Sunday, December 20, 2015

Transitions to Peace: letting go of the past

Commonly we are met with the need to look at history to understand how we got to where we are. However, at certain times it is deeply urgent to let go of that knowledge. A singular situation when letting go of past events is needed rest with the collapse of a state. When a state experiences a collapse there is usually many groups that try to seek legitimacy to power. Such power grabs are often reasoned within history. This reasoning is rarely helpful to building peace. When a state collapses, the causes of that collapse often reset during negotiations of rebuilding. Thus, the entire process is sent in a spiral of never ending blame or victimization. We can see this taking place with the many agreements being worked on at this moment in both Libya and Syria. In both areas there is a strong attachment of past government leaders or strong military groups fighting to take power. In each case the need to work on delivering a process for government formation can be delayed. This delay costs lives as groups continue to fight which only prolongs the agony of the collapse state. We can look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine and others as to how the many groups seeking power do great damage by delaying peaceful progress. The reasons many groups slow the progress of peace is easily understood. The reasons deal with political representation and for people to get a system they feel is best for the country. As they arguments for the delays are made, the information is rooted in history. Groups often point to past wrongs to solidify arguments. Even though these concerns are easy to support in understanding, there is often a subtext of delaying peace on purpose for a certain group to gain support/power. Knowing these tactics are often employed points to the complexities of a peace process. At the root of every process is the desire and need to trust. However, trusting every group can lead to great damage and even further delayed peace process. To take control of such chaos we have the need to use deadlines for these peaceful transitions. Building a new set of governance guidelines requires forward thinking. At such a point the negotiations are not about righting past wrongs. The ultimate point is to set up a system the people can trust to deal with such issues within the new context. For example, during the negotiations concerning Syria we have seen the Assad question left out. The single purpose of that rest with the fact that the people of Syria are to handle that situation under the new system. All the rhetoric of ousting Assad or supporting Assad has been taken out of the process. The historical contexts of how the war started has been let go of. Similarly in Libya we are witnessing the same situation as new systems are being implemented. Progressing through such stages of peace takes great courage. One of the hardest steps to take is to let go of past events and move forward with building a new reality. Once that new system is in place the healing of society can take place. Again, these steps take a great deal of courage and work yet the need to be peaceful is always paramount. Otherwise we will be trapped in a spiral of chaos.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Every country is an experiment of governace

Transitioning of political power is a delicate process in any country. Even in the most peaceful countries there is always an unease within the population about who will be the next government. We often talk about the winners and losers. Rarely is the talk about the reality of success when a peaceful transfer of power takes place. We tend to ignore the efforts put into building a peaceful society, to maintain a peaceful society and to keep the focus on retaining the hope of a peaceful society. Every country is an experiment of governance, social cohesiveness and peace. Each election or transition of power is a focal point of these experiments. On experiment that we should take great amounts of information from is Russia during its bold steps of transitioning. More recently, there are a number of experiments taking place right now that should be a lasting education about what it takes to transition from one government to another. These experiments are Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Burma, Ukraine, Argentina, etc… At the top of the list for world attention would be Syria. The transition of power in this particular country is an example of what not to do. There is no one side of this situation that can say they have acted with great peaceful intentions. The leading military powers have supplied weapons to ensure the violence escalated. If not weapons the supply of money was sourced. If not money, weapons it was a hands off approach or not our problem ideology. For those that strongly supported the removal of Assad they have not learned from the many experiments we have gone through on power vacuums. Libya was one such experiment that took place at the same time as Syria. Knowing how difficult it is to maintain peace, that task of keeping peace in a divided society provides more complexity. Such complexity requires a great effort to manage the tempers of society. The emotions of the people need to be vented, allowed to be released and carefully managed. What to do now in Syria? There is no other way but to walk from one side of Syria to the other and back for as long as it takes. As we do this we leave peace in the wake. We only move at the speed of peace. We hold the lines of chaos. We ensure that the people who are in the care of peace territory know they are going to remain in that care. That strategy understands that there will be attacks within peace zones. Those attacks will become less as the people begin to stand up for peace. As the people return to a place of peace, rebuild a new Syria and regain their communities, slowly the world can return as vacationers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The chaos of war in Syria: What is going on here?

Syria is a classic proxy war for many groups and governments. With all the different groups fighting plus those who are providing financing, the complexities have become a real monkey fist of a knot. There will always be tensions of violence when competing interests clash. At the moment, there is a complete lack of understanding as to what the interests are of every group involved in the Syrian war. As the groups talk and seek paths of co-operation within Syria there are outside pressures also being fought under the Syrian war banner. In absolute truth there is no such thing as a new war. As always, there is a deep history of issues being brought to this war. For simplicity sake the world has taken the Arab Spring movement as the initial point of the Syrian war. A request for a change in government, an opportunity to take land and a strong grasp to both hold on to power and grab power. That sentence is exactly what is taking place in Syria at its most simplistic essence. From there we can mix in politics, religion and human rights. Mix into the issues (why are groups fighting), there is very little trust or understanding of each others goals or reasons why the fight has taken place. Due to that lack of trust, understanding and knowledge, tensions are boiling over. This is how we have a Russian bomber shot down by Turkey. As crazy as it sounds, we now have to add disrespect within the context of the Syrian war. One of the little known issues being waged deals with the area known as Kurdistan. This is a long standing claim of sovereignty rights. The most notable people are known as the Pashmerga and the Parti Karkerani Kurdistan (PKK). The territory span includes the eastern half of Turkey, northern Syria, northern Iraq and western Iran. As you can imagine, these countries are not willing to give much support to the idea of a sovereign Kurdistan. With that opposition, there are going to be some uneasy background issues. This background story is indeed complex. In the realm of international law, the people who are seeking an independent Kurdistan to have a legitimate claim. Sadly having a legitimate claim does not mean anyone will listen or determine what will happen. Furthermore, the very act of fighting (war) to stake that claim can be viewed as a terrorist act since Kurdistan is not a recognized country. The government of Turkey has fought the PKK for decades. Due to this, Turkey has worked very hard to get the PKK listed as a terrorist group. The drama of this war is very interesting. Who knows where it will take us. I do feel that there is no one in control at the moment.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Daesh offensive begins

