Monday, January 30, 2012

Need more options

Most people would say that they are good at dealing with difficulties in life. It has been my experience that most people are very poor at dealing with difficulties. I am not saying that people will not get through difficulties because they do. What I am saying is that people could get through difficulties with a great more skill and ease if they spent the time to learn how.
The last article I wrote concerning transformative peace points to the poor record of the court system to deal with societal difficulties. Due to this poor performance, the larger society is left with unresolved issues. Yet the law system is a foundational part of dealing with wrongs in society. It has come to the point where people often go to lawyers at the first sign of trouble.Because of that we have a large profession believing it is doing a great job of managing the wrongs of society. 
What is often missed in the reasoning for why we have a court system, is the fact that we have only had these court systems for short periods of time. In the times before the courts, human relationships existed and dealt with all the same issues we have today. Before the court systems we had many forms of "ceremonies" to deal with community issues.  I suggest everyone to read, "The Human Potential for Peace: An Anthropological challenge to assumptions about war and violence" written by Douglas P. Fry. Oxford University Press 2006. 
Now, I can hear the opposition speaking about the barbaric treatment of people, which the court systems are there to end. Well I will conceded that there were such acts before courts existed, yet the court system still has its share of barbaric acts. Just ask some of the people that went through Guantanamo Bay jail, or visit the jails in Uganda, Sierra Leone, you can even look at the number of mentally ill people executed in the RUSA.  All of these systems employ similar styles of dealing with people that are deemed a hazard to society.
As we build societies that have been destroyed, often there are programs such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. These programs are used only for a short period of time and then abandoned. It is a wonder why such a useful element of healing is not continued to assist with other issues in society.
Having one method of managing difficulties is best described with a popular saying;
When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem is seen as a nail.
Dealing with issues within our lives, we need as many ways as possible to address them. In a caring society we would offer such support. We allow for the healing process to take hold as people sort out what the deep issues are. At the moment we can look at Egypt and Syria as examples where the people were given small moments of reprieve only to be thrust back to a point similar to the one where it all started. The entire process has to be re-engaged. Instead of listening, learning, accepting and adapting, one side dug in with a firm stance of “this is the only system we have, if you do not like it – die”
A caring leader would see the futility in such a narrow view. For humanity sake we must give options. We must also see the need for order and at times people do get caught up in emotions. I can not think of any country that has not had protesters marching in large numbers. Such events are fraught with emotion and chaos is always near. However if many methods of managing the protesters are employed the greater the chances of the protest being a peaceful one overall.
When something really matters to you, you will be hurt because you care. Your heart will get hurt but the fact that you care should allow you to realize the need for peace, options, patience and understanding. People protest, march, yell and scream because it is all part of letting off the pressure of emotions. Protesting  lets the world know they care. All that is needed in return is the intelligence to listen, learn, understand and adapt.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

transformative peace

All systems of life are complex. No matter what a person does there is history, emotion, reason, impact, understanding, judgement and many other elements that will lead into future decisions and possibilities. The complexity comes down to asking, why did I act the way I did, what was my desired outcome, did I get that, how should I have acted, what should I do differently next time, etc.. Also there is an element of conscientiously and unconscientiously knowing what you are actually trying to achieve. Many have no idea what they truly want to accomplish in life, other than to have an easy life.  How do you know?
To be as honest as possible I am one that has no idea what I really want for myself. The one thing I have always strived for is to understand the world as deeply as possible. This leads me to seek out situations where everything is unknown – chaos. I seek such situations so I can help others more than anything else. As I think about that though, I question many things because I can see how I have acted in ways which have caused harm. Once that harm has been caused no amount of life will change that. That leaves me with the knowledge that I am not a peaceful person. Even though I work to bring a greater understanding of peaceful methods of managing difficulties, to decrease the amount of violence in the world and educate others on peace, I am a student as well with much to learn. Enough about me.
As society roles along we seek to understand and manage the complexity of our interactions. In this we are building our culture, our identity and the world. Most of us manage the complexity of interactions well enough that we get through life with relative ease. For others the journey is a bit more complex. This is where the larger society must assist.
As far back as life has existed for us, we have always had some sort of structure of behaviour. For any two people that interact there has to be an understanding of social agreement. Even if that agreement is to kill one another there still exist the understanding as to how each other will act. In the rational world you still may want to kill but understand that doing so is contrary to ensuring a safe and secure society. Due to this we have built systems to deal with those that do harm.  
At the outset there had to be some sort of ethical code which we all agreed upon. This code of ethics/law has evolved into the court systems many countries have today. Yet before the current system there existed a great many other systems. One such system that is being put back into use is the idea of restorative justice/transformative peace.
The current system of courts is an adversarial system mixed with retributive justice. One side works as hard as it can to destroy, defeat or prove the other side wrong/false. Once a person is found guilty they are sentenced. Off they go and that is about all the society does. The transformative system is similar in many ways but one. Transformative peace seeks to heal the entire community.  It is a co-operative system that looks to understand, learn, improve and heal as one. For example;
A person does harm in the community and is captured. That person is taken before the community.  The focus of discussion is on how society has failed in such a manner to allow a person to feel the best thing to do was to commit that harm. Transformative peace looks at the entire society and seeks to change both the person and the elements of society which contributed.
Of course there are elements of the adversarial/retributive system that address the same issues but they do so in a manner where the entire societal element remains broken. Society continues to erode in such a system because the focus is more on the individual.  The circumstances of the individual  environment is not seen as a large contributor to their character in the current system.
No matter what a person does there are circumstances of history, emotion, reason, impact, understanding, judgement and many other elements that will lead into the decisions made and possibilities seen.  Transformative peace seeks to understand the circumstances to improve the chances for everyone else to not choose harmful actions.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Economic balance

