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COMMENTARY / Jairo Císcar
Since the end of the Second World War, collective security on the European continent and with it, peace, has been a priority. The founding fathers of the European Union themselves, aware of the tensions that resulted from the First and Second World Wars, devised and created security structures to prevent future conflicts and strengthen relations between former enemies. The first structure, although not purely military, obeys this logic: the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), essential for the creation and maintenance of industry and armies, was created by the Treaty of Paris in 1951, introducing a concept as widely used today as "energy security". This was arguably the first major step towards effective integration of European countries.
However, for the issue at hand, the path has been much more complicated. In the same period in which the ECSC was born, French Prime Minister René Pleven, with the encouragement of Robert Schuman and Jean Monet, wanted to promote the European Defence Community. This ambitious plan aimed to merge the armed forces of the six founding countries (including the Federal Republic of Germany) into a European Armed Forces that would keep the continent together and prevent the possibility of a new conflict between states. Ambitious as it was, the project failed in 1954, when the deeply nationalist Gaullist deputies of the French National Assembly refused to ratify the agreement. European integration at the military level thus suffered a setback from which it would not begin to recover until the present century, although it continues to face many of the reluctances it once did.
Why did the European Defence Community fail, and what makes the European Armed Forces still a difficult discussion today? This is a question that needs to be analysed and understood, for while political and economic integration has advanced with a large consensus, the military problem, which should go hand in hand with the two previous issues, has always been the Achilles' tendon of the common European project.
There are basically two factors to take into account. The first is the existence of a larger defence community, NATO. Since 1948, NATO has been the principal military alliance of Western countries. Born to counter Soviet expansionism, the Alliance has evolved in size and objectives to its current configuration of 30 member states and a multitude of other states in the form of strategic alliances. Although NATO's primary purpose was diluted after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it has evolved with the times, remaining alert and operational all around the globe. The existence of this common, powerful and ambitious project under U.S. leadership largely obscured efforts and intentions to create a common European defence project. Why create one, overlapping, structure if the objectives were practically the same and NATO guaranteed greater logistical, military superiority and a nuclear arsenal? For decades, this has been the major argument against further European integration in the field of defence - as protection was secured but delegated.
Another issue was the nationalism still prevalent among European states, especially in the aforementioned Gaullist France. Even today, with an ongoing and deep political, economic and, at a certain level, judicial integration, military affairs are still often seen as the last bastion of national sovereignty. In Schengen Europe, they remain for many the guarantee of those borders that fell long ago.
Other issues to take into account are the progressive detachment of the population from the armed forces (a Europe that has not seen war on its own territory in 70 years, except for the Balkans, has tended to settle into peace, nearly oblivious to wars) and its progressive ageing, with a future with fewer people of military age, and who, as we have mentioned, often have an ideological and motivational gap with previous generations with respect to the concept and utility of the military.
It was not until relatively recently, with the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1999, that the embryonic mechanisms of the current Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), supervised by the European Defence Agency, began to be implemented. In the 2010s, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, these mechanisms were established. The Military Staff of the European Union (EUMS) is one of them. It constitutes the EU's first permanent strategic headquarters. The final impetus came in 2015, with the European Union Global Strategy. This led to the creation of various far-reaching initiatives, most notably the Permanent Structured Cooperation(PESCO), which since 2017 has been pursuing the structural integration of the Armed Forces of all EU countries except Denmark and Malta. It is not only limited to proper integration, but also leads capability development projects such as the EU Collaborative Warfare Capabilities (ECOWAR) or the Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA), as well as defence industry endeavors such as the MUSAS project, or the CYBER-C4ISR capabilities level.
Although it is too early to say for sure, Europe may be as close as it can get to René Pleven's distant dream. The EU's geopolitical situation is changing, and so is its own language and motivation. If we used to talk about Europe delegating its protection for years, now Emmanuel Macron advocates 'strategic autonomy" for the EU. It should be recalled that just over a year ago he claimed that "NATO is brain-dead". Some voices in the EU's political arena claim and have realised that it can no longer delegate the European protection and defence of its interests, and they are starting to take steps towards doing so. Despite these advances, it is true that it is not a shared interest, at least, as a whole. France and other Mediterranean member states are pushing towards it, but those in the East, as Poland or Latvia, are far more concerned about the rise of Russia, and are comfortable enough for U.S. troops to be established in their terrain.
Having said that, I truly believe that the advantages of the European Armed Forces project outweigh its negative aspects. First of all, a Europe united in defence policies would not imply the disappearance of NATO, or the breaking of agreements with third countries. In fact, these alliances could even be strengthened and fully adapted to the 21st century and to the war of the future. As an example, in 2018 the EU and NATO signed collaboration agreements on issues such as cybersecurity, defence industry and military mobility.
While NATO works, Europe is now facing a dissociation between U.S. interests and those of the other Allies, especially the European ones. In particular, countries such as France, Spain and Italy are shifting their defence policies from the Middle East, or the current peace process in Afghanistan (which, despite 20 years of war, sounds like a long way off), to sub-Saharan Africa (Operation "Barkhane" or EUTM Mali), a much closer region with a greater impact on the lives of the European citizens. This does not detract from the fact that NATO faces global terrorism in a new era that is set to surpass asymmetric warfare and other 4th generation wars: the era of hybrid warfare. Russia's military build-up on the EU's eastern flank and China's penetration into Africa do not invite a loosening of ties with the United States, but European countries need to prioritise their own threats over those of the U.S., although it is true that the needs of countries to the west of the EU are not the same as those to the east. This could be the main stumbling block for a joint European Army, as weighting the different strategic priorities could be really arduous.
It is true that this idea of differing policies is not shared in the EU as a whole. Countries such as Poland, those in the Balkans or the Baltic have different approaches and necessities when talking about a European Union common security strategy. The EU is a 27 country-wide body that often is extremely difficult to navigate within. Consensus is only reached after very long discussions (see the soap opera on the COVID relief package negotiations), and being defence as important as it is, and in need of fast, executive decision making, the intricate bureaucracy of the EU could not help with it. But if well managed, it could be an opportunity to develop new strategies for decision-making and reforming the European system as a whole, fostering a new, more effective Europe.
Another discussion, probably outdated, is the one who claims that the EU is not capable of planning, organising and conducting operations outside the NATO umbrella. In this case, apart from the aforementioned guidelines and policies, one simply has to look at the facts: the EU today leads six active (and 18 completed) military missions with close to 5,000 troops deployed. The "Althea" (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and "Atalanta" (in the Indian Ocean) missions are particularly noteworthy. It is true that these examples are of low-intensity conflicts but, given the combat experience of EU nations under NATO or in other missions (French and Portuguese in Africa, etc.) combat-pace could be quickly achieved. The NATO certification system under which most European armed forces operate guarantees standardisation in tactics, logistics and procedures, so that standardisation at the European level would be extremely simple if existing models are taken into account.
