The World is Playing Hide and Seek

World peace is in danger since there isn’t a single guarantor left, nor a collective guarantor to replace it. World peace? ¨Let others attain it¨, friends and foes say in unison in the current geopolitical scenario. After disastrous interventions in unconventional wars, the remaining big powers (all quite weakened) pass the ball to one another, because they claim ¨they are tired¨. But neither the alleged exhaustion nor oblivion are useful when it comes to building a fairer, more pacific and long-lasting international order. What happens when we want ¨someone else¨ to be the guarantor of peace and no ¨other¨ appears? Anomia and confusion emerge; armed conflicts are prolonged, extended and multiplied, like maggots in the corpse of old structures. We are all on the same ship but no one can nor wants to take the steering wheel. Conclusion: either we all make peace together, or we keep moving separately in the fatal road towards a generalized and endless war. This seems to be the honest and wise opinion of the Pope, summoned all the people of good will –without distinction of religions or regions- to a vigil in Saint Peter’s Square for Syria’s salvation from a horrific ending. It is meaningful and timely that, while many rattle swords, summoning comes from a spiritual leader who doesn’t count with any division generals.

In the United Nations’ General Assembly there has been a hint of good judgment in the will expressed by the Russian Federation, the United States, European countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran, to dialogue and negotiate, instead of being fixated on narrow positions and warmongering attitudes. It is to be expected that such hint of good judgment will prosper. It is certainly a step forward from the poor spectacle put up by the G-20 ¨great¨ in Saint Petersburg some time ago. There the summit of world power offered quite a sad glimpse of international relationships’ future. The perspective is still unsettling despite the willingness to communicate and engage in diplomacy. Today petty rivalry still prevails over cooperation. Privilege and an oblique sense of ¨national interest¨ throw down the drain the respect for legal and moral rules, reduced to their common and basic denominator, which is the respect for life. The use of chemical weapons in Syria is considered a scandal, but that same scandal is used to overlook the deaths of over 100.000 people by conventional weapons, weapons that peace-touting powers supply to fighters with a straight face. The Russian president seems to be satisfied with chaos since it camouflages his nation’s decay. In a master move he seized the incompetence of American authorities to launch their own peace initiative and to give, with it, a break to his Syrian client and ally. He was able to win two matches: one in Syria and the other facing United States, by taking the American president out of the swamp he had gotten himself into. For many leaders of today confusion and chaos serve as a cover of oblivion. In the mediocre leadership we have had in almost every country at this point of the century there is a single converging will, which is not the will to make peace, but the will to postpone. From the management of the European financial crisis to the management of revolutions and civil wars in the Middle East, without courage or vision, our leaders are playing in search of a stalemate and its endurance.

Up until now the aim of the G-20 has been to widen and strengthen the international system by managing the redistribution of power from West to East. It is also the purpose discussed in the widest forum of the United Nations. Instead of committing to this task, international organisms now settle for being nothing more than a mirror to gaps and fractures in the global scenario. Emerging nations pretend to be guardians of national sovereignty against western imperialism. They might succeed, but only because larger powers have opted to abdicate attaining common rules. The British vote in the Chamber of Commons indicates, among other things, that Great Britain washes its hands of Syrian atrocities. The feeling of American Congress before the call for military intervention by president Obama was in the same spirit. The call for a punitive intervention from the president himself sounds hollow, given the United States’ moral and strategic smeared reputation. France has presented itself more united and energetic but lacking the capacity to make a single intervention. Iran smiles while it enriches uranium. The United Nations, on their part, are paralyzed by the reciprocal veto in the Security Council and seem to prefer delaying action. Warmongers take note and are confident that ¨anything goes¨.

In the meantime, the globalization process still moves forward but with increasingly negative consequences. The growing difficulties in the so called emerging markets (India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and several others) reveal an inevitable but conflictive interdependence. The end of the ¨easy money¨ injected in large doses by the American central bank in order to sustain its economy significantly reduces the tailwind that helped dependent economies like almost all in Latin America for over a decade. We must then raise the question, how much has the emerging markets’ growth depended on a temporary crisis exit strategy by the largest power? Same as Southern countries were protected from the financial crisis that struck the North, today the recovery of the North is making them suffer. In Europe, after decades of extending –and benefitting from– loans to other countries so they could buy their export products, Germany is now exporting austerity, misery and unemployment, with ethics on top of everything else. But the global interdependence spreads far beyond the economic dimension. The great planetary problems: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, environmental degradation, atmospheric warming, invisible attacks on information systems and visible attacks from multiple terrorists, migration and forced displacement of millions, are unbind from any ¨sovereign¨ strategy. So far there isn’t a well-rounded answer to common and pressing problems. The multilateralism that once inspired the foundation of the United Nations is in its deathbed and for now it doesn’t seem to have a successor. Existing initiatives are still in diapers, trapped between a world that’s dying and another one that’s yawning.

The United Nations oscillate between respecting the sovereignty of member countries on the one hand, and each country’s obligation to protect its citizens, on the other. The dominant powers take less responsibility for the common planetary interest with each passing day but they don’t want other emerging powers to intervene. In short, they cling to waning privileges. China, fearing any possible insurgence within its territory, clings to the old principle of State sovereignty that’s now become obsolete. Europe, with the crisis has gone from being a model of shared governance to being a spectacle of ¨each man for himself¨, while at its gates an explosive Middle East threatens it day after day. This leaves, once again, United States as the referee everyone turns to but no one wants. The outcome is clear: a reinforcement of the isolationist current that has been a constant of American history.

Thus we reach this gloom situation: there are countries bleeding out, others washing their hands, and the most powerful of all turns its back on the rest. One wonders, like Cicero, ¨Until when?¨ (Quo usque tandem?)

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