As the world goes through the economic problems, there has been a call for a change in the capitalist style of economics. The 99% have been heard. Will that change happen?
To make a comparison, the United Nations has been working to change the way we fight, ballots not bullets. This change has slowly been taking root in the 67 years the UN has existed. How long will it take for us to change the economic system to one that is more balanced?
I like the idea of the Tobin Tax. In a simple explanation this is a tax on all currency trades. Also I do not believe that people will stop inventing or investing because of a higher tax. Furthermore a rebalance does not take away money from the system so the argument that there will be less of it is a false argument.
Anyone interested in a differing view point on economics might enjoy this link, I would think most reading this would have seen it though ;
“In this feature-length documentary, Marilyn Waring demystifies the language of economics by defining it as a value system in which all goods and activities are related only to their monetary value”.
The world of trade and commerce has changed over the centuries and will continue to change. We are now in a stage where the mentality is aware of such. We may not make any significant moves in the next decade or so but each step is just as important. One statement that the Prime Minister of Canada made I felt was very well made, (and I really do not care for this PM), “The developed nations are complacent with their wealth, believing that they will always have it no matter what.” I have had that thought in my mind for years in terms of our complacency with peace. With peace comes a strong economic environment. Rarely does it take place the other way around. However peace can be lost due to a very weak economic environment.
A very weak economic outlook was the starting point of the Jasmine Revolution, which sparked the Arab Spring. In those events we are making change to the governing systems. The 99% are now being heard. This is a stage to grab hold of to achieve a more balanced economic environment.
The Soviet Union made their change in the late 80’s. They had seen what the rest of us did not see until the late 2000’s. That was not an easy transformation for Russia and they are still in the process of that change. Russia has made some great steps and they have more work as the current election process is showing us. Just think of how the rest of the world will deal with such a change.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Educating for a peaceful future

The above link leads to a UNICEF website that has a report which studies the impact of education in conflict areas. 

For many years I have noticed that every society has a form of peaceful conflict resolution within its culture. This cultural knowledge is quickly destroyed when wars are prolonged. I have noticed such a loss of knowledge in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic where war has taken place for decades.

As the loss of life grows so will the cultural knowledge. This loss is not well known or understood but the loss of identity as a people is still there. Through education we can save cultures and identity.  Yet there does exist a side where doing so can prolong wars. We see in Palestine/Israel where the youth are taught to hate the other, this is a poor use of education. So we have to be careful as to the content of the education.

Any form of education that is built upon blaming the other is broken and peace will not be a result. When we engage in such methods of blaming and pointing to past wrongs, I call this "stacking bodies". The end game is who ever has the most bodies stacked up is justified in their actions.  In my mind such a game theory/tactic is useless because each side will be embroiled in such a battle until the no one is left to stack any one. It is a zero sum game.

This is where education is most vital. We need to break those methods. I am not saying we forget, I am saying we take responsibility for the future. The past can not be changed and the future people must be educated in such a manner that they can feel unburdened by our past mistakes. As it stands now in Palestine/Israel, everyone is still carrying the burdens of people two thousand years ago. We have not changed any of the past yet we have killed millions of eachother to prove which side was right or wrong.