Another issue is the question of whether the EU could politically and economically engage in a long, high-intensity operation without getting drowned by the public opinion, financial administration, and, obviously, with the planning and carrying out of a whole campaign. This is one of the other main problems with future European armed forces because, as mentioned earlier, Europeans are not prepared in any way to be confronted with the reality of a situation of war. What rules of engagement will be used? How to cope with casualties? And even more, how to create an effective chain of command and control among 27 countries? And what will happen if one does not agree with a particular intervention or action? How could it be argued that the EU, world's leading beacon of human rights, democracy and peace, gets engaged in a war? Undoubtedly, these questions have rational and objective answers, but in an era of social average, populism, empty discourses, and fake news, it would be difficult to engage with the public (and voters) to support the idea.
Having said that, there is room for optimism. Another reason pointing towards Europe's armed forces is the collaboration that exists at the military industrial level. PESCO and the European Defence Fund encourage this, and projects such as the FCAS and EURODRONE lay the foundations for the future of European armed forces capabilities. It should not be forgotten that the European defence industry is the world leader behind that of the United States and is an increasingly tough competitor for the latter.
In addition, the use of military forces in European countries during the current coronavirus pandemic has served to reinforce the message of their utility and need for collaboration beyond the purely military. While the militarisation of emergencies must be avoided and the soldier must not be reduced to a mere "Swiss army knife" at disposition of the government trying to make up their own lack of planning or capacity to deal with the situation, it has brought the military closer to the streets, and to some extent may have helped to counteract the disaffection with the armed forces that exists in many European countries (due to the factors mentioned above).
Finally, I believe that European-level integration of the armed forces will not be merely beneficial, but necessary for Europe. If the EU wants to maintain its diplomacy, its economic power, it needs its own strategic project, an "area of control" over its interests and, above all, military independence. This does not preclude maintaining and promoting the alliances already created, but this is a unique and necessary opportunity to fully establish the common European project. The political and economic framework cannot be completed without the military one; and the military one cannot function without the former. All that remains is to look at the direction the EU is taking and hope that it will be realised. It is more than possible and doable, and the reality is that work is being done towards it.
COMMENTARY / Marina G. Reina
After weeks of rockets being fired from Gaza and the West Bank to Israel and Israeli air strikes, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire in a no less heated environment. The conflict of the last days between Israel and Palestine has spread like powder in a spiral of violence whose origin and direct reasons are difficult to draw. As a result, hundreds have been killed or injured on both sides.
What at first sight seemed like a Palestinian protest against the eviction of Palestinian families in the Jerusalem's neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, is connected to the pro-Hamas demonstrations held days before at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. And even before that, at the beginning of Ramadan, Lehava, a Jewish far-right extremist organisation, carried out inflammatory anti-Arab protests at the same Damascus Gate. Additionally, the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections that Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas indefinitely postponed must be added to this cocktail of factors. To add fuel to the flames, social average have played a significant role in catapulting the conflict to the international arena-especially due to the attack in Al-Aqsa mosque that shocked Muslims worldwide-, and Hamas' campaign encouraging Palestinian youth to throw into the streets at point of rocks and makeshift bombs.
Sheikh Jarrah was just the last straw
At this point in the story, it has become clear that the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah have been just another drop of water in a glass that has been overflowing for decades. The Palestinian side attributes this to an Israeli state strategy to expand Jewish control over East Jerusalem and includes claims of ethnic cleansing. However, the issue is actually a private matter between Jews who have property documents over those lands dating the 1800s, substantiated in a 1970 law that enables Jews to reclaim Jewish-owned property in East Jerusalem from before 1948, and a group of Palestinians, not favoured by that same law.
The sentence ruled in favour of the right-wing Jewish Israeli association that was claiming the property. This is not new, as such nationalist Jews have been working for years to expand Jewish presence in East Jerusalem's Palestinian neighbourhoods. Far from being individuals acting for purely private purposes, they are radical Zionist Jews who see their ambitions protected by the law. This is clearly portrayed by the presence of the leader of the Jewish supremacist Lehava group-also defined as opposed to the Christian presence in Israel-during the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah. This same group marched through Jerusalem's downtown to the cry of "Death to Arabs" and looking for attacking Palestinians. The fact is that Israel does not condemn or repress the movements of the extreme Jewish right as it does the Islamic extremist movements. Sheikh Jarrah is one, among other examples, of how, rather, he gives them legal space.
Clashes in the streets of Israel between Jews and Palestinians
Real pitched battles were fought in the streets of different cities of Israel between Jewish and Palestinians youth. This is the case in places such as Jerusalem, Acre, Lod and Ashkelon -where the sky was filled with the missiles coming from Gaza, that were blocked by the Israeli anti-missile "Iron Dome" system. Palestinian neighbors were harassed and even killed, synagogues were attacked, and endless fights between Palestinians and Israeli Jews happened in every moment on the streets, blinded by ethnic and religious hatred. This is shifting dramatically the narrative of the conflict, as it is taking place in two planes: one militarised, starring Hamas and the Israeli military; and the other one held in the streets by the youth of both factions. Nonetheless, it cannot be omitted the fact that all Israeli Jews receive military training and are conscripted from the age of 18, a reality that sets the distance in such street fights between Palestinians and Israelis.
Tiktok, Instagram and Telegram groups have served as political loudspeakers of the conflict, bombarding images and videos and minute-by-minute updates of the situation. On many occasions accused of being fake news, the truth is that they have achieved an unprecedented mobilization, both within Israel and Palestine, and throughout the world. So much so that pro-Palestinian demonstrations have already been held and will continue in the coming days in different European and US cities. Here, then, there is another factor, which, while informative and necessary, also stokes the flames of fire by promoting even more hatred. Something that has also been denounced in social networks is the removal by the service of review of the videos in favour of the Palestinian cause which, far from serving anything, increases the majority argument that they want to silence the voice of the Palestinians and hide what is happening.
Hamas propaganda, with videos circulating on social average about the launch of the missiles and the bloodthirsty speeches of its leader, added to the Friday's sermons in mosques encouraging young Muslims to fight, and to sacrifice their lives as martyrs protecting the land stolen from them, do nothing but promote hatred and radicalization. In fact,
It may be rash to say that this is a lost war for the Palestinians, but the facts suggest that it is. The only militarized Palestinian faction is Hamas, the only possible opposition to Israel, and Israel has already hinted to Qatari and Egyptian mediators that it will not stop military deployment and attacks until the military wing of Hamas surrenders its weapons. The US President denied the idea of Israel being overreacting.
