Fiamma Nirenstein

With pacifists in power the world is getting closer to war

Even the Pope admits it on occasion, just as Kerry sometimes submits to the idea and, at times, we can even see that Obama is concerned about it: that is, that we now live in a world at war. Generally speaking, however, their message often goes against the flow of the overwhelming reality.

Reality should be a guiding light in one’s life: however, in today’s world, it does not seem to be so. They see peace while there is war. Pacifism looks as if it will stay very long, even if it is an ideology invented by communists in 1952 as an overt weapon for winning the fight against imperialism. Instead, it has become an invincible political norm—there is no one who does not claim to be a pacifist and, thus, the wars grow in number.

Take for example the speech that Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative, gave on the International Day of Peace on September 21st. Wasn’t that an important occasion to try to define the problems of peace in this troubled period? But she preferred to state their satisfaction with the current state of the world because the primary goal of the EU is peace, and, in her view, this has been maintained for 70 years.

Or consider Obama at Hiroshima who chose to beat his breast on America’s fault for promoting proliferation and promising to change America’s ways. Or think of Putin who bombs Aleppo, of course, “for the sake of peace”… Peace is a such a fashionable virtue that even Kim Jong-un of North Korea did not hesitate to declare that his nuclear recent experiment has contributed to the propagation of peace, and Assad, while killing hundreds of thousands of people, declares himself “a guardian of peace”.

The most obvious example of war proliferation on the world stage right now is Syria, where there is no one who is not fighting for peace: but the truth is that that poor country has become a de facto wasteland where a deadly battle is taking place involving fundamentalists, rebels, organized militias, and forces of the current dictatorship, while Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia drop bombs and bullets either directly or arming its ally on the ground. Even Israel sometimes has to intervene with its F16 to stop the shells that fall on its soil.

Yet, there are countless statements of good will and assertions that when you go to Syria you do it to preserve peace. But the reality shows a growing danger of escalation. Russia and the U.S. broke their nuclear agreement showing here part of their immense gap. Putin wants to keep Assad in power and therefore uses Iran and Hezbollah while he bombs Sunnis in Aleppo, pushing up, unconcerned, the Shiite imperialism. Moreover, Afghani refugees fight with the hope of being tomorrow welcomed in Iran, while Hezbollah wants missiles to destroy Israel.

The position of Obama is more complicate: he wants to fight ISIS, and actually he is allied in Iraq with Shiite militias to defeat it, but in Syria these militias are fighting alongside Assad, whom Obama wants to overthrow. Thus, he would be on the side of the rebels that the Shiite militias are fighting. What a mess.

But let’s widen our view. It helps us to read Matthew Continetti on “Washington Free Beacon,” where he lists the many areas of a volatile landscape. He writes: “..and the problem is much larger than the Middle East. Eurasia is ringed by wars both hot and cold – from the Baltic to the Donbas, across the Shiite crescent, along the Indo-Pakistani border, through the South and East China Seas.” He continues by adding, “Putin tests NATO, fuels guerilla war in Ukraine, and pummels Aleppo. Turks fight ISIS and Kurds. America fights ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Iran sends aid to Hezbollah, militias to Syria, and swift boats to the Straits of Hormuz. India and Pakistan battle over Kashmir. Americans fight in Afghanistan. China builds its forces in the Pacific. North Korea flirts with nuclear war.”

Notwithstanding the necessity of a new strategic vision in this world scenario, the choices of Western leaders often seem linked to short-term benefits, such as the uncertain nuclear deal with Iran, which is among the top violators of human rights, sponsors of terrorism and one of the main actor of the new strategic challenges.

It’s peace, stupid. And very often it smells masochism. As when Obama has blocked the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin F16 fighter jets to Bahrain and the updating of several other war jets in the Gulf, a huge transaction of more than $4 billion. The request is to improve that area human rights record. It’s difficult to believe, however, that this is the only reason for blocking the sale. Bahrain, with the support of Saudi Arabia, has come down hard on Shiite rebels and here, yet again, Obama has taken it upon himself an Iran friendly politics, fueling de facto an ethnic conflict in which his traditional Sunni allies are humiliated.

The West and its allies are not in a very good shape for facing tension and conflict. It’s a world besieged by the economic and ideological crisis, Europe and Japan are in distress, the U.S. sails in troubled waters, and Russia remains stagnant, weak superpowers in front of a burning world. Continetti says that there are reasons to be afraid of a possible general conflagration. It is so: the empires are suffering from a wartime earthquake wrapped in the cellophane of pacifism.

Translation by Amy K. Rosenthal

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 9, 2016)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.