Category Archives: peace

Novel Peace Prize 2009

Oslo, October 9 (MNN) – U.S. President Barack Obama incessant mentioning of the word “peace” has been rewarded with this year’s Novel Peace Prize. “No, it’s not a mistake by a person hitting the wrong key at his laptop on a Friday night,” said an anonymous source. “The Committee simply decided it was time to reward the possible future, as it looks so much better than the actual past“.

In other news: bloggers all around the world are rejoicing. Now they know, all it takes to bag over a million dollars, is to talk about nice things.

The Moral Equivalence of Hamas and Israel (and us)

Another day, another series of reports on tens of dead, dying and injured people in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

I’ll leave the sorting out of who’s to blame to anybody wishing to waste their time.

Sure, there are more victims on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli, indicating an overwhelmingly disproportionate response as if the value of human life really depended on nationality (a consideration unfathomably shared by the Palestinian leadership too: prisoners exchange usually involve a handful of Israelis to tens of Palestinians).

On the other hand what purpose can it be in the launching of aimless rockets by Hamas, randomly towards civilians? Apart, that is, from killing if not terrorizing them on purpose, because they are civilians: as if that has ever won anybody’s war.

The height of mutual stupidity is that people in charge on the two sides are determined to brutalize each other. At the same time, retaliation after retaliation, they have kind of abdicated all hopes of recovering their own humanity…to the sudden appearance of virtuous behavior in the other camp.

It’s fairly obvious that whatever the causes of their madness, they are all directly responsible for untold miseries that will befall on their own children.

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What should be done to bring peace to Israeli and Palestinians alike? It’s more than obvious, it’s actually boring. Stop wishing the others could go away. Realize the land is for the two of them, and for the rest of humanity as well. Decouple Israel from the messianic undertones, by getting it into the European Union.

But that doesn’t look like in anybody’s interest. The main hope is that the situation has worsened since the quasi-agreement with President Clinton in 2000, because when everybody knows peace is tantalizingly near, everybody rushes to settle the last scores.

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But that’s still too easy an analysis.  

Who else is brutalizing civilians in the futile attempt of getting a military and thus a political advantage in a never-ending war, worsened exactly because and by that brutalization?

It’s us from NATO.

The civilian victims are in Afghanistan, nowadays, and likely but less evidently in Iraq.

And it’s no novelty. Leaving aside the famously useless killings of tens of thousands in Dresden during World War II, just fifty years ago the French Government tried almost casually to defend the bloody bombing of a Tunisian border village, in the Algerian war.

Despite our illusions, things have not changed since. We are still eliminating fellow human beings without much of a thought. Here’s NATO proudly using American and European taxpayers’ money to kill road building workers. Never, or almost never, big news in our media.

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It is high time we leave aside idle discussions about other peoples’ business to mind about our own idiocy.

Preventative Nobel Peace Prize a Sign of the Times

After a (disastrous) preventative war in Iraq in 2003, we are going to see a (potentially disastrous) preventative Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Al Gore and the IPCC on December 10 at a ceremony in Oslo.

Why can’t we deal with real-and-present problems, and have to make up fantasies of new ones, I wonder?

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What will people make of our climate change circus in 50 years’ time is anybody’s guess.

Surely though, they will still question what Al Gore and the IPCC had actually done, by the middle of 2007, to deserve a prize. No Kyoto-II agreement has been reached yet, no CO2 emission cutting program has been implemented by any Government yet, and no “smoking gun” for greenhouse-gas-induced climatic change has been found yet.

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Things are actually a-moving, and the still-ongoing Bali conference may come out with a document asking developing countries to develop rather less. Who would have thought that “global warming” rhymes with “neocolonialism”?

And yet, there is some hope. The bandwagon has become so huge, it will be next-to-impossible to steer. Expect ridiculous targets nobody will ever try to reach, set for times unbelievably far in the future.

Until one day, the Sun will cool us down, and so will die the mad dream of anthropogenic climate change.

