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Jacques Attali Headshot

The Somalization of the Skies

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The appalling tragedy that just occurred in Ukraine's airspace leads us to reflect on the multiple dimensions of the future of the world.

It confirms first of all the likelihood of the worst-case scenario, in other words, a world without rules or policemen, dominated by gangs, political or criminal. A world with no State, as I have already explained here, that it would resemble Somalia, a country with no State for more than 20 years, being submerged by warlords, preachers of all faiths and criminals of every kind. " Somalization" is the nightmare scenario of globalization, when it sets in without the rule of law, police or justice.

That is indeed what is happening right now, into a region we thought preserved, because it is in the heart of Europe, Ukraine, where divisions are opening between rival factions, without the Ukrainian State, or the qualified international institutions, from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) to the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), from the Council of Europe to the European Court of Human Rights, being able to act to bring this situation to an end.

The destruction of an airliner flying at high altitude by a missile strike demonstrates that Somalization, anarchy, knows no limit whatsoever. After reaching the sea, off the Somali coast, it now reaches the skies, over Ukraine. From now on, it is to be feared that no airliners are yet safe anywhere in the world. First, in the vicinity of airports in Africa, where ground-air short-range missiles are proliferating, since the imprudent Franco-British action in Libya. Those weapons of death can be fired at an aircraft on approach from a house very close to any airport. If this happens only once, it would be a severe blow to the world economy. Not only to aircraft manufacturers and airlines, but also to all high added value trade, all business dealings and intellectual exchanges, the whole tourist business, that would not exist without air transport.

Nothing will ever get better as long as reasonable people will believe that criminals and fanatics abide by the same rules that they themselves have agreed to abide by. And as along as they are willing to sell to them, entrust them with, or allow powerful weapons of death to reach their hands. This attitude is just as absurd and criminal than the one that prompted Mahatma Gandhi, in July 1939 and December 1940, to write to his "dear friend" Adolf Hitler, to ask him to be reasonable. If we behave with the mafias and terrorist movements like we do with reasonable people, it is the entire world that will soon be an insufferable place.

There is an urgent need to draw five necessary conclusions from this, in order to initiate five types of measure. They assume global mobilization by major developed countries. They are achievable.

  1. There is an urgent need to establish very strict and global regulations concerning air routes, that would be imposed on all airline companies. It would be crazy to be able to do so for soccer and not for security.
  2. Launch a widespread political, financial and military campaign in order to collect all the surface-to-air missiles that are still scattered in private hands around the world. It was done for other weapons, successfully.
  3. More generally, the proscription of any country from the international arena that would sell such weapons to separatist movements or private arms traders. Then, more specifically, for Europe:
  4. The reinforcement of institutions (from the EBRD and the OSCE to the Council of Europe) that bring all Europeans together, that is to say the EU Member States, Turks, Russians and Ukrainians.
  5. Strongly organize security in Europe by including in the process all these countries, while not being subservient to the USA, whose interests are different.

I know that once again, none of that will be done. Except perhaps, once again, after the disaster, and not instead of it.

j@attali.com