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Neighbors should be seen as natural partners(*)
The world order over the centuries has been characterized by the use of force and domination. The deadlock of your neighbor being your natural enemy, and your neighbor’s next neighbor being your natural ally because he is also the enemy of your neighbor, because of his geographical position in the neighborhood, should be broken
Arne Olav Brundtland (**)
5 April 2002, Turkish Daily News
We are living through highly dramatic times. Sept. 11 has been looked upon as the most profound watershed in history. Many relationship have to be reexamined. In numerous ways there is a new deal in international relations.
But we also have to wonder about what is constant. It was the secretary of defense for U.S. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and subsequently the leader of the World Bank, Robert S. MacNamara who among others, but with the very special background of defense and economic development, have asked the fundamental question: What is history? He chose to give his answer in the form of another, which the vanquished recuperated for a new war?
The point is naturally that the world order over the centuries has been characterized by the use of force and domination. That your neighbor is your natural enemy and that your neighbor’s next neighbor is your natural ally because he as well is the enemy of your neighbour, because of his geographical position in the neighborhood. This sort of deadlock should be broken. Neighbors should be seen as natural partners.
But the use of arms does, not seldom, pay off. The use of violence can be cost effective. Although it is always hard to calculate what a war can bring. Many a statesman taking up arms has been frustrated by the consequences and often ended up in a much poorer situation, if in life at all.
All wars stop. At some point they actually do. But there will always be a vanquished leader who dreams of revenge.
Traditional motives of self-defense are strong — even in the intra-national setting — and have not lost their values or philosophical respectability.
Self-defense is an honorable proposition in most societies. When the nation is under threat from the outside one stands up to be counted, even with pomp and fanfare.
This holds also in the situation when the state, which should be the guarantor of safety and possess the monopoly of the means of physical coercion implodes or in other ways do not do their job, the instinct of self defense is there and it finds ways to fulfill itself when in need.
A number of motivations for the rightful use of coercion have been there for centuries.
We have experienced different kinds of crusades.
To some, wars of national liberation are both honorable and acceptable.
Now we have humanitarian intervention. The concept was borne for implementation in the vicinity of the country in which we are now.
We should not forget the different versions of holy war in the world today — here Islam is in focus. Is that a respectable proposition?
War, however, is much more problematic in the nuclear age, since the means for devastation are far outstripping what could be hoped for as a gain. So tell us even the realists, and Henry Kissinger is among them. We must find other means of influence and competition, at least on the plane of global strategy dominated by states with nuclear weapons. And this line of thought did take hold among top policy makers encapsulated in the acknowledgement: A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought. And since conventional wars between nuclear armed antagonists will always run the risk of escalation to a nuclear level, even a conventional war is too risky. This is the legacy of The Ronald Reagan-Mikhail Gorbachev understanding that helped end the Cold War between East and West. This problem does not go away from the American-Russian relationship, nor from confrontational settings in other regional contexts.
It leaves us with:
– The need for stable balances of weapons of mass destruction at the lowest possible level — a complicated triple relationship India-China-Pakistan is a new and very challenging one.
– The need to sort out the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
– The need to sort out the problem of possible first use of such weapons.
– You can not easily have it both ways, namely threatening or even using nuclear weapons, and at the same time be successful in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons or the nuclearization of the arsenals of the countries which can afford them. The “Osirak” type of action by taking out weapons programs on the ground by means of air power, is a risky one, can only buy you some time while you might not be able to muster the support you need for doing it again.
The poor men’s weapon of mass destruction are said to be biological and chemical weapons. But it might as well be seen as the nuclear option in view of the revolution in conventional military affairs, in particular in the United States. Accuracy in the means of delivery is the case in point.
Today we still have a number of international flashpoints. India-Pakistan, Korea, Taiwan to mention but a few. These are problems that will not easily go away, and they should not be forgotten. We can add Nagorno Karabah. Well can add a number of others, while not forgetting the Israel-Palestinian or in particular the other states subsumed in the concept of the “Axis of Evil.”
Military balances might be freezing political conflicts. A deterrent however presupposes an ultimate willingness to use arms. A sophisticated inventory of weapons makes for different strategies of escalation.
But military balances also provide for arms races, much to the detriment of civilian development. In more optimistic circumstances, military balances could be a groundwork for arms control.
