Connect with us

Europe

Common Sense – A Relic Of The Past?

Published

on

[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] O [/yt_dropcap]nce upon a time, this is how fairy tales usually begin. This is not a fairy tale, but once upon a time people used to talk about common sense and to think based on common sense. It was never an ideal time, but always when it seemed that the lack of common sense and the evil in us would draw the world in the abyss of self-destruction, common sense woke up and rebelled; most usually in combination with pragmatism.

Mankind paid dearly in the ensuing battle, it went through unbelievable horrors, but eventually common sense would prevail. And so it went until the year 1990, when the cold war ended. It was an extremely dangerous confrontation between two, not only ideologically different blocks. The world peace was saved only due to the fragile, but at the same time efficient balance of fear, namely on the knowledge that an open armed confrontation would end without anybody being victorious. But, as from the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century, when East – West confrontation ended, due to the fact that the Soviet block disintegrated, when the “dawn of democracy” begun shining on countries, previously ruled with iron hand from one centre and by one and only party and its repressive system, we are witnessing a constant and steady downgrading in all sectors of life. Because of this and despite democracy as a system, despite democratic forms and despite the multiparty system, it is unavoidable that we put to ourselves the question: does common sense belongs to the past, is t a relic of the past?

All indications point towards a positive answer.

In international relations we are experiencing the revival of the cold war, a new and with every day passing more dangerous confrontation between the United States and the Russian Federation. In fact it is nothing more than the almost desperate striving of neoliberal capitalism to “rule the world”. In order to be able to achieve this goal, to gain the support (of previously manipulated citizens, but – alas – in the best democratic form) for the policy of expansionism, regardless of anything, neoliberal capitalism needs an enemy. Because having an enemy is the best way to homogenize one’s own flock. And the enemy was found, better to say it was projected in the picture of Russia, although – and this is ironic indeed – it is the democratic West that is today practicing the policy of hegemony, once a trade mark of the Soviet Union. All basic principles upon which the architecture of international relations was build, are abandoned. Nobody even thinks of speaking about the principle of equality, or the principle of not meddling in internal affairs of other states, not to mention the right of every country and nation to develop as they think it suits them best. In a globalised world, and we were made to believe that only such a world could exist, everything must be “cooked following the same recipe”. If this is not the case, with or without the blessing of the UN and under the disguise of the war for democracy and for human rights, bombers start their deadly missions, mercilessly killing those whose human rights they are supposed to protect. Whole states are pushed into chaos and internal fighting, whole regions are destabilized and heads of states are killed (just remember Hillary Clinton and her words, when she received the news that colonel Ghadafi was killed: “We came, we saw and he is dead!”). At the same time for billions of dollars modern arms are being sold to states whose record in the field of democracy and human rights is – to put it mildly – very poor. But they are “ours”. With growing speed the world is being divided between the ever smaller part of privileged and rich, those who are governing not because they were democratically elected to do so, but because they have the power to do so and the ever bigger part of oppressed – in every sense – and poor, those who are being governed. While thousands and thousands of people are dying from hunger in the undeveloped countries, Europeans waste in one year so much food that every hungry human being on this planet Earth could be fed. And the American President says that climate changes and their evident results are just a hoax. Is there any common sense in all this? No, there is none!

So, what can we expect, what is to be expected? Let us put forward just two scenarios. The first is the armed confrontation between East and West, be it direct, be it as a consequence of some action of the unpredictable US President – amateur (for example a missile attack on North Korea). In both cases the consequences would be disastrous, not to say suicidal. The second scenario is slightly “milder”. It is based on the presumption that the oppressed, the hungry and the poor would conclude that they have nothing to lose, but their lives, and a tornado of revolution would hit the whole world with a highly uncertain result. Indications that are pointing towards this scenario we can detect in attacks whose perpetrators are more and more often terrorizing the countries of the West. While it is true that these attacks are – at least – disguised as being religiously motivated, it is not less true that there is no religion that could motivate suicide attackers, were it not for the basic and deeply rooted feeling of being pushed to the margines of the society, of being deprived of some basic rights, such as the right to be educated, the right to be medically cared for, in short the right to live, as a human being, a decent life.

