By Farid Mirbagheri
In the 1980s, when Iran was at war with Saddam’s army over the latter’s invasion of Iranian territory, two million Afghan refugees lived in Iran escaping the Soviet occupation of their country. In fact, around eighty per cent of all refugees in the world live in the developing countries.
Now consider this: the richest ten per cent of the world population (mainly in the West) own eighty five per cent of the world’s total wealth (around 250 trillion dollars).The figures speak for themselves.
Whilst the Western media incessantly talks about the refugee crisis in Europe and the threat refugees pose to the economic and cultural security of the Europeans, the fact that nearly half a million innocent lives have been lost in Syria in five years takes the backseat. A not very dissimilar situation occurred in the 1990s when the massacre of a million people in Rwanda in a few months received far less media and official attention than the carnage that afflicted the Balkans in the same decade. Why? As the famous political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski put it, the former was happening in Africa but the latter was taking place in Europe.
And the insincere treatment of global developments does not stop there. In environmental policies, in acknowledging past deeds, in political developments and in international finance the same unfair approach can be observed. Who has been the main culprit in the depletion of the ozone layer and global warming, the poor south or the rich north? And who has reaped the benefits from the industrial development that has caused environmental degradation, the advanced industrial countries in the north or the struggling states of the south? Why then, shouldn’t the riches accumulated by the north as a result be used to compensate and persuade the developing countries to adopt greener policies?
In international politics similar mendacity has reached new heights. Whilst Saddam’s professional, well-trained and well-equipped army of nearly half a million men could be defeated in weeks in 2003, the unprofessional volunteers of ISIL numbering not more than 40,000, we are told, will take five years to be vanquished. In the meantime, of course, the financial reserves of south-west Asian countries will have to be spent on buying arms from the advanced industrial states so that they can continue to deter and/or kill one another more effectively.
The situation in international finance is just as gloomy. Why is it that despite the proven illicit and/or illegitimate activities of financial institutions that contributed largely to the financial crisis that has befallen the world (and that includes Cyprus too) the CEOs of those financial power houses are left, by and large, free and untouched by the judicial systems of their respective countries?
It may not be an overstatement to claim that the majority of people in the globe have lost faith in the political system that they are living under. A free, representative and democratic structure that reflects the will of the people cannot behave in ways that defy the most basic tenets of justice. The future may be as gloomy or even gloomier unless and until each and every one of us begins to re-evaluate our own thoughts and beliefs and understands that the plight of humanity is one inter-connected whole.
Professor SM Farid Mirbagheri holds the Dialogue Chair in Middle Eastern Studies in the Department of European Studies and International Relations at the University of Nicosia