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Is Western Civilization Doomed?: A Review Essay

Emanuel L. Paparella, Ph.D.

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In a span of 75 years, between 1926 and 2001, six books appeared which greatly influenced Western Man’s thinking about his own civilization, so called Western Civilization.

In chronological order of appearance they are: Oswald Spangler’s The Decline of the West (1926); Arnold Toynbee’s Civilization on Trial (1958); Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987); Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History (1992); Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1998); and Erik Voegelin’s Order and History (2001).

In this essay we’ll survey those six books to determine how they have influenced the thinking of conservative ideologies which believe that while it is true that the West is in decline, there is still time to mitigate it or even to reverse it and preserve it for posterity. A mere glance at the titles of those books will hint at what the fuss and concern of those conservatives are. They go a long way in explaining their alarm at what they deem is an invasion of Europe by Moslems from Syria or Afghanistan or Turkey. They feel that Western Christian Civilization has to be defended anew from the hordes of Moslem invaders threatening its very existence. This is going on as we speak in Hungary which has now closed its borders justifying the measure as the defense of Europe.

The lazy way to explain this sad phenomenon of the advocacy of fortress Europe is to brand all those who invoke the preservation of heritage and civilization as sheer xenophobes or fascists, even racists, which they probably are; but such a shallow explanation does not even begin to touch the complexities of the Western cultural identity. In fact, it can be safely asserted that many of the crisis of present day EU are due to the refusal to search for and discover its genuine historical identity rather than summarily dismiss such a search as anti-modern, obscurantist, retrograde and medieval.

I believe that part of the problem is the failed distinction between what is universal and what is particular in Western Civilization. Characteristically, the imagined goods of modern progressive or leftist ideologies are conceived to be “universal” values (such as liberty, equality, and fraternity), whereas the goods and values defended by conservatives are more readily understood as contingent particulars. There does not appear to be a single substance knowable as Tradition per se, but rather many historical traditions, great and small, each making a claim for allegiance and conservation on its own particular terms. As a result, while there may be a Socialist International or a Communist International—one may even speak of a Liberal International—there has never been a Conservative International.

There is, however, one “quasi-universal” that conservatives of many nations have understood themselves to be conserving: the West. Obviously, the very word indicates that this good or value is not truly universal: it excludes, at least, the East. On the other hand, insofar as the term denotes a civilization transcending in space any particular Western state, transcending in time the history of any particular Western nation, and transcending in intellectual scope or catholicity any particular Western philosophy or doctrine, “the West” stretches toward a kind of universality. To speak of the West is to speak of something cosmopolitan, and yet not deracinated. Perhaps the defense of the West is close to the heart of what it means to be a conservative in the modern world—yet the definition of the West and the identification of the threats to it is also a source of disagreement among conservatives of various sorts, not to speak of progressives and liberals.

Earlier and particularly nineteenth-century assumptions about the West were nearly always whiggish celebrations of the historically “inevitable” progress of Western European civilization to its rightful place in the imperial sun: “Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set,/ God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet” was a British invocation, but it summed up a more general sense that the West was simply “the best”—and destined for indefinite global dominion. That confidence, however, was profoundly shaken by the civilizational self-immolation of the First World War. For many on the Left, the carnage of the Great War was evidence of the structural flaws of Western “bourgeois democracy,” requiring the remedy of revolution.

Against whom or what is it, then, that the West finds itself in need of defense? Two general forms of threat may be identified. First, over the course of the twentieth century it was frequently contended that the West must be defended from internal decay or decline. Conservative reflection on this theme was prompted in the first instance by an engagement with the thought of Oswald Spengler, whose book The Decline of the West was a publishing sensation in Germany and Europe immediately after the First World War. In a resonant, even poetic, though not altogether scientific manner, this prophet of pessimism argued that civilizations are organic wholes organized around a High Culture with a particular “Soul.” Civilizations throughout history have risen and fallen in a pattern of birth, growth, apex, decline, and death—and our Western civilization is no different. It is doomed like all the others.

In Spengler’s view, the West was clearly in the last phase of its civilizational life: the “Soul” was no longer animating the body. The telltale signs of a High Culture’s decay included skepticism, materialism, scientism, and the fall of philosophy into mere academicism on the one hand, and urbanization, vulgar democracy, the rule of the rich, and eventually bureaucracy on the other hand. The cataclysm of the two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century seemed to many to lend plausibility to the contention that the civilization of Western Europe (and its diaspora in the New World) was now entering its “twilight.” Vladimir Putin still goes around preaching this doctrine.

While Spengler himself held that the roughly thousand-year civilizational life-cycle was a fact of nature beyond man’s ability to control or modify—in short, that our civilization’s decline was inevitable and irreversible—this was not the lesson conservatives took from his work. Conservatism, after all, was accustomed to resisting the “tides” of history; indeed, conservatism often specialized in imagining ways to “turn back the clock.“ Far from leading to an acquiescence in pessimism, therefore, Spenglerian gloom served as a rallying cry, a call both to action and to reflection: if the sources of decay and decline could be uncovered, perhaps they could also be reversed. This has been the rallying crying of most 20th century dictators on both the right and the left.

