Entries with Categories Global Affairs World order, diplomacy and governance .

essay / Alejandro Palacios

The violent revolts in Nicaragua, the war in Syria or the status in Yemen are examples of some of the most bloody episodes that are being experienced around the world. Such episodes are, for the most part, aggravated by the disintegrative mentality that prevails in a large part of the world's societies. The promotion of an inclusive culture of peace is one of the challenges posed by the Norwegian sociologist and mathematician Johan Galtung.

Johan Galtung is considered, due to his long trajectory and wide academic experience, as one of the best experts in the topic of alternative conflict resolution. In addition, he has been the founder of two of the most renowned institutions in the field of conflict resolution, such as the high school International Peace research in Oslo (1959) and the Journal of research on Peace (1964). As a result, his books and essays have been widely echoed in the community of experts in this subject. Here we will focus especially on his work "After Violence, 3Rs: Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Resolution", published in 1999 and still very relevant today, as it sheds light on the causes of the conflict and its possible solutions.

His main thesis is that conflict is innate in society as there are limited resources and overlapping interests, but whether these lead to violence depends on the will of the individual. In his own words: "Violence is not like eating or sexual relations, which are found all over the world with slight variations". That is why the author rejects Hobbes' thesis in the famous sentence "Homo homini lupus", i.e. that man, in his state of nature, tends to his extinction. From this point Galtung provides a series of aspects that the peace worker must take into account for the correct resolution of a conflict.

Galtung emphasizes the need for a deep analysis of the conflict in order to understand its multidimensionality. Otherwise, the peace worker may misdiagnose the conflict. He puts it this way: "One of the problems is not understanding that conflict has a broader dimension. Therefore, sometimes it may not be given the right treatment (as if the doctor says that an ankle inflammation is an ankle disease and not a heart dysfunction // or hunger as insufficient food intake and not a social problem)".

To make this task somewhat simpler, Galtung provides us with two triangles of violence, which are related to each other. The first is the ABC triangle: Attitudes adopted towards conflict or peace-making; behaviors adopted or peace-keeping; and contradiction underlying the (root) conflict or peace-building. The second triangle indicates that there are two types of violence: the visible and the invisible. The visible is direct violence and the invisible is cultural violence (which causes or feeds direct violence) and structural violence. This is why the author insists on the importance of promoting a culture of peace in which peaceful mechanisms to resolve a conflict without resorting to violence predominate, i.e. a culture based on non-violence, empathy and creativity (to go beyond the mental Structures of the parties to a conflict). Thus, the so-called golden rule "Don't do to others what you wouldn't want them to do to you," he says, is a good way to start forging such a culture. Although this, he says, has one problem: that tastes differ.



Politics, according to Galtung, can help create this culture, which he considers essential to avoid violence as much as possible. Galtung considers democracy to be the best system for creating what he calls a "culture of peace". However, he himself makes a number of criticisms of this political system. First of all, he claims that democracy is equivalent to the dictatorship of the 51% against the rest. This is something that, however, is mitigated thanks to human rights, as he himself acknowledges. Secondly, the author asserts that the sum of all democracies is not universal democracy. An action that affects other states does not have legitimacy just because it has been adopted democratically (something mitigated by international organizations, but which can lead to the status described in the first place). The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that democracy entails a certain Degree of structural violence, but less than with other systems of government.

Finally, Galtung makes a comparison between the Western and Eastern ways of resolving a dispute from the perspective of the temporal dimension of a conflict. While the Western one makes use of a diachronic approach of time, i.e. over time, the Eastern one makes use of a synchronic approach of time, i.e. at the same time. At summary, the Eastern perspective works in the three areas of resolution, reconciliation and reconstruction (the 3Rs) successively and not one after the other, as does the Western world.

Experts on subject of conflicts make a clear distinction between three types of conflicts. On the one hand we have direct violence staff (verbal or physical); indirect structural violence (political and economic exploitation); finally, there is cultural violence. In particular, the English economist Kenneth Boulding criticizes Galtung's analysis on the grounds that it analyzes conflicts from a purely structuralist perspective. In this way, he criticizes, on the one hand, that the method used is very taxonomic, since, according to Boulding, "taxonomy is a convenience of the human mind rather than a description of reality". On the other hand, Galtung's emphasis on equality, as opposed to hierarchies, for conflict mitigation is criticized, since, according to the Briton, Galtung does not take into account that such equality has negative consequences in terms of quality of life and freedom.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Global Testing

essay / María Estrada

development One year after the ruling of the African Court of Human Rights recognizing the Ogiek's right to their land - long since seized by the Kenyan government for logging - it may be timely to review the legal basis for the collective land rights of indigenous peoples and how their recognition can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG 2030).

The Ogiek are a hunting and gathering people who since ancient times have inhabited the Mau Forest in the Tinet Forest in Molo, Nakuru District. Their existence and continuity depend on the forests because of the close social, spiritual and cultural ties that bind them to them. The May 2017 ruling handed down by the African Court of Human Rights forced a change of attitude on the part of the Kenyan government. The Court based its ruling on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations in September 2007, in whose vote Kenya abstained.

The United Nations Declaration recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to preserve and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to work for their development of agreement to their aspirations and needs. In its preamble, the text recognizes "the particular contribution of indigenous and tribal peoples to cultural diversity, to the social and ecological harmony of humankind and to international cooperation and understanding". development It is also worth considering agreement 107 of the ILO of 1957, which states: "The Declaration of Philadelphia affirms that all human beings have the right to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual welfare in conditions of freedom and dignity, of economic security and equal opportunity".

International law distinguishes between the notions of "land" and "territory" to highlight the difference between a given physical or geographic space (the portion of land itself) and the reproduction or manifestation of the cultural life associated with that space. This cultural life is expressed through different cultural patterns linked to ways of using the land and its resources, ceremonial and spiritual ties and multiple ways of being and conceiving the habitat and the world. The notion of territory does not protect an economic value, but the value of life in general and of cultural life in particular. What is then the amount of land that should be legally regularized in favor of a given people or community? The lands to be handed over must respect the criteria of suitability, sufficiency and traditionality. In other words, they must be of sufficient size and quality to allow the people or community to develop their life plan, in accordance with their options and priorities of development, to live with dignity as an organized people in accordance with their cultural identity, and to guarantee their historical and cultural continuity. The notion of traditionality defines as belonging to a community those territorial spaces that are in the collective report of current generations and that are still recognized as the natural habitat of the people in question, whether it is entirely under their control or has been subject to usurpation and dismemberment in recent years.

Based on these concepts, international law and the domestic legislation of the countries have defined that the right to land and territory implies: a) the submission of lands that are used by the people and community, respecting the different modalities of land and resource use; b) the restitution of lands involuntarily lost and to which they have traditionally had access, and c) the submission of additional or complementary lands to ensure the development and continuity of the people or community.

