FOOTPRINTS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

 

 

The 5 volumes in theseries "Footprints of the Twentieth Century" were completed between 2009 and 2014. The books were published separately at different times. On this website, I added new Epilogues for the volumes 3 en 4 - Western Cooperation and European Unification. 

 

Volume I : Cultural Diplomacy: waging war by other means?

 

The peaceful collapse of the Soviet totalitarian, communist system has been a watershed of historic proportions in Europe and the world. In 1989, unexpectedly, Communism and the Cold War were behind us, they were bad and should be forgotten. The immediate post-1989 world presented itself as a new era of organised forgetting, as neither East nor West were interested in examining the prolonged period of acquiescence in absurdities.

The Berlin Wall, paramount symbol of absurdity, had to be erased from the face of the earth and the memory of the people. Only much later have we become aware how much the heritage of repression and division still dominates our thinking. The principal organisations of Western and European cooperation have been enlarged Eastward, but the fruits of peaceful, spiritual revolution have turned sour. Far too little has changed for the better and far too many old habits have survived.

For the question asked in this volume: Is bilateral cultural diplomacy waging war with other means? There still is no good answer. The surprise of 1989 has apparently paralyzed policies thereafter. Despite resounding declarations and non-binding resolutions on a new order, there was no vision, no strategy and no clear purpose. The basic approach was “more of the same”. Cultural diplomacy had no priority and budgets were cut in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. All attention was directed towards bringing the former communist countries in conformity with Western standards of law, market economy, secularism and permissiveness. The agonizing re-appraisal and re-orientation of cultural diplomacy has not taken place, despite the changed landscape. The bipolar rigidities have gone, but cultural diplomacy has remained. The self-containment of cultures within national frameworks has shifted to self-defence against the impact of globalization – which in the domain of culture is the same as Americanization. The spirit of 1989 was an eminent example of culture restored through great civil courage. We drastically failed in making it the spirit of Europe in the new era. We equally failed in transforming bilateral cultural diplomacy into a truly multilateral instrument for enabling creativity and diversity as the living sources of cultural development. Major changes in the cultural landscape happen despite our cultural diplomats. The very political objectives of cultural diplomacy are bound to marginalize the cultural diplomat in an increasingly open world society.

 

Volume II. The illusions of détente

 

Since 1989, we refer to the whole post-war period as the “Cold War Era”. Such was not the case in 1968. At the time, the cold war – in our perception – was behind us. We no longer felt to be in the midst of it. Europeans on the Western side of the Iron Curtain felt relatively at ease with Europe’s division. The era of Détente as we called it, was considered to be a fairly stable and long-lasting political condition, even after Soviet tanks crushed Dubcek’s socialism with a human face in Prague.

A strange year it was… 1968. Academic interest was focused on the war in Vietnam, nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, the French Gaullist challenge to the European Communities and the student revolt in Paris. The Western democracies promoted the process of détente on the basis of three political illusions. They assumed that common institutions between East and West would generate a sense of common interest in European security, facilitating negotiated solutions of outstanding problems. They expected East-West economic cooperation to promote reform from above in the East, towards more open societies. They hoped to foster democracy and respect for human rights through cooperation in the cultural and human dimension. By 1989 all three of them had proven to be illusions. The end of the Soviet system came as a complete surprise to most politicians and to all Western advocates of détente in the Nineteen Eighties. The so-called dissidents won a peaceful victory over the one-party, repressive regimes in the East and helped to end the post-war division of Europe. Obviously, neither the (now former) communists nor the advocats of detente ever admitted their wrong. So they went all into the business of proclaiming a new era as  a continuation of the old one.The greatest catastrophe of the Twentieth Century was Lenin`s creation of totalitarian Soviet Russia at the end of the Great War and not its collapse at the end of the Cold War, as president Putin said in 2005.

In this second volume the author challenges the past illusions of détente and the present approach of organized forgetting the past.

 

Volume III: Western Cooperation; Origins and History

 

For the study of international relations, knowledge of the history of Western Cooperation, since the appearance of the United States of America as the major power in world politics, is essential.In this volume Professor Frans A.M. Alting von Geusau presents the history of Western Cooperation around a central theme: the effort of realist idealists to replace power politics by closer cooperation between democracies.

Part I reviews the broader history from America’s entry in the First World War to the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

Part II focuses on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as the published in January 2002 shortly after the terrorist attack on America on 11 September 2001. The presidency of George W. Bush jr. in the United States has been marked deeply by 9/11 and America’s “war on terror.” The end of the second term of his presidency and NATO’s sixtieth anniversary would be the appropriate time to bring out a second revised edition. The changes made in all chapters amount to major adaptations. In addition to new facts they include new insights gained from comments on the first edition and additional reading.

 

Volume IV. European Unification into the Twenty First Century.

Fading, Failing, Fragile?

