By : Ali RASTBEEN, President of the International Institute of Strategic Studies
In 1981, taking into account the needs of numerous Iranians far away from their homeland, we created the Avicenne Cultural Foundation and directed it to the service of the language, the culture and the cultural heritage of Iran. We were alone in our charge and we maintained our efforts during twenty years. Progressively, by the expediency of other cultural activities - teaching, conferences, cultural festivals, publications - other Iranians became interested. Today, we are proud to note that what we were attempting to preserve and to develop has been adopted by others who are getting it to advance. Diverse associations and formations, separately, deploy efforts that show that Iranians living abroad have profoundly felt the need to protect their language, their culture and their cultural heritage.
In fact, the experiences that we accumulated during these years, across cultural relations, have taught us that the world is far too vast to limit it to the context of the questions and subjects relative to one society alone. On the other hand, the era in which we live, is full of close communication. Hence national survival cannot come about without relating it to international issues, which develop relentlessly. In order to adapt it is indispensable to equip oneself with the tools; science and research.
In France, we can take as example the CNRS. Under the authority of the Research Ministry, with about 26,970 agents of whom 19,870 researchers and engineers and 7,100 administrative technicians, this organism, which disposes of a budget of 12 billion francs, has busied itself in all fields of science across its 1,333 or so laboratories spread out throughout the country.
As well as the CNRS, France has numerous research establishments, many of them emphasizing notably the Social Sciences:
- French Institute of International Relations (I.F.R.I.)
- Centre for International Studies & Research (C.E.R.I.)
- Institute for International & Strategic Relations (I.R.I.S.)
- Centre of Diplomatic & Strategic Studies (C.E.D.S.)
Let us not forget that France is not the only country in acquistion of diverse research centres: Germany, England, Italy, Sweden ... in Europe, the United States and Canada, Japan in Asia, and Australia in Oceania; constitute pillars of research in the contemporary industrial world.
Where are we situated?
This question alone permits to emphasize the horizon of our new action. In a world based on science and research, we can only adapt ourselves by harmonising our movement with the movement of the whole. On the basis of 20 years of experience, we have decided to offer our contribution with the creation of the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
This publication is the first result of the efforts of the Institute. Social recognition shall be the sine qua non condition of its pursuit. We wish that, in the future, our research shall go beyond the framework of Social Sciences and that it shall also involve more exact sciences.
* * * * * * * *
With the start of the third millennium, we enter a new era. In order to distinguish the characteristics of this period, we must turn toward the past and examine the last century and its contributions. A century, with its foundations stemming from the 19th Century; initially it appeared to have promising future perspectives. The acceleration of human civilization made it so that each step taken became superior to all prior steps in human history. From the middle of the 19th Century, the exasperated and worried world gazed at an uncertain future which began during the middle of the 20th Century. The industrial evolution of the 19th Century - which reduced distances between oceans and continents, increased the productive capacity of the Western countries, continuously acquiring new methods and sources of energy - was at the root of the fundamental upheavals in the West. The culture, the economics, and the politics found new paths in which they developed themselves. At the eve of the new century, history with its winding and evolutionary movement, had reached a point at which the universal conscience was incapable of predicting the future. Whereas the end of the century became synonymous with torment, the beginning of the new became synonymous with revolutionary waves in all domains.
The First World War and its consequences.
At the turning point of the century, human civilization had achieved brilliant victories in the scientific and industrial domains. Similarily, the world saw the arrival of two powerful economic and military powers; the United States and Japan. The First World War exploded between European industrial powers, at stake was the partition of Asia and Africa. Several issues came about; the disappearance of tsarist Russia, the Soviet Union, a communist state which preached the dictatorship of the proletariat, the decline of the German Empire which wanted to seize African colonies. There was also the decline of the Austrian Empire, the independence of Hungary, the constitution of the kingdom of Yugoslavia, the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire which gave birth to numerous small states in the Middle-East region, states which were protected by the two victorious powers of the war, England and France. However, the most important consequence of the war was the creation of the "League of Nations", which, as a world parliament, attempted to control relations among countries, in order to preserve peace, a peace that lasted only 20 years. In Asia, Japan attacked China, in Africa, Italy began to spread its colonies and, after having conquered Libya, attacked the Ethiopian empire. The Spanish revolution, following the support provided by Germany and Italy to General Franco, transformed itself into a bloody civil war. The domination of fascism in Italy and of nazism in Germany, the claim of "Lebensraumn" by Hitler, where all factors which contributed to putting a definite end to the efforts of the "League of Nations".