In addition to these sources of international law, there are other initiatives that would inevitably have led to the triumph of the Ogieks, thanks to the changes that global geopolitics has been undergoing in recent decades.

Firstly, more and more states in the international community are joining the initiatives of sustainable development models, either under pressure from non-state actors such as NGOs or activist groups, or on their own initiative, as governments realize that it is essential to include environmental security in their defense policies. In the field of strategic programs of study , international politics has been dominated since the Cold War by the realist current. This current has a very narrow vision, and considers war and conflict as inherent features of the international system. States are the main actors, and their goal is the accumulation of power, defined in terms of military capability. This approach has remained predominant even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, although new perspectives have gradually been introduced. New currents have emerged that criticize the limited vision of the traditional currents, arguing that there are other non-military factors that are relevant when it comes to recognizing threats to the security of nations and individuals. Several authors, such as Dalby, Floyd or Mathew, among others, believe that it is necessary to begin to include and give priority to environmental security in the international diary ; in other words, to "securitize" the topic. source Some seven million people die every year as a result of climate change, and resource scarcity is often a source of conflict, especially in the least developed countries.

Secondly, in 2015, the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 were announced, which are grouped into 17 goals and 169 targets. These were proposed in 2014 at the United Nations lecture "Transforming our World", which analyzed the results of the Millennium development Goals (MDGs) of 2000. The MDGs achieved progress in areas such as reducing the issue number of people below the poverty line, but in other areas such as the environment there were setbacks. This time, the SDGs put on the table a more integral and comprehensive diary and have sustainability as a central element, ensuring equitable growth. The great challenge in this case will be their implementation, since the goals are not entirely clear and do not require specific commitments, so there is a risk that states will shirk their commitment. Among the established objectives, two are worth mentioning for the topic we are dealing with. The goal 13 speaks of "taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts" and the goal 15 of "protecting, restoring and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss". The sustainability strategy proposed by the SDGs includes maintaining the integrity of ecosystems through an efficient management of natural resources and a decoupling of environmental pressures from economic growth.

That said, and returning to the Ogiek, there are those who claim that their establishment in the Mau forest can help the conservation of the space, which would be in line with goal 15. The Ogiek consider themselves the guardians of the forest, and believe that it is their duty to contribute to the conservation of the forest and all the species that inhabit it. In African culture - without trying to overgeneralize - the link with the land is more than historical and cultural, it is also a spiritual link. It is there where their ancestors reside, whose spirits guard the people. In addition, one of the main activities of the Ogiek is the production of honey. Therefore, the free disposal of the forest by the Kenyan government would mean the moral and existential uprooting of these people, in addition to other serious consequences for climate change. The forest largely prevents droughts and financial aid to the cohesion of the soil.

In addition to this, we must also take into account the unsustainability of the current capitalist production and consumption model , which only generates inequality through a ferocious skill that is unfair to the most marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples. The Kenyan government justifies uncontrolled logging as necessary for development and income generation. However, other lifestyles must be considered, which in their own way allow for an equally comprehensive development for the people. In addition to preserving diversity and promote cultural enrichment, the lifestyle of the Ogiek people would be the solution for the sustainable development pursued by the SDGs.

In light of this case, it is necessary to raise the idea that perhaps elsewhere on the planet the solution for the conservation of the environment and species is to let the locals who know the land take care of it. This issue concerns many groups of people. In Latin America, disputes are frequent because of abuses by political entities against indigenous peoples, who likewise go to court to seek protection of their rights (to give examples). It is therefore likely that the imposition of a capitalist model without strong social considerations will be counterproductive in terms of achieving development, considered as that which raises people's standard of living. New steps must now find their basis in a broader conception of development, taking into account the diversity of lifestyles in the world, and seeing in the willingness of indigenous peoples to live in and protect forests an opportunity that guarantees forest conservation.

Categories Global Affairs: Africa Trials World order, diplomacy and governance

Central America's Northern Triangle migrants look to the U.S., Nicaragua's to Costa Rica

While migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras continue to try to reach the United States, those from Nicaragua have preferred to travel to Costa Rica in recent years. The restrictions put in place by the Trump Administration and the deterioration of the Costa Rican economic boom are reducing the flows, but this migratory divide in Central America remains for the time being.

Border crossing between Mexico and Belize

▲Belize-Mexico border crossing [Marrovi/CC].

article / Celia Olivar Gil

When comparing the Degree of development of the Central American countries, the different human flows operating in the region are well understood. The United States is the great migratory magnet, but Costa Rica is also to some extent a pole of attraction, evidently to a lesser extent Degree. Thus, the five Central American countries with the highest poverty rates -Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Belize- share their migratory orientation: the first four maintain important flows to the United States, while in recent years Nicaragua has opted more for Costa Rica, given its proximity.

Migration from the Northern Triangle to the U.S.

Nearly 500,000 people try every year to cross Mexico's southern border with the goal to reach the United States. Most of them come from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the Central American region known as the Northern Triangle, which is currently one of the most violent in the world. The reasons that lead this high issue number of citizens from the Northern Triangle to migrate, many illegally, are various:

On the one hand, there are reasons that could be described as structural: the porousness of the border, the complexity and high costs of regularization processes for migration, the lack of commitment by employers to regularize migrant workers, and the insufficient capacity of governments to establish migration laws.

There are also clear economic reasons: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have high poverty rates, at 67.7%, 74.3% and 41.6%, respectively, of their inhabitants. presentation Difficulties in budgetary income and pronounced social inequality mean that public services, such as Education and healthcare, are deficient for a large part of the population.

Perhaps the most compelling reason is the lack of security. Many of those leaving these three countries cite insecurity and violence as the main reason for their departure. The level of criminal violence in the Northern Triangle reaches levels similar to those of an armed conflict. In El Salvador, a total of 6,650 intentional homicides were registered in 2015; in Honduras, 8,035, and in Guatemala, 4,778.

All these reasons push Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans to migrate to the United States, who on their journey north use three main routes to cross Mexico: the one that crosses the country diagonally until reaching the area of Tijuana, the one that advances through central Mexico to Ciudad Juarez and the one that seeks to enter the US through the Rio Bravo valley. subject Along these routes, migrants face many risks, such as falling victim to criminal organizations and suffering all kinds of abuses (kidnapping, torture, rape, robbery, extortion...), which can not only cause immediate physical injuries and trauma, but can also leave serious long-term consequences deadline.

