The online declaration of Academics for peace — which has been already hacked and blocked in Turkey — calling for peace in Kurdistan region and accusing the government of a “deliberate and planned massacre in serious violation of Turkey’s own laws and international treaties to which Turkey is a party”, was signed by more than 1,000 Academics, not only in Turkey, including the American philosopher Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Turkish police until now detained 21 academics over “terrorist propaganda” and is investigating others for allegedly violating Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which criminalizes “insulting Turkishness”. Sedat Peker, a notorious figure convicted on organized charges, already said that the blood of those academics will be spilled in case the Muslim Turks’ state will fail. As the US ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, recently declared: “While we may not agree with the opinions expressed by those academics, we are nevertheless concerned about this pressure having a chilling effect on legitimate political discourse across Turkish society regarding the sources of and solutions to the ongoing violence.” The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America and its Committee on Academic Freedom expressed in a letter its serious concern over this situation and British academics also started a petition to support Turkish colleagues. Among American academics there have been different opinions on the declaration because of being very critical of the government without calling for the responsibility also of the PKK in creating the conflict.
I finally decided to send my email in order to sign the petition (but I didn’t receive any confirmation yet, probably even the email of person in charge has been blocked) even if I would have like a more balanced declaration, in order to support targeted academicians for a simple reason: in my country of origins, Italy, Fascism became really Fascism when started to imprison academics and intellectuals criticizing the government. Today Turkey is on a dangerous path, but I believe that with “carrots and sticks” from intellectuals and international community the Turkish state can improve on its path of democratization. I believe in Turkey because I know its people and its institutions and I want a more democratic, not a more autocratic, Turkey because a more democratic Turkey will help not only itself but also the region. This is the path that another academic, today Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, should push for, trying to control the excesses of President Erdogan. Also the Deputy Prime Minister, Mehmet Simsek, is an ex academic (and he is Kurd) believing that Turkey has still things to do to complete its democratization process. With their more moderate, tolerant and diplomatic approach, these important figures in future Turkish politics can help Erdogan to slow down in his authoritarian desires.
The problem is that today is still very difficult to treat the Kurdish issue in Turkey in a constructive and legitimate way or at least in an academically impartial way. This for many reasons, among which: the Sevres syndrome of Turkey – the idea that some outside Western forces, allied with internal opposition, conspire to weaken and destroy Turkey – constantly reinforced by the government narrative; the low ontological security of Turkey – in particular given the recent Kurdish autonomy in Syria and Iraq; the terrorist label used to delegitimize an ideological guerrilla of self-liberation and everyone who doesn’t stay with the government; the lack of impartial and non-embedded media coverage – and so who knows who kill who, when and where exactly, who broke the truce first, and so on; the definition of minorities – between the “Turks of the mountains” assimilated in once century and who define him/herself as Kurd and not Turk there is an abyss; the gigantic polarization in Turkey between Islamist and secular, right and left, one language and multiculturalism (similar in the past to my country, Italy); and finally the fight for power interests: at the end of the day this is the real struggle as usual among different armed or political actors and the people are in the middle as always.
Therefore all us academics, instead of increasing the politicization and polarization of an issue and a society that is already targeted by opposed propaganda, we should stick to our academic goals: analyze facts and theories to understand the past and interpret the present, try to predict the possible scenarios and help to transform conflicts. And when intellectual feel the need to make a petition for some civilians killed or trapped, they should calibrate the text, appealing to international norms and with the most impartial view, but at the same time they should not been targeted as anti-country supporting terrorism because they are intellectual and scholars, the searchers of truth, the last resorts in every case, either in democracy or autocracy. In particular I repeat in a country like Turkey, where to criticize governments is already difficult because governments are identified with the nation (using the flag of the country during the rally the ruling party make clear that there is no distinction) and where a PhD candidate like me, in visit to do his research, cannot present a scientific paper in a University treating the “securitization of Kurdish region”, without being interrupted by nationalist views that attack the “colonialist academics that try to dismember our dear country” or by Kurdish protesters that believe there is no securitization but civil war caused only by the government. This is the situation today for Turkey, a country that should enter soon in the EU (if France and Germany will overcome the Islamophobia and the ‘Powerphobia’, and Turkey its Sevres syndrome) or is destined to suffer for long time still, after more than 30 years of regional war.