Is the possession of territory so all-important? Did not the European Great Powers really prosper just after they had given up the notion of keeping their overseas colonies or whatever they called it, by military means? Empires used to be established through conquest. They could only be sustained through the free acceptance of the people. The forces of fragmentation during the last century testify to that. The forces on integration however are based on free and democratic support.
We must realize that we all have actual or potential problems of peace. The power struggle in Western Europe created two world wars during the last century. Struggle between France and Germany created wars through centuries. I remember Helmut Kohl officially visiting Oslo recalling that his family had supplied the German Army with soldiers in three wars within living memory 1870, 1914, 1939. This should be enough. This should be stopped. Among ways to stop it was to join NATO. But more important he saw membership in the European Union as basically a grand peace initiative. Cooperation in the EU runs far deeper that cooperation in NATO. Political and economic integration is both broader and deeper than military cooperation even in an institution like NATO.
But still we have problems. Northern Ireland, Basque separatists,
Entering the European Union means entering a scheme for peace. Entering NATO has many of the same connotations. Being in NATO has been a framework for peace and stability and moderation of conflicts. These processes which have stabilized the relationships in Western Europe is now in for the test of adding to the same in a much broader framework, both in Eastern Europe and in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
For hundreds of years the peoples in Northern Europe were happy and gruesome warriors. The Vikings plagued the continentals and the main prayer in the churches was: please Oh Lord save us from the fury of the Normans.
After the Viking age, the Nordics continued to fight among themselves and the power play around the Baltic Sea was dominant for centuries. But eventually things changed to become more peaceful.
Why is there peace between Sweden and Norway?
Why do we not quarrel about territory that previously belonged to the other side? “Normally” secession should lead to war, but not here, perhaps because the center (Sweden) would not be militarily strong enough the dominate the periphery (Norway) by use of military force and would bleed to weakness and lose out in the long run. It took some time in Stockholm in 1905 to sort out the alternatives and to decide for peace. In addition; None of the Great Powers were interested in any war between Sweden and Norway.
Why is there peace between Sweden and Finland — Why did they come to terms over the Aland Islands?
Why was the bitter enmity between Finland and the Soviet Union after World War II turned into coexistence?
Why did the Finns drop any sort of irredentist longings for lost formerly Finnish territories to the East? As seen from the outside some territories are hardly worth fighting for. This should be checked against the background of different international conflicts. But the concept “not worth fighting for” must take into account a certain balance. If only one of the sides in a conflict hold this concept, it might be free for the other to settle the dispute — unilaterally.
But a universal application of the right for any group to establish a separate state would lead to global chaos. Although those f.i. in the former Soviet Union did not think in terms of global stability but rather in terms of hatred of the center and a longing for independence. A new world order must be based on the inviolability of borders, but not necessarily the unchangeability. Peaceful changes are not to be ruled out.
On the other hand, the free form of integration makes the borders somewhat less important. Political solutions can be found on different levels. Local entities might even be represented directly at the center and thus in fact surpassing their own capitals — occasionally.
Conflicts have turned into internal strife. During the forty-odd conflicts of the 1990s, almost all of them were not between states. But the categories are overlapping and the distinction is blurred. It often starts with complains about discrimination and reports of a lack of respect for human rights. It coincides with the lack of a fair and forceful police and judiciary. Parties have no one, or feel that they have no one to go to with their grievances, or to ask for help in the dispute settlements, and consequently they react in different fashions in self-defense, weapons in hand. The smaller units like the clan, the family and the like become the nucleus.
Outside intervention can be useful in terms of observers, peacekeepers mediators etc. But very so often the stronger party to the conflicts is less inclined to accept outside help.
We have a new world post Sept. 11 — the just cause of bringing terrorists to justice and even stopping states that harbor terrorists, give them support or even comfort. Not withstanding the problem of the lack of a universal definition of the term “terrorist.”
Again MacNamara in one of the first comments made on the BBC stressed on the twin challenge of bringing the perpetrators to justice and taking better care of the challenges of poverty that breeds terrorism.
Let us take the first first. The question of fighting terrorism is not the question of whether to do it, but how to do it cost effectively and with results. You do not talk most terrorists out of their determination. You have physically to stop them. You need military force, you need a good and reliable police force, and an uncorrupt legal system.