Despite all these difficulties, citizens of the Northern Triangle continue to choose the United States as their migration destination. This is mainly due to the attraction of the economic potential of a country like the USA, at status of plenary session of the Executive Council employment ; to its relative geographic proximity (it is possible to arrive by land crossing only one or two countries), and to the human relations created since the 1980s, when the USA began to be goal for those fleeing the civil wars of a politically unstable Central America with economic difficulties, which created a migratory tradition, consolidated by family connections and the protection offered to the newcomers by the already established nationals. During this period, the Central American population in the U.S. tripled. Today, 82.9% of Central American immigrants in the U.S. live in the United States.


The U.S. immigration 'watershed

The American immigration 'watershed' [with ABC's authorization].


Migration from Nicaragua to Costa Rica

If emigration from northern Central America has been directed towards the United States, emigration from southern Central America has had more destinations. If Hondurans have looked to the north, in recent years their Nicaraguan neighbors have looked somewhat more to the south. The Coco River, which divides Honduras and Nicaragua, has become a sort of migratory'watershed'.

Certainly there are more Nicaraguans officially residing in the U.S. (over 400,000) than in Costa Rica (close to 300,000), but in recent years the issue of new residents has increased more in Costa Rican territory. In the last decade, from agreement with an OAS report (pages 159 and 188), the US has granted permanent residency program permission to a average of 3,500 Nicaraguans each year, while Costa Rica has granted about 5,000 from average, reaching a record 14,779 in 2013. Moreover, the proportional weight of Nicaraguan migration in Costa Rica, a country of 4.9 million inhabitants, is large: in 2016, some 440,000 Nicaraguans entered the neighboring country, and as many exits were recorded, indicating a significant cross-border mobility and suggesting that many workers temporarily return to Nicaragua to circumvent the requirements de extranjería.

Costa Rica is seen in certain aspects in Latin America as Switzerland in Europe, that is, as an institutionally solid, politically stable and economically favorable country. This means that the emigration of Costa Ricans is not extreme and that people come from other places, so that Costa Rica is the country with the highest net migration in Latin America, with 9% of the Costa Rican population of foreign origin.

Since its independence in the 1820s, Costa Rica has remained one of the Central American countries with the least amount of serious conflicts. For this reason, during the 1970s and 1980s it was a refuge for many Nicaraguans fleeing the Somoza dictatorship and the Sandinista revolution. Now, however, they do not emigrate for security reasons, since Nicaragua is one of the least violent countries in Latin America, even below Costa Rica's figures. This migratory flow is due to economic reasons: Costa Rica's higher development is reflected in the poverty rate, which is 18.6%, compared to Nicaragua's 58.3%; in fact, Nicaragua is the poorest country in the Americas after Haiti.

Likewise, Nicaraguans have a special preference for choosing Costa Rica as a destination because of its geographic proximity, which allows them to move frequently between the two countries and to maintain to a certain extent family coexistence; the use of the same language, and other cultural similarities.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

[Omar Jaén Suárez, 500 years of the Pacific Basin. Towards a global history. Ediciones Doce Calles, Aranjuez 2016, 637 pages]


review / Emili J. Blasco

In just thirty years, between Columbus' arrival in America in 1492 and Elcano's return to Cadiz after his round-the-world voyage in 1522, Spain added to its domain not only a new continent, but also a new ocean. We all know about Spain's Atlantic dimension, but we often disregard its peaceful dimension. During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Pacific Ocean was primarily under Spanish dominion. Spain was the European power present for the longest time and with the greatest weight in the entire basin of what began to be called the South Sea. Spain was the first navy that regularly patrolled its waters - the Armada del Sur, based in El Callao, Peru - and Spain was the first trade route that periodically crossed it from side to side - the Manila galleon, between the Philippines and Mexico.

500 years of the Pacific Basin. Towards a global history

In "500 years of the Pacific Basin. Toward a global history", Panamanian diplomat and historian Omar Jaén Suárez does not limit himself to documenting that Spanish and then Hispanic presence in a vast space -one third of the Earth's sphere and half of its waters- whose eastern margin is the coast of Spanish America. As degree scroll indicates, his is a global history. But to approach the last half millennium means that it starts from the fact that the Spanish conquered the Pacific Ocean and that this is a global history. finding of the Pacific by the Spaniards and that determines the approach of the narration.

If Anglo-Saxon historiography would have perhaps used another prism, in this book the accent is placed on the development of the entire Pacific account from the arrival of the first Europeans, with Nuñez de Balboa at the head. Without forgetting the colonizing facts of other powers, the author details aspects that the Spanish do forget, such as the permanent base that Spain had in Formosa (today Taiwan), the attempts of the Crown to keep Tahiti or the voyages through Alaska in search of a sea passage to the north of America, which had as a logistic point the island of Quadra and Vancouver, the great Canadian city today known only by the second part of that name (in fact, Spain neglected to populate Oregon, more interested in the Philippines and trade with the Moluccas): quite a pioneering "turn to Asia").

Being from Panama gives Omar Jaén, who has also lived in Spain, a special sensitivity for his subject study. The Panamanian isthmus has always been the key to the South Sea for the Old World; with the construction of the canal, Panama is also a transit point between East and West.

The careful edition of this work adds an indisputable value. Almost eight hundred maps, graphs, engravings and photographs make it especially visual. The quantity of illustrations, many in full color, and the good weight of the paper make the volume thicker, in a printing that constitutes a luxury for anyone interested in the Pacific. Ediciones Doce Calles has taken great care with this first degree scroll of a new collection, Pictura Mundi, dedicated to celebrating travels, explorations and geographical discoveries.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Latin America

essay / Túlio Dias de Assis [English version].

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, surprised in December with another of his statements, which, like many previous ones, was not without controversy. This time the surprise topic was the advertisement of the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, thus consummating the recognition of the ancient city as the capital of the only Jewish state in the world today: Israel.

Trump's controversial advertisement , on an issue as controversial as it is sensitive, was criticized internationally and had little foreign support. Nevertheless, a few countries joined the U.S. initiative, and a few others expressed ambiguity. Among these, several European Union countries were singled out by the media. Has there really been a lack of internal cohesion within the Union on this issue?

Why Jerusalem matters

First of all, it is worth analyzing status in more detail, starting with a simple question: Why is Jerusalem so important? There are several factors that make Hierosolyma, Yerushalayim, Al-quds or simply Jerusalem so important not only regionally, but also globally, among which the following three stand out: its historical relevance, its religious importance and its geostrategic value.

Historical relevance. It is one of the oldest human settlements in the world, tracing its earliest origins to the fourth millennium BC. Apart from being the historical capital of both the region of Palestine or Canaan, as well as of the various Jewish kingdoms established throughout the first millennium BC in that part of the Levant.