At some point the past has to be left there so the future can grow more peacefully. Education is our only method of ensuring we can do that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Libyians need to talk

Lately I have been working with a group to manage the process of transition in Libya. The main element that is on the minds of most people in Libya deals with the question;  What has been accomplished since the revolt? This question indicates a lack of information getting to the people, difficulties in the management of the process and the presence of the old guard mentality.
It would be unwise to think that violence would not take place in the coming months or years. The reason is because the people (any people in the world) do not change their methods in such a short time frame. Libya still has a large component of people that believe in the same governing style as the past government did. Mix that reality with the strong desire for quick change by the public. That scenario is like putting a match near gasoline.
At the moment there needs to be a very aggressive communication plan set out in tandem with an equal diplomacy effort to all tribes, rebel groups, political parties, religious factions and any other element of society that exists. Both the communication plan and the diplomacy effort need to reach out to as many people as possible.
The message must inform everyone that a period of time is needed to quell the element of violence that is still fresh in peoples’ minds. With that the diplomacy effort needs to ensure that all armed factions are informed as to the process of transition, steps that each faction must take to secure the peace and where they can assist with the transition process.
When and if violence does occur it will most likely start because people are not satisfied with the speed of transition or feel left out of the process. The only tool that is available to ensure violence does not take place is through communication. A government that uses threats of violence dies the same way – just as the past government went. Also it must be acknowledged that this is the time where a relapse of war can take hold. The next few months are tenuous as the patience of the people begins to wear thin, thus the need for a robust effort to reach out extensively.
The communication and diplomacy points to a large education program for the entire country. Goals need to be set, validated, marked and evaluated constantly.  The people need to know what state the police, army and court systems are in. People need to know the people that are in charge and what their plans are. Right now there is not enough information getting to the people and there is no clear idea of what is going on.
Large public events/speeches need to take place. Newspaper articles written, radio and television interviews need to take place. If these actions are not taken we may see violence erupt.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Decline in Syria

The world has no idea how to deal with the situation in Syria.  The Security Council is dead locked on what to do as there are two differing approaches being debated. The Security Council is so useless that they can not even convince themselves that monitors should be sent in. With each passing day more and more weapons are building up in both the military and the civilian rebel groups.
All of this was preventable with a small force of one thousand peacekeepers to be sent in last November to enforce the rule of law as stated under the current Syrian system. A complete lock down and use of small arms and light weapons needs to be enforced as the Peacekeepers patrolled with the current Syrian army. Batons, shields, water cannons, pepper spray and riot gear would be allowed only.
At each protest both the current Syrian army and the UN peacekeepers would work to control crowds and enforce the rule of law. At the same time the ruling party must obey the wishes of the people and if the people choose to hold massive strikes, rallies or protests, they must be allowed to do so.
Also foreign media should be allowed in as well to report. No embedding reporters, that is just a strong move for covering up lies.
The world has no idea how to deal with this.  That is only because the world is full of shit.


We all know that countries spy on each other. It is all part of the silly game we play. Not only do countries do this but most individuals do it as well. We have all held secrets and traded in rumours between friends.
Recently Canada and Russia have dealt with the issue of espionage. As this played out I recalled a line that was made by the Russian Prime Minister in 2006 “Why expel them? They will only be replaced with others and those may be smarter”.  That comment related to British spies yet the overall ideology is very true. The comment acknowledged the reality of espionage tactics which have been employed for thousands of years.
This world is far from perfect and due to that, trust is almost a non-factor when dealing with another country.  As a Canadian the countries that I trust the least are the one we share borders with, our neighbours. It is a sad point of life but that is the reality. Due to the fact that most of our neighbours have constantly threatened, pushed, trespassed, stole, lied, cheated and outright pointed guns at us. What else is there to do in such a situation when your neighbours act in such a manner? Clearly we do not live in a state of sanity. So we spy because we can not trust anyone and the cycle moves on.
As I write this I am reminded of one diplomat telling me that “You should not be so much of a dove and more of a hawk. The world is about power. Who has will use it to stay on top even if they have to kill every last one of us”. If that is true we are in for a giant sized serving of hell in the near future.
I live in a reality where Canada can fall into complete chaos. I know that we are capable of engaging in a violent civil war as much as we are capable of being a peaceful country as we are now. As I discuss that point with others, they (who describe themselves as hawks) often laugh at me. That pleases me yet it also shows how ignorant they are as to the fragility of peace.
How close is Russia to losing control of the peace during these electoral times? How close is the RUSA to falling apart? Britain is facing drastic changes in the coming years with the separation of Ireland and Scotland.  Belgium has no government due to a breakdown in relations. Countries that border the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean are quickly building/replacing marine forces to protect and fight for oil reserves.  The Arctic Ocean is going through a stampede of international challenges. Each of these situations have spies working to gather information. Not only government spies, corporations also engage in such tactics.
Sitting at my desk I know that all my neighbours are doing everything they can to spy on me. The level of trust and common good is just not allowed because we would be stupid to think other wise. No matter how much we wish for such a world to exist do you really trust the permanent five members of the security council to act so peacefully?  The reality of that is so ironic. The countries that are there to uphold the peace are the ones that do the most to destroy it. 

