#10 - JRL 7134
April 6, 2003
Peace is War
Meeting on Thursday at the Rosbalt News Agency, participants of the 'civic debates' club did not doubt that the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and Great Britain was now something for the history books. The question now seems to be whether the Iraq war will become a new model for peacekeeping or a model for new wars for the reorganization of humanity.
Correspondingly, experts could be divided into two groups: one group which primarily spoke about a future of peace after the Iraq war, about laws and international institutions which will determine a new world order and another group which was confident that any speculative discussion of the post-Iraq war structure at the current time - at the very beginning of an epoch of war - would not be productive.
The main opinion, which was not surprising, focused on the future of different international institutions, which could not or would not prevent the development of the Iraq crisis. The Director of the Institute for Political Research Sergei Markov offered his view of the transformation of the UN, stating that it is the only organization where Russia for the time being has more rights. Therefore, it would be better to come forward as an initiator of its reform than taking a backseat to events.
According to Markov, the membership of the UN Security Council should increase its number in terms of countries that will not express their own personal interests (this privilege is reserved only for the five permanent members of the Security Council), and certain collective interests of different regions of the world, for example, Central America or Eastern Europe. Regarding the right of veto, which was not useful to any of the members in the Iraq crisis, Markov called on assigning the characteristic of a 'double key' to the veto so that it would only be included when a minimum of two governments, who have the veto right, call upon using it.
The question then arises: what would have changed in the Iraq crisis if Markov's suggested changes would have been implemented? Obviously, nothing.
Therefore, Markov closed his presentation with the thesis that if the UN Security Council can not make an agreed upon decision then it should be done by another institition, for example, the G-8.
Other participants in the 'civic debates' were more categorical in their relationship to the perspective of the UN siting the organizations failure to not only solve the Iraq crisis but the Yugoslavia crisis four years ago. For example, the leader of St. Petersburg's United Russia party, St. Petersburg Humanitarian University Professor Yuri Solonin, was confident that the instrument that was created to prevent wars now is becoming an instrument to unleash wars and therefore any reform of the UN or the UN Security Council will not be helpful. Changing the shell won't change the absence of its earlier contents, said Solonin.
State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Igrunov also agreed with this opinion stating that right now a war is being waged for the installation of single center of power (U.S.) for taking world decisions and consolidating its power.
How do the experts at the 'civic debates' view new institutions?
Igrunov said Paris-Berlin-Moscow-Bejing could become a second center of world power. However, other participants were very doubtful of the possibility of making any changes or additions to existing institutions of a single polar model of world power based on the political, economic, and military capacity of the U.S. According to one of the leaders of St. Petersburg's Union of Right Forces party Yeremeyev, it is essential to finally determine Russia's identity and answer the question - who Russia is with? With Euro-Atlantic civilization or with some other world? And it is also time for Russia to stop its 'mission of self-sacrifice' in resolving world crises, said Yeremeyev. All participants expressed the extraordinary importance of answering the question about Russia's place in the new world order - independent of whether they thought the Iraq war was a prologue for world peace or more wars. And several participants even tried to answer the question for themselves. Director of the Fund for Effective Politics Gleb Pavlovsky tried to apply the Russian proverb 'there is no bad, without good' to the Iraq war and derived positive results from the war, for example, that the U.S. and Russia, in spite of the proclaimed partnership, in fact turned out on opposite sides in the question of 'war and peace.' Pavlovsky said that after the Iraq war, the partnership would become full-fledged and not just tactical like after September 11, 2001.
Pavlovsky also said the U.S.-Russia partnership will be considered a reality only when questions will be formulated which the two governments will be involved in more interactively through a mechanism which provides for this interactivity on all levels, and not just on the level of the presidents.
Judging from the Iraq war when polar differences in the methods of Washington and Moscow to the problem of the disarmament of Iraq turned out to be psychological (and in many other relationships too), and more significant than the absence of conflict of interests between the U.S. and Russia. We still have a long way to go before we have a real and not nominal partnership, said Pavlovsky.
But not everyone agreed that it made sense to talk about a U.S.-Russian partnership now. For example, Professor Solonin was confident that this 'fiction, covers up other relationships, and we don't know what mutually beneficial affairs this partnership was supposedly created for.'
Director of the Eastern European Institute of Psychoanalysis Mikhail Reshetnikov said a U.S. victory in Iraq will create an unavoidable distortion of the international norm (created as a result of the victory over aggressors in WWII) in the interests of the current aggressor-victor. Therefore, Russia has to once again find its place in this world where all understandings are changing somehow or other.
Yeremeyev said basically the same thing, but more emotionally. He said it is now difficult for Russia to complete for world leader, so we need to get used to another role and way to defend our interests.
But there were also participants in the 'civic debates' who thought that it was time to talk about how we could survive a war and not about how best to arrange ourselves in the new world order. According to Chief Editor of Regnum Modest Kolerov, the world has changed from 'eternally' peaceful to a world of 'eternal' war as the most effective instrument of determining regional and sub-regional interests. And this uninterrupted torrent of large and small wars will remain for many decades.
Igurnov was also confident that after Iraq there would be only a lull between wars and not a genuine peace. However, he said wars wouldn't be limited in nature and that humanity is moving toward a great global catastrophe - all at once in several directions: war-politics, economics, and ecological.
So in perspective: Horror without end or horrible end?
Psychologist Vladimir Vasiliyev said that there was nothing new in this world order and that war and terror is inherent in man from time immemorial and that only the methods and skills were changing. Therefore the Iraq war is only an episode from which the leaders, the U.S. and Russia, were trying to reap their advantages.
Markov said in conclusion that 'in spite of everything, life is wonderful and is becoming even better and I am confident that we will be in the number of champions.' Without this confidence going to war is impossible:
Vladislav Kraev, Rosbalt Translated by Richard Sleder