Editorial: Brave New World Order
If the suffering of the Kurds in Iraq is a preview of the much-touted new world order, then we all are in for some rough times. George Bush's use of opportunistic politics and disposable allies seems all too familiar, nowhere more so than with the Kurds.
Each member of the deadly triumvirate of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey has been quietly killing Kurds. Each has seized Kurdish land and resources, each has uprooted and relocated them, and each has attempted to destroy even Kurdish language and culture. Present and former US allies all, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, with US acquiescence if not assistance, have set about dismantling the Kurdish people. The Kurds nave been used they are expedient and abused when they have outlived their usefulness in maintaining the "delicate" regional political balance.
In the 1970s and early 1980s Iraq forcibly moved more than one million Kurds from nearly half their traditionally occupied lands and then destroyed more than 3,000 villages. Were any courageous voices raised? The United Sates was silent. In the same period hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled the country as refugees. Did anyone speak out? The United sates was silent. After all, states' rights, we reasoned, must be respected. The integrity of states is imperative. Furthermore, states have the right to appropriate resources - in this case, oil. Sates look for the greatest good for the greatest number - a good rationalization for old, assimilationist "melting pot" theories.
In 1988 Iraq launched two separate chemical warfare campaigns against its Kurds, killing thousands and prompting more than 100,000 to flee the country. Did we hear any brave words? The Sates was silent. Iraq, the enemy of our enemy, Iran, was our friend, If we had dealt with Saddam Hussein then as the tyrant that he was and still is, our current military involvement in the Gulf could have been avoided and all the lives lost of altered forever could have been saved. That would have been a courageous stand, indeed.
But that was the old world order. What promises does the brave new world order hold?
Clearly, we are prepared to go to war to defend the rights of states, including Kuwait's puppet princes, but not to protect nations, such as the Kurds. We are prepared to spend billions of dollars to guarantee the "free" flow of cheap oil, but not to question who owns that oil, who is dependent on it, and who has the right to sell it. And we are even less inclined to double the price at the gas pump in order to fund more efficient public transportation or alternative energy sources.
Much of the turmoil of the last 50 years has been couched in the language of the East/West conflict. Since this conflict has dissipated, we see many local and regional conflicts for what they really are: resource wars. Whether over oil or water, minerals or timber, cheap labor or greased political systems, the conflicts ultimately determine the authorized sellers and buyers in the global economy.
The new world order, unfortunately, will not change this. Sates - and most are still dictatorships or one-party governments - remain the authorized sellers of commodities because they can guarantee the flow of raw and semi-processed materials. And the United states, which consumes per capita 20 times as much of the world's resources as everyone else, has a vested interest in maintaining that order.
In the next few years, these are the issues that must be examined if we are to more toward a truly brave, new world order: * Any world order lacking economic justice and social equity will serve to degrade the environment. * Creating and maintaining a world order is a political process involving nearly constant change and considerable conflict. * The new world order does not have to be based on disorder; but it does have to allow for considerable diversity. No single political or economic model best fits the needs of all peoples. * Truly plural political systems lay the groundwork for more rational economic systems as well as the sustainable use of resources. We live a world without borders, one in which we can no longer push our problems into someone else's back yard.
The faces of Kurdish refugees speak volumes about the consequences - wave upon wave of displaced people and resource wars - of our political favoritism of states over nations. Ultimately, negotiations must take place between the Kurds and their oppressors. Without some measure of autonomy and resource control, there is no brave new world for them - or any of the rest of us, for that matter.
Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.