On Friday, October 5th, the U.S. Secretary of State – John Kerry calls for war crimes investigation of Russia’s and Assad governments for the destruction of Syrian city of Aleppo. The western corporative mass media was a very quick, like, for instance, The New York Times, immediately and clearly to accuse the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for alleged war crimes in Syria – the same cliché used by the same propaganda machinery against the Serbs (Srebrenica case from 1995 or Kosovo War from 1999) during the bloody destruction of ex-Yugoslavia (by the U.S. and the E.U.).
However, it is known, at least for the professional historians, that a time distance of at least 50 years is necessary to pass away after the event or the death of a historical person (politician, statesman) in order that the objective investigation of the case will just start. For that reason, we will not deal here with Aleppo case but rather to present after 71 year of the event the case of another war crime that is already verified by the historians – a war crime committed by the liberal democracies which is today accusing Russia and Syria for something that is at least up to now unproved.
The 1945 Dresden Massacre: Who is Responsible?
It is 71-year anniversary of the end of the WWII – the bloodiest and most horrible war ever fought in the human history. The war that caused creation of the UNO in 1945 in order to protect world from similar events in the future – a pan-global political-security organization which first issued legal act was a Charter of the UN which inspired the 1948 Geneva Conventions’ definition of genocide.
The Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials were organized as “The Last Battles” for justice as the first ever global trials for the war criminals and mass murderers including and the top-hierarchy statesmen and politicians. However, 70 years after the WWII the crucial moral question still needs a satisfactory answer: Are all the WWII war criminals faced the justice at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials? Or at least those who did not escape from the public life after the war. Here we will present only one of those cases from the WWII which has to be characterized as the genocide followed by the personalities directly responsible for it: The 1945 Dresden Massacre.
The 1945 Dresden Raid was surely one of the most destructive air-raids during the WWII but in the world history of massive military destructions and the war crimes against humanity too. The main and most destructive air-raid was during the night of February 13th−14th, by the British Bomber Command when 805 bomber military crafts attacked the city of Dresden which up to that time was protected from similar attacks primarily for two reasons:
1. The city was of an extreme pan-European cultural and historical importance as one of the most beautiful “open-air museum” places in Europe and probably the city with the most beautiful Baroque architectural inheritance in the world.
2. The lack of the city’s geostrategic, economic and military importance.
The main air-born raid was followed by three more similar raids in daylight but now by the U.S. 8th Air Force. The Allied (in fact, the U.K.−U.S.) Supreme Commander-In-Chief the U.S. a five-star General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890−1969) was anxious to link the Allied forces with the very advancing Soviet Red Army in the South Germany. For that reason, Dresden suddenly became to be taken into consideration as a point of high strategic importance as a communication center, at least at the eyes of Eisenhower. However, at that time Dresden was known as a city that was overcrowded by up to 500,000 German refugees from the east. For the U.K.−U.S. Supreme Command Headquarters it was clear that any massive air-bombing of the city will cost many human lives and cause a human catastrophe. That was not primarily only on Eisenhower’s conscience to decide to launch massive air-born attacks on Dresden or not as we have not to forget that Eisenhower was only a military commander (a strateg in the Greek) but not and a politician. Unquestionably, the Dresden question in January−February 1945 was and of a political and human nature not only of military one. Therefore, together with a Supreme Commander-In-Chief of the Allied Forces a direct moral and human responsibility for the 1945 Dresden Massacre was on the British PM Winston Churchill (1874−1965) and the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882−1945) too.
These three men, however, finally agreed that the inevitably very high casualties in Dresden might in the end, nevertheless, help to shorten the war, that from a technical point of view was true. During one night and one day of the raids there were over 30,000 buildings destroyed and the numbers of those who were killed in the bombing and the ensuing firestorm are still in dispute among the historians as the estimations go up to 140,000. Here it has to be noticed that if this highest estimation number is going to be true it means that during the 1945 Dresden Massacre were killed more people than in Hiroshima case from August 1945 (around 100,000 that was one third out of total Hiroshima’s pre-bombing population).