Hamas' political upside in violence and Israel's catastrophic counter-offensive
Experts declare that it seems like Hamas was seeking to overload or saturate Israel's interception system, which can only stand a certain number of attacks at once. Indeed, the group has significantly increased the rate of fire, meaning that it has not only replenished its arsenal in spite of the blockade imposed by Israel, but that it has also improved its capabilities. Iran has played a major role in this, supplying technology in order to boost Palestinian self-production of weapons, extend the range of rockets and improve their accuracy. A reality that has been recognised by both Hamas and Iran, as Hamas attributes to the Persian country its success.
This translates into the bloodshed of unarmed civilians to be continued. If we start from the basis that Israeli action is defensive, it must also be said that air strikes do not discriminate against targets. Although the IDF has declared that the targets are instructions of Hamas, it has been documented how buildings of civilians have been destroyed in Gaza, as already counted by 243 the numbers of dead and those of injured are more than 1,700 then the ceasefire entered into effect. On the Israeli side, the wounded reported were 200 and the dead were counted as 12. In an attempt to wipe out senior Hamas officials, the Israeli army was taking over residential buildings, shops and the lives of Palestinian civilians. In the last movement, Israel was focusing on destroying Hamas' tunnels and entering Gaza with a large military deployment of tanks and military to do so.
Blood has been shed from whatever ethnical and religious background, because Hamas has seen a political upside in violence, and because Israel has failed to punish extremist Jewish movements as it does with Islamist terrorism and uses disproportionate defensive action against any Palestinian uprising. A sea of factors that converge in hatred and violence because both sides obstinately and collectively refuse to recognize and legitimate the existence of the other.
Cartoon depicting Belgian King Leopold II (in the middle) at the Berlin Conference of 1884, by engraver F. Maréchal
COMMENTARY / Cameron Buckingham
The highwaters of the controversy about Belgium's colonial past in Africa, that dominated news at some point in 2020, have receded without Belgian grand institutions taking significant steps to redress the bad reputation. Belgian King Leopold II ordered horrible atrocities throughout the African continent but with the heaviest effect on the Democratic Republic of Congo. The genocide of over six million and slave labour of the Congolese people led by the late Belgian king resulted in immense wealth and can be directly linked to the success of Belgium in the modern-day. In the same way, it can be directly linked to the underdevelopment and continued struggle of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Currently, there has been an international movement to address the racial problems that plague the modern world. Regardless of the organisation or political ideology, it is imperative to acknowledge these problems which stem directly from the unjust colonization, occupation, abuse, and slave trade throughout history. By actively not making any acknowledgment towards this issue, Belgium takes an ignorant stance which not only greatly affects its relations with central African countries, but an international stage speaks to its passive stance on Racism.
In 2019, a working group of experts from the United Nations issued a statement, composed of 74 key points of improvement the country should undertake, to the average with their conclusions of the effects of the colonial past within the country. The Working Group specifically condemned the Belgian government for their lack of engagement with the African minority in their population, as well as their lack of representation in federal institutions and average. The Working Group called on Belgian to improve their education resources so that they accurately portray what truly happened in Africa during colonial and Imperial times. Most importantly they urged Belgium to work on the recognition and social invisibility of people of African Descent, to make a clear and public apology to the African States and adopt a plan of action to confront racism within their country.
Within the country, the biggest reforms and measures to confront racism are taking place in the capital city of Brussels. One of the biggest changes is the Royal Museum for Central Africa: the museum has taken strides to remove elements of colonialism on display. However, the overall paternalistic attitude of the museum strains the relationship between Belgium and central African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. In light of recent events, A statue of Leopold II has been removed by the Antwerp museum after it was set on fire by protestors. There have been many statues defaced by protestors all over Belgium, all calling for his image to be removed from public space as seen in this article Statue of Leopold II, Belgian King Who Brutalized Congo, Is Removed in Antwerp. Simultaneously the government of Brussels has also made attempts to change the names of public spaces or infrastructure that have ties to colonization Most notably seen in a road tunnel, Belgium seeks new name for road tunnel as it takes on colonial past. Brussels has also launched a project to decolonize public space within the city, this was in direct reaction to the BLM movement. This is the most significant action the Belgian state has taken in an attempt to reshape its public history. From road tunnels to parks, the city is making an effort to change. All of these are very pertinent changes as Brussels is the capital city and hopefully, the rest of the nation follows suit. It is equally important to note the work being carried out by the government institution, Inter-Federal Centre of Equal Opportunities (UNIA), which is a public institution that fights discrimination and works to promote equal opportunities for African descendants in Belgium, has acted tremendously to improve the life of African descendants in Belgium.
Despite these advancements, many flaws must be addressed. The Royal Museum of Central Africa chooses certain displays to take down but maintains that history must be preserved. The problem with this is not the artifacts themselves, rather the information and context that turns their public history into a glorification of colonialism. The same can be said for the textbooks and educational resources propagated by the state. The history told in these state resources surrounding the Congolese genocide and the colonisation of Africa do not accurately portray the events and continues a passive ignorant mindset towards this part of their history. It furthers a paternalistic take on history that paints the Belgian leaders as people who were benevolent and brought civilization; when in reality they were brutal oppressors to native populations who exploited and abused central Africa in the name of wealth. While progress is being made, it is not nearly enough considering the global progress and the scale of impact Belgium's colonisation continues to have domestically and internationally.
Countries such as Congo and Burundi still have effects today of the violence and loss from the Congolese genocide over a century ago. Their overall underdevelopment and indicators such as HDI, CPI, and GDP can be directly linked to the causes of Belgian colonization. Burundi has asked for $43 billion in reparations, while the Belgian government has yet to offer anything. Other African countries have sought reparations but Belgium has yet to pay any. This is significant because the lack of response and acknowledgment shown by the Belgian government especially during this racially charged period in time points to a blind spot of ignorance of the state. The farthest they have gone to show any sort of repatriation is by returning the tooth of an important political figure in Congo, this information can be accessed here: Belgium to return tooth of assassinated Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba to family | DW | 10.09.2020. This is dismal because it fails to acknowledge the ongoing effects of their colonists' period which paints horribly for their public history in the diplomatic sphere. The Belgian government has an opportunity to better utilize public history for the good of their image, as well as their growth as a country and relations with others however by not taking actions they are hurting themselves. Not only have the economies of these post-colony countries not been able to fully develop, the success of the Belgium economy that is rooted in colonisation creates a twisted paradox for these countries; Their resources and suffering were exploited by an Imperial power who continues to reap the benefits while they are left impoverished and impacted. In this sense, the exploitation of central Africa by Belgium continues today.
Conclusions and recommendations.
