Jonathan Ferguson
The New Understanding: Post-Secular Pluralism and Universalism!

Dangerous Precedents, Dangerous Futures: The Coming Proxy War of Quasi-States?

This recent TOI article discusses the recent Interpol decision.

I must insist upon something very important here.

It is one thing to say Palestinians have legitimate grievances. This, of course, I do not dispute.

However, it is quite another matter to start treating a postulated nation as an actual one, and to grant it certain privileges analogous to those of a commonly recognized state.

I believe the difficulty here is not necessarily so much the Israel/Palestine issue alone, but also the precedents that are likely to be set by various forms of legitimation granted to quasi-states.

(Needless to say, I use the term ‘quasi-state’ not as a disparaging or dismissive slur, but as a dispassionate and objective acknowledgment of the complex status of Palestine and other entities that are not given the same degree of recognition as, say: Myanmar, or Mexico, or Portugal).

Any future proliferation of observer states may easily give rise to abuse. What will happen when the governments of prominent nations in the UN start making ‘proxy wars’ of legitimation and delegitimation of nation states?

On the one hand, the question of the potential undermining of national sovereignty is a key concern. (I take it as given that national sovereignty is not a ‘right-wing’ value, let alone a ‘hard-right’ value; but rather, an indispendable political good that is truly universal in its value. Or at the very least, it ought to be thus universal in esteem!)

So, the undermining of national sovereignty is one particular kind of ‘slippery slope,’ if you will, whose future consequences cannot easily be predicted in advance.

On the other hand, the ability and willingness of major powers such as the US, Russia or China to exploit quasi-state issues for their own ends must never be underestimated.

This list of three nations, of course, is a historically contingent one. This being so, it is difficult now not to wonder:

Who else will be a relatively dominant power in the years and decades to come?



Even a recently-boosted Saudi Arabia?

Or a resurgent Japan, with the decades-long itch of economic stagnation finally soothed and healed by a future financial boom?

Or even some surprise candidate of whom, for better or worse, nobody has yet the slightest inkling?

No-one knows with any real certainty.

But however this may be, I feel obliged to conclude with one very crucial point, to sum up the foregoing argument.

Ultimately, if you believe that an accommodation between Israel and Palestine would be very valuable, then that is certainly a cause worth pursuing. But let’s all be sure to look at the bigger picture; and may everyone consider with the utmost seriousness the risks posed by certain strategies of resolution which cannot but end up in setting some deeply, deeply dangerous precedents.

About the Author
Dr Jonathan Thomas Ferguson is an alumnus of the University of Leeds and King's College London. He is interested in interfaith dialogue, international relations, the Apocalypse of Hope and spiritual matters generally.
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