Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, never shy about thrusting his once-obscure country on to the global stage, has unveiled perhaps his most ambitious initiative ever: to rid the world of war.
The new program, announced during Nazarbayev's recent trip to Washington, is called "21st Century: A World Without Wars" and is laid out in a document, "Manifesto: The World. The 21st century."
Nazarbayev's rule has featured several globally ambitious initiatives, like integrating all of Eurasia, bringing the world's religions together and eliminating nuclear weapons. The new anti-war manifesto is an outgrowth of the last, and Nazarvbayev unveiled it at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.
And as with Kazakhstan's other global projects, it's difficult to separate Nazarbayev's desire to do good from his desire for glory. “The government is not insincere about this issue, but it is certainly also used for public diplomacy issues,” said Togzhan Kassenova, an associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment, in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine.
Indeed, the PR rollout for the manifesto has been ambitious. The country's scientific community has lined up to praise the document, each more fulsomely than the last. State television reports (with less-than-overwhelming evidence) that the manifesto "is being widely discussed in the global media." Kazakhstan got the United Nations to classify it as "status of an official document of the General Assembly and the UN Security Council." The document has even been the topic of discussion of the Mothers' Council of Eastern Kazakhstan, local media report.
The manifesto itself consists largely of worthy platitudes laid out in staccato fashion. A sample:
To end all wars is the most challenging task for our civilization.
But there is no other reasonable alternative.
This task has to be treated by the world leaders as the highest priority on the global agenda.
In the 21st century humanity must take decisive steps towards demilitarization.
We won’t get another chance.
Amidst the generalities, however, are some pointed details. In one section, Nazarbayev criticizes military blocs, calling them "relics of the Cold War" and making some veiled criticisms: "Military blocs can include countries which are not always aware of their responsibility to promote peace and security. We have also seen attempts by some states to use the protection of military blocs to their advantage in their interactions with third countries, including immediate neighbors." It's not clear exactly what he's referring to here, but it's impossible not to see the many recent travails of the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- the Russian-led military bloc of which Kazakhstan is a member -- reflected there.