Sept. 11 has given a strong boost to the state as an institution. Military power should not be privatized. This is no field for the worlds many NGOs. But the state holding the monopoly of physical power must be legitimate. The rule of law is all-important. But please be aware: there should not be the rule of any sort of law. The democratic press and good governance should be implemented. Democracy however presupposes independent, literate and tolerant citizens. And be aware of those who would like to use the techniques of the democratic process to eventually abolish democratic rule. Democratic leadership is one of service and not any sort of license to pursue private economic or other interests. The democratic state exists for its people and not the other way around. Democratic leadership presupposes transparency and accountability. Democracy is a never ending challenge and is not established forever. It has to be nurtured. It has to produce the political results that demonstrate its superiority.
To build military capabilities is the easy part. What about 84 billion extra on the American Defense budget?
Then comes the question of American superiority in all aspects of military affairs. The world’s only superpower. Projecting power, unilaterally if they must, multilaterally they can.
The rest of the world can only perform junior roles. But some have assets better than others, be it Special Forces or even territory. If the strategic value of Turkish territory mostly has been connected to the straits, new situations with regard to the Gulf War and the operations in Afghanistan have given Turkey a basis for rendering extremely valuable contributions.
Contrary to what has been said by realists, and I can quote even Joseph Stalin, that geography is a constant, the significance of geography changes by development of means for military action and the variations of the political problem on the agenda, to mention but a few of the many relevant factors.
Then comes the need of fighting terrorists by the means of a good and effective police force.
Response to Libya: U.S. used air power and struck targets in Libya. The Europeans mostly looked on the American operations, and gave over flights rights, but relied on their police forces to combat the terrorists not in their homeland, but on European soil if they chose to turn up there.
Current transatlantic discussion: Unilateralism. The U.S. is the only nation that can take on terrorists in faraway countries by means of a superior military, most others might bemoan the American trigger happiness. And so the question is whether the United States and the EU perceive the same terrorists, or whether they mostly see the ones for which they have the means to deal with. In other words: Is the perception of the threat a function of the capability to deal with the threat. There are lots of examples throughout history of governments describing the threat according to their own means with which to deal with it.
There is some confusion about the root causes of terrorism. As so well stated by columnist Thomas L. Friedman of the IHT: Many of the terrorists are not coming from poverty. Many are coming from well-to-do families; they have education and a prosperous future. But still they are willing to under certain circumstances to do what the hijackers of Sept. 11 were willing to do.
We need to do something to weaken the root causes of terrorism. The role of poverty comes along in a different dimension.
Some have better intelligence, but it is also important that some have a better psychological analysis and are in a better position to help the all-important dialogue to avoid the clash of civilizations.
Why did the Bader-Meinhof gang in Western Germany have so much success? It was at least partly because there was a broad group of people who were sympathetic to their cause. In German: Die sympatisanten.
I suggest that this category is very important as well.
Take a look at the speech made by Kofi Annan when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize focussing on the comprehensive needs of the little girl in Afghanistan, but do also take a look at the speech by President Bush a good fortnight ago in which he addresses poverty and terrorism. He was preparing himself for the U.N. meeting on poverty alleviation in Monterrey in Mexico, for the first time President Bush came out in favor of international economic aid and he announced an increase of $5 billion, which is an increase of 14 percent in American spending on that score. Gradually the American administration is overcoming its distaste for development aid and this opens for new initiatives and a much broader acceptance around the world of the American leadership in the fight against terrorists. Having said before that they do not concern themselves with the causes, only with the outcome, the American perspective is going to be broader. Because at home Bush fights on the two fronts of chasing terrorists and protecting the American economy against the effects of terrorism. Should the Americans not be able to look for the same combination when they are making their analysis with other countries in focus?
But then what is the economic ramification? Let me take one example, the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and malaria: Secretary General Kofi Annan has been asking for $7-10 billion and he has got something in the range of 1.8. Or let us take the report from the “Commission of macro economics and health,” led by Harvard professor Jeffrey Sachs: A dollar wisely invested in health will give an economic return six times the investment. In order to halve poverty by the year 2015 one should invest 66 billion a year in health and at the same time save 8 million lives. He asks for .01 percent of GDP or a penny out of only every 10 dollars.
Make love — not war was one of the more well known slogans from the American opposition to the Vietnam War. A similar slogan can be discerned from the practice of Norwegian peace building, be it in the Middle East or in South Africa: Don’t make war, make money. The question is how to give broad groups of the society a stake in the peace process. An economic stake might be a good one. trade is better than a demonizing of the adversary. The development of positive images is important as well.
Peace is made between enemies. When Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin on the lawn of the White House in Washington in September 1993 shook the hand of Chairman Yassar Arafat, it was a handshake between enemies.
