Year XXIX, 1987, Number 3, Page 183
The Gulf War
The dramatic events that are taking place in the Persian Gulf are the umpteenth demonstration — though further evidence was in no way needed —of the total impotence of Europe. At the same time they are eloquent witness to the growing incapacity of the bipolar equilibrium which emerged after the Second World War to guarantee a peaceful international order compatible with the world’s economic and civil progress, and in particular the underdeveloped parts of the world. Moreover, the objective logic of the bipolar equilibrium is self-perpetuation, preventing the birth of new autonomous poles of development. And this is what the United States and the Soviet Union do — helped by their respective satellites — supplying both Iran and Iraq the instruments of their mutual destruction. By encouraging tensions in the region which runs from the Mediterranean to the Gulf, the superpowers and their satellites prevent the birth of a drive towards integration in the Middle-East region which they could effectively contribute to, in collaboration with the countries directly involved, if they developed joint projects designed to harness the immense resources which are being destroyed daily by virtue of their supplying the governments involved the arms with which millions of human lives have so far been sacrificed.
We should not forget that the development of Islamic fundamentalism, which is seriously threatening the stability of the Muslim world, is itself a consequence of the bipolar equilibrium, of its decadence and its current lack of alternatives. Iran not only has the feudal face that the government of the Ayatollah has publicized. As part of a different world framework with a just international economic order, it would have the potential gradually to become a modern, lay and progressive country. But every time a decision has had to be taken, since the times of Mossadegh, the game of international policy has sent the country down the worst road. Even after the fall of the Shah, Iran tried various lay solutions and only turned definitively towards theocracy after many appeals to Europe by its governments for help and solidarity had fallen on deaf ears. The incitement and exploitation of religious fanaticism were therefore the last resort for the country’s independence in the eyes of the forces who did not want the return of the Americans and the monarchy.
To hope today that the equilibrium of the region can be restored with a show of military strength by the Americans and some of their allies means believing that an international system is able to resolve the problems that it itself provokes. It may be added that, while the presence of the American navy in the Gulf, however useless, is the inevitable consequence of the world responsibilities that the United States — in the absence of alternatives — are forced to exercise, on the other hand the British, French and Italian expeditions are nothing more than an anachronistic surge of national pride, when they are not the result of unrealistic policies or calculated moves in the game of internal politics.
Clearly a short-term solution to the problem can only depend today on both the United States and the Soviet Union realizing the need for convergent action, exerted both on Iran and Iraq, under the guidance of the United Nations. Without both superpowers’ commitment, any appeal to the UN is doomed to failure and to serve as an alibi in tranquillizing one’s own conscience. Joint USA-USSR action may become possible in the near future — because of the enormous dangers for both superpowers implied in the conflict — even though this will be hard to achieve because of the intrinsically conflictual logic of a bipolar equilibrium.
Gorbachev’s goodwill is now beyond question. But the fact remains that it is certainly not the bipolar equilibrium or its corollary, military blocks, that are the basis on which it is conceivable to start the process of gradually turning the United Nations into a body capable of mobilizing energies to safeguard international peace, i.e. an embryonic world government. For this to happen, it is necessary for a new actor to appear on the international scene, which is structurally interested in peace and collaboration, and which is able to act as a mediator between the two superpowers, to break the competitive logic of the bipolar equilibrium which risks driving the world to catastrophe. This actor must be able to encourage new trends in regional integration through a policy of openness and co-operation and should be committed effectively to disarmament and detente. Above all, the creation of this new actor should be an example of the end to national sovereignty. A new scenario would be born which would modify the expectations of men in a decisive way, directing them towards the ideal of a world government. The UN would increasingly tend to become the legal framework for this new phase in the international equilibrium in which collaboration would prevail over competition.
This new actor can only be Europe. It is now an undelayable duty of the European political class to become aware of the need to direct their energies to the projected democratic Union of the states of the Community and to stop wasting their efforts in uselessly pursuing the idea, in which no-one now believes, that the “medium-sized powers” in Western Europe still have a role to play in international policy other than that of pouring oil onto the flames of conflicts such as the Gulf war with the supply of arms.