Belgium is missing the opportunity to take advantage of such a racially charged time to condemn their past behaviour, acknowledge their impact on Africa, and offer their support to countries they devastated. Belgium should uplift itself by creating a new public history, one that condemns their past. After 11 weeks of social average observation, the Belgium Ministry of Foreign affairs has not posted any content related to racial awareness or their former African colonies. One of the greatest tools today is social average, instead of only posting the glories of their country they should bring awareness to their past, on the biggest platform possible. However, it is not enough to bring light to this issue on social average. It is important to work with other governments, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, to amend and take necessary actions. Belgium needs to consider economic treaties with central Africa that would not only benefit both countries but make reparations for the African states. The goal of Belgian actions should be not only to acknowledge their colonial past but to actively make reparations and accurately acknowledge their atrocities and the impact they have had on central Africa, as well as the impact it's had on Belgian success as a country.
While Belgium ignores their colonial past, surrounding countries such as the Netherlands condemn and continue to actively work against racial cleavages in society. France, in a similar manner, continues to denounce the actions taken by Napoleon Bonaparte and even uses their history to emphasize their strengths not only in times of racial equality but also during coronavirus. With this in mind, it is time for Belgium to step up and meet or exceed the awareness of their neighbours and take actions to address their history and use it as a tool to improve.
COMMENTARY / Norman Sempijja
When President Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986, he oversaw a reset of Ugandan politics for the next 35 years. He outlawed parties and formed a movement system which although has sometimes been described as a one-party state was crucial in bringing all groups on board to chart the way forward for a country that had been ravaged by misrule and conflict for almost 20 years.
Fast forward 2021, we are faced with a slightly different situation but of likely grave consequences. Uganda is in the middle of a stand-off between President Museveni and his challenger Mr Robert Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine). The issue relates to the outcome of the 2021 presidential election which although was held in a very peaceful manner had gross vote-counting irregularities. The Uganda electoral commission gave Museveni 58.6% and Kyagulanyi 34.8%. On the other hand, the tallying centres set up by Kyagulanyi's team using the Uvote app where declaration forms were uploaded once counting was done have so far given Kyagulanyi 71% and Museveni around 25% of the vote. Vote counting is still ongoing. With Kyagulanyi unlikely to concede Museveni decided to put him under house arrest to prevent him from leading mass protests. The internet was also switched off for 5 days and at the moment social average can only be accessed through the use of VPN services.
Amid this melee is Covid-19 virus rampaging through the country. The health services are still not fully prepared to deal with a massive outbreak and although the lockdown has been eased, the economic impact will be felt for years. For a country that is largely agro-based and relies heavily on the informal sector, the impact has been dire on the already struggling population. Secondly, a worrying trend has emerged internationally where various variants of the Covid virus have been registered. For example, we have new covid-19 strains in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and Japan for now. Thus, questions have lingered about the effectiveness of the current vaccines in circulation to combat these new variants. But that is beside the point. Uganda has not secured any of the vaccines yet.
Therefore, Museveni as head of state faces a difficult situation. Does he pour the meagre resources at his disposal to contain Kyagulanyi? Or does he negotiate with him to chart a way forward out of this debilitating situation? Obviously, in trying to answer these questions he will have to weigh the cost-benefits to the solutions and gauge if they fit in his diary.
So, let us imagine Museveni throws all his resources at containing Kyagulanyi. Well, he will have to curtail social average especially as it was crucial to ending former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. It is that powerful. But we should note that the internet is hard to police and is a medium through which a lot of people make a living. Either way patience will run out for the people whose livelihoods will be curtailed in the process. They will have no option but to organise protests. The bad news for Museveni is that according to African Union brief on the Sahel 2020 it is clear that violent clashes and violence against civilians are on the rise during these covid-19 times. If we mirror that with the November riots in Uganda, we are likely to see more protests if the heavy-handed policies of the state are continuously applied.
Museveni will also have to maintain Kyagulanyi under house arrest, but he will further draw the ire of the international community as his current gambit on the elections was a stretch too far. He may have burnt up his remaining currency with several international stakeholders. Apart from Western societies, citizens in different African countries have grown tired of Museveni and are pressuring their countries not to acknowledge his electoral win. This exasperation is among the young people especially in Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa to mention but a few.
A combination of continental and international loss of support could set Uganda the same path as Zimbabwe under Mugabe if Museveni resorts to outright violence. We could see sanctions being applied on top of the travel restrictions already imposed on key players within Museveni's government. The problem for Museveni is Uganda does not possess strong support in East Africa as Mugabe did in Southern Africa. Plus, Museveni's relationship with President Kagame has been frosty, to say the least. Either way, he will have to deal with mass protests in support of freedom for Kyagulanyi in Uganda. This will call for further investment in the police and army to contain the situation. Let us not forget that with the fluid nature of Covid-19 pandemic, the country could face deep human security issues. Hence containing Kyagulanyi will come at a very political and economic cost both to Museveni and Uganda.
What if Museveni decided to negotiate with Kyagulanyi and form a government of national unity? This wouldn't be without precedent as Museveni set into place the movement system discussed earlier that brought everyone on board and for 10 years the country benefited from collective governance (except the north which was experiencing an insurgency). I'm of the persuasion that Uganda is again on similar footing. Institutions have been degraded and cannot perform independently. There is a lot of frustration with the current regime as exemplified by the parliamentary elections where the vice president and 24 ministers lost their seats. By inviting Kyagulanyi onboard Museveni will be pressing the reset button especially as he will inject young people into the system, and they could play a key role in reducing corruption and improving service delivery.
It would cost Museveni some political capital among the entrenched supporters, but it will save his legacy. He will be seen as a father of a nation mentoring young leaders to take over from him. Right now, he is seen as an insensitive, power-hungry despot. But that could change in an instant if he goes for a coalition with Kyagulanyi and other leaders like Mugisha Muntu, Nobert Mao and Patrick Amuriat. The resources that would have been spent on containing them would be allocated to the heavily challenged health care system to combat Covid-19 and other ailments.
Moreover, this will save the National Resistance Movement political party from oblivion once Museveni goes. The reason for this is the party has struggled to attract a strong intellectual and ideological talent within its ranks as it has been accused of nepotism. This would be a good time to reset the party and its structures and prepare for the transition from Museveni. By co-opting the opposition into government this will put them under scrutiny and any blunders they make will further give NRM a softer landing come 2026.
The benefit for Kyagulanyi would be experience in government. Although he was a member of parliament, gaining further experience in public governance would do him a lot of good and also build a strong support base within the country. Since his political party has the largest number of opposition members of parliament this will give him further credibility and foundation to strengthen his National Unity platform party (NUP). The same will apply for the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) led by Mugisha Muntu. The other parties like Forum for Democratic Change (led by Patrick Amuriat) and Democratic Party (led by Nobert Mao) will get a new lease of life.
Therefore, due to the circumstances afoot, it would be of immense political worth to form a government of national unity under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni but with considerable influence of the other parties especially the National Unity Platform, Alliance for National Transformation, Democratic Party and Forum for democratic Change. This will pause the political animosity as the country goes into reforms to ensure more transparent electoral and governance processes.