There too we confront the results of a policy without any common sense, a policy that recruited the oppressed, the poor, but pathological killers too, trying to use them as an instrument for achieving its goals, only to meet now the murderers it produced as its own enemies. There can be no doubt about it – they, the terrorists, were produced by the policy of the West, they were armed and supported thanks to this policy – either directly, or through smaller countries, satellites of the “big Brother” form the other side of the Atlantic. And now this same policy is being confronted by them – globally. Still it will not, or cannot accept the fact that the terrorists are the greatest danger for the world as we knew it and that the fight against them should be the prime – and common – target of our civilization. It will not, or cannot accept Russia as an ally in this war; on the contrary it is continuing to present Russia as an enemy (adversary), adding – if it seems to be suitable – Iran, North Korea and sometimes China. Is there any common sense in all this? None whatsoever!

And is there some common sense in the policy of the so called transition countries? Absolutely not! Former Soviet satellites only changed their master, they became champions in the battle against the (non existing) communism, because it suits the neoliberal capitalism for which the very idea of communism is the worst imaginable enemy. At the same time these countries are deeply engulfed in historic revisionism, “writing” the new history of WW 2 and the Antifascists struggle, while “forgetting” their collaboration with Nazi-fascism. Republic of Croatia, to name one example, invented the formula about “all totalitarian regimes being equal evil”, thus putting on the same level antifascism (labeled for this purpose as communism) and fascism, while Republic of Serbia – just another example – rehabilitates in court procedures the leaders of the Chetnik movement which collaborated with the occupying forces during WW2 and fought against Marshal Tito’s partisans.

The prevailing atmosphere in the world is one of fear for the future, of growing intolerance, of hate not only towards those who are in any way different, but towards those who dare to think differently and to voice their opinion. In the creation of such an atmosphere the once respected journalistic profession played a shameful role. Not only the mainstream media, but social networks too are transformed into a snake’s pit of intrigues, lies and disinformation servicing the policy that forgot what common sense is.

The rest is silence.

Europe

On international relations, the public is clueless, democracy fails

Published

on

Nothing is more important to the people in any nation than international relations, because that includes national security, peace and war, and also includes the nation’s economy, which depends heavily on foreign trade. 

Take, for example, the big issue in Finland and Sweden, the decision whether or not to join America’s NATO anti-Russian military alliance. To join that alliance would cause Russia to target the country as being an enemy nation if there is to be a war between America and Russia — which now seems increasingly likely. These nations weren’t targeted by Russia in the past (neither Finland nor Sweden is), because they weren’t Russia’s enemies in post-WW-II times. So: joining NATO would create an enormous and entirely new national-security threat to the people there. But, apparently, they either don’t know this; or, if they do, then they don’t think it’s important; and, so, it doesn’t affect their opinions on whether or not to join NATO — which their leaders are now determined to do. Apparently, Finns and Swedes are being led into this monumental decision on the basis of ignorance, if not of inattention, to the issue of the potentially grave threat to their national-security that might be entailed by their joining NATO. 

To judge from what is being reported in the press, public opinion on the matter, in both countries, ignores the issue of whether being targeted as an enemy, by Russia, even factors, at all, in their opinions, on whether or not their country ought to join.

Turkey’s AA News agency headlined, on May 23rd, “Swedish public … have mixed thoughts about country’s NATO membership bid”. None of the respondents volunteered that concern (about whether becoming an enemy of Russia might reduce, instead of increase, their nation’s safety and security) when asked “how they feel about the sudden urge of their country to become a NATO member.” The closest answer which was volunteered to that was “if you poke the Russian bear too much, it might react because Putin has totally no regard for any laws of war”; but no preference, one way or the other, was cited from that individual.

Alleged experts on the subject were similarly ignoring the issue. On May 13th, France 24 News bannered “In Sweden, misgivings over rushed debate to join NATO”, and reported that, 

“It’s not Sweden deciding the timeline, it’s Finland, because they share a 1,300-km border with Russia”, said Anders Lindberg, political editorialist at Aftonbladet, an independent social democratic daily.

Sweden is otherwise more accustomed to lengthy government-commissioned inquiries on major issues, aimed at fostering debate and building consensus so that decisions are broadly anchored in society.

In contrast, a security review on the pros and cons of NATO membership prepared by the parties in parliament was pulled together in just a few weeks.

The rapid U-turn is also remarkable given that the country “has built its identity on its neutrality and military non-alignment,” Lindberg added.

Support for NATO membership has soared in both Finland and Sweden since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But while a record 76 percent of Finns are in favour of joining NATO, Swedish public opinion is more divided, with recent polls indicating that between 50 and 60 percent back the idea.