Religious importance. It is a very sacred city for the three major monotheistic religions of the world, each for its own reasons: for Christianity, mainly because it is where the crucifixion of Christ took place; for Islam, apart from being the city of several prophets - shared in the beliefs of the other Abrahamic religions - and a place of pilgrimage, it is also where Muhammad made his well-known night journey; and obviously, for Judaism, for historical reasons and also because it is where the sacred Temple of Solomon was built.

Geostrategic value. At the geostrategic level it also has a great relevance, since it is a crucial point that connects the Levantine Mediterranean coast with the Jordan Valley. Therefore, its owner would have under its control a great geostrategic advantage in the Levant region.

It is not surprising, then, that the status of this city is one of the main points of conflict in the peace negotiations between the two peoples, as is well known. Hence, Trump's intervention has not been of great financial aid help in resuming the peace process; rather, it could be argued, it has been quite the opposite: it has provoked an outcry not only from the local Palestinians, but from the entire Arab world, thus further destabilizing the region. There have been counter-reactions from Hamas, Hezbollah and also from several Islamic governments in the Middle East (among them even Erdogan's, despite the fact that the Republic of Turkey is de jure a secular state). Hamas called for an intifada against Israel: the multiple demonstrations in the Palestinian territories ended with several hundred wounded and a dozen dead, due to clashes with Israeli police forces.

Europe's position

Europe, for its part, is trying to maintain a rather more neutral and balanced position, aimed at achieving regional peace. The European Union's willingness to mediate mainly takes into account the resolutions passed by the UN on this problematic issue topic. The European declarations, considered somewhat unrealistic and utopian from the perspective of many Israelis, are based on four essential points: the two states, refugees, security and the status of Jerusalem.

The existence of two states. According to the EU, a one-state solution would be contrary to the interests of both parties, since it would impose the sovereignty of one of the peoples over that of the other. Therefore, Brussels believes that a two-state solution would be more appropriate: each nation would have its own state and the borders between the two would be based on those in force on June 4, 1967, before the Six-Day War. Even so, changes to these sovereignty boundaries would be allowed, provided both sides so desired and approved.

The refugee issue. The EU believes that durable measures should be taken on the issue of Palestinian refugees outside their homeland (especially in neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan), with the goal that they can return to their country.

Security. Another key issue for the Europeans would be the question of security, for both sides: On the one hand, measures should be put in place to put an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On the other hand, the problem of Palestinian terrorism in the area should be tackled with effective measures.

Status of Jerusalem. Taking into account the importance of this city, Brussels considers that there would be no better solution than a resolution in which there would be shared sovereignty between the two hypothetical states. In addition, the holy city of the three religions would also be the capital of both states simultaneously.

However, as previously mentioned, the position of several member states was mistrusted, even to the point of suspecting possible support for the American decision. This was inferred from states such as the Czech Republic or Hungary, due to some statements taken out of context or poorly explained, which made it appear that the dissidence between Brussels and Visegrad continued to grow. However, if there is one thing that stands out in the European response, it is unity and internal coherence.

The Czech government did no more than recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, just as it will do with East Jerusalem once Palestine regains sovereignty over its territory. The Magyar government did not contradict the European positions either, as its only statements were that Europe should not have to pronounce itself on US diplomatic actions. Subsequently, the Hungarian prime minister clarified that the EU should stand firm on the policy it has defended so far and that this is de facto the Magyar position on the matter. Furthermore, French President Emmanuel Macron, during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, already mentioned that France did not support Trump's decision on Jerusalem, and likewise Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, spoke to him, maintaining the neutral mediating stance that the EU has assumed so far.

Therefore, neither the EU nor any of its member states have shown any sign of support for the unilateral American decision. Europeans remain united in their diversity, quoniam "In varietate concordia".



European Union External Action, Middle East Peace process, 15/06/2016 - 12:32

European Council on Foreign Relations, EU backed into a corner on Israel-PalestineCommentary by Hugh Lovatt, 12th December, 2017

Politico, EU dismisses Netanyahu's Jerusalem prediction, by Jacopo Barigazzi, 12/11/17, 12:29 PM CET

EU Observer, Two EU states break ranks on Jerusalem, by Andrew Rettman, 7th Dec 2017, 16:36

Website of the Hungarian Government, Hungary has successfully represented its position on the issue of Jerusalem, December 15th, 2017

France Diplomacy, Israel/Palestinian Territories - Relations with the European Union

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Position of MFA to Issue of Jerusalem, 06.12.2017 - 20:00

European Union External Action, Netanyahu realised there is full EU unity on Jerusalem, Mogherini says after EU Foreign Affairs Council, 12/12/2017 - 18:06

European Union External Action, Middle East: EU stands by two-State solution for Israel and Palestine; Iran nuclear deal, 05/12/2017 - 18:22

European Union External Action, EU won't give up on peace in the Middle East, says Mogherini, 19/09/2017 - 18:33

The Guardian, Death toll rises to 12 in violence after Trump's Jerusalem recognition, Associated Press in Gaza, Sun 24 Dec 2017 18.55 GMT

El País, Hamas announces a third intifada over recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital, Madrid 7 DEC 2017 - 17:49 CET

Le Parisien, Trump sur Jérusalem : "C'est une nouvelle nouvelle humiliation inflicée au monde arabe"., International, par Myriam Encaoua, 08 décembre 2017, 9h47

Radio France Internationale, Vives reacts to Trump's announcement on Jerusalem, 06-12-2017

BBC, Muslim nations urge recognition of East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital, 13 December 2017

Categories Global Affairs: European Union Middle East World order, diplomacy and governance Essays Israel and Palestine

Viktor Orban, at a rally near the Romanian border in May 2017.

▲Viktor Orban, at a rally near the Romanian border in May 2017 [Károly Árvai/Hungarian government].

ANALYSIS / Elena López-Doriga

On April 8, 2018, parliamentary elections were held in Hungary for the renewal of the 199 members of the National Assembly, the only chamber of the Hungarian Parliament. The high turnout of 68.13% exceeded that of the 2010 elections, when 64.36% of the electoral roll turned out to vote, a record high not seen since 2002. Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, secured a fourth term, the third in a row, as his party, Fidesz, and its ally, the Christian Democratic People's Party, won 134 of the 199 seats. Orban, the longest-serving European leader as head of government after Angela Merkel, has in some respects become as influential a leader as the German chancellor.

These electoral data -the high turnout and the broad support achieved by a leader not well regarded by all in Brussels- raise some questions. Why has there been so much social mobilization at the time of voting? Why is the result of these elections in the spotlight of the European Union?

Historical background

Hungary is a country located in Central Europe bordering Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. The second largest river in Europe, the Danube, crosses the entire country and divides the capital of Budapest into two different territories (Buda and Pest).

