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Ethics in Foreign Policy and Palestine

Yalim Eralp*

This idea, if I’m not mistaken, was first introduced by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who claimed that a dose of ethics in foreign policy would lead to lasting peace. But it didn’t happen, of course.

The new trend is that former colonial powers are apologizing to the countries they exploited. However, the dead remain dead, and there is no way to bring them back. Ethics and morality have never really played a role in foreign policy.

Look at the mighty United States, seemingly asleep, where the Secretary of State says, “We need to protect Palestinian civilians, or else we give Hamas a ‘card’.” In other words, if there’s no card, there’s no harm. Biden claims that Hamas exaggerates the number of Palestinians killed; it’s not that many, he says. As if fewer casualties wouldn’t matter! Finally, the U.S. Secretary of State remembered Palestinian civilians!

National interests come first. Otherwise, Gulf countries would have withdrawn their money from U.S. banks. Besides, they have strategic resources like oil.

Foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. Inside, ethics and morals are often left behind. Everyone is either after power or money. Foreign policy can’t be any different. In countries where justice is independent, politicians often face court for various reasons.

In the United States, Jews have a significant influence, far beyond their numbers. Despite all their wealth, Arabs couldn’t establish a lobby. Of course, the negative impact of Hamas terrorism and hostage-taking is significant. But they just couldn’t convey that a two-state solution is necessary for Palestine. (Only President Clinton seemed to understand this.) Of course, the corruption issue of Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, also plays a role.

There is a successful Israeli lobby in the United States. Scholars, writers, and media representatives dazzle. This also influences American politicians. But to what extent? Even in the United States, there are murmurs. Even The New York Times, which generally supports Israel, proves that the hospital hit was not by Hamas but by Israel.

Israel is practically the only country in the region that the U.S. can rely on. But there are many countries in the Arab world on a global scale. They can’t seem to benefit from this. It’s as if the Palestinian cause is not theirs!

We should commend Civil Society Organizations here. Jews, Christians, and Muslims are protesting against what is happening in Gaza. They are starting to influence governments. Civil society does what the state doesn’t or can’t do in every field. They are not after positions or benefits. They are volunteers. The rulers are disconnected from the people everywhere. In Turkey, villagers are trying to protect nature and their land. Similar situations exist in other countries. The idea of protecting themselves from the state…

On October 7th, due to Hamas terrorism, Israel and the United States, which strongly supported Israel like a rock, suffered significant losses in world public opinion. How you start something is not as important as how you conduct it and how you end it.

It seems that Blinken’s visit to Turkey, where he did not meet with Erdogan and did not hold a joint press conference with Minister Fidan, came at Turkey’s request. Erdogan won’t be in Ankara anyway. If that’s the case, it shows Turkey’s discomfort. Perhaps Erdogan not labeling Hamas as a terrorist group in the U.S. also caused discomfort. Turkey withdrew its Ambassador from Israel for consultations but did not sever relations. Because the sale of F-16s is pending in the U.S. Senate.

Of course, there is no President Eisenhower around. A President who made his words count. As you may recall, in 1956, when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, Israel, Britain, and France launched a military operation. But the operation ended with Eisenhower’s ultimatum.

The lack of ethics and morality in politics, whether democratic or autocratic, is corroding states. People are not satisfied with the politicians they elected. A largely apolitical society is developing. Almost no society believes in its leaders. How could they? Once there was Trump at the helm of the United States. The former Prime Minister of the UK asked if COVID could be prevented with a hairdryer! The former President of France is in court. Corruption is everywhere… The masses have legitimate complaints. In the 21st century, this is the most striking development.

Of course, the Nordic countries are different. They are a separate matter. They are the ones that come closest to Kant’s ideas.

Now, let’s go back to Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, during his recent visit to Israel, made a clear statement: There is no alternative to two states. Erdogan rightfully said that Gaza should be part of an independent Palestinian state. Of course, Arab countries share the same view.

If a Palestinian state is established, it will be built on the bodies of innocent Palestinians. At least, it will be said that they did not die in vain…

*Ambassador Yalım Eralp (retired) is a faculty member in the Department of International Relations of Istanbul Kültür University.

This article was originally published in Serbestiyet.com and translated into English by Politurco.

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