May, 1997

Realism and Security relations.

I. Security relations are based on two main pillars - reason and force. Both were used in the past and are used in the present. Force and reason are to be used in security relations in the future.

The success or failure of security relations (arrangements) depends on wisdom of politicians and diplomats in using means that are at their disposal. An effective correlation of forces based on force and reason, the proportion and timing in which wisdom and force are used in given circumstances constitutes Realism in international relations. If there exists a lack of Realism in a situation where force is used, military-political alliances fail to achieve its objectives. This may lead to new conflicts and even national disasters.

Historical examples:

1) The USA lost the war in Vietnam due to complete absence of any reasonable political and diplomatic efforts to avoid a prolonged involvement in this conflict. As the war spread Washington relied on military means to win a foreign civil war. Security arrangements with Saigon government failed due to the lack of realism in Washington.

2) The Soviet Union lost its battle in Afghanistan for almost the same reasons. It wanted to achieve a military victory in a foreign civil war.

3) Hitler's Germany lost the second world war not only because the fascists were resisted and then crushed by the Alliance of the USSR, the USA, Britain and France but also due to the colossal strategic blunders. Hitler totally ignored Chancellor Bismarck's opinion that Germany should never wage a war on two fronts simultaneously. By attacking France and England in the West and the Soviet Union in the East Hitler sealed the death warrant for his totalitarian regime.

4) The failure of the Soviet government to preserve Warsaw alliance to a large extent may be explained by its simplified approach to security relations with East European countries. They were mainly based on ideological dogmas and to a large extent neglected national aspirations and feelings of its peoples.

5) The Soviet Union republics did not have security arrangements among them at all and were ruled from Moscow as a unitary state. When "unthinkable" happened and it was dissolved from above, there was no clear legal ground to overturn this decision. Parliaments of Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia ratified it and Gorbachev lost his presidency and the Soviet people their country. The only man in the Belorussian parliament who voted against the dissolution of the USSR recently was elected by a popular vote the president of Byelorussia.

To a large extent present economic difficulties of the Commonwealth of Independent states reflect a simple fact - the disintegration of "economic field" which can properly function only as a political union.

In above-mentioned cases there is a complete lack of realism on the part of the statesmen responsible for security of their states. In the framework of a political process they did not establish multilateral or bilateral arrangements that would create strong security systems, lacked sound judgments and common sense. In other words, the absence of realism on the state level led to prolonged military or economic disasters.

II. Realism is a quality of man's judgement. Besides common sense, realism, which is an important virtue of humans, exists on the state level. It is a base for any bilateral or regional security. Security relations are difficult to work out and to implement. There do not exist any clear rules on how to arrange security. At the same time there are certain lessons from the past which may give us at least an insight into the problem.

State realism uses both pillars of security - reason and force - in such a way that would not undermine delicate structures of bilateral or regional relations. This can be done with the help of fundamental concepts and practices established in foreign relations. Realism in international relations, at least in theory, should go hand in hand with morality. The latter is even more difficult to define than realism. Often it seems convenient to push morality aside though such an approach usually leads to failure.

Blaise Pascal once said that to be good in thinking is the main principle of morality. I would say we need a rational humanistic thinking, based on new information on global and regional interrelatedness. Reason never speaks differently, it always speaks alike in all men. Rational and moral approach must answer a following question: "Is it right to do to others what you would not like to be done to you?". This biblical truth has every reason to be a guideline in many situations. Still, what is good or bad in foreign policy and security relations quite often slips from our comprehension. On security issues different states and even statesmen of one state are often in favour of opposite answers. In the past Niccolo Machiavelli and Hugo Grotius, or the Realpolitik of Austrian prince Metternich gave different answers to questions connected with morality and law. Their recommendations, however, can not be taken for granted. The stakes now are to high to follow a strait-line extrapolation from the past.

Modern reality and dogmas of the past are not identical and seldom match. In fact, the past correlates poorly with the realities of present international relations. Nevertheless, old dogmas are used as theoretical concepts for security relations. Dogmas are based mainly on presumption that: "power and force rule the world". At the time when international relations are changing rapidly, security for all does not exist. The nature of power has transformed from the number of bayonets and guns to nuclear rockets and further to international stock-exchanges and strong currencies. On security issues political realism has not become the main source of analyses.

In any security arrangements it is important to make a choice of principal means for its execution. If the decision is right, it constitutes a solid ground for the state realism policies. Even in this case, however, it is almost impossible to formulate the only rational arrangement as the practice of state realism is conducted in a constantly changing world. State realism must be flexible and avoid habitual patterns. What was good for yesterday security relations may become useless today and senseless and even dangerous tomorrow. 

A certain tendency in international relations is already visible. On security arrangements states are moving from bilateral to multilateral agreements.