Another writer whose thoughts on the rise and fall of civilizations colored conservative understandings of the West’s predicament was the philosophical historian Arnold Toynbee. Writing primarily in the 1950s, Toynbee developed a universal history of civilizations in terms of challenge and response. The challenge might be physical (e.g., the cultivation of nearly inarable land), civil-social (an internal intellectual crisis or religio-political faction), or external (the pressure of another civilization). Whatever the case, the response of a healthy and growing civilization depended upon the efforts of creative minorities able to meet the challenge. (In the absence of any challenges whatsoever, civilizations tended simply to decay.) The signs of civilizational decline, in turn, were a ruling minority turned in on itself and on its past glories—no longer creative—and the construction of a “Universal State” that acted to smother dissent and discontentment among an emergent “Proletariat.” Here one thinks of Nazism, or Fascism or Communism.

While Toynbee’s work was by no means accepted uncritically, conservatives did find many points of agreement. Toynbee, for example, tended to highlight religion as a source of recurring civilizational renewal, and conservatives too saw in religion a source of hope for the West. Toynbee’s “Universal State” and “Proletariat,” moreover, had something in common with the centralizing “collectivism” and emerging “mass society” of the twentieth century, against both of which conservatives had set themselves: perhaps, through conservative efforts, the West could retain or regain its individualistic spirit and so continue to nurture creative minorities. Most significantly, Toynbee was no determinist. There was no set date for the West’s demise; all depended on particular human choices and human actions. And, Toynbee admonished, “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” It was up to conservatives to forestall, through acts of cultural recovery, the West’s suicidal tendencies.

The theme of a moral crisis of the West, one requiring a concerted and creative response, has remained a staple of conservative argument for more than half a century. It is noteworthy that what are taken by Spengler, Toynbee, and many conservatives as the indicators of civilizational decline—a coolly skeptical stance toward religious claims, the sensual delights of an urbane materialism, the democratization of society, the rational administration of a bureaucracy, the growth of a cosmopolitan “Universal State,” the burgeoning of novel liberties—have been understood by others as signs of civilizational flourishing and progress. The experiences of the first half of the twentieth century taught conservatives to doubt the solidity and sustainability of such phenomena in the absence of vibrant cultural foundations. Hence, in recent years, conservative initiatives in the culture wars constitute a continuing effort to arrest internal tendencies toward decline within Western civilization.

Beyond the threat of internal decline, “the West” has also been understood to require defense against threats arising externally, in international conflict. By invoking loyalty to the West as a whole, one may make “one’s own” the political concerns of other peoples who are not fellow citizens of one’s nation-state. In other words, the West is a basis or rationale for “natural” alliance in time of war. Thus, the British during the First World War were eager for that conflict to be seen by their potential allies as one pitting the liberal and civilized traditions of the West against invading hordes from the East, “the Hun.” In this way, isolationist America and unenthusiastic Commonwealth countries could be brought into the conflict as allies in the common defense of (Western) civilization itself—rather than in defense of British imperial interests.

The inclusion of the Soviet Union among the Allies of the Second World War tended to obstruct recourse to the language of the West, but even still, both Churchill and De Gaulle in their wartime speeches spoke of the defense of “liberal and Christian civilization,” a good short description of the meaning of the West in contrast with Nazi barbarism. With the Nazi defeat and the advent of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the defense of the West could serve as the basis for the NATO alliance against the totalitarian barbarism of the Eastern Bloc.

It was in the context of the Cold War that the West became an especially important concept for a nascent Western conservatism. Given that context, the term West carried in the first instance both geostrategic and economic connotations—mirroring the fact that our Soviet Communist adversaries understood economics to be at the “base” of all political, cultural, and spiritual life. Thus, despite its cultural dissimilarities, Japan could be understood to stand among the “Western” nations, since it was a free-market democracy and a U.S. ally (having been reconstructed as such by the Americans after World War II), while Spain under Franco might be understood to stand outside the West, since it was not (yet) a NATO member, nor a democracy. During the Cold War, the world was more or less neatly divided between the Communist Eastern Bloc, the so-called Western alliance (NATO) whose glue was democracy, and those nations which held themselves to be Non-Aligned.

Yet throughout the Cold War period, conservative thinkers worked to reach a deeper level of analysis of the manifold crises of the twentieth century. Many, following Eric Voegelin, concluded that Soviet communism was an extreme instance of “Gnostic revolt”—in effect, a characteristic heresy within the Western experience, rather than something arising from outside the West. If the “armed doctrine” threatening the West was itself a bastard child of the West’s own traditions, however, then the defense of the West began not on the tense military frontier dividing the two Germanies; rather, the defense of the West must begin with an effort to educate Western publics about the orthodox strains of the Western heritage. But what exactly were the “orthodox” traditions of the West?

Standard nineteenth-century accounts of Western civilization understood the West to have four roots. Athens stood emblematically as the source of the West’s philosophical traditions. Jerusalem was the source of the West’s religious traditions. Rome was the source of the West’s legal traditions. And Germany—the German forests, in which had dwelt the Gothic tribes—was the source of the peculiarly Western spirit of liberty, contract, and self-government. In such an account, the West was in effect an alternative, secularized name for “Western Christendom.”

