Today we arrived at our beloved conference room in the Euroflat Hotel for our last series of lectures from the esteemed Italian Brigadier General.

He enlightened us on the topic of International Security & Geography beginning promptly at 10 am. We started off learning that geography is the study of features and patterns formed by the interaction of natural and man-made environments. Geography impacts nature, development, perceptions, relationships, and politics. Speaking of which, “geopolitics” is defined to be the influence of geography upon politics, and developed from the 19th Century on through four different schools of thought.

Subscribing to the Anglo-American Classical School of thought was Mackinder (1904) who believed that the Heartland was the key to ruling the world and that land power prevailed, while his counterpart Spyman (1942) alternatively believed that ruling the Rimland was more important along with sea power over land power. Students of the German Classical School of thought believed in Neo-Darwinism and thought that the State would naturally need Lebensraum to grow, as it naturally has a right to expand with only the fittest surviving. They also thought that it was the Manifest Destiny of Germany to rule.

Those in the American Cold War School believed that the containment of the Soviet Union went hand-in-hand with the Domino Theory. It was thought that containment should be achieved by surrogate powers through the three pillars:  American engagement in Europe, a strong Europe, and a strong China.  The fourth and final school of thought is the American Post-Cold War School in which divisions were thought to be cultural. According to this School, conflict occurs among fault lines between civilizations, and connected geostrategic regions generate a dynamic world equilibrium.

A strong point Mr. Cuzzelli made in his lecture was that seas unite people, thereby stressing the importance of maritime transportation. He said that food, energy, and raw materials are necessary to form a country and later stressed his point that climate change is a human security issue. Global warming compromises space and food, determines migrations, damages land, hinders developments, makes water a scarcity, and leads less-developed countries into famine. As essential commodities continue becoming more and more scarce, resource wars will emerge, especially since the world population is increasing exponentially.

After learning all of this, we took a quick [2 hour] break for lunch and returned ready to learn more. Our second and final lecture from Mr. Cuzzelli focused on Security & International Law. We talked about the right to defend and the concept of “Just War.” An important change we focused on was the transition from punishing wrongdoers to punishing wrongdoings. UN Article 2.4 prohibits resort to force with the exceptions of collective measures, self-defense, and humanitarian-intervention. He stressed that hostile action by a non-member state qualifies as an attack, and therefore a response to terrorism makes for Just War. A controversial topic is that of anticipatory self-defense/ preemptive strikes, but in general habits and customs rule in International Law.

Moving on to some specifics, the Right to Intervene is only possible under a UN Charter so that intervention can combat threats to international peace and security. Humanitarian Intervention is very difficult to justify outside of a UN Charter and hardly acceptable. Some major strategies to succeed with humanitarian intervention are as follows:  act quickly and resolutely, withstand pressure from the public, engage with a coalition of actors, and plan an exit strategy. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) serves as a global commitment to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. This differs from humanitarian intervention because it is endorsed by the UN and it is comprehensive. The Right to Prosecute up to WWII deemed that a war of aggression was not an international crime, and national sovereignty is always paramount. After WWII, Germany was punished and forced to pay compensation, and the Nurnberg and Tokyo trials took place. (These trials served to punish wrongdoings.) As Jackson famously said, this was “not for vengeance but for justice.” After the horrors of WWII, the UN was established and the Convention against Genocide & Universal Declaration of Human Rights took place. Additionally, an International Court was established (to which the US does not adhere).

To sum up, war is formally prohibited as a means of resolution of international controversy, self-defense is an inherent right, there are doubts on preventative action, the right to intervene is limited to UN Mandate, and R2P is a more formal and legitimate version of humanitarian intervention. Whew! That sure was a lot.

After absorbing all of this information, we had a few hours before heading over to our group dinner with the host parents who could attend. Inside of those brick walls and amongst the white tablecloths, families, students, and Tech alumnus conversed and enjoyed a lovely three-course meal. We got to meet other students’ host families and find out a little bit about their lives in Brussels. Once everyone had taken their last bite of cake and wrapped up their conversations, we all trekked back to our houses to end the night.