On April 20th, Reuters headlined “Growing majority of Swedes back joining NATO, opinion poll shows”, and reported 

 A growing majority of Swedes are in favour of joining NATO, a poll showed on Wednesday, as policy-makers in both Sweden and Finland weigh up whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should lead to an end to decades of military neutrality.

The poll by Demoskop and commissioned by the Aftonbladet newspaper showed 57% of Swedes now favoured NATO membership, up from 51% in March. Those opposed to joining fell to 21% from 24%, while those who were undecided dipped to 22% from 25%.

The March poll was the first to show a majority of Swedes in favour of joining NATO.

Sweden has not been at war since the time of Napoleon and has built its security policy on “non-participation in military alliances”.

But like Finland, the invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, has forced a radical rethink. Both countries are now seen as highly likely to join the 30-nation alliance.

The article didn’t even mention the issue of whether becoming targeted by Russia’s missiles might possibly endanger Swedes far more than protect them by NATO.

On March 23rd, Business Insider headlined “Finland’s people now strongly back joining NATO, poll says, a massive political shift that would enrage Russia”, and reported: “A survey of people in Finland found that a majority wanted the country to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine. The survey by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum Eva think tank found that 60% of people supported Finland joining NATO, a massive jump from previous years.” It closed:

Ilkka Haavisto, the research manager at Eva, said of the results: “Russia has shown that it does not respect the integrity of its neighbors. “The war in Ukraine has concretely shown what the horrors of a defensive war on Finland’s own territory would be and made it clear that NATO countries cannot use their military forces to help defend a nonaligned country.”

No mention was made that joining NATO would cause Finns to become targets of Russia’s missiles, perhaps even of nuclear missiles. 

On May 9th, The Defense Post bannered “Overwhelming Support for NATO Bid Among Finns: Poll”, and reported “Around 76 percent of Finns now want the country to join NATO, up from 60 percent in March, according to the poll commissioned by broadcaster YLE and conducted by research firm Taloustutkimus.” The same day, YLE headlined “Yle poll: Support for Nato membership soars to 76%”, and reported that, “Backing for membership in Yle polls has grown from 53 percent in February to 62 percent in March and 76 percent in May. Before the Russian attack on Ukraine, a majority of Finns had long opposed membership.” No mention was made there, either, regarding Finns’ possible thoughts on whether becoming targeted by Russia as being an enemy-nation might possibly create massive new danger for Finns, vastly more than any possible increase in Finland’s national security might result from joining Russia’s enemies.

Also, none of the alleged news-reports mentioned that, when Russia, on February 24th, invaded Ukraine, it was the result of a war which actually had started eight years ago in February 2014, when the U.S. perpetrated a bloody coup disguised as a ‘revolution’, that replaced Ukraine’s neutralist government, by a rabidly anti-Russian government, which then promptly started a civil war against Russian-speaking Ukrainians, especially in Ukraine’s far east and south. Neither Sweden nor Finland is in anything like that situation regarding Russia — at least not yet.

How can democracy work if the public are in the dark, and are being kept in the dark? And are satisfied to remain in the dark? When their government is taking them to war? Maybe even rushing them into a war? Maybe into WW III? Is this really democracy? Who profits from whatever it is? If this is true in Finland and Sweden, then is it true in every country? Is there any way to change it — to produce a democracy that cannot be manipulated so that it is functioning against the most important interests not only of foreign publics, but of its own public? Does anybody even discuss these problems? Why not?

Continue Reading

Europe

Is European humanity skin deep?

Published

on

At the border crossing between Ukraine and Moldova at Palanca, refugees stand in line. © UNICEF/Vincent Tremeau

When talking about security the most common line of thought tends to be war and the actors involved in the attack, however, all the people who had regular lives within those territories that are jeopardized are as important. With the increasing tensions and armed conflicts happening within the Twenty First Century, the movement of people searching for shelter has increased. More asylum seekers leave their home countries every single day and contemporary politics is still struggling to find a way to catch up. Europe, history wise, is the zone of the world that deals with more refugees wanting to enter the continent due to different factors: geography, proximity, democratic systems, level of development and more. Nevertheless, with the Russia-Ukraine conflict, true sentiments towards refugees are now being put on display.

