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CALUMET . intercultural law and humanities review
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The Right to Peace and the Globalization of Infinite War: A Dialogue with Susan Petrilli
Ponzio A.
The cultural and political climate as well as the values that inspired the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 belong to a distant past. The Gulf War of 1991, which introduced the concept of “just and necessary war,” marks a watershed between the Helsinki Final Act, which interdicts war as a solution to international controversy, and the 2002 White House document which instead proclaims the need for war, for “preventive war,” and “infinite war,” as the only sure means to security and peace—a ratification of the idea expressed in George Orwell’s novel 1984: “war is peace.” Between 1991 and 1999 not only is war described as “just and necessary,” but it is also justified as humanitarian, as in, “humanitarian military intervention,” “humanitarian military operations.”
Migration and terrorism are the consequence of an “infinite war” which can be dated back to 1991, but in truth it can be dated back at least to the two world wars, including all conflicts antecedent to the 1991 Persian Gulf War: war in Indochina, in Korea, in Algeria, in Vietnam, the Arab-Israeli Six-Day-War, etc. The relation between migration and terrorism is not a direct relation of cause and effect, as is often insinuated by massmedia discourse and everyday gossip. Instead, both can be considered as effects of the same cause, symptoms of the same disease, one that is far more invasive: a common economic capitalist system shared at a world level, and the correlated social programming. Migration is not to be confused with emigration, that instead is englobed by the production system. What characterizes migration today is its Alterity with respect to the system, the fact that it presents itself as excess, namely an Alterity that cannot be assimilated. “Migrants” now represent a part of humanity that cannot be reduced to the status of labor-commodity. The migrant’s request for hospitality evidences the limits of “human rights” which are made to appear for what they effectively are: the rights of identity, from which the rights of the Other, the rights of Otherness, therefore the right to peace, are excluded.


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