Hungary joined the European Union in 2004. This event was longed for by Hungarians as they saw it as an advance in their democracy, a step forward for the country's development and a rapprochement with the admired West. It was the desire to make a change of course in their history, since, after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the country lived under two totalitarian regimes since World War II: first under the rule of the Arrow Cross Party (fascist, pro-German and anti-Semitic), during which 80,000 people were deported to Auschwitz, and later by the occupation of the Soviet Union and its post-war policies. In those times individual freedoms and freedom of speech ceased to exist, arbitrary imprisonment became commonplace, and the Hungarian secret police carried out series of purges both within and outside the Party hierarchies. Thus, Hungarian society suffered great repression from the beginning of World War II in 1945, which did not stop until the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.

In economic terms, the transition from communism to capitalism was very hard for vast social sectors. From a centralized Economics with highly protected sectors and heavy agricultural subsidies, a particularly severe adjustment plan was adopted by the government elected in March 1990 in the first free elections.

Accession to the European Union symbolized a turning point in Hungary's history, in a process of incorporation to the West that was previously marked by entrance in NATO in 1999. Becoming part of the EU was the step towards the democracy that Hungary desired, and this broad social consensus was evidenced by the majority support that the accession obtained - 83% of the votes - in the referendum of 2003.

Hungary in the European Union

Becoming a new EU member had a positive impact on Hungary's Economics , leading to an obvious development and providing competitive advantages for foreign companies establishing a permanent presence in the country. But despite these appreciable advances and the enthusiasm shown by Hungary upon accession to the EU, the picture has changed a lot since then, so that Euroskepticism has spread markedly among Hungarians. In recent years, a strong disagreement with the Brussels policies adopted during the 2015 refugee crisis has emerged in the domestic public opinion.

That year, Brussels decided to relocate the 120,000 refugees who had arrived in Hungary (from Syria, who were moving along the Balkan route to Germany and Austria) and Italy (mostly from North Africa). To distribute the refugees, quotas were established, setting the issue number of refugees that each country should take in based on its size and GDP. The quota policy was challenged by the group Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Romania. Hungary erected a fence several hundred kilometers long on its southern border and refused to accept the reception quotas.

This attitude of closing borders and refusing to take in refugees was criticized by the leaders of the Union, who went so far as to threaten these countries with sanctions. The difficulty of a consensus led to the signing in 2016 of a agreement with Turkey so that this country would retain the flow of Syrian refugees. In 2017 the quotas for the distribution through the EU of the refugees who had previously arrived expired, without fill in thus the relocation initially raised. Although the moment of greatest political confrontation on this issue in the EU has passed, the refugee crisis has created a great divergence between the two targeted blocs, eroding the supposedly common European project .

In light of this status, Hungary's parliamentary elections on April 8, 2018 were particularly important, as the citizens of that country were going to have the opportunity to pronounce themselves on the ongoing pulse between Budapest and Brussels.

The main candidates

Going into the election, the front-runner was the coalition of the conservative Fidesz party and the Christian Democratic People's Party, with 54-year-old Viktor Orbán as candidate. Orbán first came to prominence in 1989 when, at the age of 26, he defied the communist regime and began to champion liberal principles, making him a symbol of Hungarians' aspirations to break free from totalitarianism and embrace Western values. However, his return to power in 2010, after a first term in office between 1998 and 2002, was marked by a shift towards a conservative tendency, characterized by greater control over the Economics, the media and the judiciary. Orban claims to be an advocate of an "illiberal democracy": a system in which, although the Constitution may formally limit the powers of the Government, in internship certain freedoms such as freedom of speech or thought are restricted. Orban often puts to test the red lines of the EU by presenting himself as a defender of a "Christian Europe" and detractor of irregular immigration.

The party that intended to pose the main electoral challenge to Fidesz, taking away a good part of its voters, was surprisingly one located even further to the right: Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary), founded in 2003 and considered one of the most powerful extreme right-wing political organizations in the European Union. For years, this party did not hide its xenophobic, anti-Roma, anti-Semitic, nationalist and radically opposed to the prevailing political system in the EU, betting on a Hungary outside it. However, from 2013 onwards he moderated his language. While Orban was adopting an increasingly radical line, the leader of Jobbik, Gábor Vona, was tempering the positions of his party to present it as a conservative option, alternative to Fidesz, capable of attracting votes from the center. Gyöngyösi, one of the party's nationalist leaders, said: "We are the party of the 21st century, while Fidesz is from the last century and represents the old. The division between left and right no longer makes sense, it is part of the past, of the old politics".

On the other side of the political spectrum, a list formed by the Socialist Party(MSZP) and the center-left environmentalist party Parbeszed ("Dialogue"), headed by a leader of the latter, Gargely Karacsony, was running in the elections. The left-wing candidate had broad support from the MSZP, but not from his former colleagues in the environmentalist LMP party, from which he split five years ago, which could lead to a split vote.


Completed a second fence at the border with Serbia in April 2017.

Completed a second fence at the border with Serbia, in April 2017 [Gergely Botár/Hungarian government].


The election campaign

During the campaign there was speculation about a possible loss of votes for Fidesz due to a series of corruption scandals involving government officials accused of embezzling European aid money. Jobbik and other groups of civil service examination took advantage of this status to promote themselves as anti-corruption parties, focusing a good part of their campaign on this issue and advocating for an improvement of public services, especially healthcare. 

However, the most prominent topic of the election campaign was not corruption, the malfunctioning of the public health system or low wages, but immigration. The Orbán government had refused to accept the refugee quotas imposed by the EU from Brussels, arguing that taking in migrants is a matter of domestic policy in which foreign organizations should not intervene. He insisted that Hungary has the right to refuse to receive immigrants, especially if they are Muslims, reiterating his rejection of multiculturalism, which he considers a mere illusion. Orbán was of the opinion that the refugees arriving at Hungary's gates were not fighting for their lives, but were economic migrants in search of a better life. Therefore, Orbán's political campaign was a clear message: Illegal immigrants in Hungary: yes or no? Who should decide about Hungary's future, the Hungarians or Brussels?

Reducing the electoral call to one question had the main effect of a broad social mobilization. According to civil service examination, Orbán used the topic of migration to draw popular attention away from widespread corruption.

Another point core topic in Fidesz's political campaign was the constant accusations against George Soros, whom Orbán identified as the main enemy of the State. Soros is an American billionaire, of Jewish-Hungarian origin, who through his Open Society Foundation (OSF) finances various NGOs dedicated to promote liberal, progressive and multicultural values in different parts of the world. In 1989 Soros funded Viktor Orban to study in England, and in 2010 he donated $1 million to his government to help with environmental cleanup after a chemical accident. But Soros' reputation in Hungary took a hit during the 2015 migration crisis. His advocacy of human attention to refugees ran up against Orban's attitude. During the campaign, the latter accused Soros of using OSF to "flood" Europe with a million migrants a year and undermine the continent's "Christian culture."