The Middle East is starting now a new generation of conflicts and if Turkey could resolve its internal issues of integration and respect of Kurdish minority of the Eastern region, could really play the role of the pivotal country in the area. Turkey is the bridge not only between East and West, religiousness and secularism or among cultures and religions, but is the bridge between the past and the future, between the Christian, Islamic, nationalist and communist ideologies of the past and the post-ideological future, where all views could cohabit because it is the “citizenship”, in a country or in a continent, the glue of the community, not the sense of belonging to a group or another with the political construction of sectarian cleavages. And we, academics and intellectuals, should work for that, not for building new line ups of white and black between who is with me and who is against me, but for moderation and agreement, investigation of facts and search for peace. The Manichean view is not helpful but destructive, and in our times of destructive cults we need abstract destruction but concrete constructions, as Gramsci would say.
If Margaret Thatcher has been remembered as the Iron Lady, the Lady that destroyed the welfare state to open space to the complete free market in her country, Angela Merkel could be remembered as the “Steel Lady”. The Steel Lady that could destroy in one blow not only the welfare state in southern Europe (with Renzi in Italy and the impositions to Greece) but the sovereignty of the European nation states and, even more important, the integration of Europe from the grassroots level, from the voice of the people, in one word: the democracy in the European integration.
As Krugman correctly wrote today (1) Germany’s attitude after the Greek referendum “goes beyond harsh into vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. (…) Who will ever trust Germany’s good intentions after this?” Nobody, and this will be caused by the law of Karma (or call it the third Newton’s law of motion, as Germans love more scientism) that is if you mistreat the others sooner or later the others will do the same to you. It happened many times since the German unification at the end of last century, and keeps happening because history repeats itself and often we don’t learn from it. Did Germany forgot what does it produce to humiliate a country? Did the German government forgot how populism, fascism and racism started in Europe almost one hundred years ago? German people, and in general northern Europeans, in a way or another feel superiors to the southern Europeans (like in Italy, where the people from the north feel superior to the ones of the south). But many times they overcome their stereotypes and worked together, as populations, to come out from suffering and miseries. I hope that they will do this time too, without punishing the “slackers” of the Mediterranean, being them Italians, Greeks or Spaniards, as they don’t work enough and steel if they can (even if they have good food, the sun and the sea). If this is not a form of racism what is it? The problem is that racism applied to politics is not exactly the best adviser.
The negotiations for Greece tonight are going on “with a vengeance”, in all senses, and the ashtag “Thisisacoup” is a hit. Not only Frau Merkel, and the rest of the Eurogroup (that is the ministries of finance of the Euro countries) could humiliate Greece, punishing it with consequences for that state that we cannot foresee right now. But they could throw to the garbage also the voice of the Greek people, that voted in the majority to ask the EU to reconsider the absurd austerity measures that made their economy to collapse. This could be not only the destruction of the welfare state and the ‘statism’ in the south of Europe. Not only anymore a struggle between who believe that there is only one way for the economic development, the way of the banks that hold the states by their balls (pardon my French) and the others that tries to propose alternative. This could be the start of the end for the national sovereignty in the European continent. And that would not be a drama if it was coming from below instead than from above. Instead it could be the start of the end of the democratic voice of the European people, because the European Union, as it is structured right now, cannot give to the people the voice to decide for the continent as a whole, and so it still needs the national sovereignty to give people the possibility to count. The European Parliament has no this force, and the European Commission neither. So this could be a democratic collapse. And it could be very risky for the future of the continent.