One person with direct responsibility for transforming Dresden into the open-air crematorium, as the city was bombed by forbidden flammable bombs for massive destructions (Saddam Hussein was attacked in 2003 by the NATO’s alliance under the alleged and finally false accusation to possess exactly such weapons – WMD) is the “Bomber Harris” – a commander of the British Royal Air-Forces during the Dresden Raid. The “Bomber Harris” was in fact Arthur Travers Harris (1892−1984), a Head of the British Bomber Command in 1942−1945. He was born in Cheltenham, joined the British Royal Flying Corps in 1915, before fighting as a solder in the South-West Africa. He became a Commander of the Fifth Group from 1939 till 1942 when he became the Head of this Group (Bomber Command). The point is that it was exactly Arthur Travers Harris who stubbornly required and defending the massive area bombing of Germany under the idea that such practice will bring the total destruction of Germany (including and civil settlements) that would finally force Germany to surrender without involving of the Allied forces into the full-scale overland military invasion. The crucial point is that this “Bomber Harry’s” strategy received a full support by the British PM Winston Churchill who, therefore, became a politician who blessed and legitimized massive aerial massacres in the legal form of genocide as it was described in the post-WWII Charter of the UNO and other international documents on protection of human rights (ex. the 1949 Geneva Conventions). Nevertheless, there were the “Bomber Harry”, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill who transformed the bombing of selected targets as transport systems, industrial areas or oil refineries into the massive aerial destruction of the whole urban settlements with transforming them into the open-air crematoriums like it was done for the first time in history with Dresden – a city with a rare historical heritage (today pre-war Dresden would be on the UNESCO list of protected places of the world’s heritage) but flattened during one night and one day.
This successful practice became very soon followed by the Allied forces in the cases of other German cities, like Würtzburg – a tightly packed medieval housing city that exploded in a firestorm in March 1945 in one night with 90% of destroyed city-space which had no strategic importance. However, a strategic bombing of the urban settlements in the WWII reached its peak by destructions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the order by the U.S. President (Democrat) Harry Truman – the “Atomic Harry” (1884−1972) who authorized the dropping of the atomic bombs over these two Japanese cities in order to end the war against Japan without further loss of the U.S. military troops, insisting on unconditional surrender of Japan.
Who Was Missing at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials’ Courtrooms?
Surely, one of the most obvious results of the WWII was “its unparalleled destructiveness. It was most visible in the devastated cities of Germany and Japan, where mass aerial bombing, one of the major innovations of the Second World War, proved much more costly to life and buildings than had been the bombing of Spanish cities in the Spanish civil war”. For that and other reasons, we believe that many Allied military and civil top decision-making personalities from the WWII had to face justice at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials together with Hitler, Eichmann, Pavelić and many others. However, it is old truth that the winners are writing history and re-writing historiography. Therefore, instead to see Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), Harry Truman or Arthur Travers Harris at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials’ courtrooms as indicted on such charges as crimes against humanity and genocide as were the German Nazi defendants, who included NSDAP’s officials and high-ranking military officers along with the German industrialists, lawmen and doctors, we are even 71 year after the WWII reading and learning politically whitewashed and embellished biographies of those war criminals who destroyed Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki as national heroes, freedom fighters and democracy protectors. For instance, in any official biography of Winston Churchill is not written that he is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the German civilians in 1945 but we know that the British PM clearly promised to the Poles to get after the war ethnically cleansed territory from the Germans.
If the Nüremberg Trial, 1945−1949 was “The Last Battle” for justice, then it was incomplete. Moreover, two the most ardent killers of Dresden – Churchill and Eisenhower were granted after the war by the second premiership and double-term presidency, respectively, in their countries.
Carl Schmitt for the XXI Century
For decades, the scholars of international relations have confused the term “New World order” in the social, political, or economic spheres. Even today, few scholars confuse the term with the information age, internet, universalism, globalization, and American imperialism. Unlike the complex categorization of the New World Order, the concept of the Old World Order was purely a juridical phenomenon. However, from standpoint of modernity, the term New World order is a purely ideological and political phenomenon, which embodies various displays such as liberal democracy, financial capitalism, and technological imperialism.
In his Magnus Opus “The concept of the Political”, Carl Schmitt lauded a harsh criticism on liberal ideology and favored competitive decisionism over it. This is why according to Schmitt’s critics; the whole text in “The concept of the political” is filled with authoritarian overtones. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that it was the radical political philosophy of Carl Schmitt that paved the way for the conservative revolution in Europe. Even today, his writings are being regarded as one of the major contributions to the field of political philosophy from the 20th century.