Satellite image of the Canary Islands [NASA].
COMMENTARY / Natalia Reyna Sarmiento
The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has forced quarantines and other restrictions around the world and this has severely limited the movement of people from one country to another. Nevertheless, the migration phenomenon has continued, including in the case of Europe, where the closure of borders for part of 2020 has not prevented illegal immigration, such as from sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the health misery of poor countries has added another reason for flight from the countries of origin in this time of pandemic.
The increase in migration in recent decades has been a consequence of various humanitarian challenges. Lack of security, fear of persecution, violence, conflict and poverty, among other reasons, generate a status of vulnerability that in many cases pushes those suffering from these circumstances to leave their country in search of better conditions. The emergence of Covid-19 has been another element of vulnerability in societies with scarce medical resources in the last year as well, while the arrival of migrants without knowing whether or not they were carriers of the virus has aggravated social resistance to immigration in developed economies. The two issues went hand in hand especially in the migration crisis experienced by the Canary Islands throughout 2020, particularly in the last few months.
Fourteen years after the "cayuco crisis", the archipelago experienced another boom in the arrival of migrants (this time the term that has become generalised for their boats is pateras) B . In 2020, more than 23,000 immigrants arrived in the Canary Islands, in crossings that claimed the lives of at least 600 people. If in 2019 around 100 boats with illegal immigrants arrived in the islands, in 2020 there were more than 550, which speaks of a migration phenomenon multiplied by five.
Why has this increase occurred, redirecting to the Canary Islands a flow that has previously sought the Mediterranean route? On the one hand, the sea crossing continues to be the preferred way to reach Europe, as in addition to the cost of the airfare - prohibitive for many - flights require documentation that is often not in possession or that facilitates a control by the authorities - on departure and arrival - that one wishes to avoid. status On the other hand, the difficulties at points along the Mediterranean route, such as stricter policies imposed by Italy on Admissions Office refugees rescued from the sea, or the war in Libya, where routes arrive from Sudan, Nigeria and Chad, for example, have led to part of the pressure from the migratory mafias towards the Canary Islands. Morocco's attitude may also have played a role in this.
Spain has an interest in maintaining a good relationship with Morocco for obvious reasons. Its border with Ceuta and Melilla and its proximity to the Canary Islands make it a neighbour that can contribute both to security and to intensifying migratory pressure on Spanish territory. Precisely at a critical moment in the Canary Islands crisis, the Spanish Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, visited the neighbouring country on 20 November to meet with his Moroccan counterpart, Abdelouafi Laftit, with the intention of requesting the Alawi monarchy's financial aid to put a stop to the migratory crisis. However, although in the following days there was a decrease in the number of arrivals of small boats in the Canary Islands, arrivals were soon on the rise again, leaving Marlaska's visit effective.
On the other hand, in the same weeks, Pablo Iglesias, vice-president of the Spanish government and University Secretary of Podemos, called on Morocco to hold a referendum on the future of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony under Moroccan tutelage admitted by the UN until the holding of enquiry for the Sahrawi people. The Admissions Office in those same days of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara by the Trump Administration (in exchange for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel) led Rabat to expect a revision of Spain's position, which is aligned with the UN's approach. The ratification of this by Iglesias and above all his tone of demand led the Moroccan monarch, Mohammed VI, to decide not to receive the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, on a trip to the neighbouring country. Other issues, such as Morocco's delimitation of territorial waters in January, expanding its exclusive economic zone, have increased the disagreements between the two countries.
In addition to the normal tension in the Canary Islands due to the arrival of thousands of immigrants in a short period of time, there were also health risks due to the pandemic. Beyond the fears spread by some about the possible entrance of people actually infected with the coronavirus, the protocols established obliged those arriving in small boats to be kept isolated, which caused a problem of overcrowding in facilities that were initially unsuitable.
The Spanish Red Cross set up areas reserved for the isolation of people who tested positive for Covid-19. In addition, temporary macro-camps were set up to rehouse thousands of migrants who were first housed in different hotels. The transfer of groups of migrants by plane to points on the peninsula created controversy that the government had to deal with. The entrance of 2021 has, at least momentarily, eased the pressure.
▲ A Challenger 2 tank on Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire, Wales, fires a 'Squash-Head' practice round [UK MoD].
COMMENTARY / Jairo Císcar Ruiz
At the end of last summer, two news pieces appeared in the forums and specialised magazines of the military field in the Anglo-Saxon world. The first of them was the forecast of the continuity (and worsening due to the current pandemic) of the spending cuts suffered in the UK Defence budget since 2010. The second, linked to the first, was the growing rumors of a possible withdrawal of the Challenger 2 tanks, which were already reduced to a quarter of their original strength. At a time of great economic instability, it seemed that the UK's strategic vision had decided to focus on its main assets to maintain its deterrent power and its projection of force: the very expensive nuclear arsenal and the maintenance and expansion of new naval groups in order to host the F-35B.
However, both pieces of news have been quickly overtaken by the announcement of the Boris Johnson executive to inject about 22 billion dollars over 4 years to take British power back to the levels of 30 years ago. Also, the decommissioning of battle tanks was dismissed by ministerial sources, who argued that it was simply a possibility raised in the "Integrated Review" that is being carried out by the British Ministry of Defence.
Although the waters have calmed down, the discussion that has arisen as a result of these controversies seems extremely interesting, as well as the role that armoured units will have on the battlefield of the future. This article aims to make a brief reflection, identifying possible scenarios and their implications.
The first of them It is a reality: the United Kingdom must improve its armoured forces, which run the risk of becoming obsolete, not only in the face of threats (Russia has had since 2015 the T-14 Armata, a 5th generation tank; and recently the modernized version of the mythical T-90, Proryv-3), but also in front of their allies, such as France or Germany, which are already starting the project to replace their respective armor with the future European Main Battle Tank. It is not only a matter of improving their operational capabilities, but also of evolving their survival on the battlefield.
At a time when military technology is advancing by leaps and bounds (hypersonic projectiles; battlefield dominated by technology; extensive use of drones ...), it is necessary to rethink the traditional way of waging war. In the last Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, images and evidence of the effectiveness of the use of Israeli "suicide" drones could be seen against groups of infantry, but also against armoured vehicles and tanks. Despite Foreign Policy accusing poor training and the complex terrain as the main factors for these casualties, the question is still up in the air: does the "classic" tank as we know it still have a place on the battlefield?
Experience tells us yes. The tank is vital in large military operations, although, as noted above, new threats must be countered with new defenses. To this day, the tank remains the best vehicle to provide direct fire quickly and efficiently, against other armor, infantry, and reinforced enemy positions. By itself it is an exceptional striking force, although it must always act in accordance with the rest of the deployed troops, especially with Intelligence, Logistics units and the Infantry. It should not be forgotten that in a battlefield characterized by hybrid warfare, it is necessary to consider the increasingly changing environment of threats.
