His excellency President Isaias Afwerki conducted an extensive interview with the local media from 27 to 30 of December, 2011, regarding global, regional as well as local issues. Excerpts of the first part of the interview follows:
Your Excellency President Isaias Afwerki, I wish you a happy New Year, and I would like to begin my question with the global developments. How did the Cold War which was a turning point in history end? How did the Soviet Union, which represented the other camp, suddenly collapsed? Who were the actors? What led to that state of affairs? What is the philosophy and strategy of the new economic order? What measures were taken for their implementation? We would like you to explain to us the development the world went through from the time of the Cold War to the current financial crisis?
This is a huge topic and it needs substantial time to cover it. Its importance is also evident. We should be careful in analyzing situations before and after they erupt and where the already erupted ones are heading to. With the crisis we are presently witnessing at the global level we could say there is sufficient awareness. Five to ten years after the end of the Cold War the consequence of the aftermath was unpredictable. And it did not give room for prediction. During the Cold War, there were two camps, namely the Eastern camp spearheaded by the Soviet Union and the Western Camp by the US. On my part, this should not have been perceived that way. We stereotypically conclude that the end of the Second World War gave rise to the Cold War. What was the meaning of the Cold War for the people of the world outside the Soviet Union and the US? The question is, whether or not the world order is uni-polar, bi-polar or multi-polar, but whether or not these scenarios ensure the interest of the peoples of the world? Is it a world in which people live in stability and harmony without anybody resorting to exploiting others? There is no one who misses the Cold War assuming it was better. We have acquired a lot of experience. No one forgets how we went through 17 years of our struggle. The experience we went through before and during our struggle for independence as regards the contention between the two camps during the Cold was different from other societies and is not very difficult for us to understand. The basic problem was that after the end of the era of the contention of the tow camps a very dangerous situation emerged. And yet, we don’t claim we could predict assuming that we are amidst the volatile situation because time is not measured with hours, weeks, months and even with two three years. It would be difficult to reach conclusion or predict on the basis of the prevailing historical situation. We could argue that the Cold War era lasted long. The phenomenon existed for 45 to 50 years. Why did it take so many years is a point that should be properly assessed and analyzed. And what it makes it dangerous is not because the world headed to a uni-polar world order. At the time of our independence, crisis emerged in Somalia and a lot of transformations took place in many parts of our region.
The end of the Cold War gave rise to adventurous behavior on the part of those claiming they have emerged victorious. And that was what made our world unsafe. There was the possibility for the world to become safe after the end of the Cold War. However, that was not the case. That is not something that could be perceived on individual basis and by name calling, but with regard to the special interest groups. The collapse of the Soviet Union amidst the rivalry between Communism and Capitalism is another topic. It had its own dynamics. The collapse of the Soviet Union created opportunity for those parties claiming to represent an ideology -economic, social, cultural, and political- and they propagated a seemingly new philosophy they believe could secure their interest. They began telling us that “the ideology they waged struggle for half a century against the Soviet Union during the Cold War against communism and progressive thinking has emerged triumphant.” Had it stopped there it could have been enough. However, they resorted to bragging: “The world is under our domination. For the coming half century and beyond, the world would be guided by our ideology.” If we ask on what is that such a philosophy based, it is aimed at basically controlling the resources of the world. The idea of controlling resources on global scope is very dangerous phenomenon indeed. Their ambition emanates from the perception that there should never emerge any power that could compete militarily with them. In other words no powerful force should emerge. “Sophisticated technology should not be out of our control. The human brain, cultural thinking of different societies and even the future world order is in our hand”, they thus advocated. To realize these ambitions, they resorted to the philosophy of controlling global and regional organizations, as well as infiltrating cultures of societies and become sole owners of a variety of instruments.
Simply because they own military superiority and economic control, they think the world is their own domain. The dangerous assertion in the past 20 years that they claim now that they are the sole power in control of the planet, assuming the Soviet Union has collapsed or the Cold War has ended, has led nowhere but to the current state of world affairs. Inciting inexcusable conflicts was aimed at controlling peoples’ resources. Looking from the outside, US and its people seem to be doing well; even those who propagate such philosophy probably think that they dominate others, but the question is did they bring peace and stability to the US? The reality is that even the citizens of the US, like the other people in the world, are themselves victims of such an attitude.
Hence, the crisis we are witnessing today emanated not from the victory claimed by the West or the Western camp but by small and self-centered special interest groups, who highly exploited the collapse of the Soviet Union. The institutional procedures and philosophies that came along put the West in general and the US in particular, in a difficult situation. If we look at it from the economic aspect, they claimed that they were unrivaled. How could that be possible? Financial institutions took over the productive economic sectors in the US and the world at large, concurring with the adventurous economic policies of the US and other countries, which were consequently plunged into a precarious situation. How can a rich and powerful nation like the US accumulate a national debt of over 15 trillion dollars in a short period? What about the European countries with ailing economies and debts amounting to 2.6, 3, 2 or 1.5 trillion dollars? Having exploited natural resources not theirs, they claimed that “we have a strong economy; we are the hope of future generations.” This attests only to the damage brought about by the ideologies and philosophies of the past 20 years. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people were not affected. If we were to calculate their losses, the amount would exceed trillions. We are only talking about the governments’ debt. It’s quite a wide topic.