We get so embroiled in the mindset that "the other" is evil and can not be trusted.  Partly because it is true. The moment any agreement is signed we look for loop holes, we seek to find methods to destroy it. We have made an entire profession of deconstructive thought so that we can rip apart anything.  We even give this destructive thought clever monickers such as, critical thinking, constructive criticism, risk management, etc.

It all comes down to the fact that wars can and do happen. However I do know that wars can be averted if you and others are intelligent enough.  So far we are not so blessed with such intelligence or compassion. Thus we spy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Of late, I have been reading about the causes and indicators related to why people/countries engage in war and/or peace.  There are theories that point to economics, governance, population age, gender balance, resources and religion/ideology as root causes. We do know that a mix of all these play a part. There are other elements that rarely get discussed which are; stupidity, insanity, intolerance and to put it very simple – some people are assholes. Human trafficking is one such example of such behaviour. It takes an evil piece of work to enslave another to a lifetime of hell for monetary gain. However, human trafficking is a thriving business.
In my holistic understanding of the world I know that I contribute to the continuation of such practices.  I am alive therefore everything that transpires in this world I am a part of. Moreover, I understand that I am in a relationship with everyone else that is also alive, whether I know that person or not.  We are all here at this moment and that is reality.
In that context I often think of the hell a 14 year old girl has lived in the past five years locked in a cell only to be used as a prostitute? What causes us to act so horribly to a nine year old? This is the very base of individual impact that war/hell has on the world.  Going one step up we have the gang/organized crime element.
In this network we see elements of ethics beginning. The transactions of money and “goods” takes place because of the trust each side has.  People have to work together for the operation to run, this takes a strong need for common benefit.  All the while the operation is destroying the greater peace, which in turn destroys the common benefit of the entire world. Do you see the hypocrisy?  When you live in such a world you must rule with fear because logic, justice, compassion and humanity are dead.
Going one more step higher we get to world organizations and governments.  In this step we can add religions/ideological groups.  Violence that is brought about in the name of god, country, or whatever can be a murky area.  Sometimes these groups must defend against attacks.  However, there are some wars that have raged on for centuries and no one knows exactly why, other than it began due to a fear of the other. Fear only works on the weak and even then the weak can grow tired, then realize they out-number the rulers. This scenario has been going on between Christians and Islam for two thousand years and still going.  It is taking place in Mexico with the drug wars. It is taking place now in Syria and other areas.
Every country has signed onto the Declaration of Human Rights that belong the United Nations. Still we have member nations killing another because they believe/think differently.   While they kill each other on battle fields they turn around and defend their actions in terms of self- preservation. I am sure the person that locked up the nine year girl would use the same argument.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Preventive Diplomacy

Wisdom is a resource that is often given to us in riddles and clichés.  Clichés such as “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” or “a stitch in time will save nine” have been offered as solid points to ensure that a situation is kept in check.  The result is much worse and more costly if proper care is not taken.  The same wisdom and knowledge is important to understand when managing peaceful conflict.
Peaceful conflict may seem like an oxymoron or just moronic.  However, as I have stated in past writings conflict is only the meeting and joining of two or more whatevers.  For example typing this article, my fingers come into conflict with each key, thought is conflict, child birth is a conflict as is the act that began the child, and meeting a person for the very first time is a conflict.  It just so happens that most of us are brainwashed to see conflict as a negative element. The negative focus only warns us that we must take notice of the wisdom we have to prevent situations from getting worse.
When dealing with international peace often we do focus on violence, death, struggle, injustice and rights abuses.  As we think about those situations the world had invented Peacekeepers to prevent the worsening impact of war.  Today we have come to the point where preventive diplomacy is a common element in political circles. Below are five priority areas that the current Secretary-General of the United Nations listed for strengthening the use of preventive diplomacy:
(1)early and decisive action to address emerging threats;
(2) investing in and better equipping “preventive diplomats” and their staff;
(3) predictable and timely financial support to maximize efforts on the ground and to deliver results;
(4) stronger strategic partnerships with regional and subregional organizations;
(5) greater support for national institutions and mechanisms for mediation, including civil society and, in particular, women’s and youth organizations.

For me and my work I feel that the most important element of the five is number five.  Engaging in this area will accomplish all the rest. 

Taking the holistic mindset we go from international politics to the personal relationship. On a personal front and in the lives of individuals, preventive diplomacy is a difficult ideology to explain and even harder to implement.  I have been engaged in peace for at least twenty years, I still get caught up in emotions and do stupid things that have caused a number of my own relationships to crumble.