Sensors and detection systems on the battlefield are persistently more innovative and revolutionary, capable of detecting armoured vehicles, even if they are camouflaged; when integrated with lethal precision firing systems, they make concealing and wearing heavy armor a challenge. There are technical responses to these threats, from countering electronic direction finding through spoofing and jamming, to mounting active protection systems on vehicle hulls.
Despite the above, obviously, the battle tank continues to be a great investment in terms of money that must be made, questionable in front of the taxpayer in an environment of economic crisis, although at the strategic level it may not be.
There are also those who broke a spear in favour of withdrawing the tanks from their inventories, and it seems that today they regret having made this decision. The United Kingdom has the example of the army of the Netherlands, which in 2011 withdrew and sold to Finland 100 of its 120 Leopard 2A6s as a means of saving money and changing military doctrine. However, with Russia's entry into Ukraine and its increasing threats to NATO's eastern flank, they soon began to miss the armoured forces' unique capabilities: penetrating power, high mobility that enables turning movements to engulf the enemy, maneuverability, speed, protection, and firepower. In the end, in 2015, they handed over their last 20 tanks (crews and mechanics included) to the German army, which since then has a contingent of a hundred Dutch, forming the Panzerbataillon 414. Knowing how important the concept of "lessons learned" is in military planning, perhaps the UK should pay attention to this case and consider its needs and the capabilities required to meet them.
A roadmap to the middle position would be to move towards an "army of specialization", abandoning its armoured units and specializing in other areas such as cyber or aviation; but this would only be possible within the framework of a defence organization more integrated than NATO. Although it is only a distant possibility, the hypothetical and much mentioned European Army -of which the United Kingdom would most likely be excluded after the Brexit- could lead to the creation of national armed forces that would be specialised in a specific weapon, relying on other countries to fulfil other tasks. However, this possibility belongs right now to the pure terrain of reverie and futurology, since it would require greater integration at all levels in Europe to be able to consider this possibility.
In the end we find the main problem when organising and maintaining an army, which is none other than money. On many occasions this aspect, which is undoubtedly vital, completely overshadows any other consideration. And in the case of a nation's armed forces, this is very dangerous. It would be counterproductive to ignore the tactical and strategic aspects to favour just the purely pecuniary ones. The reality is that Western armed forces, whether from the United Kingdom or any other NATO country, face not only IEDs and insurgent infantry in the mountainous regions of the Middle East, but also may have to confront peer rivals equipped with huge armoured forces. Russia itself has about 2,000 battle tanks (that is, not counting other armoured vehicles, whether they are capable of shooting rounds or not). China increases that figure up to 6,900 (more than half are completely out of date, although they are embarking on a total remodeling of the Chinese People's Army in all its forces). NATO does not forget the challenges, hence the mission "Enhanced Forward Presence" in Poland and the Baltic Republics, in which Spain contributes a Tactical Group that includes 6 Leopard 2A6 Main Battle Tanks, 14 Pizarro Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and other armored infantry transports.
Certainly, war is changing. We can't even imagine how technology will change the battlefield in the next decade. Sometimes, though, it is better not to get ahead of time. Taking all aspects into account, perhaps the best decision the UK Ministry of Defence could make would be to modernize its tank battalions to adapt them to the current environment, and thus maintain a balanced military with full operational capabilities. It is plausible to predict that the tank still has a journey in its great and long history on the battlefield, from the Somme, to the war of the future. Time (and money) will tell what ends up happening.
 Doubts have existed since the very "birth" of the battle tank during the First World War. In each great war scene of the twentieth century that has contributed significant technological innovations (World War I; Spanish Civil War; World War II; Cold War; Gulf ...) it seemed that the tank was going to disappear under new weapons and technologies (first reliability problems, then anti-tank weapons and mines, aviation, RPG's and IED's...) However, armies have learned how to evolve battle tanks in line with the times. Even more valuable, today's tanks are the product of more than 100 years of battles, with many lessons learned and incorporated into their development, not only on a purely material level, but also in tactics and training.
COMMENT / Sebastián Bruzzone
"We have failed... We should have acted earlier in the face of the pandemic". These are not the words of a political scientist, scientist or journalist, but of Chancellor Angela Merkel herself addressing the 27 other leaders of the European Union on 29 October 2020.
Anyone who has followed the news from March to today can easily realise that no government in the world has been able to control the spread of the coronavirus, except in one country: New Zealand. Its prime minister, the young Jacinda Ardern, closed the borders on 20 March and imposed a 14-day quarantine on New Zealanders returning from overseas. Her "go hard, go early" strategy has yielded positive results compared to the rest of the world: fewer than 2,000 infected and 25 deaths since the start of the health crisis. And the question is: how have they done it? The answer is relatively simple: their unilateral behaviour.
The most sceptical to this idea may think that "New Zealand is an island and has been easier to control". However, it is necessary to know that Japan is also an island and has more than 102,000 confirmed cases, that Australia has had more than 27,000 infected, or that the United Kingdom, which is even smaller than New Zealand, has more than one million infected. The percentage of cases out of the total population of New Zealand is tiny, only 0.04% of its population has been infected.
As the world's states waited for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to establish guidelines for a common response to the global crisis, New Zealand walked away from the body, ignoring its wildly contradictory recommendations, which US President Donald J. Trump called "deadly mistakes" while suspending America's contribution to the organisation. Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aro went so far as to say that the WHO should be renamed the "Chinese Health Organisation".
The New Zealand case is an example of the weakening of today's multilateralism. Long gone is the concept of multilateral cooperation that gave birth to the United Nations (UN) after the Second World War, whose purpose was to maintain peace and security in the world. The foundations of global governance were designed by and for the West. The powers of the 20th century are no longer the powers of the 21st century: emerging countries such as China, India or Brazil are demanding more power in the UN Security committee and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The lack of common values and objectives between developed and emerging countries is undermining the legitimacy and relevance of last century's multilateral organisations. In fact, China already proposed in 2014 the creation of the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) as an alternative to the IMF or the World Bank.
The European Union is not spared from the multilateral disaster either because it has been attributed the shared skill in common security matters in subject of public health (TFEU: art. 4.k)). On 17 March, the European committee took the incoherent decision to close external borders with third states when the virus was already inside instead of temporarily and imperatively fail the Schengen Treaty. On the economic front, inequality and suspicion between the debt-prone countries of the North and the South have increased. The refusal of the Netherlands, Finland, Austria and other frugals to the unconditional financial aid required by a country like Spain, which has more official and political cars than the rest of Europe and the United States combined, called into question one of the fundamental principles on which the European Union was built: solidarity.