In addition, prior to the elections, Fidesz passed an amendment to the Hungarian higher Education law, which sets new conditions for foreign universities in Hungary, something that has been seen as a direct attack on the Central European University of Budapest. The Soros-funded institution is highly regarded for promoting critical thinking, liberal values and academic freedom. The new legislation threatens university autonomy, the free hiring of professors and the international character of degrees.

The European Commission showed its differences with the Orbán government on several of the issues that occupied the electoral campaign. Thus, it expressed its dissatisfaction with the new university law, considering that it is not compatible with the fundamental freedoms of the EU internal market, as it "would violate the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment". He also criticized that Orbán had not complied with the refugee quota, despite the ruling of the Court of Justice, and that he had campaigned using the disagreement he has with the EU for electoral purposes.

The result of the elections

In the April 8, 2018 elections, the Fidesz party (in its alliance with the Christian Democratic People's Party) won a third consecutive wide victory, even bigger than the previous one, with almost half of the popular vote (48.89%) and its third two-thirds absolute majority (134 out of 199 seats). It was the first time since the fall of communism in 1989 that a party had won three elections in a row.

The Jobbik party managed to become the leading party on civil service examination, coming in second place with 19.33% of the vote and 25 seats. However, its vote growth was minimal and it gained only two extra seats, remaining virtually stagnant at the 2014 figures. Jobbik's second place was rather propitiated by the weakness of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), whose debacle pushed it into third place, with 12.25% of the vote and 20 seats. It was the first time since 1990 that the MSZP did not come in first or second place, putting an end to the bipartisanship it had maintained with Fidesz since 1998.

On the other hand, since its return to government in 2010, Fidesz has significantly modified the electoral system, reducing the issue number of legislators from 386 to 199 and eliminating the second round, which does not favor the smaller parties, which could form alliances between rounds of voting. By securing two thirds of the chamber, Fidesz will be able to continue governing comfortably and reforming the Constitution to suit itself.

EU reaction

A week after the elections, tens of thousands of opponents took to the streets of Budapest, disagreeing with an electoral system described as "unfair", which has given Prime Minister Viktor Orban a landslide victory at the polls after a campaign based on a refusal to accept refugees.

The congratulatory letter that the president of the European committee , Donald Tusk, addressed to Orban was considered by various media to be cooler than the one issued on other similar occasions. The EU is concerned that Orban continues with his defense of an "illiberal" democracy and that he seems to be leading the country towards authoritarian tendencies. The government's purchase of many media outlets in recent years, in order to isolate civil service examination and make more propaganda, resembles what has happened in countries such as Russia and Turkey.

It is true that with Orban at the head of the government Hungary has grown economically at a good pace and that the middle classes have improved their status, but his latest victory has been due not only to the good economic management , but the defense of values that the Hungarian people consider important (essentialism, Christianity, respect for borders).

European socialists have not been pleased with Orban's new victory, insinuating that it is a setback for democracy in Hungary. The joy that the populist parties have expressed over his victory is test that Orban, whose training Fidesz still belongs to the European People's Party, has become an exponent of modern ultra-nationalism, which threatens democratic ideas of the European Union.

For the time being, Brussels is being cautious with Hungary, even more so than with the British Brexit, since Viktor Orban, seen by many as "the EU rebel", unlike the UK, wants to remain within the bloc, but change part of the ideals he represents.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union Central Europe and Russia World order, diplomacy and governance Analysis

[Robert Kaplan, Earning the Rockies. How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World. Random House. New York, 2017. 201 pages]


REVIEW / Iñigo Bronte Barea

Despite rising powers in conventional geopolitics, the United States today remains unopposed due to geography as an overwhelming advantage for the US. As such, the country is blessed with a trifecta of comparative advantages. The country is bound by oceans on both sides, lacks any real threat from its neighbors, and contains an almost perfect river network.

Throughout the book, Author Robert D. Kaplan guides the reader as he travels the US, portraying how geography impacts the livelihood of its population, analyzes the concerns of its citizens, and studies how the country achieved its current composition from a historical lens.

The author introduces the topic by arguing that the world's security during the 20th and 21st century largely depended on the political unity and stability of the United States. Kaplan crosses the country to study how geography helped the US attain the position that they have in the world. The title of his book, "Earning the Rockies," emphasizes the importance of the fact that in order to achieve western part of nowadays US, it would be necessary to first control the East, the Midwest, and the Great American Desert.

During his travels, Kaplan brought three books to reinforce his staff experiences on the road. His first book was "The Year of Decision: 1846" from the DeVoto trilogy of the West. From this text, Kaplan learns that America's first empirical frontier was not in the Caribbean or Philippines, but earlier in the western part of the country itself. Kaplan also stresses the idea that the solitude and dangers of the old West are today very present in the common American character. In particular, he argues such values remain manifested in the extremely competitive capitalist system and the willingness of its population for military intervention. The last and most important idea that Kaplan gleans from DeVoto was that the defining feature of US greatness today is based ultimately on the country being a nation, an empire and a continent, all rolled into one.

Kaplan starts his journey in the spring of 2015 in Massachusetts. He wanted to contemplate the American continent and its international role, and the one that must be expected for it in the coming years; he wanted to discover this while hearing people talking, to discover what are their real worries.

Back on the East coast, Kaplan traces the country's origins after the independence of the thirteen colonies in 1776. Kaplan starts his eastern journey by examining the US from a historical perspective and how it grew to become a global force without equal. Primarily, Kaplan argues that the US did so by first becoming an army before the US became a nation. For the author, President Theodore Roosevelt was the one who realized that the conquest of the American West set the precedent for a foreign policy of active engagement worldwide.

Earning the Rockies. How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World.

Kaplan continues his travels through the Great Lakes region; Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Ohio, and West Virginia. His travel is set in the context of the Presidential primary season, in which he examines the decline of the rural middle class from the staple of the American workforce to near poverty. As such, the devolution of the social process ended with the election of Donald J. Trump. Despite a legacy of success in globalization and multilateralism, America quickly became a nation enthralled with a renewed sense of nationalism and isolationism.

From his travels, Kaplan deduces several types of groups based on the founding fathers. He categorizes them as following: elites in Washington and New York were Wilsonian (who seek to promote democracy and international law), Hamiltonians (who are intellectual realists and emphasize commercial ties internationally) or Jeffersonians (who emphasize perfecting American democracy at home more than engaging abroad). Surprisingly, the huge majority of the American people were actually Jacksonians: they believe in honor, faith in God, and military institutions.

