Thursday, November 03, 2011

Eine andere Welt ist möglich

It can be a morning commuter train in the Rhineland or school children walking along the river banks in Phnom Penh. As we travel the world, we experience the physical communality of humanity, how it finally seems to be within our grasp that we share the same common destiny as a species. Working on humanity’s long-term prospects as I do, it can be a brutal reminder that not everyone shares this insight and that many, even educated people, still think that we can afford a future of armed conflict and interstate animosity. At least to me it seems obvious that these people, while clinging to scientific euphemisms such as “security architecture”, “geostrategic balancing” and “power projections”, are not neutral observers but actually, to a large extent, the makers of the nightmarish futures that they fear.

Today at HUFS, the Graduate School of International and Area Studies together with Vrije Universiteit Brussel organized an EU-sponsored conference on “Europe and the Shifting Strategic Trends in East Asia”. The first presenter was a Dr Louis Simon who gave a paper entitled “Offshore Power Europe? A European Geostrategy in an Asian century”. Although I have spent many hours in conference rooms listening to the misanthropic autism of IR-realism, the last months of peaceful hikes and lofty scholarly pursuits had left me somewhat unprepared for what I was to hear:

“...the rise of China incentivises Europeans to think strategically – something that has been prevented by America’s benign penetration since WWII. It also offers Europeans an opportunity to get Russia off their backs, as China demands greater attention from Russian in eastern Eurasia. Europeans should therefore assist the rise of China as a means of shaking off external penetration in Europe and its greater neighbourhood. In turn, a united Europe playing an offshore power role in eastern Eurasia could, by threatening to provide China’s rivals with the necessary power to crush Beijing, extract key concessions from China in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East or Central Asia”.

At first, I could not wait until the floor would be open for comments. But soon I realized that this was a battle that I could ill afford in front of all my new colleagues. So, in a most unusual move, I decided to simply leave the room. Instead of investing more frustration into this, I will now have a beer with my friends from all over the world living here in Globee Dorm because I am absolutely confident that “eine andere Welt” is not only possible but necessary.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"by threatening to provide China’s rivals with the necessary power to crush Beijing". Perhaps a slight overestimation of our fine Unions military and financial capabilities (although I’ve heard economists refer to PIIGS-bonds as dangerous explosives…

10:25 am  

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