Christianity, after all, had absorbed ancient philosophy; the church had displaced the Roman Empire as a universal jurisdiction; and the Goths were converted. In such an account, Christianity is the primary “marker” of the West, and so Rome, the eternal city, might be understood as the main taproot among the other, lesser roots. Such an account had, and continues to have, a particular appeal for traditionalist conservatives: the West they seek to defend is readily recognizable as Christendom. As a result, such conservatism has tended to have a high opinion of medieval civilization, finding within it a privileged cultural synthesis that remains normative, and so standing in a critical relationship to certain features of the contemporary world. Such a conservatism also searches in the Middle Ages for the origins of many Western institutions and practices that are often mistaken for modern innovations. The source of the West’s dynamism, for example, is found to be the Church. Christopher Dawson’s The Making of Europe, jumps to mind here.

The first major challenge to this traditional account of the West occurred during the First World War: for the purposes of that war, Germany had to be located outside the West, and so a rich literature on the Gothic dimensions of the Western experience was lost. As a result, we would in time no longer be able to understand what Montesquieu, for example, meant when he praised England for having retained its Gothic constitution; we would no longer feel the intuitive force of Hegel’s arguments concerning the special world-historical role of “German freedom.” Western liberty would have to be extracted from other and perhaps less adequate sources.

In America, moreover, a Jerusalem-Athens-Rome account of the West was usually thought unsatisfactory, since it tended to confer primacy to Roman Catholicism as the synthesis of Athens and Jerusalem—something most non-Catholics were not prepared to concede. Protestants and others understood “liberty of conscience” and the protection of the “private judgment” of the individual to be singularly “Western” achievements, responsible for the West’s special dynamism during the modern period—and these were believed to follow only from the Reformation’s repudiation of Roman “obscurantism,” and even Roman “despotism.” As has been said: anti-Catholicism became the last acceptable bias.

Many American conservatives were therefore attracted to Leo Strauss’s articulation of the West’s Great Tradition as one of Jerusalem and Athens in irresolvable tension. This account had something to offer everyone. Catholics could read Strauss and supply Rome as the arena in which this tension had been worked out in history. Jews could appreciate an account of the West in which the religion of the Old Testament was understood to have priority over the New. Post-Barthian Protestants could resonate with the either-or existential choice between Athens and Jerusalem that Strauss posited as the fate of every thinking man.

For all of that, Strauss’s own choice was for Athens, not Jerusalem: Athens is the taproot in his account of the West, reaching deeper than other, lesser roots. For most neoconservative followers of Strauss, therefore, free inquiry and Socratic enlightenment are the primary “markers” of the West. The West they seek to defend is not Christendom, but rather the civilization that philosophy built and in which universal reason has its home: in other words, the civilization of modern liberal democracy.

Related to this Straussian account of the primacy of Western philosophy are those libertarian or classical liberal conservatives for whom the free market economy, with its abundant prosperity and constant technological innovation, constitutes the characteristic Western excellence. With some exceptions, such conservatives tend to identify the West with the “modern civilization” that arose in the eighteenth century as the project of the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment—and often, it is said, in self-conscious rejection of earlier traditions. Whereas Straussians give priority to the modern political order, libertarians and classical liberals give priority to the modern economic order.

A host of conservative debates and areas of research arise from these contentions over the essence of Western civilization. Was modernity really achieved only in rejection of the West’s older heritage? Or is modernity a fruit of earlier Western traditions and institutions? (Or, more fundamentally, is modernity to be regarded simply as an unproblematic “achievement”?) Are modern Western institutions self-subsistent? Or do such institutions depend upon cultural prerequisites that may be undermined by modern life? If the West is identified exclusively with the modern and the cosmopolitan, is America in fact the only or the “most” Western nation? And if Socratic enlightenment, free markets, and modernity in general are truly universals, is the particular Western history that led to their achievement merely a husk that may be discarded once we have entered the stage of a truly universal civilization?

Such questions became urgent in the decade between the fall of Soviet communism in 1989–91 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. No longer facing an Eastern Bloc, the contours and boundaries of the West were thrown into doubt. Indeed, many observers—and not a few conservatives among them—followed Francis Fukuyama in concluding that we had reached the “End of History,” with liberal democracy (the characteristically Western political regime, but one with putatively global application) everywhere triumphant, and rightly so. Under Fukuyama’s tutelage, we witnessed the return of a version of the older Whig narrative, now in a new, quasi-Marxist or quasi-Hegelian guise: where before it had been said that communism was the inevitable “wave of the future,” it was now held that there was something inevitable about the triumph of liberal democracy. The West’s triumph was the triumph of humanity itself, a universal triumph.

At the same time, the 1990s were the decade of American conservatism’s acute struggle with multiculturalism in the academy. Despite numerous conservative caveats and objections, the locus classicus of conservative arguments against multicultural relativism was Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (1987), a best-seller with enormous influence. Bloom was a student of Leo Strauss, and the peculiar feature of his intervention in the academic wars over the “canon” of texts to be studied in the university was his stipulation that the Great Books of the West were to be preferred only on account of their philosophic universality. In other words, the only rational basis for allegiance to the West was the West’s own allegiance to universal, Socratic questioning. Anything less would be a species of mere ethnocentrism.