Where is the dream of the European integration, the motto of “United in Diversity”, where is the trust among countries that fought for thousands of years and finally found peace and prosperity after the biggest madness of their history. Where is the mutual understanding, the consensus decision making, the struggle for agreements, dialogue, dignity and tolerance? Did it start to end when Tsipras was lectured and insulted in the European Parliament and outside, treated by his Northern European colleagues as Schauble, Junker or Verhofstadt, as a pampered child that doesn’t do the homework? Will start to end tonight, with Ms Merkel and Mr Schauble sitting on the altar of the Gods, and the Greeks under the Olimpo, with their smaller gods asking for dignity and being slammed in the face with humiliations? Is this the start of the end of the European dream? May be, or maybe could be the beginning of it, with finally the people of Europe, in particular southern Europe, retaking in their hands their destinies.
If Germany believes that will be able to compete with superpowers like China and the US, or even with future great powers like India, Brazil or Indonesia, without the European integration, is just naïf. But Germany should become the trusted and legitimate leader, not the hated ruler. And the point is that, even if there will be no Grexit, the other states could not trust Germany anymore if these negotiations fail or Greece will be humiliated in the conditions requested, and countries like Italy will not stay still, looking outside the window for when the German storm will pass. Unless Renzi greases Italian’s people palm with much more than 80 euros in the salary or the reimbursement for the pensions, the Five Stars Movement could be the next first party in Italy very soon. And at that point the Karma, and the laws of economy, will do their path, going back to Germany and making this country regret its arrogance of tonight.
PS An agreement has been reached in the morning, it is much tougher than the one rejected by the referendum, in disregard to the voice of the Greeks. We’ll see if it will be accepted by the Greek Parliament…Germany and the rest of Europe have been forward-looking to keep Greece inside Euro, but they have done so mostly for their interests. It is the end of national sovereignty in Europe: monetary politics and banks won, and Germany, followed by several other northern countries, decided the domestic policy of another country. If this is not the start of the end of the nation state from above what is that? Greek debt has not been restructured, as instead it was done for Germany after WWII or for many international banks recently (from Morgan Stanley to Citigroup and for many more billions of dollars respect to Greece). German hypocrisy remained, keep cutting public expenditure in Greece while maintaining it in its country to increase the advantages respect to the other members, and going on with a monetary union that benefit mostly Germany, being not fair a real monetary union among countries so different in the competitiveness. Reforms and the EU Commission intervention should help Greece economic growth but it is not sure yet how. Hopefully this experience will help the continent to be more united and democratic in the future…but i have my doubts.
(1) Killing the European Project, from: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/
“Events my dear boy, events”. This is what Harold Macmillan, the British Prime Minister, had said when was asked by a journalist what is most likely to blow governments off course.
Events are what they are: events. But the context, the path that lead to them and the reactions that follow, make them fundamental shocks that impact the future of our lives, sometimes not only in the countries where they happen (like 9/11) or just random facts. Last ten days there have been two events that could have an impact much further than their short time and space range: the Greek referendum and the Tunisian attack. Let’s try to put them in perspective.
Many things have been said before the Greek referendum on the new proposal to “save” Greece, made by the ECB AND the IMF (even if many times we forget about it, the IMF is deciding on the future of European countries as much as the European Central Bank). There have been many attempts to jeopardize the referendum, trying to politically kill the Syriza party, after its “dangerous” victory in the last elections, as well as the democratic renaissance of a small country of few millions of people who invented democracy more than two millennia ago. Even not so much veiled threats and blackmails, like the one by Ms Merkel, the European substantial leader, who said “if the Euro falls Europe falls” (ironically she was not so wrong as the European Union until now has been a monetary union but the end of that could represent its renaissance).
Besides all that has been said the population of Greece demonstrated that even in mature democracies in crisis, like the European ones, we can give back power to the people, to empower the citizens, who has the right to decide on their future, instead of a bunch of technocrats and bankers, representing private interests of few European and world groups. Greece used the referendum as the tool to give back to people the sovereignty, a tool that, even on difficult things, should be used more as a democratic element in modern representative democracies in crisis of legitimacy. And it is not a case that Greece give us the example: we have to go always back to the original inventors if we want to retake that invention and give it vital lymph again. As Italians did for the Renaissance, going back to the Roman classics, also to remake the European integration and improve our poor modern democracies, we have to go back to the Greek classics. Greece demonstrated that the people can decide on their future, and not only on general things but also on technical decisions. Today everyone can get information through internet, and this give more power to the people who can express themselves on different things (like the referendum text, that gave the exact names of the documents so all who wanted could go to read them). And the referendum showed also another important element for the future of Europe and in general the international system: nation sovereignty is still the principal form of modern societies, and the integration of nation states needs to pass from the people, not from the technocrats, from the nations not from the banks, from the ideas not from the money. This is the Europe that we want today, not a fake supranational entity but a real confederation of states, made by all the national entity that compose it.
