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From Rationality and Interest to Armed Militias!

From Rationality and Interest to Armed Militias!

Friday, 25 September, 2020 - 11:45
Radwan al-Sayyed
Lebanese writer, academic, politician and professor of Islamic Studies at the Lebanese University

I didn't know that the well-known philosopher Paul Ricoeur - French President Macron’s mentor - had started talking about peace and its links to advantage and rationality in the 50s of the 20th century. A colleague brought it to my attention while I was researching the evolution of the US legal philosopher John Rawls’ position between the 1950s and 1971 (the year his book, “A Theory of Justice” was published). Of course, the context in the 1950s was that of the Cold War raging between the two superpowers after the Korean War, a war that had been with weapons and through culture. Of course, when non-leftist philosophers entered the debate, they introduced into it Emanuel Kant’s thesis (1804) on lasting peace. In the actual and cultural war, the Americans and their allies employed the concept of freedom, considering it a prerequisite or equivalent to both rationality and advantage.

Free countries, in their constitutions and domestic laws, are true to securing peace. According to Kant, constitutional states establish federations of peace before the general international law slogan appears. As for John Rawls - aware of the necessities after the Vietnam War and the American Youth Revolution - he brought the notion of justice into liberal rationalism at the national and global levels; that the strategic primacy of freedom became an ethical demand as well.

What is the justification for this philosophical stance? It is justified by what happened after the end of the Cold War. The new world order that President Bush Senior talked about, and with which the former Pope John Paul II addressed, which appeared as something pushing in the direction of world peace or justice. As for the what remained of leftists, they spoke of hegemony, at a time when what had prevailed was conquests and conflicts over everything, between major and middle powers, over strategic interests and resources in the sea, land, and space. As for those who do not possess the capabilities and means needed for conflict - in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans - turmoil, subordination, and social, political, and economic penetration enveloped all aspects of their lives. The case remains the same today.

Amid the extremely difficult circumstances of the last three decades, particularly in the Middle East, the demand for stability, only stability, has prevailed. It was a requirement that was fulfilled or sought by the national authorities in every country during the Cold War era. But in times of chaos and "creative chaos" - according to the term used by the US Secretary of State during the President Bush Jr. era - and after the security of small and fragile national states became strategic, attaining stability became difficult, sometimes impossible. Even subservience to one of the great and middle powers does not achieve stability - as had been the case in the Cold War - because the division of areas of influence is no longer approved of, and it has become everyone’s “right” to dominate everywhere. In Syria, for example, the state was not helped by being subjugated by the Russian Federation. Indeed, this subjugation has hastened the intervention in it by the Americans, Iranians, Turks, and Israelis.

The same applies to Libya, where the French, Americans, and NATO intervened to topple the regime, and then several other countries others such as the Italians, Turks, and Russians, rushed to its land and sea over the past seven years, while the French and the Americans remained or returned. An international resolution, or several ones - was issued by the Security Council to bring back peace to every country of the five or six Arab countries where turmoil and upheaval occurred. But as the great British historian Eric Hobsbawm said, during this era global chaos, the Security Council, two-thirds of the time, is unable to stop the conflict between competing hegemons, which cannot be hinged or restrained by anything, including international laws, of course.

The most terrible thing to happen to the Arab and African states is that the major and middle powers, fighting over resources, are not satisfied with bringing their own armies and intelligence services, they also use internal and external militias. This happened in five Arab countries and eight African countries. The first impression was that these militias were local and organized terrorist and criminal organizations. Then it became clear that all of them - since their phenomenon began in the 1990s in Somalia and Congo, from Boko Haram to ISIS and “Al Qaeda” - receive support from neighboring countries, the major and middle powers, despite everyone emphasizing their roles in fighting colonialism or terrorism!

The phenomenon of militia is dangerous! It has been blended with Islamic schisms, and this link is a novel contingency, as previous affiliations with the left wing and, extreme leftists had been. They are armed gangs with “sub-state” (civil) loyalties. Their leaders, not their members, are no different from mafia leaders. They develop their operations by collaborating with the outside to be able to compete, increase gains, and persist for longer. It is known for everyone that intervening states or local political elites do not conceal their cooperation with the militias. In Mali, Congo, and Somalia there are militias, there are great powers, and there are local authorities. When a militia attacks cities or people, it gets support from external and local forces. The same is true for the militias in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon, where foreign forces outside openly help them. The US wants to maintain the conventional arms embargo imposed on Iran because it supplies the militias deployed in the Arab countries. China, Russia, and European countries deny this.

However, Iran recently announced that it was able to supply the Houthis with missile technology to be manufactured locally after it had been forced to smuggle them in before! In Lebanon, which is controlled by the Iranian militia, Hezbollah, the United States is trying to isolate the group, but the French came to undermine their strategy, and the President of the Lebanese Republic is supporting it, granting its weapons legal legitimacy. Saad Hariri, the former prime minister - under the pretext of facilitating the formation of the government - hastens to make concessions that allow the group to continue to hijack major ministries!

The conquest and conflict over strategic gains and resources today have rules and partnerships that they compete on. For instance, militia partnerships that were formed by local and international entities, are now partners in running the institutions, corruption, and the violation of citizens’ rights and security. During nearly three decades of “idleness” in the international system, there are no standards, rules, and practices that could help achieve stability anymore, so how about a rational and reformist peace?!

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