Throughout his major works such as “Nomos of the earth”, “the Crisis of Parliamentary democracy”, “The concept of the Political” and “Dictatorship”, Carl Schmitt frequently employs unadorned terms such as ‘actual’, ‘concrete’, ‘real’, and ‘specific’ to apprize his political ideas. However, he advances most of the core political ideas by using the metaphysical framework. For instance, in the broader political domain, Carl Schmitt anticipated the existential dimension of the ‘actual politics’ in the world today.
On the contrary, in his famous work “The Concept of the Political” readers most encounter the interplay between the abstract and ideal and, the concrete and real aspects of politics. Perhaps, understanding of Schmitt’s discursive distinctions is necessary when it comes to the deconstruction of the liberal promoted intellectual discourse. However, the point should be kept in mind that for Schmitt the concept of the political does not necessarily refer to any concrete subject matter such as “state” or “sovereignty”. In this respect, his concept of the political simply refers to the friend-enemy dialectics or distinction. To be more precise, the categorization of the term “Political” defines the degree of intensity of an association and dissociation.
In addition, the famous friend-enemy dialectics is also the central theme of his famous book “The Concept of the Political”. Likewise, the famous friend-enemy distinction in Schmitt’s famous work has both concrete and existential meaning. Here, the word “enemy” refers to the fight against ‘human totality”, which depends upon the circumstances. In this respect, throughout his work, one of the major focuses of Carl Schmitt was on the subject of “real Politics”. According to Schmitt, friend, enemy, and battle have real meaning. This is why, throughout his several works; Carl Schmitt remained much concerned with the theory of state and sovereignty. As Schmitt writes;
“I do not say the general theory of the state; for the category, the general theory of the state…is a typical concern of the liberal nineteenth century. This category arises from the normative effort to dissolve the concrete state and the concrete Volk in generalities (general education, general theory of the law, and finally general theory of the knowledge; and in this way to destroy their political order”.
As a matter of the fact, for Schmitt, the real politics ends up in battle, as he says, “The normal proves nothing, but the exception proves everything”. Here, Schmitt uses the concept of “exceptionality” to overcome the pragmatism of Liberalism. Although, in his later writings, Carl Schmitt attempted to dissociate the concept of “Political” from the controlling and the limiting spheres but he deliberately failed. One of the major reasons behind Schmitt’s isolation of the concept of the political is that he wanted to limit the categorization of friend-enemy distinction. Another major purpose of Schmitt was to purify the concept of the “Political” was by dissociating it from the subject-object duality. According to Schmitt, the concept of the political was not a subject matter and has no limit at all. Perhaps, this is why Schmitt advocated looking beyond the ordinary conception and definition of politics in textbooks.
For Schmitt, it was Liberalism, which introduced the absolutist conception of politics by destroying its actual meaning. In this respect, he developed his very idea of the “Political” against the backdrop of the “human totality” (Gesamtheit Von Menschen). Today’s Europe should remember the bloody revolutionary year of 1848 because the so-called economic prosperity, technological progress, and the self-assured positivism of the last century have come together to produce long and deep amnesia. Nonetheless, the fact cannot be denied that the revolutionary events of1848 had brought deep anxiety and fear for the ordinary Europeans. For instance, the famous sentence from the year 1848 reads;
“For this reason, fear grabs hold of the genius at a different time than it does normal people. the latter recognizes the danger at the time of danger; up to that, they are not secure, and if the danger has passed, then they are secure. The genius is the strongest precisely at the time of danger”.
Unfortunately, it was the intellectual predicament at the European stage in the year 1848 that caused revolutionary anxiety and distress among ordinary Europeans. Today, ordinary Europeans face similar situations in the social, political, and ideological spheres. The growing anxieties of the European public consciousness cannot be grasped without taking into account Carl Schmitt’s critique of liberal democracy. A century and a half ago, by embracing liberal democracy under the auspices of free-market capitalism, the Europeans played a pivotal role in the self-destruction of the European spirit.
