By Jack Peat, Editor of The London Economic
The international community must realise that non-military action isn’t laissez faire.
Perpetual war is one of the pillars of the US economy. At least, it was.
The Syrian government this week accepted Russian plans to put its chemical weapons under international control after US secretary of state John Kerry said the country could dodge military action if it handed over its deadly weapons. US president Barack Obama today fulfilled the promise of his secretary of state, vowing to pursue diplomacy to remove the regime’s chemical weapons.
Over the past few weeks we have witnessed historically-significant foreign policy unfold before our eyes. The House of Commons and Congress were called in to vote on an impending military strike in an unprecedented move which shook the status quo in Westminster and almost (if it had taken place) had the same effect in the White House.
The international community has produced a typical mixed bag of reactions, but for once Russia (an eternal friend of unstable regimes) has returned with actionable solutions. Fox News described Russian president Putin’s moves as “one of the most deft diplomatic manoeuvres of all time, saving the world from near-certain disaster”, adding: “He did so without the egoistical but incompetent American president, or his earnest but clueless secretary of state, even realising they had been offered a way out of the mess they’d created.”
Most of the “mess” stems from the traditional paradigms of diplomacy, which ex-Zimbabwean (Rhodesian) president Ian Smith neatly summed up as being another word for “deceit” in relation to Britain’s efforts in southern Africa. Pre-war rhetoric is nine-tenths of the reason we have war in the first place. “Crossing international red lines” and “we have a duty”, are all simply attempts to justify the single-tracked minds of warmongers.
But this time is different. If all goes well our diplomacy in Syria could lead to the destruction of chemical weapons, rather than towns and people. If it works, it creates a precedent that diplomacy can work. Obama’s “limited, surgical, narrow-focussed strike” (whatever that means) didn’t.
The mood on the ground
Gün Zileli, a Turkish author, recently talked to The London Economic about the options Syrian people have if an impending strike was to come. Identifying four possible solutions, he said that Syrians would sooner chose to support Assad (at least until the strikes were over) and defend the country, rather than taking the side of “imperialist, hegemonic powers”.
“It is important not to justify the dictator, but also stand unified as a country long enough to put up a strong enough front,” he said, adding that there are many dictators in the world that slip under the international radar and questioning how “free” Western states actually are themselves.
“Lest we forget that the biggest weapons manufacturers are imperialist and hegemonic states,” Zileli adds. Many commentators have quipped that weapons falling back into the hands of the United Nations would simply lead to them being sold back to the Syrians for a cut. Joking aside, there is a high probability that this is why many attempts at “diplomacy” fail.
New Age Diplomacy
Diplomacy is now and always has been a dirty word in politics, but there are signs that New Age methods are prevailing. At the heart of this move isn’t Britain or America, who are widely perceived (as Zileli notes) to be warmongers and imperialists, but Russia and – to a lesser extent – China.
Both China and Russia opposed strikes on Syria, which is hardly new from a diplomacy standpoint. However, Putin’s continued involvement in mediating a deal from both sides of the international community has been nothing short of monumental.
If Putin, Xi Jinping and other leaders of the world’s emerging (but tremendously powerful) economies embrace this new mediator role, a New Age of Diplomacy could have been born which, as the Arab Spring ensues, may save many lives and billions of the taxpayer’s dollars.