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In a lucid text, the Truth Commission President states the better lessons left by the war in Irak.

The war in Irak signals, according to more than one expert, the end of the international order that emerged from the Second World War. This is so, because the war was started by the decision of three countries, led by the United States, disregarding the United Nations Security Council. Thus, the balance of powers that reigned in the last half century and prevented arbitrary actions by the great powers disappeared. We are indeed before a single world superpower decided to exercise its power without rivals. Legally speaking, the juridical order in effect until now has been seriously contradicted, if not condemned to irrelevance.

Due to elementary humanitarian considerations and basic respect for law as source of civilized coexistence, it is impossible not to deplore the final course of events. Those who have directly experienced the great sufferings war always causes cannot agree with this large scale outburst of violence, not even under the pretext of the lesser evil. Certain hypotheses- although nothing but hypotheses- justify the conflict intensions of weapons of war and the intentions of ruthless dictatorship. On the other hand, we now have evident facts: the inevitable suffering of innocent people, victims in the worst case of the ineptly called collateral damage of bombing and, in the best case, condemned to displacement and losing their material goods.

Of course we can ponder different elements when judging the events. We must certainly recognize that the United States and its allies want to overthrow through violence a regime that is not a democracy, not even an imperfect democracy. It is actually a regime whose history of serious abuse against its own people will be remembered as one of the huge stigmas of our lives. On the other hand, this regime recently accumulated a history of defiance and challenges to the international community. In spite of all this, and with all the history of major humanitarian catastrophes, it should be clear that war, and large scale violence are never the way to create peace and that in any war, civilians suffer the most and, among them, the poor and the most unprotected.

It is not necessary to delve into the motivations of the players in this tragedy to deplore the outburst of massive violence in Irak. Because opinion about this violence is not strategic but fundamentally ethic. We deplore once again the use of violence; the damage suffered or that will be suffered by innocent and unarmed people; that a precedent has been set opening the door to indiscriminate violence, and that is a dark omen for the century and era that are beginning.

In recent years, much has been written about the end of the twentieth century and the new era. Predictions somewhat optimistic. The fall of totalitarianism, the progress of science and technology, the spread of democracy, the dissemination of doctrines, including about human rights, warranted such optimism. Today’s events show us that those who were then pessimistic had a strong point. What we now see -notwithstanding all the progress made- is that strategic reasoning, the illusion that the end justifies the means, the temptation of making calculations based on the number of human lives gained or lost, are still powerful considerations in managing international and domestic affairs, and that there are still important battles- not political but ethic- to fight in the world, even if democracy prevails.

One of the greatest words of our time has been globalization. Skeptical and cautious people warned from the start that a monotonous and unilateral configuration of the world should not be conceived and legitimized under that name. Global reality should not be a conformist way of referring to a humanity adapted to just one level, just one vision of the world and a single set of thoughts. Today’s events should also be used to rethink about these risks and to promote, without prejudiciously rejecting any society or culture, a truly plural world in which a polyphony of tolerated and tolerating voices should be heard instead of a monotonous choir.

Most public opinion- that vast majority that spoke for peace in the last weeks- has seen in this crisis, with some reason, the end of an era and the closing of crucial opportunities to build a more peaceful world. From the war in Irak we can draw, however, a number of bitter lessons that we must not waste. The main is, perhaps, that during the nineties that no man’s land between the Cold War and the world dawning today –we failed to build a legal order and a system to make political decisions in line with the new challenges. We knew that the fall of the Soviet Union removed a counterweight that preserved a given international order for years, an order that was nevertheless far from being fair or humanitarian. We also knew that, although conflicts among nations have not disappeared, a new type of violence was fermenting, which occurs within the borders of each State. At the same time, bloc politics- among which the European Union- were known to be insufficient to create the new desired balance. Firstly, because no blocs effectively counterbalance the great American power. Secondly, because with certain nuances they went on operating under the cold logic of strategic reason and, hence, are not the way for true world humanitarian politics. Maybe nothing shows this more clearly than the time and lives lost until an intervention was agreed to end the massacre in the Balkans.

In spite of what we known, an international order was not designed, nor was the decision-making system updated to meet to the new challenges. This is why the perplexity at the transgression of the world order expressed by United Nations Security Council is a bit surprising. If the transgression is deplorable, as it is, it must sound the alarm to start building a new order in which the only options should not be unilateralism, on the one hand and paralysis on the other.

Peace requires courage. We Peruvians have learnt so. Firstly, it demands courage to defend it when the champions of political realism present it as illusory. It may seem so, but it is necessary to have experienced a tragedy as we lived in Peru and is still lived in many countries in the world, to know that peace is always preferable to the shortest war. However, the opposite of political realism is not a baseless illusion or a dreamer’s utopia. The opposite is what we have to look for at the beginning of this new century, a world politics grounded on immovable values. And one of these values is clear and simple: we must defend life.