CULTURAL DIPLOMACY: PEACE AND PROGRESS THROUGH UNDERSTANDING THE OTHER
Why do we need a cultural diplomacy – this new concept the Institute in Berlin tries to promote with such devotion and commitment? My answer: because the world is changing. And if the world is changing, politics in its high signifying community interests service should change, too. The famous Prussian strategic theorist Clausewitz thought that war is a continuation of politics using other means. I believe that peace also may be a result of the politics led with other kinds of means. One of these means is cultural diplomacy, which without aiming to remove the traditional diplomacy of dialogue between different interests and supported by different kind of pressures as well as force threatening, can enrich it with a new element: dialogue based on understanding the other. And in a wider meaning, I talk about a better understanding of the world we live in. In my opinion, the first step of the cultural diplomacy should take would be to make conceptual map of the international political universe. On it we could draw the different worlds populating our planet, the post-modern, the modern and the pre-modern ones. Only on such a foundation we can build politics and security strategies proper for a fastly changing and contradictory world.
The Russia-Georgia war in August 2008 acted like a triggering element towards new theoretical approaches. Its immediate consequences have shown the inherent weaknesses of the frozen conflicts solving systems, managed by OSCE – in South Ossetia and by ONU - in Abkhazia. Beyond all these, have come out as obvious the EU institutional blockings concerning the foreign policy and the conflicts within NATO. Although the conflict enlargement was blocked, a major institutional crisis has come out visible on international level. Its components proved it as a crisis of means, a crisis of international law principles as well as a moral crisis. Revising the security strategies based on new approach models impose as a necessity.
Within the debates on the security assessment and planning logics, two theoretical approaches have emerged. According to the first one, which is also the oldest, the world is unipolar, due to the USA super-power, which have invested during the last ten years double the amount of the military budgets of all the other states in scientific and technological research for military purposes. The world can be defined as unipolar also from the point of view of the western liberal democracy model that assures economic development and prosperity.
In my opinion, this is a void approach. Even the United States have avoided to proclaim themselves as unique power. We talk not only about the public statements. I have attended presidents Clinton’s many statements within closer or close meetings and I can make a testimony about his concern in finding and consulting his political and military partners during crisis moments. The sort authoritarian flare occurred at the beginning of president George W. Bush the second term has been fastly sanctioned by the reality and president Obama has relaunched an internationally consultation politics.
The model of a unique type of democracy is also void. I had the chance to show at the Harvard University, during a conference chaired by the late professor Huntington, my cautions regarding his theory on the civilizations clashing. According to this theory, Europe was divided into the Western civilization area, based on the Catholic-Protestant mentality, the only one capable to sustain a liberal democracy and the Orthodox one. The integration into the EU of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria have come to contradict this theory which will also be dissarmed by the next integration into the UE of other orthodox nations like Serbia and Macedonia, but also muslim natoions like Albania, Bosnia-Hertzegovina or Kosovo. At the International Conference in Seul in 1994, I have come against the theory of inadeqaucy to the loberal democracy of the Asian nations. In this case also the reality of building sustainable democratic systems in countries with high economic development and life standards like Japan and South Korea deny this theory. The way towards the liberal democracy is open for many types of civilization.
The second approach describes the world as uni-multipolar, with an anarchic periphery. Within this context, the USA can not act alone, but only together with other powers. The West itself is multipolar and irregular. This theoretical approach is closer to reality and is confirmed by the recent evolutions.
The fact that when facing the events in Kosovo and Georgia, the NATO and EU member countries shown different positions, just like regarding the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has proved that the Western multipolarity is a fact. It is generated by the very domestic democracy and by the one within the international institutions and bodies it had created.
The examples presented above still keep within the Westfalian concept according to which only the states are subject of international law.
On the future, the European and world security, as well as each state security should adapt to the postmodern society. The states will probably remain for a long time from now on not only the security subjects, but also its guarantees. Meanwhile we are also forced to take into account the fact that the postmodern world created solidarities of racial, ethical, sexual groups that transcend the states. Thus, we should not see the state security only as a goal, but also as a way to assure the security for different groups and for citizens seen as persons with own interests and options.
The world economic crisis led to a positive reassessment of the state role as protector of the citizens against abuses coming from those who assured the 20th century states progress and prosperity: transnational economic and financial companies. A partnership between the private sector and the civil society promoting the corporate social responsibility may create the trust necessary to overcome present and future crises.
In order to achieve all these things we need a better understanding of the globalized world. It can be characterized as a risk society to which a great number of citizens have already adapted. These global citizens, especially young people under 40 years, do not assume long term identities and loyalties, but only pragmatic and present ones. They are very active and mobile and settle according to each person’s character in areas offering them a minimum of risk or, on the contrary, a maximum of opportunity. This kind of population is expected to raise its number during the next years. This trend is accompanied by another one where groups or persons lead their life according to the former bipolar world, in black and white, even though the religious or ethnical intolerances have replaced the ideological ones. They represent a potential anarchy group. Even if these trends display in a flat world, there are also relicts of old societies separated through deep fissures from the post-modern or modern world. We find them in Africa, in some regions in Asia or even in Latin America. This is why the international community approach on every topic should take into account the perceptions of each actor involved.
In our contemporary world, states can no longer be conventionally divided in blocks because the reactions following different interests lead to changing the alliances and the opposite parts on different topics or subjects. On one hand, it is a reflex of the contemporary world democratization, but also of the governments’ pragmatism forced to respond to the needs of their own citizens.
Problems of the transition towards democracy, along with the separatism and the delay in consolidating the new independent states create, on their turn; risks directly connected to the states and governments political legitimacy. The mafia type cores nourishing separatism and blocking the new states consolidation put a question mark on the capability of fighting the institutionalized corruption. A threat associated to the democracy global model is the populism. Populism can lead to weakening the power and efficiency of the key democratic institutions, of the independency of justice, mass media and army. The elements along with the existing old frozen conflicts arouse concerns both about the dividing tendencies within the new independent states, but also about the terrorist elements transit to Europe as well as about maintaining the backward mentalities generating attractiveness towards authoritarian administrative models.
Can we face such diverse challenges? With what kind of arguments? With what means?
Conflict prevention and post-conflict situations management require a more comprehensive perspective that will allow the development of the global or regional institutions complementarity. A balanced vision should take into account the interests of different ethnical and religious communities, the states obligations and their citizens’ natural rights, the conjunctural and long-term interests of the regional actors. It cannot be elaborated without involving representatives competent to express the voices plurality, questions and aspirations from billions of people. Political structures should be supplemented by civil society structures dedicated to world security issues. Only such a process to consolidate the respect for human, democracy and common security may reach the depth that only peoples’ real will can guarantee.
The preventive vocation will constitute the keystone of its short term activities. This fact involves a raising complexity of the analyses and action ways. The repetitive crises have shown that unfortunately punctual preventive interventions are not enough and should be inserted in a complex of long term actions which needs to take into account the overall aspects of some regions and the overall aspects of the problems that might create destabilize, starting with economic difficulties and going to the stereotypes anchored in conflictual mentalities, from the communication ways precariousness to the security unconventional risks.
Cultural diplomacy can work as a laboratory where is created the global security political culture through mutual trust, negotiation and cooperation. It can identify the major risks, can conceive and apply programs of mutual trust enhancement, both within countries with a high-risk degree, but also within conflict potential regions.
Within this laboratory, I believe that exists a privileged place for the former presidents in term during the transition from the communist dictatorships to the democratic states status. Their civic and reformer political leaders experience, their mutual relationships and the prestige they have gained can play a role both in conflict defusing, but also in reconceiving long-term strategies.
The important contribution of the preventive cultural diplomacy to the security architecture in Europe and in the entire world will be, with no doubt, the one of wars that would have not taken place due to creating a few democratic dialogue mechanisms and to strengthening of the collaboration with the civil society.