In our personal lives preventive diplomacy is all about caring for yourself and others equally. The policy of “do no harm” is often relevant as is the Golden Rule, “treat others as you wish to be treated”. The difficult part is that we are all different in some manner.  Some of us truly believe in Machiavelli where the ends justify the means and business is conducted at all cost to win. 

What is vital though is the foundation of understanding.  We gain understanding through learning and communication.  Sometimes you know what to do but just do not have the energy or desire.  You feel that you have given enough.  Frustration sets in and then you throw all the work out and let loose.  If the other side is well trained they will realize this and just let you go off.  To be honest, I can count the number of times when I have been able to vent without fear of repercussion.  Someday I hope that balances out even.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Getting through the situations where conflict is destructive to relationships takes a great deal of effort.  Most of us have gone through a breakup and it is rarely experienced without feelings of pain and anger. Managing those feelings becomes more difficult when one side understands the need to manage while the other side does not or has no intentions of doing so. To use a popular phrase, this is when the gloves may come off.
It takes a great amount of effort to act peacefully. We are all capable of acting peacefully.  Acting peacefully means we must be willing to learn, understand and adapt. Learning is our greatest capacity. Having the will to learn includes understanding, listening and acting peacefully in the face of what is perceived as idiocy. Getting through difficult situations and actually engaging in the process of learning is another matter.  

Along side learning, the partner is commitment. Peace is a commitment to ensuring a the best possible solution for everyone.  Within that there is an understanding that you can not have all that you ask for but at least you will walk away as satisfied as possible.  Sometimes just being able to walk away is all that you can hope for.

For the most part talking is our primary form of communication.  Even though actions speak louder than words, the pen being mighter than the sword and pictures say a thousand words, speech is the common medium for sharing ideas and comunication.

In times of chaos when confusion, doubt, uncertainty and fear are all present, peace is often a dream.  At that point the smallest piece of order makes all the difference.  Just getting some order in your own mind concering what to do is the best place to start.  As you go about setting that order you set the agenda of priorities. As you engage in the activity of setting order, you are learning more about the situation.  The difficult part is to not get caught up in the frustration of chaos.  This is where commitment is most needed.

Learning has its share of set backs as well.  You may learn many ways of how not to do something, yet each step will provide information to build upon. At some point you may hit upon the fact that your vision is not shared by anyone. You may also learn that no one understand what you are talking about, which is why your vision is not shared. 

Each set back is the place where commitment and adaptation come in as you learn.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How do you help?

Over the past five months I have been helping with a very ugly conflict.  One where truth has been killed so many times that it is difficult for the larger population to even know what to believe.  When sitting at the table I can look both sides in the heart.  I know where the lies began and where the truth stopped, yet the conflict is no longer about what is true or who is wrong.  The conflict now is how to rebuild on a foundation destroyed.
Trust is no longer alive due to fact that there have been too many lies and atrocities.  For one side of this conflict, they are in a situation where even the lives of those in harms way are not thought of.  It is a continual fight to ensure that their story is the story everyone will trust.  How do you go about that when that story is false? How do you help when the foundation of knowledge is flawed?
As in all conflict, it begins and ends in the mind.  We fight each other because we believe.  How do you help in a situation where there is a broken psyche, paranoia, and the only way out is to ensure the people that are closest feel equal or more pain?
The society is torn apart, the current leader is bent on revenge at all cost.  Removing the leader may seem simple.  However there is enough support that doing so will cause a great amount of harm.  “Do no harm”, is a popular phrase in the world of peace and conflict.  Yet when cancer spreads the short term harm may indeed save the entire person. 
There are many options. One option is to allow the situation to continue and we do what we can to help the people as the current leader plays out their time.  At the moment it seems that is what is going to happen in Syria, Bahrain, Yemen – the list goes on.
There is no greater sorrow in my heart or in my mind than the moments where trust in others has been destroyed.  To be harmed by a person you had trusted is a moment of such great pain that death can be welcome thought.   Each time I encounter such an experience it is never easier.  The only positive is that I know I have gotten through it before, I hope I will again.
The people that are lost and will be lost are thought of daily.  I wish them a peaceful after life.  For those that are saved I hope they carry with them the knowledge that peace is better than war.  There is no peace when the use of fear, violence, destruction, torture and deceit are used to gain. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Strength to resolve matters peacefully

