The moral authority of the majority world
Tortilla con Sal, May 5th 2016
In recent years, majority world countries have made great progress recovering the moral authority spuriously usurped for decades by the Western victors of the war against Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. Despite everything, those Western governments somehow managed to conjure the illusion of moral authority until perhaps as recently as 2011. Even before the end of World War 2, their corporate media were in high gear, cranking out psychological warfare to deny the Soviet Union's role in leading Nazi Germany's defeat.
Other Western psy-warfare erasures were the constant genocidal massacres from 1945 onwards, from Algeria to Madagascar, to Korea, on the way turning a blind eye to Israel's ethnic cleansing in Palestine. The Western governments laundered their crimes against humanity and those of their allies, posing as defenders of human rights and using decolonization as an alibi to pretend they were giving up power in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Only after the US defeat in Vietnam in 1975 did the imperialist powers finally decide to pursue their objectives primarily via what has now come to be called hybrid war.
That combination of diplomatic aggression, economic pressure, internal subversion and psychological warfare is now and has always been backed up ultimately by the threat of brutal military aggression. Between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the Western financial system in 2008, economic crisis, counterproductive overseas military engagment and increasing internal repression have revealed North America and Western Europe as increasingly under-developing societies immutably ruled by cynical, sinister oligarchies. Following very public NATO country support for Nazis in Ukraine and slightly less blatant patronage of outright terrorists in Syria, the collapse of Western moral authority is now complete.
By contrast, countries in the majority world led by China, Russia and groups of non-aligned countries like the Bolivarian Alliance of the peoples of our America (ALBA) seek to build a genuinely equitable world order, truly based on peace and justice. The ALBA countries have shown it is possible, even for small countries struggling to escape from impoverishment, to play a dynamic role in international relations while maintaining cordial relations with many different nations around the world. To achieve this, the ALBA country governments have shown the imperative of having a real commitment to their countries' majorities, a clear understanding of their respective countries' historical role and an acute perception of their place in the current global and regional context.
Padre Miguel d'Escoto
foto: La Voz del Sandinismo
Nicaragua is a good example of this, being a country of just over 6 million people with one of the lowest GDPs per capita in Latin America. Even so, Nicaragua figures among the leading countries in the region in terms of GDP growth and poverty reduction while at the same time playing a leading role in calls for reform of the United Nations. When Nicaragua's former foreign minister Padre Miguel d'Escoto was President of the UN General Assembly, that body enjoyed one of the most assertive and creative periods in its history. As a result of d'Escoto's work and that of the ALBA country ambassadors to the UN, reform of the United Nations in defense of the world's most impoverished countries has become a priority, although thwarted for the moment by rich country resistance.
This is true specifically in the context of climate change and global trade justice and, more broadly, in opposition to policy proposals threatening the sovereignty and identity of less powerful nations and peoples. In a recent interview, Nicaragua's permanent representative at the UN, Maria Rubiales explained Nicaragua's commitment to defending important causes affecting peoples around the world in relation to Climate Change, Decolonization, Sustainable Development, international terrorism and too some proposals for reform of the UN itself. Ambassador Rubiales believes that Nicaragua's participation in blocs like the Group of 77 + China “makes us much stronger in relation to the countries of the European Union and other Western countries”.
In fact, that group represents a total of over 130 countries.Nicaragua and its ALBA allies participate in all its subsidiary working groups, trying to build consensus around progressive positions. One initiative central to Nicaraguan foreign policy has been the Sandinista government's determination to see Latin America and the Caribbean proclaimed a Zone of Peace free of nuclear weapons. However, Maria Rubiales points out that the consensus achieved at a regional level is difficult to project globally because nuclear weapons countries “don't want to abandon what they say is their right to nuclear arms. And that has consequences in terms of menace. The mere fact of the threat of nuclear weapons constitutes an intimidation toward the world's smaller countries.”
As regards Climate Change, Nicaragua refused to sign the COP 21 Paris Agreement because the agreement fails to confront the real problem and benefits the very same developed countries that have historically contaminated the planet. Those rich countries, which are the biggest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide, refuse to accept the principle of indemnity for the damages they have caused developing nations. Ambassador Rubiales stressed that the Paris Agreement will not even prevent global temperatures rising above 2o C. Instead, in practice, at a regional level it actually facilitates increases of 4o C, 5o C, or 6o C impacting small islands and other regions completely vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change like the African Sahel or Central America. Rubiales emphasized that the terms of the Paris Agreement mean, “the developed countries are going to continue their rush to pollute while the impacts of Climate Change will become that much greater for countries like ours.”