If we were to list the military adventurism of the past 20 years, it can scarcely correspond with the claims back then to “build a secure world.” If we look at the wars in our region only, or the crises in the world, one can hardly explain it in two or three hours. The Cold War, owing to its unusual traits, persisted for almost 50 years. It has been 20 years since our independence and it would be difficult to explain the destructive nature of wars, situations that gave rise to economic crises and political instabilities that have surfaced during that period. The collective efforts of those special interest groups to dominate the world in the wake of the end of the Cold War have put their people and that of the world in a difficult position.
Short of dealing with these situations, we can barely deal with the development in our region or our own country. We cannot say that would not concern and affect us, because it does. We could talk point by point the problems that the sponsors of such ideology have inflicted upon us in terms of economy, military, security, technological, cultural, social and political. It’s noteworthy, however, to assess the development achieved and momentum obtained in the past 20 years of independence, in spite of those huge challenges. We have gathered considerable experience from the past 20 years as well as from the existing global situation, and I don’t think anyone can have any problem understanding which course our word is heading to.
Contrary to what you explained, the world appears transforming into different order. What was the development of later world order; economic and financial meltdown that consequently followed be huge economic and political crisis? What similar scenarios are we expecting in the future?
When we talk about the Cold War, it was not the rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union. It was about social justice: economic, social, and political justice. Society, large or small, ancient or modern, could not live denied social justice. Ensuring social justice is one of the basic components for people to live in peace and harmony in their own country. With the advancement of technology the world has become smaller and smaller. Today there is no place on earth that takes years to reach. Therefore, the issue during the Cold War was between justice and injustice and between just and oppressive. It is not, however, a point for argument, and the basic question remains; because people would like to live in peace and stability and for that favorable atmosphere should be created for them.
In the absence social justice there could not be stability in a country, region or the world at large. Wars and crises originate from the absence of stability and tranquility. Justice per se is a wide topic but be it economic, social or any other type of justice, can only be guaranteed when people succeed to lead a prosperous life. Hence, if we look at it from the global perspective, the Cold War was not an antagonism between two camps.
Currently we are hearing variety of speculations. There is no argument for the speedy development in the world with the technological advancement. The current interconnection among peoples of the world is different from that of the Cold War. Within such a situation there are people who speculate the emerging of bi-polar world.
For instance, in a meeting conducted recently a German politician was quoted as saying “If we don’t solve our current problems, the world will go bi-polar“. His argument implied China on one side and the US on the other. But is that where the world is going? There are also speculations that it could be multi-polar. One is only dreaming if he thinks that today a super power can emerge and dominate the world. There is no such thing. In such an epoch, where the world is rapidly converging, is it India or China that’s going to rise? Is it Russia or a revived Europe? Is it the newly emerging economies of South America? And what is the factor that determines the renaissance of the developing or already developed countries? Is it their economies, technological advancement, population size or their physical geography? Several factors need to be considered.
In spite of the different interpretations, be it a bipolar, quadric-polar or other orders, our experience of the past 20 years gives us one truth: the adventurous ideologies can no longer dominate the world. Even if it seemed plausible at first, now anybody can see the shifting nature of the world. There could be two or three powerful nations and their supremacy could be compatible or not. But the question remains whether the world will be stable and just or not. The world should go in the right direction. Those who claim to be history philosophers assert that “the world has never been stable and is always in crises”. They are most probably philosophers of crises.
Anybody anywhere should be asking whether a country, region or the world at large is heading towards justice. Powers might assert force and exploit world’s resources but not indefinitely. Empires, as they are usually called, have a history. From the time of ancient civilization to the present, they have risen and fallen intoxicated with power. Other factors also get you intoxicated and make you want and possess what’s not rightfully yours. You tend to adopt an unjust way of handling affairs, and then come up with a justification. You claim “the world is over” just like what the post cold war philosophers had said. You whitewash the world to control its mind and thereby facilitate your dominance. This could be accomplished through Hollywood films, music and other fine arts. You take over the schools and produce students like those “economic experts” who have taken over Wall Street. You prepare various writings and philosophies that boast of the ideologies of your interest. Many can be deceived in the process but not those with a right brain.
We have seen many similar maneuvers in the past 20 years: terrorism, economic instability and so on. If we look at all their publications, we can see that in an attempt to promote their deceptive philosophies, they have been making sure that their technologies, culture, military, economy and resources also came along simultaneously.
The movements in Wall Street, North Africa and Middle East, Asia, Russia – all add up to one thing: the world is saying “enough is enough!”
Uprisings are the outcome of the absence of peace and security. People will not tolerate what these powers call the “globalized” world. One can hardly differentiate the event in one country from another in a second country. We are not in the Middle Ages or the Cold War era and we can’t say that what’s happening in one country matters only to them. What is the popular demand of these uprisings? All movements are calling for justice and no attempts whatsoever can deny this fact. I would like to think we are in a transitional period. But the bottom line is that people need justice and the change will come, sooner in some and later in others. The problem in the world is that there are two sides: while the majority wants justice, peace and prosperity, there are a few special interest forces who find no peace if they don’t advance their economic adventurous and monopolistic objectives. And the latter’s different tactics we are witnessing are only creative ploys to assert their invincibility: politicians claiming they won’t succumb to public pressure, and going as far as crushing popular uprisings.
Where to is the confrontation of these two sides heading? How long is it going to take? This is not our concern. What we want is a world of peace and justice, where we can work and live with dignity. If such a world materializes well and good, if not then I think one chapter is closing and a new one opening. To speculate what this new chapter will look like would be making hasty conclusions, as no one can be sure what the variables are, but anyone can see the general direction things are taking at present times.