But in the Greek case there is even more than this, there is a fight between the old style welfare state, the third way between total capitalism and total communism that Europe had conquered with difficulties, and the modern capitalism. As Žižek masterly explained in its recent article (1) the real question today in Europe is the fact that global capitalism cannot afford a return to the old welfare state. And Syriza is a danger for this. A danger or a salvation, if we follow Varoufakis programmatic declaration: “If this means that it is we, the suitably erratic Marxists, who must try to save European capitalism from itself, so be it”. Future will say but for now we can celebrate as democracy and people’s voice are back to Europe, and they came back to remain.
Besides the Greek case there has been another event in the last few days in the Mediterranean that could represent another shift in the future of Europe and the Mediterranean (including the Middle East/ME): last attack at the Tunisia resort of Sousse ten days ago could represent the lethal hit to the Tunisian democracy. Unfortunately more terrorist attacks will follow probably, as there is a type of “state” now that finance these acts of “political-identitarian” mass killings, and this state is not Iran, the big devil, who the West accuses often to support terrorism (while in reality it supports self-determination and anti-discrimination Shia movements, that have been repressed for long time, in particular by the Sunni monarchies). There is a state now, the Islamic (or we should say Islamist) State that will not see its end soon, on the contrary it will probably expand more and sooner or later it will have to socialize with the other sovereign actors, nation states, of the region (unless some war will annihilate it, but this war is not on the horizon). Tunisia demonstrated again that even if the current international terrorism wants to destroy its experiment with democracy (that is quite dangerous for both the Islamists and the world powers, as it is not following the diktats of the international capitalism, including banks, international markets and finance, exactly like Greece) the right path is the path of the government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. That is why Tunisian democracy will not die, because it is coming from the people and it goes back to them, even if the ISIS, and probably many other regional or global powers, wants it to fail.
The probable escalation of future ISIS attacks will have strong consequences for Europe and the ME like 9-11 had, both internationally and internally, for the US. Specifically the ISIS violent escalation, could have three main consequences during the first half of this century, in Europe, the ME and also inside Islam.
Europe evidently will have to deal with it not only military, but culturally, socially and economically, engaging with the south coast of the Mediterranean that after the events of the Arab Spring and Western wars (direct of proxy) ended the post-Ottoman order of the region. Europe in particular will have to decide if it wants to remain a fortress with lack of visionary politics of integration (substituted by a superficial multilateralism that make society ghettoized and open to the problems of radicalization of conflicts) or to improve its process of integration, in particular for the thousands of refugees that are knocking at its doors. Will Europe close or open itself to the world? If it doesn’t want to end in the arms of a never ending Cold War with Russia, Europe has to embrace Africa, as Mahbubani says (2), rediscovering its Mediterranean identity and making of it a real “Sea between lands” (from the Latin Mediterraneus) passing from fortress to square, and becoming a real democratic space that lives up to its values of diversity and tolerance creating a new experiment of melting pot, with equal possibilities for all, on the US style.
The ME will have to solve its problems of poverty and backwardness respect to the rest of the world, and this unfortunately will not come without more conflicts and suffering. Not that the ME didn’t suffer until now, with colonialism, occupations and dictatorships sustained by the West, but this century could be even worst. Hopefully will be the last one of great suffering, as it has been the 20th century for Europe. There will not be another world war for the ME, as the world is too big, too interdependent and too dangerous today to be involved in a total war, but to avoid regional wars, we will need to create among the regional powers, in primis Turkey, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that order ended in the last few years. And the democratization will arrive to the ME too, facilitating hopefully the creation of a regional unity, a sort of confederation similar to the one that Europe started to build after the WWII (even if is still trying to complete it today). In particular if the West will leave the ME to work on itself without much interference. Finally Islam will have to reform, like Christianity did, following its own path but doing it in order to integrate itself in the modern world, where globalization doesn’t allow intolerances or lack of fundamental human rights for the future “planetary citizens”.