As globalization—the universalization of Western business practices and popular culture—gathered strength in the 1990s, the “facts on the ground” lent further credence to an understanding of the West as a universal civilization openly available to all. Hence America, as the “the first universal nation“ seemed to stand as the West’s (and the world’s) vanguard and model.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, brought a jolting return to History. Suddenly, we were confronted anew by the most traditional enemy from the East: Islam—or at least elements from within Islam that were intent to resist the rise of a universal civilization built on Western foundations. Shortly after Fukuyama had published his work on the “end of history” (1992) Samuel Huntington had published an article (1993) and later a book, The Clash of Civilizations (1996) arguing that, after the Cold War, international conflict would no longer be nationalist (as had been the case in the nineteenth century), nor ideological (as had been the case in the twentieth), but would instead center around a “clash of civilizations.” That is, cultural identities and antagonisms would play a major role in relations among states. Presciently, he observed that Islam in particular has “bloody borders”—a greatly disproportionate number of the ongoing conflicts in the world involve Muslims. September 11 appeared to prove Huntington’s analysis more cogent than Fukuyama’s: there would be no escape from the burden of history, and ideas and institutions could not be discussed apart from culture and the historical process.

The situation remains unsettled intellectually, however. On the one hand, the attraction of a universal modern civilization equally available to all remains great—and so many conservatives, especially neoconservatives, are inclined to understand the emergent terrorist threat either as a species of totalitarian ideology (assimilating it to the experience of the twentieth century, as with the use of the term “Islamofascism,” to be defeated by force of arms) or else as a kind of historical backwardness (something “medieval”) that is susceptible to being “modernized” out of existence through the processes and practices of enlightenment, that is, through the application of “democracy.” In either view, the West’s history remains a universal history, confronting inevitable road bumps—albeit sometimes large ones—on the road to inevitable future triumph.

On the other hand, the confrontation with jihad (to say nothing of the spectacular recent rise of China) is beginning to force a reacquaintance with the particularities or non-universal elements of the West. Not least, we begin to appreciate more fully that Western ideals and institutions depend at least to some extent on cultural foundations that are the possession of historically Western peoples—and so we view with alarm the demographics of contemporary Europe, the cradle of the West, with a burgeoning Muslim minority amidst a dwindling native population. Hence the closing of the borders.

Even if the West is less universal than we have lately thought, so the argument goes, it is still good, still ours, and still in need of a defense. This explains the forbidding of the constructions of mosques and the closing of the frontiers (Hungary in particular which claims to be defending nothing less than European Christendom) to the hordes of Moslem refugees fleeing from the Syrian conflict and seeking refuge and a new life in the EU.

And yet there are some European intellectuals that have been exploring the idea of multiple modernities which would include religion as part of the ongoing dialogue in the public agora on the West’s identity. Jurgen Habermas is one of those. But for the moment let’s leave the concept of “multiple modernities” for another essay in the Ovi Symposium.

Note: This article has previously appeared in Ovi magazine.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.

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A European Response to US Withdrawal from the INF Treaty

MD Staff

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Ahead of the meeting of President Putin and President Trump in Paris on November 11th 2018, 79 European political, diplomatic and military leadership figures are appealing to both Russia and the US not to take unilateral action that would jeopardise the future of the INF without further efforts, such a move would likely trigger an arms race and damage the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The full statement is reproduced below.

ELN statement November 2018

President Trump’s declared intention to withdraw the United States from the 1987 US-Russia Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) calls into question not only the fate of this pivotal accord but also the future of nuclear arms control, with potentially grave consequences for European security.

The INF treaty may indeed have been violated. And it may be anachronistic. But it is symbolic of great power cooperation on nuclear risks and it has been a stabilising force in Europe’s security over the past three decades.  Europe is the sandpit in which US-Russia confrontation over INF will be played out.  Europe is entitled to a say in what happens next.

US intentions have been poorly communicated in Europe. This leaves America’s European Allies supporting Washington’s judgment about Russian non-compliance, but not necessarily Washington’s response.  Divergent European and American approaches to the INF crisis would be highly damaging.

Even more troubling would be the likely consequences of the Treaty’s demise.

The New START Agreement, which limits US and Russian strategic nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles, expires in 2021 and the INF crisis increases the risk that it will not be extended or replaced.  Collapse of INF would spur the development of new nuclear and strategic conventional weapon systems, including INF-class missiles. These systems claim to strengthen deterrence but are more likely to fuel an arms race. The costs to international nuclear stability, European security, and taxpayers in all countries concerned could be high. And unless INF is maintained or replaced, its loss will deepen international cynicism about gradual nuclear disarmament, with consequent damage to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Strong voices in the US share these views.

The INF crisis has focused the attention of European decision-makers on arms control. They should now move beyond statements of concern towards action on the following recommendations:

The INF’s collapse is still preventable. If the two sides work in good faith on the non-compliance issues instead of just trading allegations, solutions can be found. Non-governmental experts and organisations, including the ELN, have developed proposals that address all the issues raised by each side, including the new Russian cruise missile and the configuration of US missile defence installations in Europe. We urge Washington and Moscow to use the coming months to explore these proposals seriously and halt the INF’s breakdown. Neither side should unilaterally withdraw without further effort.

Moscow – which has always protested that it has not deployed non-compliant missiles – should pledge that it will not deploy such missiles against Europe, provided that NATO and the United States do not deploy them. We welcome NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg’s recent statement that any such NATO deployment is improbable.

European governments, especially members of NATO, should make clear that if Russia can verifiably demonstrate that it is INF-compliant, they will support the transparent verification of NATO’s land-based ballistic missile defence installations by Russia.