Europe has been the perfect storm in a sea of uncertainty and Spain, the eye of the hurricane. The European economic recovery fund is a term that overshadows what it really is: a financial bailout. A total of 750 billion euros divided mainly between Italy, Portugal, France, Greece and Spain, which will receive 140 billion euros and will be paid back by our grandchildren's children. It seems fanciful that the first health aid Italy received came from third states and not from its EU partners, but it became a reality when the first planes from China and Russia landed at Fiumicino airport on 13 March. The pandemic is proving to be an examination of conscience and credibility for the EU, a sinking ship with 28 crew members trying to bail out the water that is slowly sinking it.
Leading scholars and politicians confirm that states need multilateralism to respond jointly and effectively to the great risks and threats that have crossed borders and to maintain global peace. However, this idea collapses when it is realised that today's leading figure in bilateralism, Donald J. Trump, is the only US president since 1980 not to have started a war in his first term, to have brought North Korea closer, and to have secured recognition of Israel by Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
It is time to shift geopolitics towards updated and consensus-based solutions based on cooperative governance rather than global governance led by obsolete and truly powerful institutions. Globalist multilateralism that seeks to unify the actions of countries with very disparate cultural and historical roots under a single supranational entity to which they cede sovereignty can cause major clashes within the entente, provoke the departure of some of the disgruntled members, the subsequent extinction of the intended organisation and even enmity or a rupture of diplomatic relations.
However, if states with similar values, laws, customary norms or interests decide to come together under a treaty or create a regulatory institution, even while ceding just and necessary sovereignty, the understanding will be much more productive. Thus, a network of bilateral agreements between regional organisations or between states has the potential to create more precise and specific objectives, as opposed to signing a globalist treaty where long letters and lists of articles and members can become smoke and mere declarations of intent as has been the case with the Paris Climate Change Convention in 2015.
This last idea is the true and optimal future of International Office: regional bilateralism. A world grouped in regional organisations made up of countries with similar characteristics and objectives that negotiate and reach agreements with other groups of regions through dialogue, peaceful understanding, the art of diplomacy and binding pacts without the need to cede the soul of a state: sovereignty.
Joe Biden and Barack Obama in February 2009, one month after arriving at the White House [Pete Souza].
COMMENTARY / Emili J. Blasco
This article was previously published, in a somewhat abbreviated form, in the newspaper 'Expansión'.
One of the great mistakes revealed by the US presidential election is to have underestimated the figure of Donald Trump, believing him to be a mere anecdote, and to have disregarded much of his politics as whimsical. In reality, the Trump phenomenon is a manifestation, if not a consequence, of the current American moment, and some of his major decisions, especially in the international arena, have more to do with domestic imperatives than with fickle whimsy. The latter suggests that there are aspects of foreign policy, manners aside, in which Joe Biden as president may be closer to Trump than to Barack Obama, simply because the world of 2021 is already somewhat different from that of the first half of the previous decade.
First, Biden will have to confront Beijing. Obama began to do so, but the more assertive character of Xi Jinping's China has been accelerating in recent years. In the superpower tug-of-war, especially over the dominance of the new technological age, the US has everything at stake vis-à-vis China. It is true that Biden has referred to the Chinese not as enemies but as competitors, but the trade war was already begun by the administration of which he was vice-president and now the objective rivalry is greater.
Nor is the US's withdrawal the result of Trump's madness. Basically it has to do, to simplify somewhat, with the energy independence achieved by the Americans: they no longer need oil from the Middle East and no longer have to be in all the oceans to ensure the free navigation of tankers. America First' has in a way already been started by Obama and Biden will not go in the opposite direction. So, for example, no major involvement in EU affairs and no firm negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two Atlantic markets can be expected.
On the two major achievements of the Obama era - the agreement nuclear deal with Iran sealed by the US, the EU and Russia, and the restoration of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana - Biden will find it difficult to tread the path then defined. There may be attempts at a new rapprochement with Tehran, but there would be greater coordination against it on the part of Israel and the Sunni world, which are now more convergent. Biden may find that less pressure on the ayatollahs pushes Saudi Arabia towards the atom bomb.
As for Cuba, a return to dissent will be more in the hands of the Cuban government than of Biden himself, who in his electoral loss in Florida has been able to read a rejection of any condescension towards Castroism. Some of the new restrictions imposed by Trump on Cuba may be dismantled, but if Havana continues to show no real willingness to change and open up, the White House will no longer have to continue betting on political concessions to credit .
In the case of Venezuela, Biden is likely to roll back a good part of the sanctions, but there is no longer room for a policy of inaction like Obama's. That administration did not confront Chavismo for two reasons. That Administration did not confront Chavismo for two reasons: because it did not want to upset Cuba, given the secret negotiations it was holding with that country to reopen its embassies, and because the regime's level of lethality had not yet become unbearable. Today, international human rights reports are unanimous on the repression and torture of Maduro's government, and the arrival of millions of Venezuelan refugees in the different countries of the region means that it is necessary to take action on the matter. Here it is to be hoped that Biden will be able to act less unilaterally and, while maintaining pressure, seek coordination with the European Union.
It is often the case that those who come to the White House deal with domestic affairs in their first years and then later, especially in a second term, focus on leaving an international bequest . Due to age and health, the new occupant may only serve a four-year term. Without Obama's idealism of wanting to 'bend the arc of history' - Biden is a pragmatist, a product of the US political establishment - or businessman Trump's rush for immediate gain, it is hard to imagine that his administration will take serious risks on the international stage.
Biden has confirmed his commitment to begin his presidency in January by reversing some of Trump's decisions, notably on climate change and the Paris agreement ; on some tariff fronts, such as the outgoing administration's unnecessary punishment of European countries; and on various immigration issues, especially concerning Central America.
In any case, even if the Democratic left wants to push Biden to the margins, believing that they have an ally in Vice President Kamala Harris, the president-elect can make use of his staff moderation: the fact that in the elections he obtained a better result than the party itself gives him, for the moment, sufficient internal authority. The Republicans have also held their own quite well in the Senate and the House of Representatives, so that Biden comes to the White House with less support on Capitol Hill than his predecessors. That, in any case, may help to reinforce one of the Delaware politician's generally most valued traits today: predictability, something that the economies and foreign ministries of many of the world's countries are eagerly awaiting.
COMMENTARY / Rafael Calduch Torres*.
As tradition dictates since 1845, on the first Tuesday of November, the 3rd, the eligible voters of the fifty states that make up the United States will take part in the fifty-ninth Election Day, the day on which the high school Electoral, which will have to choose between keeping the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, or electing the forty-sixth, Joe Biden.