The vicious technological drive under liberal capitalism led the European civilization towards crony centralism, industrialism, mechanization, and above all singularity. Today, neoliberal capitalism has transformed the world into a consumer-hyped mechanized factory in which humanity appears as the by-product of its own artificial creation. The unstructured mechanization of humanity in the last century has brought human civilization to technological crossroads. Hence, the technological drive under liberal democratic capitalism is presenting a huge threat to human civilizational identity.
 Wolin, Richard, Carl Schmitt, Political Existentialism, and the Total State, Theory and Society, volume no. 19, no. 4, 1990 (pp. 389-416). Schmitt deemed the friend-enemy dialectics as the cornerstone of his critique on liberalism and universalism.
Democratic Backsliding: A Framework for Understanding and Combatting it
Democracy is suffering setbacks around the world. Over the past decade, the number of liberal democracies has shrunk from 41 to 32. Today, 34 percent of the global population lives in 25 countries moving in the direction of autocracy. By contrast, only 16 countries are undergoing a process of democratization, representing just 4 percent of the global population. Reflecting these troubling trends, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, during her confirmation hearing, highlighted democratic backsliding – along with climate change, conflict and state collapse, and COVID-19 – as among the “four interconnected and gargantuan challenges” that will guide the Biden Administration’s development priorities.
However, defining “democratic backsliding” is far from straightforward. Practitioners and policymakers too often refer to “democratic backsliding” broadly, but there is a high degree of variation in how backsliding manifests in different contexts. This imprecise approach is problematic because it can lead to an inaccurate analysis of events in a country and thereby inappropriate or ineffective solutions.
To prevent or mitigate democratic backsliding, policymakers need a definition of the concept that captures its multi-dimensional nature. It must include the actors responsible for the democratic erosion, the groups imperiled by it, as well as the allies who can help reverse the worst effects of backsliding.
To address this gap, the International Republican Institute developed a conceptual framework to help practitioners and policymakers more precisely define and analyze how democratic backsliding (or “closing democratic space”) is transpiring and then devise foreign assistance programs to combat it. Shifting away from broad generalizations that a country is moving forward or backward vis-à-vis democracy—which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to derive specific solutions—the framework breaks closing democratic space into six distinct, and sometimes interrelated, subsectors or “spaces.”
Political/Electoral: Encompasses the arena for political competition and the ability of citizens to hold their government accountable through elections. Examples of closing political or electoral space range from fraudulent election processes and the arrest or harassment of political leaders to burdensome administrative barriers to political party registration or campaigning.
Economic: Refers to the relationship between a country’s economic market structure, including access and regulation, and political competition. Examples of closing economic space include selective or politically motivated audits or distribution of government licenses, contracts, or tax benefits.
Civic/Associational: Describes the space where citizens meet to discuss and/or advocate for issues, needs, and priorities outside the purview of the government. Examples of closing civic or associational space include harassment or co-optation of civic actors or civil society organizations and administrative barriers designed to hamper civil society organizations’ goals including limiting or making it arduous to access resources.
Informational: Captures the venues that afford citizens the opportunity to learn about government performance or hold elected leaders to account, including the media environment and the digital realm. h. Examples of closing informational space consist of laws criminalizing online speech or activity, restrictions on accessing the internet or applications, censorship (including self-censorship), and editorial pressure or harassment of journalists.
Individual: Encapsulates the space where individuals, including public intellectuals, academics, artists, and cultural leaders– including those traditionally marginalized based on religious, ethnicity, language, or sexual orientation–can exercise basic freedoms related to speech, property, movement, and equality under the law. Common tactics of closing individual space include formal and informal restrictions on basic rights to assemble, protest, or otherwise exercise free speech; censorship, surveillance, or harassment of cultural figures or those critical of government actions; and scapegoating or harassing identity groups.
Governing: Comprises the role of state institutions, at all levels, within political processes. Typical instances of closing the governing space include partisan control of government entities such as courts, election commissions, security services, regulatory bodies; informal control of such governing bodies through nepotism or patronage networks; and legal changes that weaken the balance of powers in favor of the executive branch.
Examining democratic backsliding through this framework forces practitioners and policymakers to more precisely identify how and where democratic space is closing and who is affected. This enhanced understanding enables officials to craft more targeted interventions.
