In his famous speech at the American University in 1963, the American President John F. Kennedy outlined his vision of peace with the following words: "The United States … will never start a war… This generation of Americans has already had enough … of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it … But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just."
No one will question the noble goal of establishing a world-order in which the weak are protected and the strong are forced to be just. But the reality is far from that. From Palestine, Iraq and Syria to Myanmar, Somalia and Central Africa, the weak are powerless and the strong are creating havoc.
The weak have no religion or ethnicity. They include anyone who is the subject of occupation, collective punishment, indiscriminate killing, forced migration and economic deprivation. The strong have no religion or ethnicity either. They include any state, terrorist organization, tribe or corporation that seeks dominance and submission by all means. Whether it is an occupying power such as Israel vis-à-vis Palestinians or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) killing Shiites, Yezidis and Christians in Syria and Iraq, they kill simply because they can.
Take the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) as examples. Both are powerful institutions on the global scale. Both have members with political clout and financial means. Both have noble goals in their charters. Both deal with a large number of issues and make a lot of good statements.
The reality is that they are dominated by a handful of powerful countries that give the final decision on the most strategic issues that matter. Whether it is the U.S. on the U.N. Security Council or Gulf countries in the OIC, they prioritize their own nation-state agenda. They talk about universal values and globalization or Islamic values and the Muslim ummah, but they act as typical powers that seek to maintain their stature without changing much to help the weak and the poor against the powerful and the rich.
But this is beginning to change. A loose alliance of heads of states, political leaders, human rights activists, journalists, businesspeople, religious figures and ordinary citizens are coming together with an issue-based dialog to stand with the weak.
Take the example of the global reactions to the recent Israeli attack on Gaza. Since July 7 when Israel began shelling Gaza, hundreds of thousands of people came out in street protests and on-line campaigns to oppose the unjust policies of the powerful and express solidarity with the weak. They cross beyond all religious, ethnic, cultural and national boundaries.
This alliance of the virtuous is likely to maintain its momentum.
A similar alliance is emerging against the ISIS terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria. States, tribal and religious leaders and regional organizations are coming together to protect Iraqi Shiites, Yezidis, Christians and others against ISIS's barbaric acts. On July 17, a large number of Sunni and Shiite scholars convened in Istanbul to take a firm stance against Sunni and Shiite sectarianism and extremism. Turkey is working closely with the Kurdistan Regional Government to help Turkmens, Kurds, Yezidis and Christians affected by ISIS terror. Turkey is already sending large amounts of humanitarian aid there.
The issue-based coalition of the defenders of the weak is likely to continue to grow and challenge the unjust and destructive policies of the strong. This is a good thing for the world and should be supported by all regardless of political differences.
About the author
Presidential spokesperson for the Republic of Turkey