The Second World War and the bi-polar world.
From one point of view, the first half of the 20th Century was the period in which ideologies of the 19th Century were tested in reality. In practice, the world transformed itself into a laboratory testing the practical capacities of the theories and their social, economic, and political effects. Nazism, conceived by Hitler in 1924 on the basis of the old theory of racial segregation - justification used before for colonialism and slavery - was organised in 1929 in the form of the "national socialist" (NSDAP) party, and reached power in 1933 - the Third Reich, conquered Austria in 1938 and Czechoslovakia in 1939. The next attack was on Poland, which meant the start of the Second World War which counted 50 to 55 million victims, and which ended with the fall of Berlin in May 1945.
More precisely, the Second World War had unleashed itself in the context of sharing of raw materials, and the consumption markets, reasons similar to the start of the First World War. In Asia, Japan took the same road as Germany in Europe. In the ashes of the war, the national and anti-colonial movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America were born. Europe was the object of a new geopolitical modification. The principal winners of the war were the United States and the Soviet Union - two important powers which immediately faced one another. The world turned itself into two political poles, and experienced a period of "Cold War". Across the national and anti-colonial conflicts in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the two poles opposed each other as in Europe. Divided between the East and the West, the Cold War initiated the arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Whereas the arms race meant economic profit for the United States and the Western world, it was ill-fated for the Soviet economy.
The main contribution of the Second World War was the appearance of the United Nations which, in the light of the experiences of the "League of Nations", contributed to the wealth of "international law" and became a new experience in itself toward the creation of a "World Federal State". This state, though not ideal, was at least a good start. The sensitive role of the organisms of the United Nations commissions in the resolution of economic, cultural, and research difficulties, and elaboration of scientific acts and documents from the recommendations by the Organisation's general assemblies, transformed these organisms into meeting centres of experts and specialists from different branches. Naturally, just as the League of Nations, the United Nations found itself under the influence of great powers in the fields of economic, social, environmental recommendations, in particular during world or regional crises, which subjugated its capacity for action to the will of these powers. The Charter of the Rights of Man, which was approved by the legislative powers of the member countries of the UN, and the disappearance of racial segregation in South Africa are some of the main successes of the United Nations.
Another contribution of the Second World War was the evolution of science, particularly physics. Nuclear fission and atomic energy, which, for the first time, was used in the form of an atomic bomb launched by the American army on the two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was an historic tragedy that provoked international anguish. Faced with the reality of nuclear power, the public opinion involved itself in the debate. Implicated in the arms race, East and West invested in the field of technical evolution. The conquest of outer space was one of the objectives of the investments, which initiated two other sciences: dataprocessing and cybernetics. Due to computers, the world has since long transformed itself into a small village. At the dawn of the third millennium, information technology plays the same role as electronics did at the beginning of the 20th Century. At the start of the 20th Century, intervention into the nature of beings and things, including human beings in the field of biology, has placed our world with an uncertain future.
The uni-polar world and the question of power.
Ten years separate us from the collapse of the Soviet Union, the east pole of a bi-polar world, and the lines traced after the Second World War have been erased. The disappearance took place not as a result of war, but due to an atmosphere of comprehension between the two poles, on the one hand, and the three European powers on the other, accompanied by propaganda relative to the end of the Cold War and the start of a period of reconciliation and of co-operation between former foes. The United States announced to the entire world the establishment of a "New Order", an order which immediately manifested itself in the "correct war" in Iraq. What took place in Yugoslavia was scarcely different than what took place in Iraq. Christian Europe, which itself was moving towards federalism, immediately found an interest as to support Muslims in Herzegovina and to destroy the federal government of Yugoslavia which, under the Stalin era, had proclaimed its independence in the middle of Eastern Europe and had moved closer to the West, which was a gift to Germany.
The world is once again directed towards insecurity. The population concentration in Asia, the presence of the two newcomers to the great powers, China and India, the importance of the United States claiming to be an absolute and superior power, and the aggravation of poverty in the "Southern" countries (which has become the Third World concept). Also the conflicting interests among great powers, the strengthening of Germany and of Japan with their new claims in Europe and Asia, regional crisis among the allies of the United States, especially in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. All this increase difficulties in the world, whereas at the same time distances have decreased and hence the whole planet has been transformed into a "hot spot".
