Guest Comment – Visions of Peace in Times of War

Wiener Werkstätte – If you think of performing arts, notable architecture, and everyday art at the turn of the century, you’re only partially correct. This way of thinking, carried over to geopolitics, meant making everyday life, the “little man” of Audon von Horvath and Bertolt Brecht, the measure of things a little. It is a matter of global politics with a pragmatic and individualistic geographical and strategic eye. We pursue this challenge in the new book Envisioning Peace in Wartime. A New School for Multilateralism, which is now being published in time for the European Albach Forum.

“Tones of peace” – the motto of Ilga Troganov’s speech at the Salzburg Festival, is intended to clarify the intent: everyone who thinks systematically through peace scenarios is – in other words – armed against the only “tone of war”. In order to meet today’s complexities, we need a flexible and continuous system of international regulations that allow for different alliances and reduce conflicts of interest. Based on a careful analysis of the given situation, ten authors have designed an analogue for “Today’s World” in the new book. The establishment of a new school of pluralism that combines realist and idealistic foreign and security policy is up for debate.

Don’t view geopolitics as a leitmotif

Ursula Werther-Bech is a private lecturer in international law and international relations at the Karl-Franzen University in Graz and a lecturer at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. She is co-editor of the “Defense Horizon Journal Special Edition” and a member of the Scientific Committee of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defense. Her book, Envisioning Peace: A New School for Pluralism, will be released by the college in the fall. She is a signatory of the “Open Letter for a New Security Policy”. This text represents your personal opinion – © Private

International relations should only serve the daily needs of political life; Thus, their internal political relationship is clear. However, it is not from the usual perspective, i.e. “lip reading” in order to “score political points” under the guise of citizens as sovereigns. No, on the contrary, geopolitics, that is, the play of power interests at the global level, as an integral part of human security, should be considered as an important dimension, but not as a leitmotif or even a dominant axiom.

There is an urgent need for a new theory of world peace in a time horizon of two to three years. The painstakingly developed structures of international law that were designed after World War II and showed great dynamism are not entirely obsolete. The tipping point brings new obstacles, which should not, however, make us relinquish all international principles and principles such as contractual loyalty, anti-discrimination or efficacy, amounting to impartiality beyond their historical results or the opinion of the Austrian majority.

Whether this is a fantasy or can be filled with new life is out of debate. Just like the crucial question “How do you feel about NATO?” He can’t lie in the black and white drawing between rejection and joining. As one of the signatories, I hope that bringing light into this darkness will be the task of a committed group of personalities who, in an open letter to the Federal President, called for an open discussion of Austria’s security policy options. This remained unanswered.

Special operation to secure world peace

A similar joint thought process that I started with a number of personalities from political science, Austrian and EU diplomacy, and peace and security research in the summer of 2021 led to the idea of ​​holding a workshop in Vienna for applied pluralism. In light of the turmoil caused by the war in Ukraine, it is worth thinking about how to discuss and live “cooperative security”: there is no naive human rights activism, no abstract climate agreements that sweep real problems under the table, and more. Focus, less fragmentation and dodge jumping.

Skillful and innovative cooperation and a new consensus are required to secure world peace. Moreover, there is no doubt that the often discredited United Nations, after all the peace work after World War II, can provide the impetus for this. Perhaps at the suggestion of the European Union as a mediator, but of course not in the form of the UN Security Council, but in a separate process bringing together the major players for reasons of existence for an exclusive discussion.

There is no doubt that we have entered an era akin to “Cold War 2.0”, which makes old security concepts and leadership no longer fit for the future. Diagnosis and experience require a “rejuvenation” of not only the practical but also the theoretical framework. The downward trend in democratic governance, eastern modernity, systemic competition, the dominance of economic geography and deterrence – all this must be broken. We propose a global network-based system, a multi-tiered model of collaborative security, and finally the declarative renewal of the global peace consensus as a shared vision.

Contemporary shaping of international relations

We have learned a lot in building peace, as Pia Austen writes in the book, according to Velina Chakarova, look at the “bifurcation” of the world with a clear division between the West and China or Russia, according to Johannes Varwick, at the same time acknowledging the “end of certainty”, regarding the path across the Atlantic. According to Michael Reiterer, the edifice of world peace is under tangible signs of erosion, and Fred Tanner warns that the European security system may have reached a “point of no return”. Can we really find an answer to this “age of non-peace,” as Mark Leonard aptly calls the downside of communication?

Raquel Jorge Ricart examines the EU’s Global Gateway, Thomas Greminger and Juliette Wegmann examine the concept of human security. Karina Karic and my proposal is a strategic position that transcends the boundaries of human-centred idealism and power-based realism, which corresponds to the emerging new global balance – and precisely because of this it can prevent wars. We are looking, to use Wolfgang Petrich’s words, between the blocs and the Poles for a new “grand strategy” for peacebuilding, a model of peace that is resilient and just (from the introduction). Our goal, our full anticipation of living pluralism inspired by Hans Kelsen (Robert Schutt in “Wiener Zeitung” August 2): Incorporating the realist position of geopolitics into a normatively driven humanist way of thinking is the challenge of an innovative and contemporary design of international relations.

Of course, it is still open where the focus of this school of pluralism should lie – is the teaching and creative strength of the Diplomatic Academy suitable for this or should the pioneer students of Graz take a leadership role here? In any case, cutting diplomatic ties as proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 13, on the eve of the anniversary of the Atlantic Charter in 1941, as evidence of earlier US-British efforts in the post-war order, is the opposite of what the world needs. Let’s oppose it. We will find solutions other than world war.

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