The process called the “Arab Spring” didn’t bring the expected “good weather” into the Middle East.
There are probably people around the world who are genuinely worried about the suffering of the Arab people, but the real concern of foreign powers is what kind of regimes will govern the Arab world from now on. They don’t really care about what kind of ethnic or religious profiles these governments will have, but about what values they will adopt in foreign policy.
There are three types of actors in today’s Middle East: those who are in power, those who want to take power and those who have just acceded to power. Great powers would like to know which of these actors will adopt warmongering and which peaceful policies. If you believe that the world’s problems can only be resolved through wars and armed conflict, then you will not be disturbed if radical elements in those countries come to power. This is how the Tea Party in the US, racist political parties in Europe and anti-imperialist Muslim socialists and nationalists in the Middle East feel.
Anyone who is convinced that they are always right and that others are always and definitely wrong will naturally walk an ideological path that leads only to war and conflict. That said, we also have to admit that there are always people who benefit from conflict and war. However, in some cases, peace, too, may serve people’s interests. That’s why those who benefit from war and those who benefit from peace always oppose each other.
When we analyze the Middle East’s development from this perspective, we can see that the world’s fate will be greatly affected by the outcome of turbulence in the region. The Syrian conflict is one of the factors that will determine the outcome: We will either end up with the world the war lobbies desire, or with a different world shaped by peace lobbies. When I say “war lobbies,” I think mainly about the oil and weapons industries, which benefit from armed conflict, and when I say “peace lobbies” I refer to the communications, information and service sectors that can only prosper in the politically and economically stable environment of peacetime.
This is a debate inherent to capitalism. Behind all these debates, there are genuine tragedies ordinary people have suffered throughout history. These ideological debates have been conducted before -- during and after World War II in Europe. After having tried all other possible ways, Europeans concluded that the best way forward is to make peace the cornerstone of their domestic and foreign policies.
But asking for peace is not enough. People would like to see and feel the concrete results of the enduring atmosphere of peace. The European integration project is the most successful and concrete achievement of the peace policies in the old continent. That’s why the European Union has become a political and philosophical reference point for the entire world. The EU has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, most people in Turkey prefer to criticize this decision rather than taking lessons from it. People have said that it is ironic that the EU has received a prize at a time when Europeans are struggling with a terrible financial crisis and everyone talks about the eventual end of the union. In fact, the Nobel committee couldn’t have had better timing. If a “peace project” still exists in a continent historically marked by countless economic and social problems along with hundreds of ethnic and religious wars, this should be rewarded.
The Nobel committee has sent a strong message. One can of course debate whether this message is appropriate, but those who criticize it should first look in the mirror and consider their own relation to peace.
(This article was published on Today's Zaman online on Oct. 16, 2012.)