The implications of globalization/geopolitical ‘unipolarity’ in regards to international law
The controversy, surrounding Israel’s adherence to the principle of ‘strategic ambiguity’, on the one hand, and Iran’s unwillingness to heed to U.N. Security Council demands to give up uranium enrichment, on the other, can be best discussed within the context of how the realities of post-industrial (globalized) living affect the concept of international law, as we know. It is important to understand that, up until very recently, this concept used to be heavily embedded in the provisions of the Peace Treaty of Westphalia (1648), signed between European countries that participated in the Thirty Years War.
We will write a custom Essay on Israel’s Geopolitical Positioning in the Middle East specifically for you
301 certified writers online
According to this Treaty, it represents every country’s sovereign right to define its form of government and its state religion, without the involvement of a third party: “Peace of Westphalia… made the sovereign state the legitimate political unit. It implied that basic attributes of statehood such as the existence of a government with control of its territory were now, along with Christianity, the criteria for becoming a state” (Philpott 2005, p. 360).
The legitimacy of nationhood, as the actual source of geopolitical sovereignty, was fostered even further during the 18th-19th centuries, because the process of bourgeoisie rising to its prominence as the new social class (Industrialization), created objective preconditions for people to be referring to their self-identity in terms of a ‘nation’.
Nevertheless, by the end of the 20th century, it started to become increasingly clear to many Western politicians that, due to the process of Globalization and due to the fact with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the world had ceased being bipolar, it is no longer appropriate to refer to the ‘nation’ as the only legitimate political unit. For example, at the time of its founding in 1957, European Economic Community was expected to function as a solely consultative body, with the main purpose of its existence being assumed the standardization of trade tariffs between the Community’s members.
However, as of today, E.U. has been turned into nothing short of a quasi-state of its own – it now has its flag, its currency, its own Parliament, its own President. Moreover, it is just a matter of very short time, before it will have its armed forces and police (Europol). It also started to dawn upon intellectually honest Western politicians that, in reality, many world’s nations are not the actual nations per se, but rather artificial geopolitical entities, populated by people that are being endowed with a tribal mentality. These ‘nations’ are not only non-contributing to the continuous social, cultural, and scientific progress, but actively strive to undermine such progress.
The majority of Muslim countries (especially fundamentalist ones), such as Iran or Saudi Arabia, represent a perfect example of such ‘pre-nationhood’ states. The reason for this is simple – even though, due to the discovery of immense oil deposits by Western explorers at the beginning of the 20th century, the representatives of these countries’ ruling elite are now able to enjoy luxurious lifestyles, the Iranian and Saudi Arabian societies had never undergone the process of industrialization, in the classical sense of this word.
Even today, these societies remain essentially feudal/tribal – this is one of the reasons why both Saudis and Iranians are known for the strength of their religious devotion. Once, Saudi Arabian oil deposits become depleted, for example, the representatives of the country’s ‘royalty’ will switch from riding Bugattis and Rolls-Royces back to riding camels. In its turn, this explains the essence of recent political developments, in regards to Western countries’ insistence that Iran should withhold from trying to become a nuclear state.
Apparently, despite their tendency to indulge in politically correct rhetoric, most Western politicians nevertheless are being perfectly aware that allowing this country to get hold of nuclear weapons would be the same as allowing the monkey to play with a loaded gun – one can never know where the monkey may point this gun. Therefore, Steven Chu’s accusation of Iran, on the account of this country indulging in ‘denial, deceit and evasion’ appears justified. Let me illustrate how America’s current policy towards Iran relates/non-relates to Coicaud and Warner’s six principles, and also how these principles are being consistent/inconsistent with the actual matrix of contemporary international politics.
Coicaud and Warner’s principles in relation to Israel’s geopolitical positioning in the Middle East
- Sovereign equality of states – As I pointed out earlier, this principle originates in the 1648 Peace Treaty of Westphalia. Yet, this particular Treaty was signed between European countries and as such, the provisions of this Treaty do not quite apply to countries that only indirectly relate to Western civilization in its values, and to those countries that openly oppose ‘Western imperialism’ – to say the least.
- Self-determination of peoples – Just as it is being the case with earlier the principle, the idea that people should be allowed to determine the form of their countries governing on their own is of clearly Western origin. The theoretical premise behind this principle is the assumption that people equally adhere to the ‘live and let live’ idea. This, however, is not the case with Iranians (at least with Iranian political leaders) who on many occasions have publically stated that their ultimate goal is wiping Israel off the world’s map.
