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WION Edit: Mediating peace is becoming a way to attain prominence

File photo: US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Delhi Oct 14, 2019, 08.59 PM (IST)

On WION Edit, we are going to look at the interest of top politicians in brokering and mediating peace.

This is now becoming an easy way to attain prominence. There are specific multi-lateral forums for this purpose.

Yet, leaders want their few minutes of glory. One lure is the possibility of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1990, the then-Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev was given a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in bringing the cold war to a peaceful end.

Now we are taking anything away from Gorbachev, but the fact of the matter is - the Soviet economy could not sustain communism.

So Gorbachev had a role, but he was neither responsible for the fall of the communist dictatorship or peace. Besides, the early years after the fall of the Soviet Union were riddled with poverty and conflict in the region.

The second mistake took place in 2009.

When the same Nobel Peace Prize was given to Barack Obama 'For his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples'.

The same Barack Obama under whose rule, the US entered Syria without an invitation. The same Barack Obama who oversaw a crisis in West Asia. But yet - recognition comes with pretention. 

It's easy to pretend to be a messiah of peace and get noticed.

But the fun here is - even leaders like Imran Khan and Donald Trump are trying to be messengers of peace with their dodgy reputations.

Trump even said recently that he deserves a Nobel Prize for his efforts in mediating peace.

Now, the problem here is geopolitical conflicts have a history and history makes it a difficult task to settle disputes.

But leaders, egged on, by the overestimation of their abilities - try to muddle the pool and take credit for tiny achievements.

This approach is highly problematic. History is full of examples - take for instance the case of Norway and the European Union trying to broker peace between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE in the early years of this Millenium.

Or the case of India trying to broker peace between the two sides in the late 1980s.

Needless to say - the attempts only ended in a civil war, death of a former prime minister of India and bloodshed.

So should no global leader play peace mediator? We are not saying that.

We are saying that if there is a conflict - the best a third party can do is to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table.

And once that's done - it's for the stakeholders to decide the parameters of peace negotiations not for third parties.

Now organisations like the UN are established for this very purpose. So why do we need individual leaders to play peace brokers?

This is a complex issue. Russia can be a peace broker between Syria and Turkey because it is a stakeholder in the conflict.

Russia's support is the lifeblood of the Syrian government. Hence there is interest.

Similarly, the US and Russia can play a role in deescalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran again, because it's their weapons that will wreak havoc if there is a conflict.

What explains a person like Imran Khan trying to broker peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

This is nothing - but a foolish attempt at image-building.

New Delhi always insists that bilateral issues should be discussed between the two parties involved. And this pertains not only to Kashmir and Pakistan but to every other issue as well.

Such a stance is rooted in common sense because right now we live in a world where leaders want to poke their nose on issues that should least bother them. 

WION Edit: Mediating peace is becoming a way to attain prominence)