As Washington is genuinely concerned about Chinese intermediate range missiles remaining outside any arms control mechanism, it should construct a joint US-Russian approach towards Beijing and should be able to count on support from European and Asian partners. These efforts might be unsuccessful but would demonstrate a continuing US commitment to nuclear arms control.

Europeans should urge the US and Russia to immediately resume talks on strategic stability.  To create some measure of stability and mutual confidence, the two sides should agree the extension of the New START Treaty as a priority. At the 11 November 2018 Trump-Putin meeting, the leaders should also agree a statement of reassurance to the international community that nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought.

While Ukraine will remain the primary joint agenda item in the NATO-Russia Council, Europeans should advance proposals for wider, more up-to-date arms control designed to increase decision time and predictability for both NATO and Russian leaders.

As part of a broader response, Europeans should press the case for the security benefits of restraint and collaborative arms control, vigorously countering the pernicious belief that arms control could be ineffective, or even detrimental, to national security.

If implemented, these steps would prevent the INF crisis further worsening the West-Russia confrontation. It could turn a crisis into an opportunity for fresh, innovative arms control that is fit for the 21st century.

Signatories

Austria

  • Wolfgang Petritsch, Former EU Special Envoy for Kosovo & Former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bulgaria

  • Solomon Passy, President Atlantic Club Bulgaria; Former Chairman of the UN Security Council
  • Professor Todor Tagarev, Former Defence Minister; Former Director of the Defence Institute

Croatia

  • Budimir Loncar, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of former Yugoslavia; Former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the Non-Aligned Movement
  • Professor Ivo Slaus, Honorary President, World Academy of Art and Science

Czech Republic

  • Jan Kavan, Former Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and former President of the UN General Assembly

Denmark

  • Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Former Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Mogens Lykketoft, Former Foreign Minister; Former President of the UN General Assembly

Finland

  • Dr Tarja Cronberg, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iran
  • Elisabeth Rehn, Former Minister of Defence
  • Admiral Juhani Kaskeala, Former Chief of Defence
  • Professor Raimo Väyrynen, Former President of the Academy of Finland; Former Director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs

France

  • General (Ret.) Bernard Norlain, Former General Officer, Air Defence Commander and Air Combat Commander of the French Air Force
  • Paul Quilès, Former Minister of Defence

Georgia

  • Ambassador Tedo Japaridze, Former Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Vice-Chairman, International Relations, Anakila Development Consortium

Germany

  • Angela Kane, Former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs & Under-Secretary-General
  • Volker Rühe, Former Defence Minister
  • Rudolf Scharping, Former Defence Minister
  • Karsten Voigt, Former German-American coordinator in the Federal Foreign Office, Former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
  • Brigadier General (ret.) Dr Klaus Wittmann, Former Bundeswehr General

Hungary

  • János Martonyi, Former Foreign Affairs Minister

Italy

  • Giancarlo Aragona, Former Secretary General of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Hon. Margherita Boniver, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Professor Francesco Calogero, Former Secretary-General of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  • General (rt.) Vincenzo Camporini, Former Chief of the Joint Defence Staff, Former Chief of Staff of the Air Force
  • Giorgio La Malfa, Former Minister for European Affairs
  • Admiral Giampaolo di Paolo, Former Minister of Defence; Former Chairman of NATO Military Committee
  • Arturo Parisi, Former Defence Minister
  • Professor Carlo Schaerf, Co-founder, International School on Disarmament and Research on Conflicts (ISODARCO).
  • Stefano Silvestri, Former Under Secretary of State for Defence, Former President of the Italian International Affairs Institute
  • Ambassador Stefano Stefanini, Former Permanent Representative to NATO, Former Diplomatic Advisor to the President of Italy
  • Carlo Trezza, Former Ambassador for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Former Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime

Netherlands

  • Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Former Deputy Prime Minister, Former Minister of Economic Affairs
  • Bert Koenders, Former Foreign Minister
  • Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament
  • Klaas de Vries, Former Minister for Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations

Norway

  1. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway, Former Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO)
  2. Espen Barth Eide, Former Foreign Minister, Former Minister of Defence

Poland

  • Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Former Defence Minister and Chair, Executive Council, Euro-Atlantic Association

Portugal

  • Ricardo Baptista Leite MP, MD, Member of Parliament

Russia

  • Ambassador Anatoly Adamishin, Former Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the UK
  • Dr Alexey Arbatov, Former Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defence Committee; Head of the Center for International Security, Institute of World Economy and International Relations
  • General Vladimir Dvorkin, Lead scientist at the Center of the International Safety of the Institute of Economic and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Ambassador Boris Pankin, Former Foreign Minister of the former USSR
  • Dr Dmitry Polikanov, Chairman of the Trialogue Club and member of the Expert Council of the Russian Government
  • Igor Yurgens, Chairman of the Management Board of the Institute for Contemporary Development

Serbia

  • Goran Svilanović, Secretary-General, Regional Cooperation Council

Sweden

  • Dr Hans Blix, Former Foreign Minister and former IAEA Director General
  • Ingvar Carlsson, Former Prime Minister
  • Rolf Ekeus, Former Ambassador to the United States, former High Commissioner on national minorities in Europe
  • Gunnar Hökmark, MEP
  • Henrik Salander, Former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission

Turkey

  • Professor Mustafa Aydin, President, International Relations Council of Turkey
  • Hikmet Çetin, Former Foreign Minister
  • Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz, Former Ambassador to the United Kingdom
  • Vahit Erdem, Former Head of the Turkish Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
  • Osman Faruk Loğoğlu, Former Turkish Ambassador to the United States and former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Özdem Sanberk, Former Ambassador to the United Kingdom; Former Under Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

United Kingdom

  • Rt. Hon Margaret Beckett, Former Foreign Secretary
  • Sir Tony Brenton, Former UK Ambassador to Russia
  • Lord Des Browne, Former Minister of Defence; Member of the House of Lords
  • Lord Menzies Campbell of Pittenweem, Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats
  • Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke, Former Home Secretary
  • Stephen Gethins, MP
  • Lord David Hannay of Chiswick, Former Ambassador of the UK to the EEC, Former Ambassador of the UK to the UN
  • Sir Nick Harvey, former Member of Parliament and former Minister of State for the Armed Forces
  • Rt. Hon. Lord John Kerr of Kinochard, Former British Ambassador to the United States and the EU
  • Rt. Hon. Lord Tom King of Bridgwater, Former Defence Secretary
  • Gen. Sir John McColl, Former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Deputy SACEUR)
  • Gen. Lord David Ramsbotham, Retired General Army, Former Adjutant General; Former ADC General to HM the Queen
  • Lord David Richards of Herstmonceux, Former Chief of the Defence Staff
  • Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Former Foreign Secretary, Former Defence Secretary
  • Rt. Hon. Sir John Stanley, Former Chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls; Former Minister for the Armed Forces
  • Baroness Elizabeth Symnons of Vernham Dean, Former Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence Minister
  • Sir Adam Thomson, Former UK Perm Rep to NATO; Director, European Leadership Network
  • Lord David Triesman, Former Foreign Office Minister and Chairman of the Football Association
  • Lord William Wallace of Saltaire, Member of the House of Lords
  • Rt. Hon the Admiral Lord Alan West of Spithead, First Sea Lord and Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy
  • Rt. Hon. Baroness Shirley Williams, Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Former Adviser on Nuclear Proliferation to the Prime Minister
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Serbian question in Montenegro

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On August 5, 1999 the government of Montenegro announced a platform for new relations between Serbia and Montenegro, in order to review the status of Montenegro and electoral law. The Constitutional Court rejected this revision as being illegal. A little later, the question of Montenegrin independence was again raised – this time with the support of the European Union and the US administration. Montenegrin government has pursued a policy that has encouraged pro-independence policy, which resulted in the separation of Montenegro from Serbia in 2006. Montenegrin Serbs have been strong advocates of a joint state with Serbia, however, they were outvoted. And then at the referendum, the majority of the Orthodox population was for a common state with Serbia, but ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, along with national minorities, managed to win majority.

Many analysts expected that in future the absolute majority of citizens will be loyal to independent Montenegro, and that ethnic Montenegrins would make more than half of the population. However, the situation is completely different. Montenegro today is a deeply divided state. Montenegrin Serbs still do not accept the results of the referendum. They consider and publicly point out that the referendum was undemocratic with many irregularities. According to the 2011 census, Montenegrins make 44.98% of the population, Serbs 28.73%, Bosnians 8.65%, Albanians 4.91%, Muslims 3.31%, Roma 1.01%, and Croats 0.97%. It is important to point out that the citizens were pressured to declare themselves as Montenegrins. Otherwise, the Serbs would be an absolute majority in Montenegro.

The goal of the Montenegrin government is that Montenegrins are an absolute majority in the state, and this plan is implemented even before separation from Serbia. According to the census of 2003 year, 63.49% of the population said that they speak Serbian language, but Montenegrin government decided in 2004 to rename Serbian language. To that end, Montenegro has copmletely changed school programs. The Cyrillic alphabet is almost completely out of use, and almost all state correspondence is in Latin alphabet , Serbian poets were thrown out of school textbooks. Already on the 2011 census 42.88% of the population said that they speak Serbian language. Serbian National Council of Montenegro, in September this year, stated:

“The authority in Montenegro, in a coalition with minority nations, has stopped every prospect for citizens who declare themselves nationally as Serbs. In all spheres of social and political life she opposed, especially Bosniaks and Albanians, to the Serbs, discriminating all Serbs who are not ready to change their own identity in the already obvious project of the assimilation of the Serbian people in the national Montenegrins”. Discrimination against Serbs, is best illustrated by the statistics. In the last four years, in Montenegro, on average, only 13 Serbs received a state job annually. This is 37 times less than the number of Montenegrins, since the state institutions annually employed on average 486 citizens who declared themselves as Montenegrins.

The average number of employed Serbs is smaller even when compared with Bosniaks. According to official statistics, 82.11% of Montenegrins work in public administration, and only 7% of Serbs. All this is done with the aim that the Montenegrin Serbs are no longer a significant demographic and political factor in Montenegro. Basically, Montenegrin Serbs are the main opponents of Milo Djukanovic and the Democratic Party of Socialists. It is important to note that the Democratic Party of Socialists is the ruling political party in Montenegro since the introduction of multy – party system in 1990. The main political goals of Montenegrin Serbs are, one state with Serbia and brotherly relations with Russia. It is precisely for this reason that the West is silent on the discrimination of the Serbs.