Even though all refugees are fleeing their countries because their lives are in mortal danger, authorities and government officials do not seem to care. Processes to apply for the refugee status are getting harder and harder. In Europe, to apply for a refugee passport, people are asked for identifications, online questionaries and many other unrealistic aspects that if not answered correctly, the whole process is cancelled. It is ridiculous to believe that when people are scaping in order to stay alive, they will take under consideration all these requirements to receive help, sometimes even from neighboring countries. Which inevitably leads to the following question: why are refugees accepted based on the legality of their applications and not of their status?

By 2016, nearly 5.2 million refugees reached European shores, which caused the so called refugee crisis. They came mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq: countries torn apart by armed conflicts. Similarly, with Russia’s invasion over the Ukraine in 2022, only few days deep within the fighting,  874,000 people had to flee their homes. Nonetheless, the issue seems to be that, for Europe, not all refugees are the same. When the refugee crisis in 2015 was declared, the European Union called for stopping and detaining all arriving refugees for around 18 months. There was a strong reluctancy from Europeans towards offering them shelter. On the contrary, countries such as Poland and Slovakia have said that Ukrainian refugees fleeing will be accepted without passports, or any valid travel documents due to the urgency of the situation. Therefore, stating with their actions, that Ukrainian refugees are more valuable or seem to be more worthy of help than refugees from Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.

Correspondingly, it is true that not all countries inside Europe deal and act the same way towards refugees, be that as it may, with the current refugee crisis it has been proved that they all share strong sentiments of xenophobia and racism. For instance, Hungary is a country that refused to admit refugees coming from outside Europe since 2015. In 2018, Prime Minister Viktor Orban described non-European refugees as “Muslim invaders” and “poison” to society, in comparison with Ukrainian refugees who are being welcomed without hesitation. In the same way, Jarosław Kaczyński, who served as Prime Minister of Poland and is the leader of the Law and Justice party, in 2017 said that accepting asylum seekers from Syria would be dangerous and would “completely change our culture and radically lower the level of safety in our country”. Furthermore, Germany in 2015 with Chancellor Angela Merkel in charged said that they would accept one million of Syrians. Although, as time passed, Europe’s solution was to make a deal with Turkey, who is not part of the European Union, to close the migrant route. Moreover, the promise of letting refugees integrate into German society was not fulfilled since. Seven year later, an impressive amount of refugees are still in camps and centers, with their lives frozen in time. Sadly, most European governments gambled towards the idea of sending them back once the armed conflict was over, without caring for the aftermath of war’s destruction.

The common narrative until now pushed by leaders, politicians, and mass media has been that Ukrainians are prosperous, civilized, middle class working people, but refugees coming from the Middle East are terrorists, and refuges from Africa are simply too different. Despite, refugees are all people who share similar emotions and struggle to grasp the fact that their lives may never be the same; having lost their homes, friends, family and so much more. Plus, being selectively welcomed based on their religion, skin color or nationality by the continent which’s complete rhetoric is universal rights, just adds another complex layer to the issue. Conjointly, the displacement of people due to war displays how regular individuals are always the ones who suffer the most in consequence to the interests of the few that represent larger powers. Hence, greed, envy, and cruelty are stronger than recognized, even in a developed continent such as Europe.

Continue Reading

Europe

What Everyone Should Know About Preventing Ethnic Violence: The Case of Bosnia

Published

on

Image source: srebrenica.org.uk

When the Balkans spiraled into violence and genocide in the 90’s, many wondered what caused this resurgence in militant ethnic nationalism and how a similar situation may be countered.

***

The 1990’s were a vibrant decade, that is unless you were living in the Balkans. 1995 was especially bad, as the 11th of July of that year marked the Srebrenica Massacre, which saw Serbian soldiers murder over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims over the span of two weeks. This shocked the world, as it was the first case of a European country resorting to extreme violence and genocide on ethnic lines since World War II. After World War II, the idea that a European country would resort to genocide was unthinkable. As Balkan nations continue to see the consequences of the massacre after over 25 years, it is increasingly evident that more needs to be done to curb ethnic violence.

We must first investigate key causes of ethnic violence. According to V.P. Gagnon, the main driver of ethnic violence is elites that wish to stay in power. Ethnic nationalism is easy to exploit, as creating a scapegoat is extremely effective for keeping elites in power. This is exactly what happened in Yugoslavia, which had previously seen high levels of tolerance and intermarriage in more mixed areas that saw the worst violence during the war. Stuart J. Kaufman argues that elites may take advantage of natural psychological fears of in-group extinction, creating group myths, or stereotypes, of outgroups to fuel hatred against them. While they may take different approaches to this issue, Gagnon and Kaufman agree that the main drivers of ethnic violence are the elites.