Towards the end of the year 2011 and after many European Summits convened to solve the serious EURO-economic crisis, one may wonder how long the European Union is going to survive? A lesson on the history of European Unification since the end of the Second World War, may help to find an answer, or better still to learn what to do and what not to do to assure the continuation of this fascinating process of peaceful unification. The story of European Unification is fascinating indeed. In 1950, two sworn enemies – France and Germany – decide to seek reconciliation and European federal unity. As a first step, they created the European Coal and Steel Community together with Italy and the Benelux countries. The fathers of this new Europe were visionary persons. Does today`s student or scholar still know who Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi or Willem Beyen were and what they stood for?

At the time the United Kingdom refused the invitation to join such a federal project. Today`s British Government still rejects federal unity, despite the country`s adherence to the European Communities in 1973. In France, Charles de Gaulle and his Fifth Republic came after Robert Schuman and the Fourth Republic. France ever since prefers a Union with intergovernmental Summits over a Community with federal institutions. Germany re-unified in 1990 after the successful peaceful revolution against totalitarian, communist rule in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. What began as a process of reconciliation between two enemies became a peaceful enlargement of the European Union to twenty seven Member States. The division of Europe between a Soviet dominated East and a Euro-Atlantic West is no more.

This book not only tells a success story. It also makes us understand why after more than sixty years the Germans lack the solidarity and the French the political vision to turn the Euro-crisis into true progress towards unity. Against the background of Europe`s long and turbulent history, this book may also help to understand why it is so difficult to overcome nationalism and to practice the virtue of solidarity so central to the Christian source of Europe as a civilization.

 

Volume V: Neither Justice nor Order.

Reflections on the State of the Law of Nations.

 

This fifth and last volume offers a critical assessment of the state of the law of nations. In the twenty first century the world needs true global law anchored in the dignity of the human person rather than weak international law built on the interests of major sovereign states. One hundred years after the outbreak of the Great or First World War in 1914 and twenty five years after the peaceful end of the Cold War in 1989, little appears to have been learnt from the scale of disasters that befell the world between the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 and the annexation of Sebastopol in 2014.

The failure to learn from history largely comes from unconverted political leaders and ideologies of progress. The birth of modern international law, assumed to have taken place in 1648, was no moment of progress, nor was the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The peace of Westphalia reduced the law of nations to interstate law. Vienna legitimized the concept of demarcated linear boundaries. Decisions on war and peace needed no deeper justification than raison d'état as stated by the sovereign.  Law-making was reserved to a few major powers. The so-called principle of the balance of power concealed policies of aggrandizement and domination.  The leaders of all five major powers in Europe are to be held responsible for the outbreak of war in 1914. The entry into force of  the Statute of the International Criminal Court in 2002 might be a first step towards international criminal justice for all and not just for the losers.

Nicknamed the ‘international community’ major sovereign powers offer a dismal record on dealing with such issues as human rights, the use of force, the abolition of nuclear weapons and peace in the Middle-East. Human right policies are still to be oriented to the common good, as understood in the Universal Declaration, rather than to blaming other countries. Nuclear weapons can be abolished only by good example. Peace in the Middle-East cannot be found on the dead end road of a two-state solution.

Throughout the book one finds lightening examples of persons who, by their courage and dedication, could make the difference. Among them are Henri Dunant, Ruth Klüger, Andrei Sacharov, Nelson Mandela and Pope John-Paul II. Justice and order need a transition from international law to global law to be realized.

 

Published in this Series; FOOTPRINTS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, by Wolf Legal Publishers.

1. Cultural Diplomacy: Waging War With Other Means? 2009
2. The Illusions of Détente, 2009.
3. Western Cooperation. Origins and History, (second edition) 2009.
4. EUROPEAN UNIFICATION INTO THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY FADING, FAILING, FRAGILE? (Second Edition) March 2012

5.Neither Justice nor Order. Reflections on the State of the Law of Nations. June 2014.

OUTSIDE THE SERIES: 

 

For a different readership I wrote, in colloquy with my spouse, a short book on the family (English and Dutch edition), entitled:

'BECOME WHAT YOU ARE. ON THE FAMILY AS VITAL CELL IN SOCIETY.'

Frans A.M. Alting von Geusau

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  • Cultural Diplomacy: Waging war by other means?
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  • The Illusions of Détente,
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  • Western Cooperation
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  • Sporen van de Twintigste Eeuw
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  • European Unification into the twenty first Century...
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  • De geest van Christus leeft in Europa
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  • Neither Justice nor Order
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The Illusions of Détente,

Footprints of the twentieth Century

Description

Since 1989, we refer to the whole post-war period as the "Cold War Era". Such was not the case in 1968.

Neither Justice nor Order

Description

This is the fifth and last volume in the series “Footprints of the Twentieth Century”, a critical assessment of the state of the law of nations.