The Oslo process for peace in the Middle East was a breakthrough, and it was a beginning. The process died out. But a new process based on the Saudi initiative might be fruitful under the new circumstances even if rejected by Israel. The American initiative in the Security Council for the first time asking for a Palestinian state, along with a secure Israel, is a new beginning.
The Oslo process could start because the PLO was weakened during the Gulf war. The Oslo process got under way also because of the will of the leaders on both side to make a try — and to some extent the sheer luck that there were some Norwegians who had the imagination to grab the opportunity when they saw it emerging. The Oslo process could have been led to fruition in Camp David. But the parties were too far apart and even the American president could not knock their heads together. The recent American position in favor of a Palestinian state has to be seen in the broader context once again of handling Iraq. But never the less: Use the opportunity when opportunity presents itself.
The secrecy of peace processes is extremely important. The few Norwegians involved in the Oslo process did not even inform the American government before the deal was struck behind closed curtains in Oslo.
The Oslo process was something which further more took place on the top of the political hierarchy. This is political leadership. It was lacking the actual involvement of popular support. It was an affair for leaders only. It was lacking in democratic anchorage.
I am proud to have been in on the initiatives of broadening the process through the Shalom-Shalam effort. On the level of my local Rotary Club back in Oslo, we started a student visitors program for Palestinian and Israeli to the Oslo University Summer School. It has created a forum of communication and discussion of alumnae, which has been active on the Internet all through the current turbulence since the second Intifada started when Ariel Sharon took office in Israel.
The model of pairing students from either side of a conflict has to be done carefully in order to be effective. But it could be used in places where it has not been tried out.
I realize the difficulties for outside facilitators to take over some of the responsibility. And with reverses in the process, people who earlier took a chance for peace might come under acute risk of life. When tensions and emotions are running high, collaborators — real or imagined ones — are not seldom hung.
The Norwegian role in the Oslo process was the one of a facilitator. Someone in which the parties had a trust, which was necessary for a beginning. It started by luck through possibilities made at the grassroots level and it was forwarded by chance when political leaders saw the possibilities. A prerequisite was the trust in both parties for Norway earned through a long engagement in the region. You cannot facilitate peace by jumping into the region as a bolt from the blue.
But the process was one for the parties and not for the facilitator. When it showed that they were not willing or not able to carry it through, it stopped. Peace must be made between enemies, and it is the enemies who have to do it!
The truce making in Sri Lanka this winter provides an interesting model. The Norwegian role once again was one of facilitator. The important thing to observe is that the question of peace is a question to be solved by the parties involved. Take Africa in general with all its violent conflicts. You might have a strategic view as to how to make peace, but you have no chance from the outside to make the basic solutions. The devil might be in the details. And the details are for the locals to handle. It is all-important.
The other aspect of the Sri Lankan peace process is that the facilitator has not recently come in from the blue. The Norwegian role has been played over years and the Norwegian engagement has been there for a longer period. The building of trust is necessary. It takes time and sustainability.
I take for granted that neither the Taliban nor the al-Qaeda could be talked into peace and collaboration. And the same goes for some countries suspected of harboring terrorists.
But on the other hand, not all conflicts can be solved through military intervention from the outside. The Norwegian effort in Sri Lanka might be looked upon as an example of facilitating the solving of a conflict by peaceful means. It has gained broad international attention, exactly as a demonstration of that fact.
It is at times possible without airpower, but with “soft power.”
The future in which one grabs the possibilities and does what the German statesman Otto von Bismarck said about politics; When you hear the foot steps of the Lord in the garden, use the opportunity to step forward immediately and take a piece of his mantel. Initiatives for peace can be taken by a variety of actors. Only a few are in the position to act often. But time and circumstances change and one has to make use of the right moment for the right setting. But I think a role for peace presupposes an active mental preparation and training.
We should be inspired of a vision of a world in which we have vastly improved possibility to have the common man have health, education, and a meaningful employment and thereby a basis on which to fulfill his and her potential. But please do not come saying that this is too tough an ambition in the developing world, while it is no problem in the industrialized world. It is a challenge all over where there are human beings.
In a situation like that, even Robert S. Macnamara would have to rewrite his notion of history and not talk of short interludes but of long periods in which all human begins could fulfill his or her potential.
(*) The Acceptance Speech Upon having been awarded the Ihsan Dogramaci prize for International Relations for Peace at Bilkent University, Ankara, Wednesday April 3.
(**) Norwegian Professor, an expert on disarmament.