Geopolitical Musings

Ottoman Empire In 1683

Peace is fundamental. Climate Change and other macro level ecological issues cannot be addressed while people are struggling for day to day survival. Peace, democracy and sustainable development need to co-evolve.

When one reflects on the trouble spots where ethnic hatred, fundamentalist intolerance, warfare and bad governance have dominated the news over recent decades a disproportionate geographical spread seem to be in the lands that once made up the old Ottoman Empire. Israel, Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Georgia the Crimea and now eastern Ukraine: A catalogue of suffering. Yet regions can turn around.

From 1914 to 1945 Europe was the centre of ethnic chauvinism, totalitarian dictatorships and the epicentre of two world wars. In the ashes of the Second World War the countries of Western Europe started working together to cooperate to promote peace and the rebuilding of their shattered economies. The European Union, even with all its faults, has been one of the most successful attempts at peace-building the world has ever seen, and why I for one am proud to be a member of it. It is within the European Union that the world’s best governance is to be found, and the best attempts are being made to address climate change and other mega problems.

Currently South America seems to be going through the most profound and positive transformation. Forty years ago military dictatorships, human rights abuses and gross inequality were the norm. Now democracy is burgeoning forth across the continent. I chose Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, as this blog’s person of the year 2013. Almost all the countries of South America seem to be moving to the left in what some commentators are talking of as a Pink Tide. I’m not as interested in left/right ideological divisions as what actually works in practice. Across most of the continent poverty is being reduced and improvements in education are happening, with perhaps Bolivia and Chile as prime examples. Brazil will have a Presidential election on 5th October, with the excellent green campaigner Marina Silva challenging incumbent Dilma Rousseff. Quite a change from the Brazil, or the South America, of my youth!

Can we envisage an era of peace and cooperation coming to all the lands of the old Ottoman Empire, perhaps with cooperation to develop their collective solar potential as a focus of activity in a similar way as Europe used iron, coal and steel agreements to test early patterns of cooperation 60 years ago?