- Prohibition on the threat or use of force – This principle is the a byproduct of Coicaud and Warner’s lessened ability to adequately reflect upon the essence of surrounding geopolitical realities. It is exactly the naked force (or the threat to use naked force), which ensures continuous peace and stability. As a famous saying goes – ‘political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’. Those who believe in otherwise are naive idealists, at best.
- Peaceful settlement of disputes – The peaceful settlement of disputes is only possible when there is no hope for either disputing parties to expect that it will be able to reach its objectives by the mean of initiating armed hostilities. For example, the actual reason why Palestinian terrorists continue to attack Israel is that they know that, every time Israel decides in favor of dealing with them decisively, the UN ‘peacemakers’ become involved – hence, preventing Israel from ‘settling the dispute’ once and for all. However, if Palestinians knew that there would be swift and merciless retaliation for every of their attack, they would refrain from proceeding with these attacks, in the first place.
- Non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states – This principle has always been more of an empty declaration than the actual foundation of international law. For example, as of today, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) are being charged with defining the essence of fiscal policies in just about every country, including Western ones. Also, as I implied earlier, there are two types of independent countries: de facto and de jure. For example, even though in 1976 Central-African Empire with its cannibal-‘emperor’ Bokassa was considered an independent country de jure, it did not prevent France from dispatching Foreign Legion’s squadron to depose the dictator – much to the relief of an international community. The international community never ceased being aware of the artificial nature of this African country’s ‘independence’.
- Respect for human rights – The concept of ‘human rights’ is the intellectual a byproduct of Western mentality/psyche. Apparently, due to their endowment with existential idealism, Westerners do believe that this concept is being equally appealing to non-Westerners. This, however, could not be farther from the truth, due to specifics of these people’s ‘mental wiring’, which in turn can be explained by their historically predetermined intellectual underdevelopment. This is the reason why; whereas, Westerners think of the concept of ‘human rights’ as representing an undeniable truth-value, most non-Westerners think of this concept as another meaningless ‘buzzword’.
The earlier provided line of argumentation as to how Coicaud and Warner’s principles relate to contemporary geopolitical developments in the world is also being relevant within the context of discussing the significance of El-Baradei’s suggestion that the Middle East should become an area free of weapons of mass destruction. It goes without saying, of course, that this suggestion concerns Israel as much as it concerns Iran.
Nevertheless, whatever the well-meaning this suggestion might be, it can hardly be referred to as very realistic. The reason for this is simple – Israel has valid reasons to think of its national security as such that is being continuously threatened by the neighboring Islamic states. After all, throughout the time of its existence as an independent state, Israel has been attacked twice by these states. Therefore, it was only natural for the country’s leaders to think of the protection of Israel from foreign invasions as representing their foremost priority.
And, as the example of geopolitical confrontation between America and the Soviet Union showed, it was named the possession of nuclear weapons, on the part of both countries, which prevented the escalation of the Cold War into the real war. While discussing the foremost premise of nuclear deterrence policy, which was deployed by the U.S. throughout the Cold War and which proved utterly effective, within the context of America striving to preserve world’s peace, Lowther (2010, p. 26) states ‘(Nuclear) deterrence… relies on effectively making an adversary believe that the risks involved in changing the status quo outweigh any potential rewards’.
Whatever the paradoxically it might sound – it is not formally well-meaning but factually meaningless declarations, such as that of El-Baradei’s, which makes this world a safer place to live, but the possession of matching military forces, on the part of potential adversaries.
According to another famous saying – ‘if you want a lasting peace, never cease getting ready for war’. This is exactly what Israel does while being fully aware of what such countries as Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iran would want to do with the only beacon of Western values in the Middle East if they had a chance. Therefore, the Israeli’s policy of ‘nuclear ambivalence’ appears not only beneficial for Israel but also for its geopolitical foes, because it weakens their temptation to invade the country, as they tried to do in 1967 and 1973 while sustaining heavy casualties.
Lowther, A 2010, ‘Should the United States maintain the nuclear triad?’, Air & Space Power Journal, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 23-29.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Philpott, D 1995, ‘Sovereignty: An introduction and brief history’, Journal of International Affairs, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 353-368.