But the real problem facing not only the inhabitants of the US, but also the rest of the world's population, is that both Trump and Biden are setting out their international strategy at core topic domestically, following in the wake of the change that took place in the country following the 9/11 attacks and whose fundamental result has been the absence of effective leadership of the American superpower over the last twenty years. For if there is one thing that must be clear to us, it is the fact that none of the candidates, like their predecessors, has a plan to restore the international leadership that the United States enjoyed until the end of the 1990s; On the contrary, what they are urged to do is to solve domestic problems and subordinate international issues, which a superpower of the stature of the US must face, to the solutions adopted domestically. This is one of the serious strategic errors of our era, since strong international leaderships that are coherent with the management of domestic problems have historically allowed the creation of points of meeting in US society that cushion divisions and bring the country together.
However, despite these broad similarities, there is a clear difference between the two candidates in their approach to international issues that will affect the outcome of the choice Americans will make on Tuesday.
"The Power of America's example. With this slogan, Biden's general proposal , much clearer and more accessible than Trump's, develops a plan to lead the democratic world in the 21st century based on using the way in which America's domestic problems will be solved as an example, binding and sustaining its international leadership; it goes without saying that the mere assumption that America's domestic problems are not exactly extrapolable to the rest of the international actors is not even taken into account.
Thus, the Democratic candidate , using a fairly traditional rhetoric on the dignity of leadership, uses the connection between domestic and international reality to propose a programme of national regeneration without specifying how this will succeed in re-establishing the lost international leadership. This approach will be based on two main pillars: the democratic regeneration of the country and the reconstruction of the US class average which, in turn, will underpin other international projects.
Democratic regeneration will be based on strengthening the educational and judicial systems, transparency, the fight against corruption and an end to attacks on the media, and is seen as the instrument for restoring the country's moral leadership, which, in addition to inspiring others, would serve for the US to transfer these US domestic policies to the international arena, for others to follow and imitate through a sort of global league for democracy that seems very nebulous to us.
Meanwhile, the reconstruction of the class average , the same one Trump appealed to four years ago, would involve greater investment in technological innovation and supposedly greater global equity in international trade, from which the United States would benefit the most.
Finally, all of the above would be complemented by a new era in international arms control through a new START treaty between the US and Russia, US leadership in the fight against climate change, an end to interventions on foreign soil, particularly in Afghanistan, and the re-establishment of diplomacy as the backbone of US foreign policy.
"Promises Made, Promises Kept!What is Trump's alternative? The current President does not reveal what his projects are, but he does propose a review of his "achievements" which, we understand, will give us an idea of what his foreign policy will be, which will revolve around the continuity of the US trade rebalancing based, as until now, on shielding US companies from foreign investment, the imposition of new tariffs, the fight against fraudulent trade practices, especially on the part of China, and the restoration of US relations with its allies in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Europe, but without specific proposals.
With regard to security, which Trump treats differently, the recipe is increased defence spending, the shielding of US territory against terrorism and opposition to North Korea, Venezuela and Iran, to which will be added the maintenance and expansion of the recent campaign of actions directed specifically against Russia, with the declared goal to contain it in Ukraine and to prevent cyber-attacks.
But the reality is that both candidates will have to face global challenges that they have not considered in their programmes and that will decisively condition their mandates, starting with the management of the pandemic and its economic effects on a global scale and including the growing competition from the European Union, especially as its common military and defence capabilities develop.
As we have just seen, none of the candidates will offer new solutions and therefore the situation is unlikely to improve, at least in the short term deadline.
* PhD in Contemporary History. graduate in Political Science and Administration. Lecturer at the UNAV and the UCJC.
COMMENTARY / Juan Luis López Aranguren
If traditional diplomacy is understood as relations exercised between official representatives of states, in recent years a new concept of diplomacy has gained popularity and has become increasingly important in relations between nations: cultural diplomacy. Assuming that culture is the vehicle through which nations communicate with each other, cultural diplomacy is the exchange of culture, ideas and information that nations around the world engage in to achieve mutual understanding in order to advance the building of a more just and stable world. In this context, the celebration of the Olympic Games is one of the most important cultural diplomacy events that a nation can achieve to project and share its culture and identity with the rest of the world. In this sense, Japan reaffirmed its position as a global benchmark in this diplomacy with its public appearance at the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared in the guise of the world-famous character Mario to pick up the baton for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. In this way, Japan used an icon of Japanese pop culture to project its cultural identity to the entire world.
In this dimension of soft power or cultural diplomacy, the Olympic Games are the greatest exponent of it. Already at their origin, in 776 BC, the Olympic Games proved to be a diplomatic tool of extraordinary strength by forcing a sacred truce between the different city-states participating in them. Therefore, from the very beginning, it was possible to achieve international political objectives by using this cultural tool . This measure was observed to the extent that if any city-state violated this truce, its athletes were expelled from the competition.
This same demonstration has been repeated in more recent times, demonstrating that the Olympics have been a diplomatic battleground throughout history. In 1980 the US and 65 other countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest at the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan. In retaliation, the USSR and 13 other states boycotted the next Olympics in 1984 in Los Angeles.
The upcoming Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games (delayed by one year due to the pandemic) do not carry any controversy from this subject. Instead they have been conceived as a historic opportunity for the country to reinvent itself internally and globally after the Fukushima (or Great East Japan Earthquake) catastrophe. C To this end, an official project graduate Tokyo 2020 Action & Legacy Plan 2016 has been launched, which aims to achieve three objectives: firstly, to maximise the connection of Japanese citizens and communities with the Tokyo Olympics. Secondly, to maximise cultural projection both nationally and globally. Thirdly and lastly, to ensure a valuable bequest for future generations, as was the case with the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.
These three objectives set out by the Japanese government will be manifested in five dimensional pillars on which action will be taken. These five pillars are articulated in the manner of Olympic rings, intertwining with each other and strengthening the domestic and international impact of these Olympic Games. These dimensions are, starting with the most immediate to the purely sporting aspect itself, the promotion of sport and health. The second, connecting with culture and Education. The third, also of great importance for its potential to reform Tokyo in particular and Japan in general, is urban planning and sustainability. Not surprisingly, the Japanese government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have made great efforts to build ambitious infrastructure to accommodate the Olympics, even to the extent of relocating the famous and iconic Tsukiji fish market that has been a symbol of the city since 1935. Fourthly, the Olympics will be used to revive Economics and technological innovation, in the same way as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics did when it showcased the first Shinkansen or bullet trains that have become one of Japan's technological icons. Finally, fifthly, Japan saw the Olympics as an opportunity to overcome the crisis and trauma caused by the Fukushima disaster (a catastrophe that is referred to in Japan as the Great East Japan Earthquake).
In addition to these five objectives, which range from the more specific to the more general, a sixth goal or unofficial dimension will be added in 2020: to project Japan's recovery from the COVID pandemic both domestically and internationally. In this sense, the Olympic Games will not only be a symbol of overcoming a particular Japanese disaster, but may also enable Japan to position itself as a model in the management against the pandemic and in promoting economic recovery.