Daniel Šmihula - Work


His main areas of research include human rights, rules of the international system, and violence in international relations. He broke a dogma of a radical pacifism in Slovak political thinking on foreign policy.

Opinions of Daniel Šmihula on violence in world politics can be described in several thesis: He states that presence of violence in the international relations (although as a potential possibility only) arises from their deep essence. There does not exist some higher judge of justice who could ensure freedom and legitimate interests of particular states. The states should be able to ensure them by themselves.

Moreover, Šmihula says that inclination to violence, especially to a collective one (war, genocide) is characteristic for man. It was far too long a very effective tool for selective evolution.

In today's international relations operate factors (economic rationality, international law, humanistic and pacifistic ideal) that are reducing the possibility of a military violence. On the other hand, there are also some opposite factors in force: transferring of state's inner conflicts into international scene, increasing of the military power and ambitions of China, India, Islamic states and ideologically motivated efforts to ensure the protection of human rights and stability in other countries through military intervention as well. The tension present in the world is a result of the different abilities of particular countries to manage the transition into becoming modern societies. The differences in levels of development of social structures, political thought and consequently, the attitude to use violence, are still large.

There is danger here that mainly China as a future economic giant whose total GDP in the years 2030-2040 will be comparable with the GDP of the USA could have an ambition to confirm its altered international position by emphasising or using the military power in the future. Using military power could lead to a very serious confrontation similar to World War II or (better case) the Cold War.

In the Islamic world streams of fundamentalist opinions occur at present, which approve the use of violence in politics, reject principles of modern society (human rights and freedoms, secularism, democracy and pacifism) and they consider them as “western, non-Islamic” values and furthermore they invite to confrontation between the Islam and the “West”. They also represent a violent element in the current world. Notwithstanding that they are never far away from using violence in practice, in reality – as long as they do not obtain sufficient territorial and economic base – they do not represent a serious threat, it could be classified mainly as “asymmetric threat” – which is incomparable e.g. with potential threat from the side of China. What is more, the majority of Muslims consider the Islamic fundamentalism as an anti-system element.

However, development in the last years has proven that the biggest and most frequent users of violence after 1989 were the USA together with some allies. Although, it happens paradoxically very often with good intentions, which is impossible to denounce, it is a fact - necessary to deal with and to not bypass. The current development is that in the name of protecting peace, human rights, basic stability and in the name of War on Terror and other threats for the international community, the “West” led by the US was and probably still is prepared for a military intervention in various parts of the world.

Democratic countries mostly prefer peace. But when they do wage a war, it tends to be a total war. The situation in the today international relations can be also described as having the world divided into two subsystems:

1) a group of liberal-democratic developed countries with predominant Euro-American tradition of civilisation, where the role of power and military factor in mutual relations is significantly limited,
2) the rest of the world where the situation is different.

In his works Daniel Šmihula has paid attention to 'conditions of the just war'. However, his findings in this area seem to be quite conventional. Currently, he defines the conditions of a just war as follows:

From the position of 'legitimacy to start a war' or combat:

1) Just cause and goal of the war (according to international law)
2) Legitimate authority (government or rebel movement)
3) War as the last resort
4) Right intention
5) Probability of a success

From the position of the style of warfare:

1) Legitimate authority (organised and determined units which respect the rules of the international law)
2) Protection of noncombatants
3) Adequacy of used tools, weapons and methods
4) Protection of banned targets
5) Respecting the ban of using some weapons
6) Respecting the ban of using some combat methods

Several his articles are about a legal status of national minorities. But probably the most innovative is his analysis of the pre-Westphalian international system in Europe after 395 A.D. in which he resolutely expressed the idea that the whole concept of the pre-Westphalian international system is artificial and during its supposed duration we could identify four different periods (1: The late Roman – Barbarian system, 2: System of the barbarian monarchies, 3: System of the Imperial- Papal dominance, 4: The Estate-Dynastic system).

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