Having lived in many areas of chaos, I am positive that most people are peaceful. In turn, the larger part of society, is peaceful as well.  It is quite an odd situation while being a guest in a stranger’s home in a war zone.  The subject of the war is obviously discussed.  The reality soon hits you that most people have a strong understanding of peace.  However, you can hear the war rage on outside.  Then the question comes; how did this all get so ugly?
From that question alone the war will begin as the people recall the injustices set upon them.  This is called “stacking bodies”, the part where people begin to list all the injuries they have incurred.  Engaging in this activity is the method to prove how one side is the enemy.  Such tactics are rarely helpful in resolving a conflict.  Continually pointing out the injustices keeps you rooted in the mindset of revenge and being treated unfairly.  To get to the point of resolving any conflict you have to be able to do two things.
First you have to truly understand your part through accepting the others view point. You do not have to agree with their view point but there is no way you can change that view point.  Second you have to see past the committed injustices.  Again, you do not have to forget about the injustices but you do have to be able to accept that nothing can change those events.  Both of these items are simple yet they are difficult to enact.
Often we see these two items as a large part of being weak or giving in.  These views are a hindrance for most peace workers as it takes more strength, effort, intelligence and will power to engage in such a manner than it does to kill.  However there are times when killing is the only option, unless you want to die yourself.  World War Two, stopping Hitler stands as one example when killing was the only option.
Getting back to the methods needed for resolving conflict, the best tools we have is the ability to learn, educate and adapt.  We must have the capacity to understand that each and every one of us has a desire to improve upon themselves.  As we go about our lives we see others and we notice how others live.  In turn we see the parts of our own selves in these people that we wish we had.  We see in others the qualities that we know and want to improve upon.  If that person is in your daily life, the change that you wish to improve upon will become an irritant and you will develop a dislike for that person.  This is a popular theory of Carl Jung and it holds a great amount of truth.  This is on an individual level, not so sure it holds true on a societal level.  However the methods of dealing with conflict are transferable from individual to society and into international relations.
With the case of Syria, the government has given a great deal of attention to killing and very little to discussion.  We can be assured that the methods of killing will continue.  The Arab Council tried to force the discussion method by sending in Observers, that failed.  The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is again looking at intervention.  Economic Sanctions, strongly worded resolutions and a litany of press releases will most likely be the result if the UNSC takes action.  All the while the government will continue to crush its own people, at a slower pace perhaps. The killing will continue until morale improves in Syria.  It will continue at a pace slow enough for the appearance of peace and discussion.  Which brings in the world of optics, spin and bullshit.
All because some people do not have the strength to resolve matters peacefully.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ancestral land dispute

If you read these postings you must be interested in peace and how it is managed?  When we manage things we must categorize how we are doing. As we look around the world we see countries with a great many more nations of people. Sometimes these nations of people span the existing borders of present countries.  Kurdistan people of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria are an example.  Here in Canada the Mohawk and Iroquois are nations of people that cross international borders.
In the realm of peace and conflict we can gauge how peaceful a society is in relation to how these nations of people and co-exist.  Being bound by three differing governing bodies; their own and each country they exist in is not an easy task.  For some nations such as the Kurdistan they struggle to achieve their own country.  In a perfect world such a reality would not be too difficult a task.  Take a poll of the people and adhere to that poll.  If unification is desired you begin the process of unification, easy.
Well not in the world we live in.  You see we have a deep attachment to area called territorial boundaries.  No country wants to give up any land what so ever.  Due to that there is often a great deal of killing to protect territory, even if the land being fought for is ancestral land and the people have a right to that land.  Palestine and Israel engage in one of the greatest injuries this world incurs on a daily basis involving the right to live on ancestral land.
Minority rights are also brought into this type of conflict.  Often the people that seek independence are minorities.  As we often live in the reality that might makes right, minorities are crushed.  Here in Canada there are hundreds of nations that hold ancestral rights.  We call this collective First Nations People.  What the world is seldom aware of is that many of these First Nations people live in conditions that are comparable to refugee camps.  Canada and the First Nations people must work together to solve these problems, so far both of us have failed to do so.
For some areas in the world the territory holds a great amount of wealth in the resources of minerals and petroleum.  For these resources countries will kill for.  We will kill for money.  Rights, morals, peace and the rule of law are not held in high esteem in some cases.  A person life is not worth a thing when economic development is in the equation.  The Occupy movement tried to send that message across the world, it was stopped.
The issues of ancestral land and minority rights are not easy areas for the public discussion to focus on.  Yet a peaceful society understands that unease and allows for the tensions to be addressed.  There needs to be a focus of working on such issues together, not as opponents.  All too often we see each other as opponents. 
When thinking about such issues, look at them with a unifying mind.  Use a mind that sees an improvement to what currently exists.  Think of the lives not killed, the hatred not spread, and the tension eased.  I say eased because it will never be gone.  Even a relationship with your best friend has and will go through fights.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reality of friendship

