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Wars of extermination: What is the role of major powers?

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

Published: Updated:

The movie In the Land of Blood and Honey shows the extreme suffering of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina because of the ethnic war which embarrassed humanity and kept states in utter confusion for three years. Eventually, the US employed the strategy of Richard Holbrooke of using “force for achieving peace.”

While narrating the details of the Dayton Agreement, Holbrooke’s assistant Vali Nasr said: “In the Balkans, (Holbrooke) had wielded the threat of US air power to compel the recalcitrant Serbian president Milosevic to agree to a deal.”

“On one occasion he walked out of a frustrated meeting with Milosevic and told his military adviser to roll B-52 bombers out onto the tarmac in an airbase in England and make sure CNN showed the footage”.

“Later, at a dinner during the Dayton peace talks that ended the Bosnia war, he asked President Clinton to sit across from Milosevic. Holbrooke said to Clinton, I want Milosevic to hear from you what I told him, that if there is no peace you will send in the bombers.”

Failures of the ‘liberal order’

Angela Merkel now defends “humanitarian principles” which she had adopted toward refugees in Germany amid intense pressure on her.

Ben Rhodes, former foreign policy adviser to President Obama, revealed in his book The World as It Is that Merkel shed tears when Trump won the elections because she views him as a threat to the “international liberal order.”

Policies of the ‘liberal system’, promoted as the guardian of humanitarian values in the world, revert many societies to a primordial state of nature

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

However, the bloody and scattered Syrian reality and its spilling over to the European continent was the result of failed and isolationist policies that encouraged dictatorships to commit more bloody massacres. Everything had changed, which reminds us of David Hume’s paradox.

Trump along with his allies has repeatedly bombed Assad’s and Iran’s forces in Syria while the “liberal order” could not do this. This “liberal order” has failed to manage humanitarian crises as they unfolded, and it’s now failing in resolving them no matter how successful it has been in explaining them at the theoretical level.

The democratic or revolutionary impact has had no practical influence on emerging liberalisms as the problem is also with people, their methods in dealing with sudden crises and decision-making mechanisms in saving the world.

State of nature

Observing the civil and ethnic wars around the world, takes us back to the terrifying “state of nature” before the law, state, the social contract, human support, international cooperation and specifically to the Myth of the Leviathan Monster, the title of Thomas Hobbes’ book in the 17th century.

Hobbes was a witness to the British civil wars, where people lived in the “state of nature – the society without laws.” Man then operated based on selfish individualistic considerations, sticking only to providing his livelihood and concerned about his own security.

Others were only significant to him only if they serve an interest. Man was thus like the “wolf” to his fellow brothers. In this state of nature, wars continue to rage on between one man and the other.

‘State’ versus the individual

A lot of the “liberal system” policies, which are being promoted as the guardian of humanitarian values in the world as opposed to the so-called ‘Trumpian’ values, reverted many societies to that earlier state of nature.

This is due to the withdrawal and isolationist strategies without engaging in any military intervention and carrying out necessary bombing, even if limited, against Iran’s aggression via its proxies, the Syrian Ba’ath regime and other evil entities.

All this passiveness and collusion established fragile entities in the region that affect the future of Europe, like what is happening in Libya and Syria. Isolation was adopted under the pretext of preserving institutions while the state was going extinct and eroding.

Without the state, man becomes a beast and considers everything in front of him a prey, exactly like in the myths of the Ragnar Lodbrok army, in the famous TV series Vikings.

In his book The World As Will And Representation, Schopenhauer said: “The state is the muzzle that aims to render harmless the carnivorous beast, man, and to ensure it has the appearance of a herbivore.”

This article is available in Arabic.

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Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.