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The Conspiracy of Silence - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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When I heard the speech of President Vladimir Putin at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy I asked myself what is it that we most desperately need in today’s world. We are witnessing tyrant leaders launching illegitimate wars, perpetrating massacres of thousands of people, and causing the displacement of millions without facing strong and loud objections to these horrid acts. And even if millions demonstrated on the streets against such deeds the media machine silences the power of the people in few seconds on the news bars. But the speech of president Putin broke this conspiracy of silence that unfortunately prevails all over the world. He answered the Italian defense minister who said that the “use of force can be legitimate when the decision is taken by Nato, the EU or the UN”, by saying the use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN, adding: when we will leave behind this disdain for international law, then the situation will be able to change. Putin also established another criteria for a better world taken from Franklin D. Roosevelt this time who said: “Security for one is security for all,… when peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger”. This is exactly the maxim that the entire world has to remember, especially those who are dividing the world into Muslims versus West, good countries versus evil ones and, in fact, as a result colonized versus colonizers.

Putin significantly referred to cold war ammunition and heritage: ideological stereotypes, double standards and dividing walls between East and West. Anyone who watched the audience of President Bush while delivering his State of the Union Address can not avoid remembering the Soviet leaders who were then labeled by the West as dictators. The American audience of Bush interrupted him 63 times with loud applaud while 63% of American people do not approve his policies. The press conference of president Bush was another example of the “free Media” that seems to have taken a gentleman’s decision not to disturb the president with any question about his numerous failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine.

Another aspect of the cold war was demonstrated in the silence of European countries about 1245 secret flights carried out by the CIA of “suspects” in terrorism through European airspace and airports in addition to tens of cases of kidnap, torture and killing of persons “suspected” of a relation with terrorists. Added to this, during the cold war the Berlin Wall became a symbol of dictatorship and now the entire world observes the apartheid wall built by Israel which confiscates and occupies Palestinians lands and yet no one finds any reason to object. In brief, fighting terrorism has become a pretext for some leaders in the world, who have omnipotent military power, to violate all international and moral laws and colonize sovereign states and deprive them of their natural wealth claiming that they are establishing freedom and democracy while, in fact, their death squads are spreading death, anarchy and chaos. What is most dangerous is that the international conspiracy of silence is only broken every now and then by a scholar here and an ex-president there, but for the first time is broken by a leader of an important country with substantive weight. One hopes that the cry of Putin would not pass unnoticed but would be the first drop in a healthy rain that would restore the balance to our world and reclaim the importance of international laws and conventions and redefine democracy as the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority rather than maintaining the security of the militarily strong at the expense of the security of the rest of humanity.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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