Opinión|25 de noviembre de 2021

Are we witnessing the full validity of interdependence?

The humanity is starting an era of amazing changes.

Por Jorge Reta

Brigadier (R.E.)

We have witnessed a historic event, which was unimaginable. We are standing at the gates of a fascinating challenge, with the possible reinvigoration of the Doctrine of INTERDEPENDENCE. Paradoxically, we owe this opportunity to a great Democratic Statesman, Mr. Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea, and to a dictator, Mr. Kim Jung Un, supreme leader of North Korea. Both of them have undisputedly become the architects of the Summit that took place in Singapore on June 12th, 2018, potentially ushering in a new era of World peace and propelling the communist country into an unprecedented period of economic prosperity. Even more importantly, accomplishing the de-escalation of a potential armed conflict of unforeseeable global consequences can be considered the greatest success of this quiet diplomatic endeavor that has had to sort its fair share of obstacles since starting in January of this year.

 

I will attempt to analyze the perception of this historic event that took place three years ago, only aspiring to contribute positively whether by coincidence or divergence, to the great challenge of forging a better world, with lasting peace and tolerance in the broadest definition of these terms. 

 

It is evident that Humanity is starting an era of amazing changes. It is extremely hard to correctly evaluate these mutations in the short and medium terms, since some of these changes occurring at a planetary scale are as unexpected and surprising as they are hard to grasp in a global context.

 

However, we are fully convinced that these new "realities" produce a positive influence within a world that manifests itself evermore fraternal, globalized and interdependent, giving new strength and meaning to the transcendental values conquered, through enormous sacrifice, over the last few centuries and embodied by freedom and equality of opportunity.

 

Towards the end of the seventies, the long and arduous road towards interdependence began consolidating as a result of the Doctrine of REALISM initiating its slow decline as the dominating Doctrine governing International Relations.

 

At this point, it is appropriate to recall the key components of these ideas which date from far back in history but have been "refreshed" through two World Wars and returned with increased vigor during the latter half of the twentieth century to become the main axis of the "Cold War".

 

REALISM is a school of thought that traces its philosophical roots as far back as Thucydides, Machiavelli and Hobbes, where the State is a supreme entity of unique relevance. However, within this interpretation there exists an inherent variability by which "classical realists" also oppose the immutability of the State as a product of its history and assumes said entity is bound to change.

 

With respect to the relationships that exist amongst international players, REALISM assumes are not of a benevolent nature but rather of a selfish and confrontational one. This contrasts significantly with other theories in the domain of International Relations, especially with the theories we shall mention later in this text which are founded on individual liberties that act as an insurmountable limit to the omnipotence of the State, should the latter deviate from its specific responsibilities.

 

Another assumption governing REALISM is that the international system of nations is anarchic as there is no governing body that can exert any authority over the various states to regulate their interactions. Thus, REALISM proposes that, since no global efficient and respected organizing entity exists, States must establish relationships independently.

 

Moreover, said Doctrine is founded on the conviction that States, acting as the only players in International Relations, will wield their respective powers in accordance each individual State’s economic and military capabilities.  The additional interpretation by realists that States are inherently aggressive (“offensive realism”) and will pursue territorial expansion in a compulsory manner, as a result of other opposing forces: permanent, uninterrupted, conflict with neighboring countries is intrinsically required within nations. Some examples, of many, include Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union.

 

In conclusion, international conflict resolution is almost always approached with military options first, leaving diplomatic negotiation relegated to a distant, borderline irrelevant, third approach under this system of values.

 

By sharp contrast, the Doctrine of INTERPENDENCE that has governed international relations since the fall of the Berlin Wall, will advocate for Diplomacy as the primary and almost exclusive factor for dealing with confrontation amongst States. Said diplomatic approach carries alongside the concept of “collective security” which not only prevents but also sanctions the use of force as means to resolve conflicts between States. Diplomacy becomes the guiding hand from a Supranational Organism (the United Nations) as established, with definitive clarity, by Robert Kehoane and Joseph Nye in their book: “COMPLEX INTERDEPENDENCE”

 

Under this Doctrine, military conflict becomes an option only after all diplomatic instances have been exhausted, all efforts to dissuade those who would alter order and peace in the World have failed, and shall be fully legitimize only by the Security Council, headquartered in New York. However, for any dissuasive effect to be effective, it is paramount to rely on Armed Forces as a preliminary insurance, fully justifying adequate investment – as opposed to spending- since the yield will ultimately by the preservation of vital national interests and, in consequence, supporting regional strategic balance and peace.

 

At this point, it becomes worth noting that it is inconvenient to seek peace when weak, as not only is it unethical but dangerous.

 

In order to uphold peace it is of utmost importance to be in a situation that enables facing and defeating acts of violence. Any nation that considers itself to be responsible will be duly characterized by thoughtful investment in its military forces, commensurate with their economic means or vital interests, generating the ability to not only effectively defend itself but also come to the aid of other nations, within its possibilities, when international order is altered.

 

Examples of military collaboration from Argentina with the International Community include the maritime and aerial support provided by the Navy and the Air Force, respectively during the first Gulf War and the massive involvement of members of the Army in the Former Yugoslavia. International intervention in the latter example had the objective of ending the genocidal slaughter unleashed by Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Maldic, amongst other war criminals also sentenced by the Hague’s International Tribunal, during the Bosnia-Herzegovina war (1992-1995).

 

In consequence, even the most modest countries have the moral obligation to maintain the ability to deter conflict. In other words, if they might meet aggression from far superior forces they are compelled to offer the necessary resistance to allow time for the International Community to intervene. We can clearly see that this Doctrine has an agenda composed primarily of cooperation and integration, framed in mutual assistance, solidarity and the duty to cooperate as the compelling norm of International Law. It is of fundamental importance that it is understood that far from denying the existence of States, this Doctrine considers them inherent and essential to the modern concept of a Republic. In other words, States that are respectable and solid and committed to their essential and specific functions.

 

It is possible that, in Singapore, a return to INTERDEPENDENCE has begun with renewed vigor. This Doctrine generated decades of international peace and prosperity within a framework of a fully functioning democratic system, a clear division of powers, respect of individual rights, open and growing economies, tolerance, freedom of worship, press and opinion in a World firmly on the path of multilateralism.

 

Perhaps the reaction to the turbulence we have witnessed during the G-20 Summit in Canada and the meetings in Brussels, London, Helsinki and Rome will be perceived as a gradual and unavoidable revitalization of the European Union and the continental allies of NATO as a new cast of international characters. Hopefully this will happen since, despite the incipient resurgence of xenophobic, protectionism and populist discourse with some extreme right leaders all over the world,  we believed to be a sad part of our history, the firm standing and acute sense of politics from government officials such as President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel, amongst other great and distinguished dignitaries, we are finally able to catch a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

JR