27 Сентября 2018 г. 12:12

War on terrorism led to the crisis of refugees and authoritarianism in Europe – American expert

War on terrorism led to the crisis of refugees and authoritarianism in Europe – American expert
Фото: bostonherald.com

It’s hard to imagine, but only two decades ago the belief that new liberal order would reign long if not forever was dominant in the world. Today there’s not much left of that belief. Even the most zealous supporters of the liberal view of the world admit that today’s reality is different. In an interview for “Eurasia.Expert” Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies Louis Kriesberg gave his point of view on why the US is so tough on China, Iran and Turkey and on the possible change of the role of NATO and OSCE in Eurupe.

- Professor Kriesberg, how do you assess the international situation today? Is there any serious cause for concern for humanity?

- Recent decades have seen a decline in international wars and in combat deaths. But the capacity to kill immense numbers of people remains, and has even increased with more powerful nuclear and non-nuclear weapons and increased international interdependence.

- Following the end of the Cold War, there was considerable global consensus about international norms and international institutions. It might have used that power more modestly and perhaps worked with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and not NATO.

This would have been difficult, given the disorganization in Russia and the anxiety of the new states that emerged with the breakup of the USSR. In any case, the terror attack of September 11, 2001 was responded to with a global war on terror and set off many wars in the Middle East. One consequence was a wave of refugees fleeing to Western Europe, which contributed to ethno-nationalist authoritarian movements and governments. That hampers dealing creatively with contemporary challenges.

- What new challenges will humanity face in the next years? Will new foci of conflict appear on the world map?

- The passing of intense ideologically-based conflicts has been replaced with conflicts related to religious and ethno-nationalist differences. As a result, state power has often weakened and non-state, transnational organizations have become actors in violent conflicts. Here too, international cooperation can help mitigate these problems. Instead, however, some states intervene and engage in proxy wars, increasing the deaths and other losses.

The new right-wing populist nationalism mentioned earlier could lead to more authoritarian governments and stronger national borders. What happens in the United States is relevant. Trump represents and strengthens this international tendency.

But Trumpism may be short-lived. Americans generally disapprove of Trump as president by Americans. The resistance to him and to his policies is strong and may lead to a lasting repudiation, which would reduce the threats humanity will face in the immediate future.

The new communication technologies and social media are a crucial new factor. They facilitate people knowing more about events everywhere and that can help people to cooperate and mobilize action to help deal with natural and human-made disasters. Unfortunately, however, they also help extremist groups to mobilize and foster anti-liberal right-wing movements. They often do so by producing and spreading fake news and false conspiracy theories.

- The United States is conducting an economic war against Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey. How do you assess this policy of the Trump administration and how can its actions affect the international situation?

- First, it should be noted that President Trump and the United States are not the same thing. And even Trump and his administration are not always on the same page. Indeed, Trump, himself, changes some policies quickly. I do think that U.S.-relations with each of those countries vary, and no relationship constitutes a war.

I think the China-U.S. relationship is one of rivalry, which at times has been reasonably managed in many realms.

The current tariff fight derives from Trump’s long standing belief that other countries take advantage of the U.S. and his tough, bullying style is needed.

Probably soon a deal will be reached and he will claim a great victory. This whole process is widely derided by many people in the United States. China is clever enough to retaliate by taking tariff actions that cause pain to U.S. workers, many of whom favored Trump. Many U.S. corporations are harmed by the tariff fight and want Trump to stop acting so unilaterally. Knowledgeable people argue there are issues in trade with China but they are best managed in multilateral negotiations.

Trump has a very limited repertoire of strategies to conduct any relations. Congress may yet try to gain more control over trade and tariff matters.

Trump’s hostility toward Iran has its own idiosyncratic reasons. One is his extraordinary antagonism to Obama and his wish to undo everything Obama did.

Another reason is that he has tied himself to Netanyahu and the right-wing Israeli government, which insists that Iran is an existential threat to Israel, especially if it has nuclear weapons. Relatedly, Trump decided to side with the Saudi Sunnis in fighting the Shi’a. Trump does not handle complexity very well.

In all of these matters, Trump does not have general American support.

Iranian relations have become a peculiarly partisan matter. The Republican establishment, stands in an alliance with Israel and Christian evangelicals. Democratic Party members and many knowledgeable people do not support the much simplified views of Trump.

Turkish-American relations are beset by many contentious issues. They include policies regarding Kurds in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Importantly, following the failed coup attempt in July, 2016. Turkey demanded that the U.S. government extradite Fethullah Gulen, claiming he was influential in the coup attempt, but the U.S. has not done so. Furthermore, the Turkish government detained U.S. citizens in Turkey. Other contentions relate to NATO affairs and U.S. sanctions against Turkey. Neither President Tayyip Erdogan nor Trump have managed these disputes creatively. The exchanges often have been coercive threats or actions.

With such a welter of contentious issues, it might help if one or both sides relied more on constructive alternatives rather than trading coercive acts. This might entail conventional quiet diplomacy, which could include negotiations involving trade-offs and some mutual gains.

-As you know, relations between the US and Russia continue to deteriorate. Trump is going to impose new sanctions against Moscow. In your opinion, is it possible to restore relations between the two countries? If so, how?

- Restoring better relations between Russia and the U.S. would be desirable, but it will require many changes on all sides. The situation in the Ukraine and Crimea needs to be discussed and creative multilateral solutions explored and developed. Multilateral discussions need to be undertaken to establish codes of conduct about engagement in domestic affairs of sovereign countries. Cooperative cultural exchanges and overt information-providing platforms can be mutually agreed upon. However, covert activities by one country to subvert some organizations and support others in another country, which has been a widespread practice, should cease or be internationally overseen.

Destructive conflicts can be transformed so that some mutual gains are attained. This happened in Europe after terrible wars. It happened in regard to Northern Ireland and the ending of Apartheid in South Africa.

The potentialities of great mutual gains as a result of transforming American-Russian relations guide the people and leaders of both countries.

- As you know, today the relations of the USA and the European Union are tense. Europe wants to be independent in defense matters and wants to create a military bloc that will not depend on the US and NATO. In your opinion, is it possible to create a European military bloc without the US?

- I do not think that the European powers will create a military bloc without the U.S.

NATO may change so that the U.S. role is not so dominant, as long as Trump is president. After Trump’s presidency, it is likely that NATO will return to its previous structure.

More interesting and hopeful arrangements may be imagined, if Russian relations with the rest of Europe greatly improve. Then a stronger OSCE would be feasible. As it is, the U.S. pivot to Asia would tend to downgrade the centrality of NATO for the U.S.

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