We will not see all of this but that’s why we have to help to build it.
The consequences of bringing back Iran to the international community after 35 years cannot be foreseen right now. Israel and Saudi Arabia are not afraid of an Iranian bomb, but of a new leader in the Middle East apart themselves. If the right wing regime of Netanyahu in Israel and the Saudi regime in Saudi Arabia could become in the last decades more and more extreme in their philosophy and actions, it is because they could use the external ‘enemy’ as a factor of social cohesion. And because their possible rivals on the geopolitical chess were weak. It is the divide et impera, ‘divide and rule’ philosophy of the Roman Empire, that made the complexity of the region of the Middle East anarchic, chaotic and never able to integrate itself, since at least one hundred years, since the end of the Ottoman Empire. But these divisions sooner or later will have to give space to some alliances and unions, and the region one day will be united as Europe today. That day people will remember the 2015 as the start of the end of the chaos in the Middle East. It seems a far stretch now but if we deeply think and analyze the history and the politics of that region it doesn’t seem so impossible.
Diplomacy is back in the international relations, after decades of power politics, and this not only with Iran, but with Russia and Cuba too. Also for us, the political scientists, a new paradigm, more European than North American, might start to see the light in the international relations theory: mediations and negotiations as the only solutions to security dilemmas, anarchic system and mistrusting realist views. In particular two non-Arab countries of the Middle East could play a fundamental role for the stabilization and development of the area. In the future regional order of the Middle East Iran could be what Germany has been for Europe, the engine, and Turkey what France has been, the torch. When Iran and Turkey will finally understand that supporting each other is better than competing, that will create the leadership that the Middle East desperately need since one century. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries sooner or later will have to understand that their role is the bridge between Maghreb and Southwest Asia, the region to which they belong historically, geographically and ontologically, is not the Levant but North Africa. It is with their Arab brothers that they have to find a new Renaissance, starting with a renovated Arab League, a new economic integration and a new approach between religion and politics, instead of looking for spheres of influence in the Levant fighting with their competitors, in the Shia crescent.
At the domestic level they need to overcome the fixation in the Shari’atization of civic life and public policy and understand that democracy and emancipation is a natural development of human empowerment. They have good example in the Maghreb to follow, first of all Tunisia, but also Morocco. When the education and the globalization will increase in Gulf countries, together with the end of the oil blessing, on which bases the monarchies maintained their societies backwards, also the Saudis will have to find other ways for their legitimization respect to the Wahhabi sect. And some good Iranian military blow in the next few years (not nuclear fortunately since today) against the Salafist terrorism and may be also the countries backing it, will accelerate the process. But Saudi Arabia will do its process of democratization gradually, as Turkey and Iran already did one century ago. And even if Iranian people have been imprisoned by a religious and military elite that betrayed the ideals of the 1979 revolution (as everyone who hijack the revolutions, since the Bolshevik one in 1917 to the Arab Spring in 2011) also Iran will soon go towards a more modern democracy, as the cold war is ended and the Ayatollah regime finally starts to be out of touch with the contemporary world and with his people. That will be the moment in which also Israel will feel more safe. Today is the starting of this process. As the welcome back of China in 1979 after 30 years contributed to the stability in Asia, the new Iranian rapprochement will be a fundamental element for the stability in the Middle East in the XXI century.
