This year has seen “the multiplication of brutality”, as Urmas Paet, a member of the European Parliament and former Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, writes in this issue of Diplomaatia. After all, the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, and the occupation and annexation of Crimea—all blatant breaches of international law—took place this year.
Paet also briefly discusses the developments going on further south of us. “Developments south of Europe leave no doubt that the security risks originating from there are still increasing. The Arab Spring, which brought positive changes, has left a sad legacy in several neighbouring states to the south, especially Libya and Syria, in the form of internal conflicts. The frequency of the waves of refugees arriving in Southern Europe does not seem to be decreasing,” he writes.
2014 has also helped to recall past brutality. One hundred years have passed since the onset of World War I and 75 years from the beginning of World War II. Mart Nutt also recalls that the Chechen War began 20 years ago and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 35 years ago. The problems on Russia’s southern border have still not come to an end, while our great eastern neighbour unfortunately does not want to understand that the biggest danger comes from the south, not the west.
The Paris-based political scientist Antonela Capelle-Pogacean says in her interview with us that it would be cruel to demand that a person should have only a single identity. “In an ideal world each identity is allowed to be pluralistic. For example, I’m not only Hungarian or only Romanian or only French, I am all of these. But I am also woman, I am a teacher. I have a lot of different professional or national identities at the same time. To ask someone to choose only one would be cruel.”
Literary researcher Janika Kronberg provides an overview of his trip to the so-called line of fire, Turkish Kurdistan, where the Islamic State and riots are also phenomena characterising the passing year. Hille Hanso also writes about the narrative of the Islamic State. “It is clear that taking the name of the Islamic State was a cunning strategic move designed to recruit as many followers as possible,” he writes. “On the other hand, the group’s actions combined with the name cultivate an irrational fear of Islam and dislike towards Muslims everywhere. Muslims rightly feel that they do not deserve to have terrorists shaping the image of Islam in the world. Would we like, for example, the Ku Klux Klan, which claims to represent Christian values, shaping the image of all Christians?” Hanso asks.
What might a brutal world look like in the future? Both Henry Kissinger and Francis Fukuyama have attempted to answer that question—Kai Kaarelson reviews their books.
But history has shown that brutality, war and violence are not inevitable; so there may be hope that 2015 will be more peaceful. Ignoring the inevitable, however, demands people’s intervention.