Kaplan continues his path toward the Pacific by crossing Kentucky and Indiana, where the transition zone leads him to the arid grasslands. During his voyage, Kaplan finds that the people did not really care about ISIS, the rise of China, the Iraq War or any other international issues, but instead their worries on their work, health, family, and basic economic survival. This is in fact because of their Jacksonian way of seeing life. This in turn means that Americans expect their government to keep them safe and to hunt down and kill anyone who threatens their safety. Related to this, was the fact that isolationism was an American tradition, which fits well within the current political landscape as multilateralism has lost much of its appeal to people in the heartland.

The native grasses and rich soil of the temperate zone of this part of the country, such as Illinois, promote the fertility of the land that goes on for hundreds and hundreds of miles in all directions. For Kaplan, this is ultimately what constitutes the resourceful basis of continental wealth that permits America's ambitious approach to the world.

West of Lincoln, the capital city of Nebraska, it could be said that you enter the real West, where roads, waterways and urban cities rapidly disappears. At this point, Kaplan begins to make reference to the second book that he read for this part of the journey. This time, author Welter P. Webb in "The Great Plains" explains that the history of the US relies on the history of the pioneers adapting to life in the Great American Desert. This author argues that the Great Plains stopped slavery, prompting the defeat of the Confederacy. He states so because for Webb, the Civil War was a conflict between two sides whose main difference was largely economic. The Southern system based on the plantation economy with huge, "cash" crops and slave labor. On the other hand, the Northern economic system was based on small farms, skilled labor, and a rising industrialized system. While the Great Plains were a barrier for pioneers in general, that wall was greater for the Southern economy than for the industrializing North, which could adapt to aridity unlike the farming economy of the south.

The last book that Kaplan reads while crossing the country is "Beyond the Hundredth Meridian" by Wallace Stenger. The author of this book stresses the importance of the development limitations in immense areas of the western US due to a lack of water. This desert provided a big challenge for the federal government, which manages the little resources available in that area with the construction of incredible dams, such as the Hoover Dam, and turnpike highway system. It remains quite clear that the culmination of American history has more to do with the West than with the East. Stenger is well aware of the privileged geographic position of the US, without dangerous neighbors or other inland threat. In addition, the US contains an abundance of inland waterways and natural resources that are not found on such a scale anywhere else. This characteristic, helps provide the US with geographical and political power unlike any other in modern history. As Stenger stipulates, the fact that World War II left mainland America unscathed, which inly shows how geography has blessed the US.

One of the key aspects that Kaplan realized along his trip was the incredible attachment that Americans have to their military. For Kaplan, this feeling becomes more and more romanticized as he headed westward. In Europe, despite the threats of terrorism, refugees, and Russia, the military is seen locally as merely civil servants in funny uniforms, at least according to Stenger. On the contrary, America, which faces less physical threats than Europe, still maintains a higher social status and respect for military personnel.

In summation, the radical landscape of the west provided Americans with a basis for their international ambition. After all, if they could have conquered and settled this unending vastness, they settle the rest of the world too. However, the very aridity of the western landscape that Kaplan faces at the end of his voyage, requires restraint, planning, and humility in much of what the government had to invest in order to make the west inhabitable and successful. But despite the feeling that they could conquer the world, America faces huge inequalities, real and imagined, that force US leaders to focus on domestic issues rather than foreign affairs. Therefore, elites and leaders in Washington tend to be centrist and pragmatic. In such, they do not dream about conquering the world nor opt to withdraw from it either. Instead, they maintain America's "pole position" place within its global affairs.

At the end, it could be said that American soil itself is what in fact really orients the country towards the world. Despite all the restraint and feelings for the heartland, what really matters are the politicians and business leaders that enable the new American reality: the world itself is now the final, American frontier.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance North America Book Reviews

The authority of China and the US in Asia

▲Flags of the United States and Japan at a ceremony welcoming the U.S. vice president in Tokyo in February 2018 [White House].

COMMENTARY / Gabriel de Lange [English version].

In recent decades, China has grown in economic and political strength. The inclusion of the document "Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" in the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), carried out during the 19th congress of that party in October 2017, and the amendment of the country's Constitution to eliminate the limit of two consecutive presidential terms, approved by the plenary session of the Executive Council of the People's Congress of China in March 2018, have meant the consolidation of power of the current Chinese leader.

For its part, the United States has been criticized on multiple fronts for its relations in Asia. Authors critical of the Trump Administration believe that its policies toward North Korea, China and the region in general are "damaging US interests" in the Asia-Pacific. The withdrawal from the agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)has"undermined the influence" of the U.S. to shape the regional future, giving China the opportunity to do so on its own terms. The withdrawal from the TPP has left many Asian countries wondering what Washington brings to the table in economic terms and looking to China to fill the void.

One of the main factors that lead Asian countries to maintain a certain distance from China and closer proximity to the United States are the problems in the South China Sea. As in the case of the Philippines with the Spratly Islands or Vietnam with the Paracel Islands. The concern of those countries about Chinese intentions has pushed them to a rapprochement with the US. Unfortunately for Washington, that rapprochement depends on China's own decision whether or not to insist on its claims to particular islands. The Xi Administration may decide that the benefits of stronger relations with its neighbors are more important than these disputed territories.

The question now is: who will the other Asian countries, especially the members of ASEAN (association of Southeast Asian Nations), look to as a political ally? With signs of steady, stable and enduring power under the consolidated authority of Xi Jinping, compared to a seemingly unpredictable, divided and internationally criticized Trump Administration, no one can be surprised that regional neighbors may lean more towards China in the near future.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Comments

DOCUMENT FROM work / María Granados Machimbarrena


Despite the HIRSI and JAMAA judgment of 2012, Italy was condemned in 2015 once again by the European Court of Human Rights for unlawful detention and summary and collective refoulement of several migrants. The events occurred in 2011, when the applicants travelled in a boat across the Mediterranean and were intercepted by Italian vessels. The migrants were transferred to the island of Lampedusa, and detained at the Centro di Soccorso e Prima Accoglienza (CSPA), in a area reserved for Tunisian nationals. According to the complainants, they were detained in overcrowded and filthy rooms, without contact with the outside. The events took place immediately after the Arab Spring. The issues raised before the Court by the applicants and the arguments raised by the judges are relevant in the current context of the European crisis in the management handling of refugee flows by the EU institutions and its Member States.


