Submission to get a deal undermines what it wishes to preserve.
If you follow big time politics, such as in “who invades whom and why,” then you noticed that the victims of state crimes are dropped if the aggressor shows brawn. The greater the international criminal’s might, the more dogged his use of power, the greater the inventiveness to find reasons to stay beyond the sidelines. The upshot is an inaction that encourages aggression as it is made “safe” for the perpetrator.
Your own “Ministry of People’s Enlightenment” will assure you that nothing needs to be done as nothing can be done -without angering the aggressor. His provoked ill temper could enhance his defensive instinct to attack. Having said that, those that act in your name, will assure you that, anyhow, you are not affected.
Those that are immune to this sedation will continue to observe events. These “hard-lines” will remember “history’s” analogous errors, the mistakes that, we were assured by our professors, would never be repeated. They failed to add “until convenience” makes the repetition of the ignored past profitable in the next election.
Swaggering aggressors signal that something is wrong in our world. However, to identify the culprit and the fib used to justify his actions is risky. Tell it the way it is and you become an incurable saber rattler in search of a war. The charge that disputes your sanity, your claim that points to aggression before your throat is cut, is said to trigger the rogue’s belligerence. The odd claim is: Whoever names the challenges of the world order, is held responsible for the threat.
This means more than that the runner that brings the message is executed. An addition improves that recipe of problem solving. The messenger is also made responsible for creating the bad news he carries. Accordingly, once the required response is more difficult than sliding down a greased pole, our ruling PC prescribes shuteyes and vigorous denial.
The term, “world order”, might raise eyebrows although the phrase deserves attention. What the reasonable contemporary does not suggest is that, the order of an ideal world is unalterable. History is about change, mankind’s present is a product of an –unequally experienced- evolution. Thus, the ideas that enable us to alter our existence’s parameters are subject to evolvement.
A change-resistant world is more than impossible, it is also undesirable. Thus, a stable order does not refer to immobility but pleads for institutionally channeled adjustments. This is not meant to express the will of the present’s beneficiaries. It is intended to formulate the perception of enlightened contemporaries that might forge majorities. The change that brings organic growth needs to be the reasoned product of persuasion and it should resort to mechanisms that are accepted by the international community. This means that neither states, or their boundaries, least of all their internal political order, are sacrosanct. A stable order does not resemble the a woolly mammoth preserved in the permafrost. Stability coupled to rigidity brings solutions that have unpredictable outcomes. We may add; the volatile result is often an originally unwanted one, such as in the case of Bolshevik coup in 1917.
An inconvenient conclusion emerges, which might make some readers uncomfortable. Others will be reassured in their position.
Formally, those that carry the ball on the global scene are totally committed to “peace”. Any questioning of that amounts to an insult. Such “malicious attacks” are punished. The trumpeted commitment to the “peace struggle” is absolute - at least as long as the “enemy” is conveniently weak.
The non-violent resolution of differences depends on the availability of a framework. Its chief markers are such instrument as the availability of diplomacy. If effective, diplomacy is preferable to physical force. Yet, diplomacy is hardly more effective than the bayonets that back it. When what is sold as “diplomacy” is an expression of weakness, then negotiation only serves to hide the capitulation of the feeble.
What are the components of the institutional framework of the diplomacy that goes beyond nodding to violence? It is the absolute inviolability of diplomacy’s staff. Even the National Socialists and the Soviets have adhered. Without diplomats, there is no diplomacy, and to function, the diplomat must enjoy immunity. The personnel of international institutions are as diplomats untouchable. There is a subcategory of the edifice of civilized resolutions: Agreements are sacrosanct.
What do we experience and tolerate? International organizations are compromised and exploited by political activists. Agreements are regularly ignored. Just think of the withdrawn Russian troops on the Ukrainian border or of North Korean commitments. Even the US’ government accepts Benghazi as an accident. Arresting repeatedly the delegates of the Organization of Security and Cooperation of Europe completes the picture. It demonstrates the deterioration of the norms of intercourse that, when released, the captive “guests” thank for the good treatment –which, in fact, was anything but.
Secure peace is more than non-resistance to aggression. Peace is a state of mutual security facilitated by conflict resolution within the framework of agreed upon procedures. Therefore, any violation of treaties, of diplomatic immunity, and the sabotage of international organizations, is a threat to peace. This being so, the chief menace to peace as a working system is not the act of transgression alone –such as the penetration the Ukraine’s east- but the sabotage of the international order’s machinery. The proper reaction to that should be staunch and more costly to the villain than a parking ticket placed under the wipers.
The indispensable role of international law, and of diplomacy as a system, makes penalties unavoidable. The rules of the culture that moderates international relations need to be defended. Beyond soothing rhetoric, this means the resort to rigid sanctions. Forgiving the earlier crimes of those that finally captured a state –or who brandish instruments of terrorism- should be a taboo. Safe crackers do not become virtuous after taking ownership of the bank. Agreements with criminals will not hold even if “realism” suggests them as partners. Deals with those that violate norms will guarantee nothing. Transgressions may be overlooked, however, they will remain in the DNA of culprits. Therefore, once successful, those that have murdered their way to the top will not desist. Ignoring, for the sake of expediency, the violation of the international order, makes such felony profitable. That undermines the credibility of those that rest while they claim to be committed to politics tamed by civilization.
Alas, even if it is unpleasant, we need to digest a lesson. Good values and the system created to uphold and apply them might be convincing logically as well as ethically. However, it does not follow that they will be immune to attempts to undermine them. Even the values of decency and their institutional procedures will, occasionally, require their defense. This protection is harder than to lick soft ice cream, therefore it imposes sacrifice and demands, beyond rhetorical lip service, blood, sweat and tears.