الجمعة، سبتمبر 26، 2008

Post-Realism Demystified


What does it Mean?

Wael Nawara

In simple and short words, Post-Realism refers to a new "realization", that force and military might alone have not managed to provide security for the "strong".

Political Romanticism
In the fifties and sixties, many politicians, specially in the "Third World Countries", relied on rhetoric using terms such as "Justice", "Equality", "International Law", etc., to demand what they believed to be their nations' rightful dues. After a long era of colonialism, Third World Countries were demanding self-determination and natural justice.

The Heroes of this period of "Political Romanticism", were leaders like Nasser and Nehru. Their argument amounted to the proposition that "stronger" and "richer" states should adhere to such concepts on moral grounds. Third World countries, suddenly made a majority in the U.N. General Assembly! All kinds of UN resolutions sponsored by "Third World Countries" and "Non-Aligned Movement" were passed in the UN General Assembly. UN General Assembly had no "Veto Powers" for any member state, big or small and its resolutions of course were non-binding !

Nasser was promoting the end of colonialism and imperialism and insisting that "Peace" can only be built on "Justice". He even sought to promote what he thought as "social justice" at home, through successive waves of land re-distribution, nationalization, fixing of the prices of food, basic commodities, and housing rents, expanding government employment to accommodate every graduate of a free education system, and a package of socialist laws and measures which practically ruined and crippled the Egyptian Economy for decades to come. But these populist measures and the sort of romantic rhetoric which characterized that period, fueled the passions of hundreds of millions of dreamers around the world.

So, in summary, during the era or age of Political Romanticism, politicians just referred to terms and concepts like Justice, Equality and Peace, as principles all states should adhere to, on moral grounds!

An Era of Realism
Egypt's humiliating defeat in 1967 proved the romantic dreams which Nasser had promoted, in fact ended as dreadful nightmares, at least for Egyptians, Arabs, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and other Arabs. Romanticists were awakened by a sobering reality, that "force", and not "justice", wins land and redraws national borders. Sadat, who became President after Nasser's death in 1970, was the champion of the new period. An age of "Realism" started.

This "Realism" had started to show itself in Egypt's foreign policy as early as November 1967, when Nasser formally accepted UN Security Council resolution. In the summer of 1972, Sadat asked the Soviets to withdraw their troops and military experts from Egypt. The Americans were surprised that he never consulted with them before making such a decision. He never asked for a price or attempted to draft even a memo of understanding with the Americans of the arrangements which would follow such an evacuation. Kicking out the Soviets, I believe, was an early turning point in the cold war. A point which signified perhaps a small victory for the West, but it was a small victory of far-reaching consequences as it started to permanently upset the power balance favoring the United States and the West. That turning point sent the curve of the Cold War on a one-way route which ended some 17 years later when Berlin Wall was demolished by the People of East and West Germany in 1989.

Egypt has seen this before. The British and French Empires signed their own death warrants in Portsaid, Egypt in 1956, when they attacked Egypt, employing Israel as their Bullying Agent, and were forced to withdraw primarily as a result of American pressure but also Soviet displeasure that the weaker allies of the Second World War would double-cross them and continue to act as a Great world powers without consulting the new world powers countries which really decided the fate of World War II, the USA and the USSR.

In November 1973, immediately after the seize fire was affected on the wake of the 1973 October War, Yum Kippur War, Sadat took yet another step into the "Age of Reason", the "Age of Realism", when he consorted with Kissinger in November 1973, and gave him his vision of the peace in the region and of the power shift in the cold-war world. Sadat, acknowledged the Arab defeat and wanted to create peace and prosperity based on new power balance. He realized that Egypt and the Arabs would be unable to defeat Israel either by their own weakness or because the world powers simply would not allow it. So, he became a "Realist".

What is "Realism"?

Realism is that we ask Palestinians to negotiate with Israelis under gun-point and demand that they (the Palestinians) be content with the outcome of such negotiations despite the power parity. Imagine a thug who stops you in the street, points a gun to your head and strips you off your wallet. You go to the police to file a report and the police tells you to go and negotiate with the robber to get back your wallet, some of your money, credit cards and ID cards. "But the robber is armed, officer?"

Realism is that we ask the Tibetans to calm down because China is a Superpower. Realism is that we ask Kuwait to accept the invasion of its strong neighbor, Iraq, gracefully!

In short, politicians of the Age of "Realism" adopted the approach that "force" and immediate "self-interest" alone govern foreign policy and the behavior states towards one another. Realism is the opposite of the rule of law, it is to accept that we shall be ruled by the law of the jungle. Force and might alone can protect you and yours. But even a bully goes to sleep. Even the strongest of us blinks. Even the strongest has weak children?