The question of asylum and the principle of non-refoulement: the European Court of Human Rights and its implications for the EU download the complete document [pdf. 6,4MB] [pdf. 6,4MB

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Documents of work

[Pedro Baños, Así se domina el mundo. Desvelando las claves del poder mundial. Ariel, Barcelona 2017, 468 pages]

review / Albert Vidal

The vast majority of wars fought in the world always have a vital economic background, although other motives (political or religious, for example) are often used to safeguard these economic interests. The book Así se domina el mundo, by the analyst and researcher Pedro Baños, former head of Counterintelligence and Security of the European Army Corps, with experience in various international missions (UNPROFOR, SFOR and EUFOR), states that economic interests are the ones that rule the International Office is the main thesis , illustrated with great issue of examples, an d is supported by the book Así se domina el mundo, by the analyst and Pedro Baños, former head of Counterintelligence and Security of the European Army Corps, with experience in various international missions (UNPROFOR, SFOR and EUFOR).

"The United States is still trying to dominate the world. But its big competitor is China. Especially when it comes to the economic sphere. That is why they wage economic war, and also through interposed actors in many scenarios. Everything has an economic substratum," writes Colonel Baños. China, for its part, is determined to strike a blow against the dollar. Beijing is preparing a new contract format for crude oil transactions using the yuan, which would be fully convertible into gold on the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges. If this were to happen, it would lead to the main reference letter of the Asian oil market, and allow crude exporters to circumvent the dollar-dominated benchmarks.

Afghanistan is another example of the primacy of Economics in geopolitics. The US decided to return to Afghanistan, where, coincidentally, opium production has multiplied. This had been reduced by the Taliban to minimal levels, as they banned opium cultivation and the Afghans switched to cotton production. But then, according to Baños, a strong civil service examination arose from the US cotton producers, so that some US states rebelled because they felt that the skill of cheap Afghan cotton could ruin them. Baños points out that there are Pentagon reports recommending such intervention. Moreover, Afghanistan is extremely rich in minerals. That is why Donald Trump declared that "China is making money in Afghanistan with rare minerals while the United States makes war".

These appreciations confirm the realistic and pragmatic way in which Baños interprets the events taking place in the world. His vision of geopolitics is integrated into political realism, close to Machiavelli's interpretation. He has a Hobbesian vision of the international scenario. He defines current geopolitics as "the activity developed with the aim of influencing the affairs of the international sphere, this exercise being understood as the aspiration to influence on a global scale, while avoiding, at the same time, being influenced".

This book is a great opportunity to enrich our perspectives on the international scene. With simple language, Baños manages to convey complex concepts through different images. One of them, central to the book's thesis , is the comparison of the international scenario with a playground at high school: in the playground (the world), the great powers (the bullies) enjoy circumstantial allies (cowardly children who decide to join the court of sycophants); then there are outcasts (who suffer the malice of the bullies) and others who simply resist the pressure of group or decide to isolate themselves from the group of students. Hypocrisy, as the author well describes, is a constant in the International Office.

This is how the world is dominated. Uncovering the keys to world power

Geopolitical principles, geostrategies and errors

Baños presents four immutable geopolitical principles that, in essence, have always been present in history (even if there are accidental changes). They could be summarized as follows:

  1. The State is a living being, which has vital and existential needs, as well as those of development and evolution.

  2. The Economics is in charge, the backbone of conflicts and the source of tensions. These are economic interests often related to the arms industry.

  3. The determining weight of history, with repetition of the same scenarios, such as Afghanistan (its orography has been a graveyard for empires and superpowers) and Russia (with a winter that ruined the plans of Napoleon and Hitler).

  4. There are no eternal allies, but permanent interests. Interests create strange alliances, and these alliances are often ephemeral. For example, Saudi Arabia is one of the main allies of the USA, when their values, in principle, are totally contradictory.

After the description of geopolitical principles, the book reviews 27 geostrategies that have been recurrently used on the international scene. This section is very useful for understanding many of the movements or events occurring in the world. Some examples of such geo-strategies are:

-Theintimidation of a strong country towards other weak countries, using them for their own interests.

-Theencirclement and counterencirclement.

-Thekick to the ladder. Examples are the refusal of the atomic powers to allow others to join the nuclear club and the obligation that developed countries impose on underdeveloped economies to open up to the free market.

-Theweakening of the neighbor.

-The breaking point.

-Fostering divisionby sowing tares.

-Religious fervor as tool to gain followers.

-Goodism. In the Syrian war, we have seen killings by the Islamic State, but the killings by the international coalition, which in our eyes appear to be the rescuers of the Syrian people, have been systematically hidden.

¬Thecreation of the need. The need to buy weapons is based on concepts such as war on terrorism, preventive strategy, and others, which result in a fabulous business of buying and selling weapons.

-Indirect domination. Between 1946 and 2000 the White House has interfered in 81 elections in 45 countries, according to declassified CIA documents.

-Thecreation of the enemy. NATO and the USA encourage the enmity of Western countries towards Moscow, so that they become subordinate to NATO and ask it for protection and buy weapons from it,

-Themadman. This is a strategy used by North Korea, threatening catastrophic consequences to avoid being attacked.

Banos also exposes the mistakes that powers often make in their international actions. A couple of them are:

  1. Ignoring the idiosyncrasies of peoples. The Western world is composed, at most, of 900 million people. The rest of the world is home to 6.6 billion. On the other hand, globalization is basically Anglo-Saxon: not all peoples necessarily want to participate in it. And given the biased view we have of the world, we often have a wrong conception of other peoples. The sad reality is that many interventions abroad are carried out without any subject study or examination of the potential consequences on the cultures and peoples affected.

  2. Excessive self-confidence. There is no small enemy, not even an asymmetric one. With guerrilla tactics, even a group of peasants can become a real threat to the plans of a great power. In fact, history has repeatedly shown how those who have acted too confidently have been defeated by their more cautious adversaries.

Post-truth and disinformation

Pedro Baños stresses the importance of narratives. According to the author, to have one's own narrative is to win the game. The narrative makes reality mutate. And narratives become an instrument of emotional control of the population, which serves to justify what suits them.

On the other hand, it makes reference letter to the truth, which runs the risk of being reconstructed to justify national or corporate interests. The citizenry, says Colonel Baños, must be vigilant: "those who decide for us do so subtly, even resorting to the so-called 'post-truth', which is nothing but a big lie disguised as truth". As the author points out, the core topic of power is to influence a deliberately uninformed world, in which many conflicts of interest between states, individuals, companies, lobbies and powerful families are intermingled, all trying to exert as much influence as possible.

The cyber world is the new great stage for this battle. A very intense psychological and propaganda war is being waged there, led by fake news and disinformation. These two worlds (one physical and the other virtual) are connected by the human mind. That is why it is vital to be wary of attacks that, although we may not realize it, take place every day, veiled or not. The powers are in continuous action, with only one purpose, as Baños concludes: "to control the world and avoid being subjugated by another power. That is the only goal".

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews