Saturday, December 31, 2011

Illusion of Peace: Why is wishing happy new year not good idea?

Now the 2012 is a reality, most people all across the globe celebrate last few moments of the previous year, wishing for a better, more peaceful world. 

This wishful thinking carries the seeds of growing paradox and self-destructive trust that eventually makes it more difficult in reaching peace – which I believe no one has experienced or ever going to witness. The illusion of peace, the idea that one day states and nations can peacefully co-exist together is the main reason why nations miscalculated each others’ demarche, resulting in sometimes full-fledged armed wars.

If history is any guide, it is not difficult to see that the most stable times of mankind’s history are the ones when states deeply mistrust each other (remember Cold War vs. 1919-39), engage in rapid arms buildup and fear of possible outbreak of war. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson tried to build a better and peaceful world by establishing League of Nations and issuing 14 points. The catastrophic result of Versailles system -- that put some states, including the entire Muslim nations, at disadvantageous position – was the World War II.

Harlett Edward Carr warned the world in his The Twenty Years Crisis book published in 1939 that a new war is rapidly impending and that states need to mistrust each other. It fell on deaf ears and he was, ironically, celebrating the all-out war among states in 1939 that claimed lives of more a hundred million civilians.

Allied states did not fall on trap in 1945 that a system they were about to design will usher a new era of peace and stability. Immediately after the World War II, Western nations created a system of containment with the Eastern Bloc countries, established NATO that would safeguard Western Europe, allied with any type of regimes in the Middle East and Latin America that were anti-communist. This maintained at least 40-50 years of stability in the world and prevented potentially devastating, mutually assured destructive nuclear warfare.

Signing peace deals with states should not mean that future aggression from these new friends are a distant reality. Similar to how people are biased toward their friends in different walks of life that may mostly spell detrimental and harmful, states’ decisions toward their allies are also biased/miscalculated most of the times. This is not to suggest that states must scratch peace deals and start becoming enemies; it is only suggesting that peace deals mostly are misleading and states, no matter to what degree peaceful relations they enjoy, must mistrust their allies.

This is what we need now: Decision-makers who are calculating pragmatists believing in that other actors play not based on rules of the game but rules that will secure their survival.

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