Post Realism
In 1978, Egypt formally made peace with Israel. But we must ask ourselves today, has this peace paid dividends? The state of War between Egypt and Israel ended. Egypt regained Sinai. But the problem was neither Egypt nor Sinai. The problem was, is, always has been and will remain for many years to come, Palestine.

Hundreds of millions of Palestinians, Arabs, Israelis, Citizens of New York, London, Madrid, & even Visitors of Bali have had to pay for the Palestinian problem until this very day.

We have learned from bitter experience the same lessons which made individuals, our ancestors, devise and submit to local laws thousands of years ago. Osiris, or Aser, it is said, gave Egyptians Laws of Maat and took them out of their savagery. Now, we see that "security" (in relation to, and against, terrorist attacks) has become the highest item on every nation's "interest", specially the "strong" and "rich" who have much more to lose. What sadly happened on the morning of 9/11 and the chain of events which followed, have proved that "the strong" is vulnerable to terrorism and terrorism is fueled by injustice.

The battle against terrorism, unlike traditional warfare, can not be won through armies or hi-tech weaponry alone. As knowledge of simple yet devastating technologies became available to everyone, it became easy to breach security if one is disgruntled enough to be so determined to trade his or her own life with the lives of "targets", civilians or otherwise, but usually civilians who are most vulnerable at their workplace, during traveling, in the streets, in the tube, in a supermarket or a shopping mall, in a restaurant, in a bus or even sitting at home minding their own business.

This experience suggests that the war against terror can only be won though re-establishing and re-instatement of the principles of justice, this time not as a moral necessity, but as security prerequisite!

Anyone of us can fall a victim to terror. There is no guaranty. No insurance. The only insurance, which does not eliminate, but considerably reduces the risk, is to erect an effective and efficient "International Justice System".

We learned to install "Justice Systems" on local and national levels. This was the basis of civilization. For civilization is built on accumulation. Such accumulation would not have been possible unless stability, security, safety and property are protected. Why would anyone work or build or farm, if he or she knows that their hard-earned fortunes can be taken away by some robber who will go unpunished, with no law, no enforcement to deter the perpetrators?
The League of Nations and its upgrade version, The United Nations and its institutions such as The
International Court of Justice (ICJ) as well as other Independent International Institutions affiliated with the United Nations, such as International Criminal Court (ICC) were meant to play that role, but unfortunately, as we have pointed out in a previous article, the United States, being the "strong", has consistently worked towards undermining the United Nations and any attempt to install or develop an effective system for International Justice.

Good News?

The good news is, even inside the United States, more and more people are now realizing the necessity of reforming the United Nations. Senator Obama, who is the Democratic Party Nominee in the Presidential Elections due in a few weeks' time, has showed "some" support to the concept of working towards reforming the United Nations.

America cannot meet this century's challenges alone; the world cannot meet them without America.

In addition, we need effective collaboration on pressing global issues among all the major powers -- including such newly emerging ones as Brazil, India, Nigeria, and South Africa. We need to give all of them a stake in upholding the international order. To that end, the United Nations requires far-reaching reform.

In fact, President Bush, in his farewell speech to the United Nations also
called on the UN to


open the door to a new age of transparency, accountability, and seriousness of purpose.

But as you may guess, the reform which Bush seeks for the United Nations is slightly a wee bit different from that which is required to truly minimize injustices, conflict and terror.


Post-Realism is a new realization, that the principles of Justice are not just words or moral rhetoric, they represent "behavioral solutions" which the evolution of our civilization and cultures have provided us with for "survival". In business terms, accepting to submit to a "Justice System", local or international, is like an insurance policy which reduces the "risk" of being victimized, both to the strong and the weak alike. Should we decide now to neglect these principles and resort to "might" and "strength" alone, we might just as well stop complaining about terrorism, violence or international conflicts, demand that beauty pageant contestants stop babbling about "world peace" and accept the world as dangerous as it is, can and will become.


Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

—Matthew 26:52, King James Version

هناك تعليقان (2):

Dr. Eyad Harfoush يقول...

Dear friend
Amazing article, although I might disagree slightly on the part of economic situation in 60s compared to its status today, yet, I agree strongly with the rest of the article. I also got a lot of useful info throutgh it. Thank you

Wael Nawara يقول...

Thank you Dr Eyad

I am glad you liked it

I wrote a series about Post-Realism


Thank you for stopping by

Best Regards


My Page on Facebook

Wael Nawara on Facebook