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The drums of war: the view from Europe


Mouneb Taimm/Middle East Images via AFP

Driven by the hawkish hysteria of which Edgar Morin speaks in his 2023 book, De guerre en guerre: De 1940 à l’Ukraine (From War to War: From 1940 to Ukraine), it seems we are hopelessly headed towards a scenario where global conflict is the norm, as if we had learned nothing from the countless mistakes made, after so many violent conflicts, both within and between states.

Seen from within the European Union, a part of the world with the highest level of well-being and security, inhabited by post-heroic populations who tend to mistakenly believe that war is a thing of the past and that all disputes can be resolved by non-violent means, this prognosis alters the foundations of its post-imperial model. This model is fundamentally based on the idea that there are universal values and universal ethical frameworks, that interdependence makes the outbreak of violence highly improbable, and that narrowing the inequality gaps between people inhabiting the same territory are the central pillars that invariably lead to a fairer, safer and more sustainable world.

Unfortunately, there are many factors behind the widespread concern and deep pessimism that prevail when looking to the near future, and call into question these basic assumptions of the EU-27.

One is the collapse of the international order that emerged out of the Second World War. That is, a supposedly rules-based order deprived of a United Nations capable of managing it (due to the unwillingness of its leading members), which primarily serves Washington’s interests and which cannot hide the double standards with which the actions of some of its members are judged (the example of Russia and Israel being just one of many). The absence of a global authority with the real ability to ensure that everyone complies with the rules of the game and to sanction those who break them is compounded by the fact that the actual world leader, the United States, is no longer capable of fulfilling, albeit inappropriately, the role of global policeman. And this is giving greater incentive to those who aspire to take its place – China and Russia, for example – and to those who now feel more critical of the status quo and feel freer to depart from the script – the countries of the Global South.

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