Friday, May 28, 2010

Lula inaugurates the diplomacy of a new era

Leonardo Boff's weekly columns are available in Spanish from Servicios Koinonia. Some of his older columns are available in English at

by Leonardo Boff (English translation by Rebel Girl)

The agreement between Lula and Prime Minister of Turkey with Iran regarding uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes has a uniqueness that should be highlighted. It was achieved through dialogue, mutual trust that comes from being face to face and negotiating using win-win logic. No intimidation, imposition, threats, pressure of any kind, or demonizing the other.

That was and remains the strategy of the militarist and imperial powers that do not realize that the world has changed. They are stuck in the old paradigm of the big stick, negotiating with rod in hand or pure and simple intervention, for which anything goes: the blatant lie, as in the case of the unjust war against Iraq, the most sophisticated military violence against one of the world's poorest countries, Afghanistan, or the known armed coups by the CIA in several countries, especially in Latin America.

Interestingly, this strategy has never produced any results anywhere. The United States is losing every war, because no one can defeat a people ready to give their lives to the point of raising up "suicide bombers" to face an enemy armed to the teeth, but full of fear and exposed to shame and global ridicule. What they have done is feed the anger, resentment and vengefulness, the leaven of all terrorism.

The greatest threat to global stability today is the United States because the illusion of being "the new chosen people" -- so says "manifest destiny" in which the very strong neocons like Bush believe blindly -- makes them feel they have the right to intervene in the world. They claim to bring human rights when they violate them shamefully; they want to impose democracy when in fact, they create a farce; they seek to open a free market for their multinationals to freely to exploit the wealth of the countries, their oil and gas.

Lula's diplomacy is directly opposed to the Security Council's and Barack Obama's. Lula's looks forward and is adapted to the new. Barack Obama's looks backward and wants to reproduce the old.

The old paradigm assumes there is a hegemonic and imperial nation, in this case the United States, governed by the paradigm of the enemy, much in line with the theorist of the political philosophy that underlies strong arm systems, Carl Schmitt (d. 1985) , as he did with Nazism. In his book The Concept of the Political, he clearly states: "The political existence of a people depends on its ability to define who is friend and who is enemy ... the enemy must be fought and must be psychologically discredited as bad or ugly." Was this not exactly what Bush did, calling the countries the terrorists came from "rogue countries" against which an "endless war" would be waged? This argument is systemic, and still works in the minds of American leaders. Policies inspired by this outdated paradigm can lead to dramatic situations, with serious danger of destroying the human planetary project. This paradigm is warmongering, reductionist and myopic, since it does not perceive the historical changes taking place in the line of the planetary phase of history, which require strategies of cooperation that seek to protect the earth and care for life.

The new paradigm, represented by Lula, takes on the uniqueness of the current historical moment. Our basic perception has changed: we are all interdependent, we live together in the same common home, Earth. No one has their own individual future. A common globalized destiny is emerging: either we care for humanity so it doesn't bifurcate between those who eat and those who don't, and we protect planet Earth so that it is not destroyed by global warming, or we will have no future. We are definitely linked to each other.

Lula, with his keen perception of the new, acted consistently: we can not isolate and punish Iran. We must bring it to the negotiating table, with trust and without prejudice. This attitude of respect will bear fruit. And it is the only sound one in this new phase of human history. Lula marks and inaugurates the future of the new diplomacy, the only one that guarantees us peace.

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