History has spawned some surprising conflicts. Unlikely alliances and turns of events can swiftly turn a stable world into a chaotic war zone; the Al-Qaeda attack on September 11th has appeared to light the fuse on a number of USA-led invasions, in a millennium that had previously held promise to be potentially war-free, as far as developed countries were concerned.
Wars between countries do not just effect the governments, soldiers and civilians directly involved. World economies and world stability are affected. The arms industry is strengthened by every conflict, and the success of the arms industry facilitates more conflict, for good or bad. When a region erupts into war, the economic ramifications can reach far and wide. Disruption to oil supplies can cause serious chaos in developed countries. As a result, we police the Middle-East trying to enforce stability and prevent wars. It seems we are least successful and most disruptive when we are the ones starting the wars.
“If there's any hope for Western Europe, it has to begin with a new pride by the people in their sovereign democracies - and a determination to defend them from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
"While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within" by Bruce Bawer (2006)1
If our technology, computers, communications and science were to be threatened, perhaps destroyed under religious intolerance or war, the loss would be immense. It has happened before, the ages of faith saw most of Europe fall to Christian theocracies that set back science and Humanity by several hundred years. The future is not immune to such cataclysms, and we must always have armed forces that are capable not only of defending one particular region of the Earth, but which also has a remit to defend the assets and peoples of any country against the ravages of the violent barbarian, in whatever guise he is mustered.
The world is not an idealistic place. Violence is a reality that will not go away just because Western Europe and Developed Countries have gone through an enlightenment. Dictators and expansionist regimes will not stop merely because we have nice pacifists or peaceful-sounding inter-government agreements. The political theorist Machiavelli taught that although we can rule by law or by force, whilst the first is an ideal we still need recourse to the second, because the world is not an ideal place2. Likewise, Albert Einstein (who participated in political debate, aside from being the leading physicist) warns that whilst pacifism can be popular, and even be taught in schools in countries where there is no risk of invasion, it shouldn't be done for emotional reasons, disregarding the practical need for military forces3. When chaos erupts, we need our Armed Forces, and increasingly, we need them in a European and International sense. The European Union and the United Nations both need to consciously attach more importance to their combined forces.
It is right that the more civilized and capable nations attempt to stabilize and improve the others, especially when they are suffering under tyranny or dreadful circumstances that are beyond the control of civil self-help. This is one of the grandest causes to which you can fight. The potential for a new international paradigm was born in 2005, when world leaders decided that military intervention is required to protect citizens where their state cannot, or is actively contributing to their plight.
“Under the new concept of an international "responsibility to protect", adopted unanimously by world leaders (including Mr Mugabe) at a UN world summit in New York in 2005, intervention in a state's internal affairs is permitted in the event of genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and other mass atrocities, if that state is unwilling or unable to protect its own people. Indeed, R2P, as it has become known in diplomatic jargon, places an actual obligation on governments, usually acting through international bodies such as the UN, to intervene in such cases.”
Unfortunately this concept applies only to intentional events so does not generate legitimacy for the international community to intervene when a country fails to care its people after a natural disaster. That is sure to change in time. Another limitation is the UN Security Council. Any military action must survive the beurocratic obstacles of this body; Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States comprise the five permanent members of the Council who can each, on their own, veto and therefore stop any potential action. Therefore in reality any international intervention must not antagonize or annoy any of those countries. This can be hard when some of the countries have extensive national interests in many countries abroad as a result of either trade agreements or historical colonialism.
These problems imply that a paradigm shift is required in international issues. In Uniforce: An International Military Force I argue that the solution is to create an international military force that is independent of national interests.
Western international concepts of Human Rights such as those of the UN and EU are the best in the world.
Western culture is worth fighting for, and I am willing to give my Military and Intelligence communities the benefit of the doubt when it comes to securing our own national security and interests.
The development of secular (non-religious) politics and a neutral public sphere is the greatest accomplishment of civility against barbarism and superstition ever achieved by society. See Secularism.
Western culture is better (in general) than many other cultures, despite some failings.
Many sociologists and politicians use the term 'Western' to refer to post-industrial technologically developed countries, including countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan, not just Europe and the USA. This is the sense in which I too use the term.
I would fight for a generic Europe, a generic Scandinavia, Germany, France or Switzerland, and as such I fully promote the idea of European Soldiers, working for an integrated European Armed Forces, although I do not think such a force should replace national home defence forces. With the exception of USA commercialism and religiosity, the "culture" I am defending (in words) is the best. It is the best of a rotten bunch, for sure, and we have a tonne of crap to go with our science, intelligence and progressive values, but the trash that I accidentally defend is not worse than many oppressive regimes and cultures around the world, and to that extent I've had enough of philosophizing about how to live, and am going out to specifically put myself in the line of fire for what I think is right.
Some cultures are better than others. Western culture is a thousand times more tolerant of minorities such as gays, religious groups, and we strive to be gender-neutral (i.e., equal women's rights), more than any Arabic, Asian or African culture (with exceptions). European culture is more balanced than the USA's extremely commercialized culture. Science and progression are powering ahead unhindered by the ignorant opposition of the stupid populations - whereas under many other religion-influenced governments and theocracies, such things are hindered. Compare how advanced our "green" and "welfare" groups are compared to Eastern and developing countries, the USA, and South America. No other region compares in its attempts to live responsibly. Our nearly green, pro-science, mostly pro-individualistic, pseudo-democratic European culture is to be the next superpower to take the human race forwards.
I'm not specifically vying "for democracy", because even where democracy is perfect, if the culture has produced a population of morons, democracy shoots itself in the foot. Without an intelligent population, governments may as well be run by monkeys... and although this is mostly the case, our culture breeds intelligence and forward-looking attitudes more than any others at the moment and for the foreseeable future. This is a defence of Western advancement, moral and technological, whether it happens to be democratic or not.
The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source.
(2006) While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Published by Broadway Books.
Einstein, Albert. (1879-1955)
(1954) Ideas and Opinions. Published in 1954 by Crown Publishers, New York, USA and in 1982 by Three Rivers Press. A collection of Einstein's writings and texts.
(2000) Sword and Scales: An Examination of the Relationship Between Law and Politics. Hart Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK. Prof. Loughlin is Professor of Law at the University of Manchester, UK, and Professor of Public Law-elect at the London School of Economics & Political Science, UK.