ISIS and the rest of Jihadists will make more blood unfortunately, like yesterday with the poor students of the college in Kenya, but when the need of money, the request of weapons and the thirst of power will not be satisfied anymore, also the Jihadist threat to the world will be erased, as it has been done with the Soviet one. Iran will have its role in this, militarily and culturally, together with Turkey, when both countries will have walked also on their path to empower their democracies, going back to the ideals that at the beginning of XX century inspired their Constitutional revolutions. But for today we need to celebrate and be enthusiast, as the Iranian people on the streets. The prodigal son is back for this Good Friday. I am happy for Iran, for Israel and for the Middle East. I am happy also for China, Russia, the US and Europe, that learned to cooperate and mediate. I am happy that the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy today is an Italian diplomat, Federica Mogherini. Remembering how Berlusconi stupidly refused 10 years ago the Iranian offer to participate to the negotiation. And I am happy that Obama will not be remembered only because of being black. The American Congress will have to learn to be more humble in these last years of his mandate. The Norwegian Noble Committee had been farsighted as usual.
The rapprochement between US and Cuba could have much stronger consequences than what we can think today.
After 13 years since Bush’s Axis of Evil North Korea remained the only “evil” in the world (at least until Kim Jong-un will be alive in a way or another): Iraq, Syria and Libya are failed states in the chaos of Middle East, Iran is tamed and Cuba is back in business. The last Obama’s action in foreign policy did what Carter could not do in his time even if he tried hard, as the times were not ripe yet (1). Obama realized finally the long overdue détente with Cuba, after starting the one with Iran last year. The ‘war on terror’ that started with ‘old style’ American wars can be said to be evolved with ‘new style’ American alliances, making the US living up again to its values and trying to integrate states that in a globalized world cannot be left out. The US can still lead the world but only with the example, the soft power, not with the coercion of the hard power, and not alone anymore. Obama will probably be remembered as the first President to start this new strategy.
As George Friedman, together with other geopolitical strategists, argues (2), America is the continent out of the two big land masses of the Planet Earth that have the advantage of having access to the two oceans, and this give to the countries of North America the leverage that no other country in the world, neither China, have: the possibility of trade with the big land mass, “Eurafricasia”, on both sides, the Eastern and the Western one. The world economy will be guided mostly by who has the control of the trade and so of the seas, and the US is the first candidate in this (followed by Mexico, that according to Friedman will also become an important force on the geopolitical stage). Therefore the Western Hemisphere, or if you want the Americas (as Obama said: ‘todos somos Americanos’) will be the crucial continent in the future world if will be able to become united. Otherwise China, if able to united at least economically the Eurasian continent, with its population and its ability to project long visionary policies because of not having the burden of dealing with government changes, will represent the future leader.
After almost two centuries since the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine, it is time for the US to not only avoid a foreign power to extend its influence in the Hemisphere (like they did with the Soviet Union in Cuba) but also to avoid its impositions on the continent (as it did in the past with the support to authoritarian regimes) and instead allow its natural integration through dialogue and cooperation. Cuba could be one of the most important countries for this strategy, as it was for the strategy of isolating the Communist menace: this small country, with 11 million inhabitants, plays a fundamental role in the geopolitical bridge between North and South America and also in the collective imagination of America and the entire world. It is the country of Che Guevara myth and Castro strength, the country that stood against the capitalist giant, resisted with an alternative development to capitalism and could survive for almost six decades without failing or imploding as even the Soviet Union did. To reintegrate a country like Cuba it means much more than just a rapprochement, it means the possibility of reintegrate all the countries of the Western Hemisphere in the US economic might, with a new approach based on dialogue and soft power.
Nevertheless we could not understand deeply the consequences of this act, that after 55 years transforms two enemies if not in friends yet at least in non-enemies anymore, if we don’t analyze the role of the Pope Francis and of the Catholic Church in this new American integration and consequent influence in the construction of a new world order. As Pope John Paul II was crucial in the process of undermining the grip on the stronghold of Soviet world, Eastern Europe, helping the implosion of Soviet Union, Pope Francis could be crucial to include the Latin America ‘third way’ of social state in a new America, that would become a continent of prosperity for the XXI century. Pope Francis is the pope of the poor and the marginalized, the religious version of the Cuban revolutionary ideals and therefore Cuba accepted his intercession in order to avoid to abandon itself completely in the hands of the “Empire”. Pope Francis is the pope that could allow the US to talk again also with the countries of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua) that are proposing an alternative development to the one of Western capitalism. If “Eurafricasia”, at least in its Western side, is experiencing a new relation with Islam, struggling at its interior between the crimes of the religious terrorism and the potentialities of political Islam, the Americas could experience a new dawn, with Christian values as the ethical glue for a new economic and political development, more just and equal for all, and a new converged leadership, more shared and inclusive for the rest of the world.
