The tragedy of Aleppo, as we witness the daily images and the increasing hellish conditions, is battering away at long-held beliefs that all geopolitical specialists have been keen to repeat for the past twenty years. Aleppo shows that the certainties of the cold war have died. First, it was explained that the two superpowers no longer had any reasons to cement their security positions against each other and are now working for the well-being of the world, in an economic competition benefiting all: they are now facing each other on the Syrian front, and fortunately, they are not fighting each other yet. Next, they said with certainty that NGOs now have the means to intervene in any situation and impose their rules on states. Today events are reflecting the low status of NGOs in the eyes of the warring sides, around Aleppo, who are bombarding the resupply convoys and not respecting the cease-fire and violating the truce.
Finally, they explained in an erudite way that it was no longer possible to kill civilians without any reaction from the « international community ». This lead to the conclusion that today neither Auschwitz nor even Budapest was possible because we had ways of knowing and resources for action. In reality, we are rediscovering, and it can no longer be denied, that the massacre of women and children is possible for months without anyone intervening.
All in all, those who thought a period had arisen in which war would be permanently excluded were wrong. Moreover, they did not see the asymmetry being created, not between members of two political systems, or between rich and poor, but between those who are willing to place their lives on the line to be true to their values and those who absolutely refuse to do so. An asymmetry between terrorists and states but also between democracies and other regimes. Democracies have major values, but very few people are now ready to die to defend those values. In a very real sense, Americans and Europeans do not want to lose their lives to defend men who have hope in democracy.
Nothing is more dangerous: those who believe they are in a situation of prevailing impunity can take risks, not being concerned about the fear of reprisals that never seem to materialize. Thus the Russians, having taken back Crimea- which has long been part of Russia (or the Soviet Union)- without encountering obstacles, and without being challenged, had taken sides with Syria’s brutal dictator that Americans have been unwilling to defend or attack, think they can also without risk get their hands on the Baltic countries. But here, we would be close to global war because it would be very difficult for NATO to hesitate to rush to the assistance of another NATO nation member. Then we would have to die for Riga, without wanting it, without even having looked for it, without having decided it.
That need not have happened if twenty years ago we had considered Russia to be part of Europe, a country with which we needed to build the common House of Europe. And if we had not destroyed the- artificial but necessary- Middle Eastern States. The US and its European allies have been largely responsible for these two errors. Nothing would be worse than the alliance between a regime that would become a warmongering regime, in Moscow, and regimes that would become terrorist regimes, in the Middle East. There is still time to respond: our current main enemy is not in Moscow but in Mosul. We need the help of the former in order to destroy the latter.
For the martyrdom of Aleppo to have purpose and meaning, and not be the announcement of the destruction of other civilized cities, we must regain the power of reason, prioritize our hatreds and strengthen secular states. The world has never needed a strong, credible and united Europe as much as it does right now: no one will ever come to its rescue if a bear had the idea to butcher it.