"Never again" we say every time we fall again, knowing that it will be a difficult promise to keep. Never more violence, never more repression of human rights, never again to fascism and Stalinism, never again to impunity for criminals. Never again. This is the title of the report on the abuses of the last Argentine dictatorship.
“Never again” said the liberators of Europe at the end of World War II. Never again to barbarism, to the extermination of the Jewish people. Never Again could be read last Sunday at the anti-Semitic demonstration in Paris and Never Again wrote an Israeli soldier a few days ago next to a Star of David on the column of a building in Gaza. It's Never Again was projected on the Brandenburg Gate on the 9th, anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But Never Again never comes. Wars break out and perhaps Nietzsche was right when he argued that violence purifies.
Uppsala University, a world reference in the field, counted 55 armed conflicts in 2022, more than ever since the end of the Cold War in 1989. The fighting lasts for an average of between eight and eleven years, and then they sleep. It has been ten years since the last peace agreement. It was in South Sudan. The guns fell silent, but few families returned home. There remain 4.5 million displaced people and refugees. 65% are children.
Conflicts freeze and then microwave again. Palestine is the most emblematic. Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen have been living at war for more than a decade. Sudan plunges into civil conflict. Six coups have rocked the Sahel since 2020. The last was in Niger in July. In September, Azerbaijan seized the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave from Armenia. Since then, some 150,000 Armenians have fled their homes and property. A quarter of the world's population – 2 billion people – live in conflict zones. At the beginning of the year there were 108 million displaced people, more than ever.
There are more figures, just as tragic. Many come from the United Nations, the organization that is no longer more than our conscience. The Security Council neither solves nor sanctions. Peace missions have lost effectiveness and legitimacy. We are left with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the repeated request of Secretary General António Guterres for a truce in Gaza.
We live in times of Sparta more than Athens. We prepare for war more than for democracy. Military budgets grow. Investing in defense is big business.
Never again will the will on which Europe was built lose strength. The soft power of its values is not enough to protect what we have achieved so far. From 1618, when the Thirty Years' War broke out, to 1945, when World War II ended, 68 million people have died in Europe's conflicts. Three centuries of human sacrifice to get to today and not be sure if we will get through.
Conflicts are no longer resolved. They are only managed. Israel is criticized for not having a future strategy for Palestine, but Prime Minister Netanyahu does not believe it is necessary. As soon as he proclaims that the mission is accomplished and that Hamas is no longer a threat, Gaza and the West Bank will return to the freezer, that is, to the status quo imposed by the dominant force, to limbo, that state of neither war nor peace that extends like a pandemic across half the world.
Will the Arab countries intervene, will the United States put pressure, will the European Union finance, will international organizations do what they have to do to restore peace and justice, security in Israel and Palestine?
We could ask ourselves the same thing about Ukraine and Russia, or about any other conflict.
Wars multiply because there are more weapons and enough money to buy them, because there are more intersecting interests, because it is difficult for them not to internationalize, for social networks not to spread the hatred they generate.
Today there are so many barriers to the resolution of wars that all we can hope for is a ceasefire, to build a wall, to send help.
Peace needs much more. It needs dialogue between all parties, restorative justice, political, administrative, social, economic and military tools to extend the truce and guarantee security, to end impunity for terrorists, coup plotters and invaders. What country or what institution wants or can get involved?
Certainly not America after Afghanistan. Neither does the UN, hostage to the vetoes of Russia, China and the US. Hopefully Europe will do it to save itself by saving Ukraine.
In the trenches of any military front you hear talk of torture and death with inhuman indifference and you wonder how we can live up to the perversity of the world.
The children who are to make peace between Israel and Palestine have not yet been born and their parents are unlikely to be the children of today, but children will continue to be born and we have no choice but to continue educating them in the Never Again.