(1) Talking about interests
We get engaged in many political conversations, on a variety of topics, and among the frequently used sentences in such dialogues (especially when we talk about our troubled Arab countries): (politics means interests), or ( the country X is only driven by its interests), along with other repeated expressions echoed by everyone without realizing significant differences.
When my interlocutor says (countries are only driven by their interests) I feel he is not just generalizing but also eliminating all differences between the politics of the East and those of the West, and hence politics turns to be a crime (interests), and external relations that binds states becomes a sin (interests).
By this, we are dismissing the scale which enables us to distinguish the truth from falsehood, to distinguish the fundamentals of national security from the casual tactics, to distinguish the extremist from the moderate, and to distinguish between honourable and despicable ... because such things and such people adopt their actions according to the instinct of interests.
By this naive perspective... there is no difference between Turkey and Iran, there is no difference between Hamas and Israel, and there is no difference between America and Russia.
There is no difference between the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS nor between the military government (and any other ruling system that you may disagree with their ideas, depending on your orientation)!
During the recent Qatari crisis - for example - it was surprising to find out that some people see no link between what is happening to Qatar today and the support it gave to the Arab Spring.
They do not see any difference between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (or as I always call it, the united Arab conspiracies) ...
Ironically, When I ask this question to my interlocutor I receive a reply accompanied by confidence, that Qatar did not support the Arab Spring but rather (supported its interests)!!!
At first, we must distinguish between two types of people ... a type that follows his principles without seeking benefits, and this type might be struggling lifelong without achieving any interest!
A second type that follows his interests, but they choose the type of benefit that is consistent with their principles and values.
Mr. X is a pimp, accordingly, he chose a certain kind of interest that goes in line with his values in life.
Mr. Y is a construction contractor ... he also chose a kind of interest and he has arranged his life accordingly. He could have chosen to work as a pimp, but he chose to be a contractor because his values did not allow him to be a pimp.
Such choices are made by the person's choice and will, and on them his actions in life are taken.
For example, someone like Nelson Mandela had built his life dreaming about the liberation of the people of South Africa. When that happened, he became the President of the Republic ... Does this mean that he is a mere interest holder?
Of course not, ... This great man chose to dedicate his life for the principle of South Africa's liberation, his interests were in line with his principles, and when his principles were realized, his interests were realized as well.
Many militants in different parts of the world followed their principles, and when they won, they also achieved worldly interests. They became officials, ministers, and presidents.
The Brazilian President Lula da Silva had lived as a workers' struggler and dreamed of the liberation of Brazil from military coups and the domination of the United States of America. When his principles were reached and Brazil was liberated, he became the President of the Republic. Was he doing this for his personal interests?!
Most principle holders have their interests based on the success of their major issues, and this does not question their patriotism or sincerity. Otherwise, we would consider all the great prophets, leaders, revolutionaries and opponents as mercenaries seeking their own interests.
A quick note here: there is a third type of people who devotes his life to his principles, even if they contradict his personal interests, such as those who are really rich, yet they struggle for equality and fragmentation of wealth. This means that they will lose their wealth if their case wins.
A famous example for this type in our political life is the great leftist fighter Ahmad Nabil el-Hilaly, may God have mercy on him.
Returning to my topic, even countries make such choices.
The state of Israel, for example, established its interests on the basis of a certain principle. They claim that the land of Palestine belongs to the Jews as mentioned in alleged texts of the Torah, and that it is their right as justified by claimed historical evidences of the Jewish people who think they are the chosen people of God.
So, such people have the right to expel the habitants of this land from their homes, kill them, demolish them with the latest fighters, kill their children, and leave their women as widows, and do every possible thing to force them leave their land to the Jewish people.
If the principle of Israel in life is that its people are higher than the rest of the people, and that the inhabitants must be expelled from this land, then you will always find its interests with wars, massacres, weakening the Arab people, strengthening the Arab regimes that sell their decision to Israel.
While others have chosen to play their role within their historical and geographical environment, to coexist with it and to interact with the peoples of the region, without prejudice to their sovereignty and independent decision.
There are dozens of examples: Brazil, Germany, Turkey, South Africa, Chile, Canada, Scandinavia, etc.
So ... States do choose the kind of interests they favour, choose the kind of interests they want to defend and to be biased towards, and choose the camp of interests that they favour.
The interests of States are undoubtedly affected by their principles (albeit a small proportion).
And if you apply this to the Qatari crisis, you will find that a country like Qatar has chosen to be biased to the interests of the people, so its major projects were Al Jazeera, Katara, dozens of sites and serious research centres where high caliber people are working. They provide a great service to the Arab reader, and for the specialized researches in various matters.
Try to look at the other side ... You will find that the united Arab conspiracies (Emirates) is spending billions on entertainment projects whose aim is only to spread decay and immorality, to overthrow the elected regimes, to finance military coups, and to work in cooperation with Israel in the whole world.
Qatar has chosen to attract a person like Dr. Azmi Bishara (who is a great thinker among the most important thinkers of our time), (no matter how his orientations are seen by our political views) ... while the other country chose to attract Mohammed Dahlan (who is a gun for rent as known by everyone)!
So Mr. X chose to be a pimp ... and his interest was found with the spread of prostitution!
and Mr. Y chose to be a construction contractor ... and found his interest with the spread of urbanization!
Typically, the country X chose to have its interests with prostitution ... while the country Y chose to have its interests with urbanization and education!
For the above... we cannot consider everyone equal under the argument that everyone is looking for his interests, because in this way we will not be able to establish sound political alliances, we may also ally with the "pimp" for the sake of an interest.
Is there a room for more talking about interests?
Yes, it is a big issue ... Countries (just like people) may betray their principles, may betray their interests, and deviate a little or a lot from What should be in the benefit of their people.
This is a long talk. I will cover a part of it next week.
Translated by Dr. Iman Salama