For example, analysts were quick to note Myanmar’s swift about-face toward autocracy. This might be true, but how does this high-level generalization help craft an effective policy and foreign aid response, beyond emphasizing a need to target funds on strengthening democracy to reverse the trend? In short, it does not. If practitioners and policymakers had dissected Myanmar’s backsliding using the six-part framework, it would have highlighted specific opportunities for intervention. This systematic analysis reveals the regime has closed civic space, via forbidding large gatherings, as well as the information space, by outlawing online exchanges and unsanctioned news, even suspending most television broadcasts. One could easily populate the other four spaces with recent examples, as well.
Immediately, we see how this exercise leads to more targeted interventions—support to keep news outlets operating, for example, via software the government cannot hack—that, collectively, can help slow backsliding. Using the framework also compels practitioners and policymakers to consider where there might be spillover—closing in one space that might bleed into another space—and what should be done to mitigate further closing.
Finally, using this framework to examine the strength of Myanmar’s democratic institutions and norms prior to the February coup d’etat may have revealed shortcomings that, if addressed, could have slowed or lessened the impact of the sudden democratic decline. For example, the high-profile arrest of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in December 2017 was a significant signal that Myanmar’s information space was closing. Laws or actions to increase protections for journalists and media outlets, could have strengthened the media environment prior to the coup, making it more difficult for the military to close the information space.
A more precise diagnosis of the problem of democratic backsliding is the first step in crafting more effective and efficient solutions. This framework provides practitioners and policymakers a practical way to more thoroughly examine closing space situations and design holistic policies and interventions that address both the immediate challenge and longer-term issue of maintaining and growing democratic gains globally.
Authentic Justice Thus Everlasting Peace: Because We Are One
The ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestine conflict is a good thing. We thank God for it. Be it between two individuals or institutions or nations or the internal colonial and colonized, war does not do anything except cause more immediate or future mass misery and human destruction. Our continued memories of our interpersonal and international and internal colonial and civil wars and the memorials we erect to remember them recall and record wounds and pains we never get over.
So it becomes a bothersome puzzle as to why we human beings still just don’t get that war like oppression leads to nowhere except to more human devastation. And we should have learned by now but have not that peacemaking like ceasefires mean nothing without justice.
It is the reason why I constantly find myself correcting those who stress Peace and Justice.No Justice No Peace is more than a cliche.It is real politic emotionally, economically, socially, and spiritually.
Our American inner cities like those in every continent where culturally different and similar people live cramped impoverished lives and nations and colonial enclaves with such unequal wealth remind us of their continued explosive potentialities when peace is once again declared but with no justice.Everyone deserves a decent quality of life which not only includes material necessities but more importantly emotional and spiritual freedoms and other liberations.Not just the victors who conquer and rule and not just the rich and otherwise privileged.
And until such justices are assured to everyone peacemaking is merely a bandaid on cancerous societal or International conflictual soars which come to only benefit those who profit from wars which are bound to come around again when there is no justice and thus peace such as family destroying divorce lawyers, blood hungry media to sell more subscriptions , arms dealers to sell more murderous technologies, politicians needing votes so start and prolong wars, and military men and women seeking promotion while practicing their killing capacities.
So if those of us who devoutly practice our faiths or our golden moral principles, let us say always and pray and advocate justice and peace always as a vital public good and do justice then lasting peace in our personal lives and insist that national leaders, our own and others do the same in their conduct of international affairs and affairs with those who are stateless in this global world.
All such pleading is essential since we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of God who created all of us in God’s image as one humanity out of everlasting divine love for all of us so we should love each other as God loves all of us leading to desiring justice and thus lasting peace for each and every one of us.
This is difficult for those in international affairs to understand who take more conventional secular approaches to historical and contemporary justice and peace challenges as if our universal spiritual connectivennes ( not to be confused with the vast diversity of organized religions)as human beings which makes us all brothers and sisters has no relevance. But if we are going to find true enduring peace we have no alternative but to turn our backs on increasingly useless secular methods which go either way, stressing peace then justice or justice then peace and understand how much we must begin to explore and implement approaches which we look at each other as spiritually connected brothers and sisters in which it is the expectation that peace only comes and lasts when through the equal enjoyment of justices for every human being, we restore our universal kindred rooted in the everlasting love of God and thus for each other, no matter the different ways in which we define God or positive moral principles which originate in understandings that we human beings in all our diversities are one and thus brothers and sisters.
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