Historical examples.

1) Today humans face many perils of a global nature: ecological disaster, looming confrontation between "rich North" and "poor South", large scale wars, including nuclear war. Besides United Nations there are few effective world organizations which combat global dangers. The establishment of UN was the most important event in the 20th century international relations. The 21 century may see the emergence of security arrangements on the World Government level. Such a development may become a must with the advance of global hazards.

2) Countries of different geographical regions face not only global but also specific problems. The Mediterranean region is, perhaps, one of the most unstable. From the Gollan heights to the Atlantic local conflicts exist: the Middle East conflict is yet to be resolved, Turkey resorts to force against large part of kurds population, the Balkans are inflamed in all kind of tension and war flares in ex-Yugoslavia, the norther part of Cyprus suffers from the turkish occupation. Nicosia is now the only divided capital in the world. Relations between two NATO countries, Greece and Turkey, are strained. There are profound problems in relations between Libia and several western states. Spain demands sovereignty over Gibraltar. In Algeria there is a growing political crisis of huge proportions.

Stabilization of the Mediterranean region is yet to be achieved. It can be done with the help of Europe and the USA. But they still prefer to look at everything that happens in this region through NATO eyes - that is a vision of a closed military-political block. The time approaches when all countries of Mediterranean region together with the USA, Russia and Great Britain will work out security arrangements that are based more on reason and less on force of NATO.

In order to achieve this aim it would be wise to create and develop a new international conflict resolution think tank (research institute) where new approaches to Mediterranean security would be worked out. A new age of security in the Mediterranean region will not come by itself, it evolves enormous efforts on the part of many people, including politologists, who would strive to look beyond present stereotypes.

3) The security of Mediterranean region is dependant upon stable peaceful Europe. In the 20th century Europe went through two world wars, both involved countries of North Africa. Once again a military conflict has erupted in the Balkans, in Yugoslavia. It is aggravated by the fact that historically and culturally there is little in common among the republics that had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Slovenia and Croatia) and those that for centuries had been part of the Ottoman Empire. A dangerous aspect of this national strife is the confessional factor: the Serbs are orthodox christians, the Croatians are catholics and there is a substantial Muslim minority in Bosnia and Kosovo. Whatever their internal differences, it is important to terminate this conflict which may turn into international one. The threat of a new Balkan war is lingering throughout the 1990s.

4) Stable security in Europe cannot be built without Russia. In my opinion, the planed expansion of NATO to the East, close to the borders of Russia, undermines the concept of "common European home". The very idea that by expanding a military-political block, not being threatened by Russia at all, one may stabilize European security, is very doubtful. This expansion will fuel nationalist sentiments in Russia. To envisage Europe of our time as a play-ground for NATO to the detriment of Russia will ultimately impair security of the whole continent. Russia will have no choice but to strengthen its armed forces and to turn to new alliances.

State realism in security arrangements is based on security for all participants, the only viable structure for the 21 century. To think and act otherwise leads to a wrong idea that there can be security for one side at the expense of the other. This is the example of the old stereotype thinking that ignores common security principles of equality and equal security.

III. Very often nowadays it is stated that the cold war is over. This belief reflects the fact that NATO no longer faces another military-political block with the Soviet Union at the head. Unfortunately for Russia and the Balkans the end of the cold war meant the start of hot conflicts on its territory. 

The security of Europe and the Mediterranean region is entering a new phase. But again some politicians and politologists put forward ideas that are dangerous to the stability of international relations. To my mind, one of such ideas is that "after the fall of communism" islam constitutes a "new threat" to western civilization. I strongly doubt the wisdom of such an approach. This assertion is supplemented by additional analysis that defines the "enemy" as "militant extremism", or "radical fundamentalism".

One cannot but agree that "militant extremism" is a danger for peace and stability. But one can easily notice that extremists exist in mane regions and countries. Their actions should not be interpreted as a policy of a given country or people. Nations may be more or less democratic, more or less rich or poor or anything else. They may be stubborn in pursuing their way of life which may differ them from liberal model. Still, they form a part of the world community and are members of the United Nations.

The state wisdom tells us that not only christians can act together on a wider level than the nation-state but representatives of other confessions as well. European Community and Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe together with Arab Mahgreb Union, of which Morocco is an active member, would do well if they do not ignore increasingly alarming potential for conflict and unrest and organize new international initiatives to bolster the political stability and economic development of the Mediterranean region. The most active of the European nations in this region are Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.

The southern rim of the Mediterranean is not a threat to the european security but its potential partner in search of Security for All. 21 century may see broad security initiatives, including migratory flows and food supplies. This would create better future for Christian and Muslims than "new enemy" vision. For a correct vision a new focus, based on New Thinking and Realism, is needed.