Opinion

Killing peace

AFP/MOHAMMED ABED  - Palestinos evacuan un vecindario en la ciudad de Gaza durante los ataques aéreos israelíes el 11 de octubre de 2023
photo_camera AFP/MOHAMMED ABED - Palestinians evacuate a neighbourhood in Gaza City during Israeli airstrikes on 11 October 2023

In every war, the construction of the story is part of what, if repeated many times, ends up being true, even if it was in fact a lie. For example, it has been said like a mantra that six million Jews were murdered by Adolf Hitler's Nazi government, although other versions speak of one million.  

This is not to say that one million lives are less valuable than six million, every life is precious and precious, and institutional, constitutional values and international codes, laws and treaties should protect it as a fundamental protection. We all have the right to live, to be free to decide our destiny and to be considered within the indivisible guarantees of life itself, such as eating, having a place to live and living in a peaceful environment. 

As I write these lines, my daughter is sleeping peacefully. Her main concern is to pass her maths exam. She does not have to suffer because she lacks shelter, protection, love, food or security... she sleeps peacefully; there are no bombs falling, no air raids, she can study and plan for her future. 

When living or surviving in an environment of permanent conflict, people can only plan for the short term; surviving and adapting to the environment is their main concern.

The UN says that, since the Second World War, we have lived through nearly a thousand conflicts; of course, some are more tense than others, longer than others, more deadly than others, but they always end up confronting the strategic interests of the prevailing powers of our time: during the Cold War the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and in the current era, which is, shall we say, another Cold War 2.0, the interests of the United States, Russia and now China also come into play, although the range can be opened up to include Iran, Turkey and India.

We have had a blood-soaked peace since 1945 to date and not infrequently our breath has been taken away by the fear of a nuclear confrontation between the US and Russia. The bloody nuclear button that other countries such as North Korea and Israel itself also possess.

A few days ago I was talking to a Spanish colleague, Isabel Gómez Fuentes, about the current events between Israel and the Gaza Strip and one of us commented that, unlike past generations, especially those of our grandparents and other ancestors, our parents and we ourselves have enjoyed a peace that has allowed us to prosper.  But it is a peace held in place with pins. 

Those pins that go flying through the air and make us wonder whether that little girl who sleeps in her bed without any great shock will end up trapped along with her generation in the jaws of a new great global war. The dreaded Third World War. 

On the subject

I personally have tried to deconstruct President Biden's remarks, after returning to the White House from his seven-hour trip to Tel Aviv, where he mentioned the turning point in history that he said we are at; and also where he places Hamas and Putin's Russia on the same level of threat. 

During the Cold War, the two prevailing sides defended two different ideological models of society, of politics, of government, of economics: capitalism and socialism/communism.  

It became almost a battle between good and evil. And American capitalism ended up winning, but the capitalism-democracy pairing did not spread globally. The market economy has shown that it can be compatible with a communist government. 

China's own president, Xi Jinping, proposed including the communist essence of the Asian giant in the Constitution, and it is included as part of Jinping's thinking. That is where Washington's paradigm of capitalism and democracy failed it. 

Today we have so many problems in the making: not only climate change, but for at least three quarters of a century we have been witnessing a democratic regression even in countries that were traditionally the cradles of democracy. The storming of the Capitol portrays, for example, the regression that even the United States is facing, let alone Spain or other nations.  

That is why Biden, in his speech to his nation (which is nothing more than a message to the world), very skilfully put on the table what for him is the crux of the current situation: a struggle between democratic thinking against backward fundamentalism and the prevailing dictatorships.  

For Biden, the invasion of Ukraine, the terrorist attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Jihad against Israel, and the covert manoeuvres of Iran, North Korea and China are nothing more than enemies fighting to destroy Western democracy in favour of their autocracy.  

These external actors seek to create all kinds of interference in order to inoculate voter despondency towards their institutions in order to increase polarisation and ostracism. The more abstentionism increases, the more vulnerable a democracy becomes. 

Today's wars, in Biden's view, subsume human beings to confront these conflicts and that, of course, should matter a great deal to all of us, because another major global confrontation seems inevitable and will ultimately kill what little peace we have left.