David Lake and Donald Rothchild suggest that the main driver of ethnic conflict is collective fears for the future of in-groups. Fear is one of the most important emotions we have because it helps secure our existence in a hostile world. However, fear can easily be exploited by the elites to achieve their personal goals. In a multiethnic society such as Yugoslavia, the rise of an elite that adheres to the prospects of a single ethnic group could prove dangerous and sometimes even disastrous. The destruction of Yugoslavian hegemony under Josip Broz Tito and the resulting explosion of ethnic conflict at the hands of Serbian elites in Bosnia underline this because of the immense fear this created.

Regions with high Serb populations in Bosnia sought independence from the rest of the country when they found themselves separated from Serbia by the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Republika Srpska was formed by these alienated Serbs. The leadership and elites in Serbia riled up the Serb population of Republika Srpska by stereotyping and demonizing Bosnian Muslims as “descendants of the Turkish oppressors”. This scared the Serbs in Bosnia so much so that they obeyed the elites of Serbia in supporting and fighting for the independence of Republika Srpska by any means necessary. As was seen in Srebrenica, they were not opposed to genocide.

We know how the elites fuel ethnic tensions to secure power as well of the devastating effects of these tensions reaching their boiling point. But what could be done to address ethnic conflict? David Welsh suggests that a remedy for ethnic conflict could be the complete enfranchisement of ethnic minorities and deterrence towards ethnic cleansing. This means that we must ensure that ethnic minorities are able to have a say in a democratic system that caters to all ethnicities equally. Fostering aversion to genocide is also vital toward addressing ethnic conflict because it is the inevitable result of unchecked ethnic conflict.

There is also the issue of members of ethnic groups voting for candidates and parties on ethnic lines. For example, in the United States, White American voters have shown to prefer White candidates over African American candidates, and vice versa. Keep in mind that the United States has a deep history of ethnic conflict, including the centuries-long subjugation of African Americans by White Americans.

Ethnic violence is horrifying and destructive, but it can be prevented. The first measure would be the establishment of a representative democracy, where members of all ethnicities are accurately represented. Another measure would be to make ethnic conflict and ethnic stereotyping taboo so that the average person would not resort to genocidal behavior once things go wrong. Lastly, making people feel secure is the most important step towards preventing ethnic conflict. If the people feel secure enough, they will not even need to think about ethnic violence. In short, while it is important to consider the differences of the various ethnic groups in a multiethnic society, it is vital that each group is kept represented and secure, free of any fears of subjugation.

While the case of Bosnia was extremely unfortunate, it provides an integral view into what could happen if perceived subjugation and fear of eradication reaches a breaking point. As was seen in Bosnia, ethnic violence can be extremely violent, resulting in untold suffering and death. That is why we must take necessary steps towards de-escalation and remediation of ethnic conflicts. These measures can, quite literally, save millions of lives.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

World News2 hours ago

African nations leading the way on ‘food systems transformation’

African countries are at the vanguard of a vital transformation of food systems to simultaneously address food security, nutrition, social...

Defense4 hours ago

AUKUS: A Harbinger to Nuclear Race between India and Pakistan

In the latter half of the 2021, Washington initiated strategic trilateral defence pact with the UK and Australia, colloquially called...

Middle East6 hours ago

Israel admits involvement in the killing of an Iranian army officer

Col. Sayad Khodayee, 50, was fatally shot outside his home in Tehran on Sunday when two gunmen on motorcycles approached...

South Asia8 hours ago

Economic And Political Reform Is Needed In Sri Lanka, Not State Violence

Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since independence has highlighted years of political and economic mismanagement and a reliance on state-sanctioned...

Economy10 hours ago

The Waning Supremacy of the Petrodollar Economy

Since the 1970s, the US dollar has been the undisputed reserve currency around the globe. Agreements with Saudi Arabia (and...

Economy12 hours ago

Chinese Maritime Strategy: Further Expansion and Progress

The Belt and Road Initiative represents a shift in China’s global perspective as well as an update to its role...

Health & Wellness14 hours ago

World’s richest countries damaging child health worldwide

Over-consumption in the world’s richest countries is creating unhealthy, dangerous, and toxic conditions for children globally, according to a new...

Trending