In the realm of peace there comes a moment in the lives of people where a decision has to be made to sacrifice.  On a personal level, in the chaos of war, sacrifice maybe your life for the protection of your friends.  These sacrifices are the foundations of why soldiers become so close to each other.   To experience, know and believe that your friends will go to such lengths, as you would do the same for them, is a very humbling state of mind.  Using that understanding we can gauge the situation in which the world is in.  The question being: is there any country that would defend another to the point of certain death?
The short answer is no.  That level of friendship does not exist in the world of international politics.  Some may point to the actions taken in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Those wars were not about defending a friend; they were about self-preservation at the cost of your friend.  Iraq is in a far worse state than before the war. Afghanistan is no better today compared to what life was like fifteen years ago.  To be honest, at no time were the countries involved ever in grave danger. 
Now the argument is made that soldiers died and that is an indication of our sacrifice.  I have lost many friends due to war and I can tell you that most people in Canada do not know or understand such a cost.    Our soldiers died and we honour that sacrifice because they were in harm’s way, our country was never at harm.  I recall one particular media personality saying in 2007 that Canada has not been at war since 1945. Life continued on as much in the same manner in 2011 as it did in the past forty or so years.
At this moment I can hear a litany of opposition saying, how dare you say such a thing?  Vicarious feelings and crocodile tears are what those people offer.  The hypocrisy of mentality today is solidified in the minds of people.  They will talk of dedication of friendship as a BFF which may only last a year, all the while forgetting that the last F is forever.  A small matter, perhaps yet it is a reality to how far the world has slipped when it comes to true friendship.
This self- attachment to external drama being conveyed as personal experience is bullshit.  Perhaps such a world is too stressful for those people?  Perhaps they are not capable to see the joy of having such deep understanding and commitment? Perhaps the character of today is more fragile?  Whatever it is, I hope it gets resolved so that we can regain our strong sense of what true friendship is all about.
And I do know I am as guilty of such bullshit myself.  I did not play in the World Junior Hockey tournament but I can understand the feelings of Swedish, Russian Canadian and the players for Finland.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Syrian Intervention

The revolutions that are ongoing in Syria have been deemed an internal problem by almost every world leading organization.  The UN Security Council quickly decided that Syria is experiencing a civil war.  As I have mentioned before that designation allows the Security Council the moral standpoint of non-intervention.  However, there still exists the pesky ideology of “Responsibility to Protect”.
The Responsibility to Protect (R2P), ideology was born in 2001.  It was the brain storm of the “soft” or “smart” power countries.  The crux of this ideology is that sovereignty can be broken if there is cause enough to do so. Criteria for breaking sovereignty would be a ruling government failing to stop a violent uprising or conducting a violent rampage upon its own people, for example Yugoslavia and Rwanda.  There are other cases that can be pointed to as well such as Cambodia and Somalia. 
There is no magical number or line in which we can point to and say this is the line for action.  The world is just not that easy or simple.  Also there are many scales of account to consider.  A civil war is by nature a challenge to the ruling government.  As brutal as it may seem such a condition of chaos must be allowed to play itself out, case in point is Ireland, Egypt, Tunisia and Georgia.  The murky cases are Libya, Kashmir Region, Sri Lanka and others.  Even the countries named here are debated whether or not they indicate civil war, terrorism, gang violence, failing states or what have you.
 With all of this judging of circumstances we have the politics of intervention.  The questions swirl around about; why should we intervene, is there capacity to intervene and who should lead the intervention.  In addition to those questions there is always predicting how long it will take to quell the violence.  I myself have come to understand that the only answer is – as long as it takes.  It may take months, years or even decades.  To be completely honest time is a reason the UN Security Council stays out.  Well not just time but the longer the war the higher the death count.  Few countries have the will to be engaged in a single combat for extended periods of time, unless it is happening in their own area. 
With the case of 5 000 dead in Syria and counting, is a significant portion of the population.  The Arab Observers have seen enough and are being recalled due to an unsafe environment.   The Arab Council had seen a need for intervention as it did with Libya.  The different between Libya and Syria is the location of Syria, the area is extremely volatile.
Now on the surface of all that is peaceful this would be the exact area where the UN Security Council should deploy.  This region holds the crucible of tension in most wars today – religion/ideology.  The only reason I can see for not having a greater presence is the hypocrisy in political will of the world leaders.  Killing 5 000 people because they asked for a different government is a crime against humanity in my view.
The debate about who fired the first shot will forever go on.  In some sense that is an important fact yet, the thousandth shot is just as important.  In such a debate this is called “stacking bodies”.  The side that has the most bodies is the side that has incurred the most harm, therefore is justified in all their actions.  In the world of peace relations, justification is not an excuse for killing.  Killing is part of the “eye for and eye” game theory.  In the end we are all dead if we follow that theory through. 
I say it is time that the people of Syria be relieved and the world step in to stop the killing.