Montenegrin Serbs were the main opponents of Montenegro’s entry into NATO. One of the main reasons for that is NATO’s aggression against Serbia and Montenegro, as well as Russia’s position that NATO expansion is dangerous and unnecessary. NATO aggression on Serbia and Montenegro, began 19 years ago. Aggression started without the approval of the UN Security Council. The attacks that lasted without interruption for 78 days severly damaged infratucture, commercial buildings, schools, health facilities, media houses, cultural monuments. The cost of the damage is estimated between 30 and 100 billion dollars. The final number of victims has not been officially declared, but Serbian estimates range between 1, 200 and 2, 500 dead and about 5, 000 injured.

From the above reasons and facts, Montenegrin government avoided the referendum on NATO, because most of the population was against the entry into NATO. The decision on entry into NATO was taken in the Parliament. By entering Montenegro into NATO, the West achieved a significant geopolitical victory. The territory of Montenegro has important geo – strategic signifance. It has access to the Adriatic Sea, controls the Strait of Otranto. From Montenegro, NATO will have an even stronger impact on the Raska (Sandzak) region in Serbia, northern Kosovo, as well as in eastern Republic of Srpska.

In Montenegro, for years there is a project of changing the traditional Serbian/Slavic – Orthodox identity into Montenegrin, Roman Catholic and Western identity. That is why Russia is also the target of the Montenegrin authorities.

“The Serbian Orthodox Church remains the main frontman of Greater Serbian nationalism towards the region and Montenegro, the striking fist of what ideologues of “big Serbia” and imperial Russia in the Balkans want, and must remain the subject of Montenegro‘s state policy in the coming period”, stated Milo Djukanovic, president of Montenegro. Djukanovic publicly also stated that Montenegro wants to change its “ civilization circle”. And in new” civilization circle”, except Serbia, there is no place neither for Russia. On this statement every analyst who deals with situation in Montenegro should pay attention. Under the rule of Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists, began an open revision of official history. And among the revision are also the relations between Russia and Montenegro throughout history. Regarding Russian-Montenegrin relations, history is clear.

The first instance of official Russian – Montenegrin diplomatic contact was made in 1711, when Russian Tsar Peter the Great sent his envoys to “duke of Serb land” Metropolitan Danilo. Since then, Russia has always helped Montenegro and the Serbs. It is precisely because of this help through centuries that  in Montenegro there is a pro – Russian cult. Russia has for centuries been the protector of Montenegro, and played a key role in helping Montenegro remove the Ottoman Empire. The people of Montenegro remember that and are very grateful to Russia. As a result of that, there is the term  in Montenegro ”Mother Russia”. However, today Montenegro’s foreign policy is being adapted to the private interests of Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists. This could be seen on the marking of the establishment of 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Montenegro and the United Kingdom, in June this year. Than, in old royal capital Cetinje,  president of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic stated:

“We do not forget that London was among the first to support twenty years ago the democratic turn and the European course of Montenegro. At that time, the British Know How Fund and the British Council played a particularly important role. But also the Government of Great Britain, with its decisive and comprehensive support … Time has shown that the struggle of our English admirers and friends for Montenegro in the twenties of the last century was not futile. The United Kingdom has strongly supported Montenegro in the process of joining NATO, where we again are allies.” When it comes to Montenegrin-British relations, history is clear. Within the so-called Eastern Question, which stretched from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the First World War, and which in essence signified the global conflict of the West against Russia, the essence was not to allow Russia to get out to the warm sea. First via the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits, and later at any point in the Mediterranean that would be available to Russia. At the same time, Britain and the West always considered Serbs (and under the Serbs should not only be regarded the Serbs from Serbia) as the “Balkan Russians” or “little Russians”. Knowing that besides Bosphorus, Russia could only get to the Mediterranean via the Serbian-Adriatic Sea, Britain in the wish to neutralize Russia’s aspirations, from the late 18th century practically conserved the Ottoman state and did not allow her ruin almost to the beginning of the 20th century, which significantly prolonged the occupation of the Balkans by Ottomans. The current British policy towards Montenegro is based on the disabling of any Russian influence. Britain will help Djukanovic until this regime carry out unquestionably anti-Russian policy. That’s what is happening now.

Serbia and Russia should jointly respond to this policy, and stand in protection of Serbian Orthodox Church and Serbs in Montenegro. This is primarily reflected in the insistence on the recognition of fundamental rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution of Montenegro. Russia has all the preconditions for the development of soft power in Montenegro. Regarding the soft power of Russia in Montenegro, progress is notable but not enough. A special accent should be placed on the Russian – Montenegrin historical links, and in this regard, scientific conferences should be organized in which Russian and Montenegrin historians would remind the people of Montenegro, as well as the intellectual community, for all the assistance Russia has provided to Montenegro over the centuries. And  therefore send a clear message that it will not allow revision of history. Also, it would be wisely that serious Russian investments come to Montenegro.

The largest number of foreign tourists in Montenegro are Russians. In accordance with that, Russian investments in Montenegrin tourism should be significantly increased. In Montenegro, all TV news stations are pro – Western, as well as almost all daily newspapers. Brainwashing in Montenegro is performed on a daily basis. Montenegro urgently needs pro – Russian television, which would make the media scene of Montenegro more balanced. In this way, Russia would clearly position itself in Montenegro and help resolve the Serbian question, but also would satisfied its interests in this small, but strategically important Balkan country.

