The wolf, the goat, the cabbage and the farmer... and their variants

photo_camera El lobo, la cabra, la col y el granjero… y sus variantes

The world is full of magic waiting for our brains to sharpen up
B. Russel

There is a tale-stratagem that has been around at least since the 8th century in which a farmer had a goat, a couple of cabbages and a wolf. Four protagonists caught in a trap, since the story imposes on us from the outset that the farmer must cross a river in a small boat that can only hold two, and he could not leave the goat with the cabbages on the shore because he would eat them, nor the wolf with the goat because the latter would run the same risk. 

It is true that the story aims to teach us at a very early age that any problem has a solution. However, behind its apparent meaning lies another profound one as old as humanity: 'divide ut regnes', as Julius Caesar would say.

At first glance, it seems that the farmer is the hero who uses his intelligence to get out of a very delicate situation imposed by the impossible relationship between the three other protagonists. However, our poor friend is just another unhappy man caught in the nets of a story where he has to row and row again from one shore to another to find himself in the end in the same situation, with three incompatible beings who cannot be together without eating each other. 

Something like this is happening with and over the issue of Western Sahara: Algerians, Moroccans, Spaniards and French have been bewitched for decades by the all-consuming smoke that the story exhales, wandering in a labyrinth with no way out. 

A dilemma, said John A. Lincoln, "is a politician trying to save both sides at once". This is what is happening to Spain and France with Morocco and Algeria, and vice versa.

In view of this, I believe it is not important to know who is who in the story, but rather how to deconstruct the old paradigm and construct a new one that will cure the Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) that is poisoning relations in the Western Mediterranean.

There is no doubt that the events of the last three years have put the world on a veritable accelerator of history. All signs point to lean times ahead marked by high inflation, severe economic recession and much social upheaval. 

At such times, locking up one's neighbour does not convince one of one's good judgement. Rather, having a good neighbour always makes it possible to sell your house more cheaply in a world that is preparing to abandon globalisation and reshape itself differently.

The COVID crisis and the war between Russia and Ukraine have made it clear that from now on geopolitics will take precedence over economics and that the world will be organised into several smaller zones of influence, with locations and relocations aimed at securing supplies. 

For this reason, Spain, France, Algeria and Morocco, countries that share an important history and complementary natural and technological resources that could prevent the expected earthquakes, are called upon to free themselves from the lure of the fairy tale, to change the rules of the game and lay the foundations for the first hard core of a Euro-Maghreb zone of influence. 

I know it is not easy, but the new times are crying out for it and I believe that the discomfort of uncertainty is better than the ridicule of certainty. By persevering with the Hubris syndrome, we will only continue with a mistaken policy that Groucho Marx describes as "the art of looking for problems, finding them, making a false diagnosis and then applying the wrong remedies". 

And madness does not usually come from uncertainty, but from certainty!

Our respective peoples expect politicians who are in action, not in reaction, who do not just manage from day to day, but who look to the future, to what will happen in twenty, thirty or more years' time. 

In these difficult times, every day that passes without our leaders realising the need to change the rules of the game brings us closer to the abyss that lies behind De Gaulle's terrible quote: "Politics is too serious to be left in the hands of politicians". 

What other ways out are left for us then?

History has taught us that Roosevelt can emerge from the crisis like Hitler, and in the meantime, the far right is galloping in!
Mohamed Nouri, president of the Alcantara Spain-Morocco association