New and evolved forms of capitalism and democracy is what the West needs today, we are not at the end of history for the world but at the beginning of it. Future will say but if Middle Eastern people are feeling humiliation, Europeans fear and Asians hope, as an interesting book of Moisi argues (3), Americans could feel soon a new trust and optimism in their possibilities, a trust that will be fundamental for their future evolution and the one of the world. This century, instead of an Asian one as many are expecting, could be a new American century, but in the real term of America, the whole Western Hemisphere, and in the real values of America, the ones of justice, pluralism and tolerance.
1) Carter played a role behind the scene in this rapprochement between the US and Cuba, being the only ex President of the US to have visited Cuba twice, last time 3 years ago (See: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2011/0330/In-rare-visit-with-Castro-Jimmy-Carter-attempts-to-restart-US-Cuba-relations)
2) George Friedman, The Next 100 Years. A Forecast for the 21st Century, Doubleday, 2009
3) Dominique Moisi, The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World, Anchor, 2010.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” (Nelson Mandela)
There are many conflicts and cases of extreme violence today around the planet, causing suffering and destruction for innocent civilians, many in Middle East and Africa, but also in Asia and Latin America. However the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to cause more resentment and popular uprising in the world, both the European-Atlantic one and the ‘Eastern’ Hemisphere one, respect to the other places. There is a reason among many: Israel is a democracy (actually praising itself to be the only one in the Middle East) that at the beginning of XXI century is becoming more and more radical and extreme in its lawlessness political practice, starting to commit something not far from a genocide, after applying occupation, reduction in imprisonment and apartheid, to a population residing in its land, that has been neglected since 66 years its right of existence.
At the same time in the world population the Jews are beginning to protest to Israeli ‘policy’ since the beginning of last war on Gaza. Even if Likud keeps being supported by majority of Israeli Jews, the Jews around the world are starting to rebel against the way the Israeli government is dealing the conflict with Hamas (also because of the growing planetary sympathy for Palestinian cause). This could represent a sign of healthy and maturity in a democracy, in particular for Israel, that consider itself the state of the Jews, it seems right that all the Jews in the world, not only in Israel, are entitled to comment, criticize and call accountable the Israeli government. Nevertheless Israel keeps its extreme policies without feeling threatened in its legitimacy by the criticisms of Jews population and, on the contrary, believing that the support of its local constituency entitle it to go on with its final goal, that is to chase sooner or later the people from Gaza, and in general the people from Palestine (actually what is remained of it, with Gaza and West Bank) whatever it takes. This is clearly shown by attacking not only the elected representatives in Gaza and its civilian population but also the culture and the identity of Palestinians (from the schools to the recent bombing of mosques and the Islamic University, accused to be sites of fabricating weapons).
From what is coming the radicalization of Israeli right government? Could be just a fear of losing control by the Israeli population with the clear recent possibility of a Palestinian state (like in authoritarian countries such as China and Thailand, where many middle-class people feeling threatened by the rising demands of the poor, support authoritarian governments that protect their class interests). Or there could be other reasons. But whatever reasons are there to which extreme and how far right a government that calls itself democratic can go before to enter in the sphere of autocracy? Israel clearly shows actions of apartheid, imprisonment, mass murdering and expulsion of population from Gaza and West Bank. (1) Is this a legitimate goal and policy for a democracy, even if it claims is for its legitimate defense? Or is it a symptom of a “permanent state of exception”, as my compatriot Giorgio Agamben would say, and so not anymore a real democracy? Is Israel still a democracy or is going downhill on the path to tyranny as Plato would have said? (2)
A “permanent state of exception” is a state in which the government, all powerful, operates outside the laws, and “a modern totalitarianism can be defined as the establishment, by means of the state of exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system” (3). We could speak about crisis in the functioning of modern democracies, and so also Israel, when the so called “national interests” applied by governments are distant from the requests of their constituencies, because they lack real channels to shift government policies apart from during the elections. Or we could say that Israeli people are more and more distant from democratic values because of the immigration from former Soviet Union and the increasing number of national-religious Jews that are waiting for the Messiah and so are on far right and extreme positions. We could also argue that the UN, the only possible representative of international community, is already an institution out of history being a reflection of post WWII, and today is accepting helpless the policies of a state of exception as it is not able to even declare it as a ‘state of exception’, being its schools bombed and his places passing from places of protection to places of risk. Whatever is the reason though the “permanent state of exception” of Israel seems clear with its recent actions, carried out in particular in the last 10 years. And the third Gaza war seems to set forth the death of this already moribund democracy, which is becoming more a dysfunctional democracy and so almost a kind of tyranny (being in a permanent state of exception).