In Europe and the United States, the crisis shows its different sides; increased racial segregation and the reinforced religious propaganda in Europe, which traditionally has been a tool of the conservatives. The presence of neo-Nazis is no longer an illusion and following Austria's example, one can expect their appearance in other governments. In the United States, the conflict between the two parties who represent the regime in power, manifested itself during the period of electoral fraud, and the American elections showed the regime trying to blind the world.
Globalisation and its difficulties.
In this image of the world, it would be equally convenient to add "the United States of Europe", which is in the process of being formed. The European States have not succeeded in remaining independent, despite the disintegration of the Eastern bloc. Thus, France, England, Germany and Italy have decided, following their Second World War experience, to reunite and embrace all of the European Continent. This "European co-ordination" is in harmony with the "globalisation of the economy" (meaning also a new order in market economy and whose World Trade Organisation is but its tool) and with the disintegration of the Eastern bloc. It is therefore proving that the economic orientation of the countries is no longer be determined by the governments but by world financial organisations and establishments. The latter have succeeded over two centuries, to reduce the role of governments, who supported intermediaries from the sidelines. Today, Presidents or Prime Ministers travel around the world in order to sell merchandise and obtain advantages. The chosen path (their fusion) shall spare them in the future from the role of these governments. The vast world movement directed against the "as yet undeclared but now enforced" new order that started in 1998 and that manifests itself during all important reunions aiming to promote the establishment of the order, obliges one to relive the same protest movements and the formation of revolutionary parties and groups as at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century in Europe: social-democratic parties, socialists, communists.
The present struggle, in the incubation period, is not ideological and takes place in the sense of defence of work security and of man's existential security in society, and of environmental preservation. However, here too, it is the intellectuals who hold the flame: they enter the third millennium waving the flag of the defence of man and respect for his rights. The defence of man in his individuality which, at the end of the second millennium, stabilised itself in its juridical aspect, but still has no institutionalised character and its perspectives, in the context of the "new order", are increasingly uncertain.
Science and technology: for the benefit of whom?
The untiring and continuous extension of sciences has introduced, in a certain manner, the story of "Frankenstein" in the history of civilisation. Today, the curriculum of school establishments teaches the history of sciences and of philosophy up untill the 20th Century. Adolescents learn of the contributions of their ancestors which go thousands of years back in time. Immediately thereafter, they enter into the world of contemporary sciences and techniques where each science divides itself into several branches, each branch demanding long-term teaching and training and implicating man in his social globality and the human being in his social individuality. On one hand, it is a path towards new perspectives, and on the other hand it provokes in him new terror. It breaks down frontiers between systems and institutions and grows seeds of doubt where till yesterday there was absolute certitude.
Will man's scientific exploit be the destruction of humanity? Has man constructed with science and technology his own Frankenstein? No - one doubts that the engine of the new order - an order that, if not curtailed shall lead back to destruction - lies in the science and technology of its planners. It is them who today struggles for the defence of the environment, to ensure security for the human being in society and security of the latter in the face of direct or indirect aggression that threatens it from inside or outside. Are they not the same specialists and technicians who alarmed the entire world and invited the world's peoples to remember those who exploit their technology?
The meaning of these movements and of these warnings is that the danger does not lie in science and technology, but in the alienation of man and his removal - in its general sense - from the science that advances in large strides and directs itself towards research about life on other planets. The horizon of human science is far from our measures of space and time, and it is natural that in transforming the earth into a small village, it seeks to find a powerful mean to reach the cities and capitals of this village.
If information technology permits the transfer of production and export of merchandise from the United States and Europe towards the Extreme East, why then not use the same technology to transfer science and technology? To contribute to security of societies, by working towards the stability of individuals who constitute the foundation?
Our Institute, which encompasses a group of scientists and specialists in different research disciplines, has chosen this method of spreading and transfering the fruits of science, in particular in the domain of the Social Sciences, and in the framework of the conditions of world evolution at the start of the 21st Century. Our objective is to unite ourselves, to all those who have decided to enlighten tomorrow's horizon and to participate in the extension of cultural relations, with a goal to transfer science and to answer the needs of researchers. We shall use, in the elaboration of this review, scientific, technological, economic, political, social and research products of specialists and of theoreticians.
Without doubt, the attention and the collaboration of our dear readers shall be our principal support for the path that we have chosen to take.