Monday, January 2, 2012


There are few elements of such importance when building a solid relationship as trust.  Trust relates to being dependable,  predictable and honest.  In an environment where you are unsure of what the future brings, no clear vision of how to even start to improve on your situation, such a state is chaos.  Trust in yourself is the first thing that needs to be built up when chaos rules.

At this moment think of all the people or governments that you do not trust and ask why.  Now ask yourself how are you going to live with that reality so you can have trust in them?  Often it leaves you with the reality that you trust that person or country to be untrustworthy or insane.  This is where the old wisdom of "keeping your enemies closer than your friends" comes into play.  The reason for that is because you trust your friends.

Beware of the trap of having enemies at your door for too long.  Doing so, you will eventually forget your friends and become paranoid of all that surrounds you.  However most of us never have to worry about such dangers.


Trust is the degree of acceptance of something, it is total commitment, and it is having faith and confidence in something. 

 Trust depends on

·         Experience with somebody

·         Background-knowledge about somebody

·         Behavior and character of a person

·         Integrity and social status

·         Religion

·         Culture and

·         Relationship with the person

Conflict resolution information

Conflict often starts from within us internally then it becomes external and its growth more complex when we do not manage it immediately and appropriately. We should always first concentrate on internal resolution of conflict then external management; we should therefore change our PERCEPTION, ATITUDES and BEHAVIOUR, first before we seek to change others.
Most times we choose reactive methods for solving problems (force, arbitration, adjudication, and negotiation) but they only provide short term solutions.  The most effective method for conflict resolution is to use proactive methods (mediation, resolution and transformation) because they are outward looking and address the root causes of conflict.
Many times we say we want peace but we rarely act to work towards peace or we do not know how to achieve it.  To attain peace we should practice active peace.  Active peace is the process of understanding, co-operation, transforming and solving. 
Conflict Management and Resolution Styles  
1) Force: Force is a violent way of conflict management where the view of the other party is accepted by the other one by force (parents and children, teachers and students, boss and an employee etc.)
2) Adjudication: This is where the conflicting parties go to the third party to resolve their problem and abide by the decision of the third party due to his judicial or legal powers.  He can force the two parties to comply with his decision (LCs, police, and court of law).
3) Arbitration: This is whereby the two conflicting parties choose the third party to solve their problems.  They will abide by the decision of the third party because of his social status (religion leaders, community leaders, elders, etc)
4) Negotiation:  This is where no third party is involved; the two parties in conflict tend to work out their differences by themselves. This depends on perceived power or status of the parties; these can work well if the parties have equal power and status.
5) Mediation:  This is a method of conflict resolution where the two parties in conflict are assisted by the third party who is neutral to reach an agreement.  The third party does not judge or censor on behalf of any of the two parties, he only helps them to reach a solution.
6) Resolution:  This is when the two conflicting parties attempt to solve their problems; in such a way that new constructive relationships are built after the problem is resolved.
7) Transformation: This is the highest level of conflict resolution where the two parties involved in conflict choose to build a new and permanent relationship; the decision is taken from the bottom of their hearts and minds. 

Use of force

Being a person that is known as a peace worker, because I am, often I get cornered into arguments about the use of force.  Well again that was the case last night. 
The use of force is one that I do wish we never had to use but as I have mentioned many times, we must deal with insanity.  The golden rule is a game theory strategy; treat another as you would wish to be treated yourself.  No one wants to be violently tortured to the point where death is near.  No one wants to be controlled to the point where the personal choice and life are meaningless.  Yet we live in a world where these situations are true for millions of people at this very moment.
In addition I got cornered in my statements concerning the RUSA, which on the surface seems to be a deep hatred for the RUSA.  In truth, it is the hypocrisy that truly infuriates me.  A country born out of the desire for democracy, rule of law, freedom and individuality has stepped on and crushed those very founding ideas time and time again.  For example, the constitution of the RUSA has provisions that every individual has the right to defend themselves.  The people even “fixed” the constitution by amending to include the right to use weapons in that defence.  Now if we are to expand into the scale of international politics, every country should be able to defend themselves with the use of weapons, which would include nuclear weapons.  However that is not the case.  Any country that the RUSA has threatened with violent military action does not have the right (so believes the RUSA) to defend itself using equal force.  Using that analogy, the RUSA doesn’t believe their constitution as a document for world peace.
I honestly believe that the experiment in which the founding people of the RUSA began is great and worth protecting.  However, I also believe that the past 60 years of ideology in the RUSA has been more harmful than it has helped.  I wish them all the best to get back on course because the RUSA can be a more positive factor in the world.