But the worst isn’t even this for the future of Israel democracy. The worst could be represented by the fact that to maintain the support from the population a tyranny has only one way: use the education, the media and the political rhetoric to do a brain washing to its people, making them believe that the things the autocratic government is doing are for its own good and that the others are the evil. Israeli state needed since its foundation for example to rely heavily on the advocacy and lobby to foster his cause around the world, but today the Israeli government is using this tool more and more evidently to retain its legitimacy even inside his state and among the Jews in the world, instead of thinking to shift or change policies towards more moderate ones in order to recuperate support. So finally the newest democracy product of the “West” could become not only a form of tyranny in the future but a form of “marketing product”, a state based on marketing itself with money, media and lobbies (first of all the most powerful of the lobbies in the world probably, AIPAC in the US). And it would base its legitimacy not on constructive and sustainable policies but on “delegitimizing the delegitimisers”, the ones they consider their enemy, as an interesting recent article from The Economist points out (4). It is the so called “logic of the oppressor” at its extreme potential, that allow for example Mr Netanyahu in his last farce, the press conference after the Gaza war, to say for example that every civilian loss in the last war was “a tragedy of Hamas’ making.” (5) This manipulation of reality trough the use of the media is a typical technique borrowed from autocracies by modern democracies (in Italy we are very expert on this with the capsizing of the truth on every issue by the media magnate and long time Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi).
So is this the future of democracy that is waiting for Israel and for us in the “Western” world? Is a polarized world trying to gain public support to its part, selling its product, manipulating reality trough the subjugation of media and stigmatizing the others that oppose us our future? It seems to me that this kind of future would be even more scaring of the Big Brother. Because if everyone will be not only controlled but brainwashed and taught to create divisions and hate, in order to gain support against the opposition, instead to care, in order to gain compromise with it, that would be the biggest loss of our civilization of democracy. And there are indicators of this kind of polarization also in Europe and in the US, with a strong wall to wall between populist/nationalist and reformist/democrats in Europe or Democrats and Republicans (Tea Party in particular) in the US since the election of Obama. So we need to start to work against this kind of approach now, without any further delay, and we need to build laws, systems and educative paths that will allow democracies to flourish and evolve, and not to go backwards, citizens to be really active and empowered citizens, and political system to step up on democracy and not go back to tyrannies, especially in a world going dangerously towards crony capitalism and private funding of party politics like our ‘Western’ world.
(1) Actually this attitude of Israel is currently facilitating a reunification of the Palestinian parties (Al Fatah, Hamas and Palestinian National Authority) and their visions. In fact in the West Bank there is another civilian disobedience movements and Intifada starting now, like the first Intifada, where Palestinian people seems unifying again in some way, realizing that they will have to struggle for their freedom, as a peace process with Likud, and Israel for that matter, is not going to be possible.
(2) According to Plato the government of humans is made of five type of regimes that progressively degenerate starting from Aristocracy, Timocracy (similar to plutocracy, where wealthy citizens govern), Oligarchy, Democracy and finally Tyranny. As Plato says the tyrannical man is the worst form of man, because he is consumed by lawless desires to do many bad actions, like mass murdering, close to complete lawlessness, as the idea of moderation does not exist in him.
(3) Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, 2005, pag 2