Doris Lessing on “Raising Consciousness”

The IHT decided to reprint today a June 1992 Op-Ed piece on The New York Times by Doris Lessing: “On Political Correctness – Questions you should never ask a writer

The topicality of some of the thoughts of the Nobel Laureate in Literature for 2007 is uncanny:

[…] ways of thinking that were either born under Communism or strengthened by Communism still govern our lives […] The first point: language. It is not a new thought that Communism debased language and, with language, thought […]

The second point is linked with the first. Powerful ideas affecting our behavior can be visible only in brief sentences, even a phrase – a catch phrase. All writers are asked this question by interviewers: “Do you think a writer should. . .?” “Ought writers to. . .?” […]

the assumption behind the words is that all writers should do the same thing, whatever it is. […] Another is “commitment,” so much in vogue not long ago. Is so and so a committed writer?

A successor to “commitment” is “raising consciousness.” This is double-edged. The people whose consciousness is being raised may be given information they most desperately lack and need, may be given moral support they need. But the process nearly always means that the pupil gets only the propaganda the instructor approves of.

“Raising consciousness,” like “commitment,” like “political correctness,” is a continuation of that old bully, the party line. […]

Kosovo: Dream a Dream Against the Nightmares of Reason

New, unreasonable, absurd ideas are needed to prevent diplomatic logic from perpetrating new injustice in Kosovo thereby prolonging the conflict for many years to come

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After years of postponements, the international crisis around the Kosovo region in the Balkans will climax in a little less than two months.

According to the intentions of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, 10 December 2007 will be the final date for the negotiations between Serbia and its Southern province, whose Albanian majority have been out of Belgrade’s control from 1999.

International mediator Martti Ahtisaari has published a Plan with a series of recommendations that include independence for Kosovo. But in all likelihood negotiations will keep failing. And then in December the USA will follow the Ahtisaari Plan, but Russia will not, further attracting Serbia in its orbit.

In the meantime the European Unione (EU) will demonstrate its independence from Moscow by following the path indicated by Washington: thus doing nothing to heal one of the Continent’s most difficult conflicts.

Europeans have been developing for 60 years the art of postponing comprehensive solutions thereby creating more problems. In December 1991, the Union recognized the independence of Croatia and Slovenia, intently to stop the war between Zagreb and Belgrade but in practice triggering the long Bosnian conflict.

The Kosovo issue can be traced back to a geopolitical decision taken 130 years ago above the heads of the inhabitants. At the time the Albanians were denied independence by German Chancellor Bismarck. They got it then in 1913 but only on a chunk of Historical Albania. Substantial amounts of ethnic Albanians were stranded in Serbia, Greece and Macedonia.

The common trait of this history is that nobody has never asked the Albanians’ opinion. Even in Kosovo, the “liberation” has come from American bombs, not the local guerrilla. And from 1999, although elections have been held, the province has effectively been in the hands of the UN, following Security Council Resolution 1244.

Serbs haven’t much to celebrate from history either. Conquered by the Ottomans in 1389 despite winning an epic battle just in Kosovo, they achieved international recognition at the mentioned 1878 Conference, but then lost much of male population facing the Austrian Empire in World War I. Nazis,

Croats and Italians literally and figuratively cut them to pieces (not just figuratively) in World War II. Then, after relative prosperity under Tito’s Communism, the Serbs fought wars nearly for the entire ten years of the extraordinarily aggressive nationalist/socialist Presidency of Slobodan Milosevic.

Serbia is today a nation with a most serious image problem, seven years after nonviolent popular revolution sent the Dictator to die in an international jail. Its path towards becoming a modern democracy is still not easy, with nationalists always too close to power, a First Minister killed by the Mafia, and a list of fugitive war criminals.

With a rancorous attitude, Brussels and Washington relentlessly seem to treat the entire Serbian Nation as “guilty”, somehow illogically after making so much effort to inspire the local democrats.

Unfortunately, one point seems to escape most: Serbs are Europeans, as much as the Italians, the Portuguese and the Germans (and the Albanians).

In truth their society developed a Communist dictatoriship; there is still lots of corruption and Mafia near the power centers; some Serbs have committed atrocities, covering themselves in blood for ethnic cleansing, concentration camps and mass killings. Two egregious war criminals (Karadzic and Mladic) are still on the run.