For these kinds of reasons, Maria Rubiales, like her ALBA country colleagues, thinks reform of the UN is more and more urgent, noting that the UN Secretary General “should in some degree be the honest broker of different nations' positions, but it doesn't always work like that.” Nicaragua's Sandinista government, led by President Daniel Ortega, argues that the UN has to be more efficient, more transparent and to live up to the role assigned to it after the Second World War, namely to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts respecting self determination and avoiding wars of aggression. In her interview, Nicaragua's ambassador to the UN, clearly talking in relation to the catastrophe in Syria, criticized the fact that “as small countries we sometimes find ourselves having to insist on our interests against developed countries, especially the ones we are familiar with like the NATO member countries, who want to impose their criteria on the international agenda.”
Nicaragua has taken a leading position denouncing imperialist aggression by Western countries, not just in Latin America and the Caribbean but particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, where Western aggression has destabilized the most developed secular countries of those regions, like Iraq and Syria or Libya, before its destruction by NATO one of the African countries with the highest rankings in the UN Human Development Index. Similarly Rubiales is very clear that the Western powers have fomented fundamentalist terrorist groups: “They have turned stable States, that were developed, into failed States, but apart from that, there is another very serious problem which is that young people in Western Europe, above all, have joined the Islamic State and these young people are returning to their countries of origin, and one can mention France and Belgium specifically, so as to carry out terrorist acts.”
Located in the Central American isthmus, a region crossed and re-crossed over many centuries by multiple cultures and civilizations, Nicaragua has always been of interest to colonial and imperial powers and subject to the vagaries of global geopolitics. For that reason, the Sandinista government leadership, committed to promoting and defending the interests of Nicaragua's impoverished majority, is acutely aware of the critical need for international alliances to defend weaker nations against the imperialist powers. In the UN that awareness has led Nicaragua to advocate the causes, among others, of the people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, still occupied by Morocco, and to defend the cause of Palestine.
On April 19th this year, for example, Nicaragua stated in the UN its solidarity “with the cause of Palestine and demands the immediate creation of the Palestinian State based on the frontiers prior to 1967, with West Jerusalem as its capital, thus laying the foundations for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East with the two States of Palestine and Israel living together in peace.” The Sandinista movement itself has its origins in the struggle of Nicaragua's people against successive invasions and occupations by foreign troops, in Nicaragua's case those of the United States. Later, that resistance turned into a struggle against the genocidal tyranny imposed by yankee imperialism as one more of its regional proxies.
From the start of his resistance campaign in 1927, General Sandino appealed to the solidarity of the world's peoples against imperialist intervention. 60 years later it was this same spirit at a diplomatic level which lead Nicaragua to its historic 1986 victory in the International Court of Justice condemning the US government for its terrorist war against Nicaragua during the 1980s. Having experienced the terrorist aggression of the US government all through that period, it is natural for Nicaragua to condemn that phenomenon in all its manifestations, from Syria to Venezuela.
Those experiences and the experience of the broadly based international solidarity movement, which first supported the Nicaraguan people in their struggle to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and then in defense of the Sandinista Revolution, played a great part in the election of Padre Miguel d'Escoto Brockman as President of the UN General Assembly in 2008. That record explains a great deal about how Nicaragua has come to play a leading role alongside its ALBA partners in the international arena. At a national and regional level, that role is an integral part of the progress of Nicaragua's people and all the peoples of Central America towards overcoming their impoverishment and realizing their aspirations to justice and equality.
That is also why Ambassador Rubiales, speaking about the wars provoked and promoted by the West in the impoverished majority world, remarked in her recent interview “As Comandante Ortega has said on innumerable occasions, we need peace in order to develop, we need stability, we need security and what these wars are creating, as the Western countries know very well, is instability all around the world.” Statements like these from leaders of the ALBA countries show that the majority world now defends fundamental rights with strong moral authority based on global realities, showing up the West's spurious avowals in defense of human rights as the hollow sham they have always been.