect. Now I feel at home in Virginia, the state of Jefferson, one of the fathers of modern democracy, an American President that taught us the highest ideals of humankind (even if he himself had slaves, deciding to give future generations the burden of solving this savagery). But I consider myself also a citizen of the world and I want to challenge our mindset and mental securities commenting current facts of different parts of the world, but mostly US, Italy and Southeast Asia, where important things are moving up, and trying to give a different perspective from mainstream thought. I will start my first post than with few sentences President Obama said in his State of the Union 2014:
“Our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats, but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe – to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want. (…) We do these things because they help promote our long-term security (…) And we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals”.
We are not in the cold war era anymore as we know, and we understood that national interest, and moreover national security, is not something that can be defined only in absolute terms. How far can go a state in a war against an enemy that is not recognizable as another country for example? Can US security really increase with Guantanamo, NSA surveillance and the Drones attacks or will it be on the contrary reduced? Obviously one thing is the President rhetoric during a State of the Union and another thing are his actions (actually Obama has been criticized exactly for increasing the use of Drones and not closing Guantanamo). But if we look at the international system now (in Middle East in particular with the cases of Syria and Iran) it seems that after failing with the military intervention, and similarly to one hundred years ago, American foreign policy is rediscovering today some spirit of diplomacy like in the Wilson’s times. Also some political analysts belonging to the so called “Realist” school (the one that looks at the international system through the lens of power politics and that have been influencing most of the time the American foreign policy in the past) like John Mearsheimer, are shifting their ideas against the need of hegemony and the acceptance of imperialism (see on this the article of Mearsheimer, “American unhinged”: http://nationalinterest.org/article/america-unhinged-9639).
Also, in the world, other powers are on the rise, in particular China, the “Middle Kingdom”, but also India, Indonesia, Brazil and others. So new approaches to international politics (besides domestic one, with different approaches to ‘democracy’ and democratic values) are opening to the world. This will bring change in the world, more than what we expect now: cultures matter and the future international system will have to take that into account.
So let’s keep searching, exploring and learning from diversity of political opinions and cultures and let’s see where globalization, post-modernity and the democratization processes will bring us. We don’t know where we are directed but we know that we need to reduce the polarization not only in fledgling democracies but in mature ones too if we want to increase the dialogue among conflicting parts. This is the only path for the future of humankind: if we want to harvest peace and democracy we need to plant dialogue and tolerance. To say it with Mahatma Gandhi: “The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree……..We reap exactly what we sow.”