First published in our partner International Affairs

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Strange bedfellows: Ideology trumps defense of ethnic, religious and minority rights

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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A global rise of nationalist and populist tendencies has not only given anti-migrant, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and racist tendencies a new lease on life, but opened the door to alliances between groups that once would have had nothing to do with one another.

Developments in Israel, Indonesia and Germany suggest renewed nationalism and populism is in some cases redefining how states perceive concepts of national interest and purpose and how religious and ethnic communities seek to shield themselves against discrimination, persecution and/or extremism.

The redefinition was no more evident than when Israel, founded as a safe haven for Jews irrespective of creed, sect or political belief, sided against its own ambassador with authoritarian Hungarian President Victor Orban, a proponent of Christianity rather than multi-culturalism as the glue of European society, in denouncing billionaire left-wing philanthropist George Soros, a survivor of the Holocaust.

In doing so, Israel, founded on the belief that Jews needed a state to shield themselves against discrimination and persecution rooted in anti-Semitic prejudice and racism that has been endemic in Christian culture, sided not only with a Christian nationalist leader in Hungary but with a global right-wing trend that sees Mr. Soros as the mastermind of a globalist movement, determined to subvert the established order and dilute the white, Christian nature of societies through immigration.

Israel’s acknowledgement of the redefinition of its raison d’etre came in response to a Facebook posting by Yossi Amrani, the Jewish state’s representative in Hungary. Responding to anti-immigration billboards depicting a smiling Mr. Soros with the slogan, ‘Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,’ Mr. Amrani, backed by Hungarian Jewish leaders, warned that they evoked “sad memories, but also sow hatred and fear.”

Israel’s foreign ministry, days before a visit to Hungary by prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu, rather than taking a firm stand on rising anti-Semitism, effectively defined the Jewish state’s interest as joining Mr. Orban in denouncing a Jew.

As a result, Israel, despite seeing itself as the fulfilment of  the Biblical prophecies of the Ingathering of the Exiles and the protector of Jewish rights, opted for denouncing a Jew together with a leader whose policies prompted the European parliament to pursue unprecedented disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the European Union’s core values, including minority rights.

“In no way was the (ambassador’s) statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself,” the ministry said.

The implicit message, like Israel’s decision to bar entry to its Jewish critics despite its law of return that grants anyone who is Jewish a right to citizenship, was that Israel rather than being the potential home of all Jews was a home only to those who support the government’s policies.

Mr. Netanyahu’s alignment of Israel with right-wing nationalist and populist forces like his support for ultra-orthodox Jewish groups that deny equal rights for less stringent religious trends in Judaism on issues such as marriage, divorce, conversion and prayer at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, are likely to drive a wedge between the Jewish state and world Jewry, particularly in the United States.

The wedge, that puts Israel at odds with the Jewish Diaspora, could be deepened by this week’s Democratic Party success in regaining a majority in the US House of Representatives. Jews historically tend to vote Democratic in the US, a stark contrast with Mr. Netanyahu’s growing alliance with right-wing evangelists who support Israel because they believe the Messiah will only return to a Holy Land controlled by Jews.

Many evangelists, however, also believe that Jews will not be saved on the Day of Judgement without first converting to Christianity.

Israel’s divisive approach to World Jewry is not without its supporters in the Jewish Diaspora. Anti-Muslim and anti-migration sentiments have prompted some Jews to form their own group within Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party.

The notion that bigotry and prejudice are the best defense against rising anti-Semitism has meant that AfD Jews have little compunction about joining a party whose members favour abandoning Germany’s culture of remembrance and atonement for its Nazi past.

One AfD leader, Alexander Gauland, described Nazism as a “speck of bird poop in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.

To be fair, the issue of rising prejudice and bigotry is not the exclusive perch of right-wing nationalist and populists. Britain’s Labour Party, traditionally a home for Jewish voters and activists, has been plagued by charges of anti-Semitism and reluctance to put its own house in order.

Moreover, the emergence of strange bedfellows in a world in which ideological affinity replaces defense of a community’s minority rights is not uniquely Israeli or Jewish.

Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Islamic movements with some 94 million members in Indonesia, in a bid to reform Islam and counter all political expressions of the faith, risks being tainted by its potential tactical association with Islamophobes and Christian fundamentalists who would project their alliance as Muslim justification of their perception of the evils of Islam.

Nahdlatul Ulama is not alone in the Muslim world’s opportunistic engagement with the Christian right.

Saudi rulers, who long aligned themselves with a supremacist, intolerant interpretation of Islam that viewed Christians as swine and Jews as apes have discovered that they share with evangelists and fundamentalist Christians, a significant voting bloc in the United States and part of President Donald J. Trump’s support base, conservative family values as well as political interests.

In a first, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, last week met with a delegation of US evangelists that included Reverend Johnnie Moore, Israel-based evangelical political strategist-turned-novelist Joel Rosenberg, former congresswoman Michele Bachmann; and prominent religious broadcasters.

The jury is out on whether the fallout of the rise of nationalism, populism and extremism heralds a new world in which bigotry and prejudice are legitimized as a defense strategy against discrimination, racism and persecution and an anti-dote to radicalism – a world that would likely prove to be far more divided and polarized and likely increasingly unsafe for minorities on the receiving end.

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