Anyone in our Western societies who follows with a concerned eye the conflicts that divide the peoples of this world will easily come across indications of the underlying contrasting views of their protagonists. This is particularly evident in the conflicts between the USA and Russia or China, between China and Taiwan or between Israel and Palestine. Definitely, this has its positive sides, it seems to me, because without sufficient knowledge of the attitudes of one side and the other, peaceful solutions to the existing tensions are simply impossible.
However, this does not apply to conflicts that have already resulted in military operations, especially those that have cost thousands of lives and created millions of refugees. I am thinking first and foremost of the war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, supported by EU countries and several member countries of NATO, are fighting the so-called Houthi rebels with sophisticated modern weapons, and for reasons that are anything but plausible.
There is a great lack of knowledge about this war and what it is all about. One of the rare certainties about this armed conflict is that since 2015 it has brought some of the richest countries in the world in front line against “rebels” fighting in one of the poorest countries in the world. As regards our media, they keep strict silence on the real reasons.
Regarding the citizens of our Western democracies of whom some of the most powerful are involved in the massacre in Yemen, this situation seems to me to be highly worrying. The same can be said with regard to the civil war in Syria, which has been raging since 2011 and about which there is also great ignorance, the lesser degree of which, however, is covered by an all the greater degree of manipulation. Our major media unanimously disseminate the simplified image of a bloodthirsty dictator supported by Russia under Putin – simply another way of keeping quiet about what is really going on.
In light of these two armed conflicts, it strikes the eye that the major Western great powers and Israel violate completely undisturbed the fundamental norms of international law which are supposed to maintain peace in the world. They do this while loudly proclaiming their full commitment to the validity of human rights.
There is an urgent need for clarification on this issue for the citizens of our Western democracies, because many of them seem to accept silently the complicity of their decision-makers with certain of those responsible for the massacres currently taking place every day. This is in contrast to the fact that in our “information age”, a central demand on all citizens is that, in light of a certain foreign policy of their governments, they also obtain information on the positions of the opposing parties involved in the conflict, and that they also pit the behaviour of their governments against it. In particular, any delivery of arms to the warring parties has to be strictly punished. This also means that the parliaments involved have to be more than registration offices for the government’s instructions. Because you always have to keep in mind: Wars spread like wildfires. •
* Prof. em. Ivo Rens has taught History of Political Thought, Political Philosophy and Political Theory at the University of Geneva Law School and other universities, including Christchurch University in New Zealand. He is responsible editor and publisher of the multilingual scientific platform "La Paix mondiale menacée" (www.worldpeacethreatened.com), where this article was published (6 January 2022). Reprinted with the kind permission of the author.
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