But doesn’t precisely that make the Serbs truly European? Their history has many correspondences with the rest of the Continent’s: Communist Party; Italian fascism; Nazi genocide; and the many European war criminals never brough in front of a court of law.

And it would not be difficult to continue.

More: the EU is the fruit of the epochal paradigm shift of 1951, when France and Germany, Latin Europe and German Europe, renounced war in the European Coal and Steel Community, some 1942 years after the slaughter of the lost legions of Varus in the Teutoburg forest.

The EU is the foremost peacemaking experiment in the History of Humanity, more important because more complex also than those 4,000 completely demilitarized miles between USA and Canada.

But if peace is where the idea of Europe begins, that’s where it may end (or jam, perhaps). And so only an enlargement that would include Serbia, the former adversary, would sanction the Continental “completion” of the EU, exactly because for years Serbia has been the enemy to isolate and to bomb.

(two points for clarity: the enlargement to include Albania is also important but it appears a question of time…from a strategic point of view, it has happened already. And the other “missing pieces” from the Continent (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland) are in all but paper members of the Union, having to adhere to almost all of its directives and regulations).

Finally, without Serbia, and indeed if Serbia voluntarily and angrily refused to join the EU in open contrast to the dream of the founders (Spinelli, Monnet, Schuman), the Union would have to waste time and resources on that inner wound ready to spill blood at the first opportunity: bye-bye to further expansion with Turkey, the Ukraine, Morocco and Israel!

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Unfortunately, this is the most likely future.

In the Kosovar crisis international diplomacy has shown all its limits, and especially its “Curse of Reason”, with perfectly logical behaviors by all protagonists combining in perfectly illogical, and disastrous collective decisions.

Think of the tragic chain of events that changed the solid European equilibrium before the Sarajevo murder in 1914 to the suicidal years of the First World War; think also of the War of Korea, stopped on July 27, 1953 at the same border where it started on June 25, 1950, minus four million dead.

In Kosovo too, everybody behaves according to logic. For the local Albanians, independence is now a goal they thought they had reached a year ago. For the Serbs in Pristina and Belgrade, keeping Kosovo as a province is the last bastion to defend national dignity, having been divorced by Slovenes, Croats, Bosniacs, Macedonians and Montenegrins.

The larger fish couldn’t disagree more either. The USA have repeteadly declared their intention to recognize the independence of Kosovo, in opposition to Russia, while the EU awaits unanimity and so can only show paralisis.

It is hard to imagine how could any “logical” solution satisfy all the parties. Indeed, every “practical idea” guarantees the perpetration of this or that injustice: an independent Kosovo would be evidence for the Serbs that their interests are of no concern to the USA and the EU: frankly, one put-down too many, and without any strong reason why.

Declaring Kosovo as a province of Serbia would mean in turn the betrayal of years of expectations, and would alienate the Kosovars without eliciting so much as a “thank you” note” from Belgrade or Moscow.

Leaving the status quo would not help the development of a territory that is getting addicted to international aid, and where the way to riches passes through the local Mafia and drug smuggling.

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Some new solution is needed for Kosovo: an unreasonable, absurd, impratical idea and for those very reasons logical, reasonable and indeed practical, a lot more than the Cold and Warm Wars (and probably, the dead people) that otherwise await all of us in the future, almost with absolute certainty.

What kind of solutions? Offering independence to a smaller Kosovo, cut out according to pre-1999 ethnic lines plus adjustments, with the territories with Serbian majorities conceded to Serbia? Implementing a customs union of Serbia, Kosovo and Albania that would simplify their EU accession negotiations whilst rendering obsolete the issue of Kosovo independence?

Offering free circulation of people between Serbia and independent Kosovo, with generous aids for Serbs to repatriate? Setting aside independence in favor of a “macualted” federal state? Guaranteeing to Serbia the immediate accession to the EU as soon as the necessary laws are implemented, and in any case not after Croatia and Turkey?

Re-admitting Belgrade to the assembly of nations without the lasting distrust and independently from the situation with the war criminals? Compensating the civil Serbian victims of the 1999 war?

None of those questions may be the answer: indeed, they could be all and only Dreams.

However, what has the Powers’ diplomacy to offer, but Nightmares?