How to defeat Islamic State The only way to defeat Islamic State in the long term is through education. Building peaceful and strong communities starts with education of a peaceful life. In the most simple ideology, it starts with a do no harm outlook. From there the educational programs of how to live a peaceful life begins. That is the long term strategy. The irony in that strategy is that every terrorist group uses the same strategy. Instead of do no harm they call for a do harm strategy. Also, instead of education the communication is called indoctrination, others call it radicalization. Whatever term used the reality remains that an educational format is used to bring in people. In another simplistic ideology we all know that hate is taught so peace must be taught. At this very moment we are engulfed in a war where hate has brought us to the point of maddening horrors. In the short term the path to peace is currently bringing the world through hell. There is no other way through with the current realities as they are. Large scale war that has millions of soldiers on the ground in the Middle East is taking place. We are in this fight and as a result we must expect to get hit and get hit as hard as the opponent can hit. This is what war is and we have been at war with these people for decades if not centuries. Sadly we are locked in a physical battle and we are going to get hit. Already the pain is heavy in my heart as I know that many brave and wonderful people are paying the ultimate price for peace. We did not ask or want this but we have work to do. We must understand what we are being asked to do. Our task is to return peace and that involves a great many methods. As mentioned above the physical war is already waged. How much attention we put to that physical effort is now our decision. The ultimate question is - What does it mean to be all in? Once the physical battle is over the mental (educational) battle rages on. This battle takes place in every single person and is why such will never end. This war is not about religion it is about hate, fear, control and power. It rests in the hearts of each individual that is lost then fueled by a desire of revenge. Again, in simplicity, we are in a battle similar to Fascism and Nazism. As engage in the educational and humanitarian efforts we have to keep a strong focus on culture. Religion is a major factor in this battle which Islamic State has brought to the world. Since they have used the religion of Islam in their name religion is a factor we must deal with. Ironically, religion is not really part of the battle since Islamic State is the farthest thing from what Islam preaches. To be fair each religion has similar factions that have created war based upon false pretenses. So here we are. After four years of doing nothing the elite military powers are finally going to work together. Now the physical fight is looking more likely to begin. This should be interesting.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Peace education from youthful wisdom.

Lasting peace has one very singular and paramount strategy. That one strategy is to educate youth as to what a peaceful mind and world is. The reality must be understood that peace is just like every other skill we pass from generation to generation. When we teach children to be peaceful and reinforce that education with actual life experiences, peace will take root and expand. That ideology is not a hypothesis, it is a well known fact. When we look at rebuilding any society (post-conflict) there is a strong need to educate everyone. Peace is embedded in education and for peace to last it can never be taken lightly or stopped. Furthermore, peace education must take place in the camps where children are forced to take refuge. Strong connections to community has to be retained and children must be given the tools to rebuild both their lives as well as their families, communities and countries. Such a thought is not too much to ask of youth. They often have the same capacity as adults to come up with solutions to rebuild, when given equal supports and opportunity. I have just read a report title I am Here, I Belong: the urgent need to end childhood statelessness. This report was created by a United Nations High Commission on Refugees. For me it really pointed to the need for education programs on the topic of peaceful communities. Although the report looked at youth from war torn areas, the information can be equated to other youth as well. Youth who are feeling left out due to economic factors, racism, body image slander, etc… can also benefit from this report. More important at this time, adults should learn a great deal from this report. The crucial point is the underlying call for youth to belong and pin that point to any youth that is left alone. This report reminds me of another report written about youth in conflict zones. That report was title Listen. It is a collection of stories from youth in conflict zones about what it is like to a youth and what they wish would happen for peace to become a reality. From these reports we can take a great amount of information as to how peace can be achieved over time and sustained. These youth are telling us the hard truth of life and show us a way to end the brutality of war. What is needed is the willingness and courage of adults to take up the challenge of peace. We have to begin somewhere.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Break the violence in Syria

We are well aware that bringing peace to a chaotic situation can be a very difficult task. In Syria, the task of bringing peace is difficult yet has been delayed. That delay is due to a strong unwillingness of the main actors to work with each other in the common goal of peace. In the past few weeks there has been a shift in the willingness to work together. Why? As Islamic State fighters recruited young people from around the world, the countries that these recruits came from became fearful. Again the spiral of chaos started in other areas of the world such as Europe, Australia, Canada and others. Hostage takings became a daily news headline as Syria increasingly crumbled. As the world trembled in fear Syrians ran anywhere they found the smallest evidence of safety. Then the turning point of the Syrian war has been the body of a three year old washing up on a beach. That single event brought great shame on the entire world for doing very little. The shame was so great that the collective heart of the world bled to reveal the core needs of what it takes to be peaceful. The core needs for peace to take hold are true for the single person’s life to an entire world. Both the single person as well as the entire society there is a challenge to enact patience, kindness, compassion, understanding and the ability to let go of past wrongs. Looking at the Syrian war we can see how these core needs gave way to old wounds. Old wounds kept the world as well as the individuals from rising to the challenges of enacting the core needs of peace. The old wounds have been unhealed for thousands of years. Also there are conflicts only decades old at play. These conflicts have allowed the world to let Syria fall into hell. Meeting after meeting was held to give the perception that something was being done. In reality we were being lied to. These lies fueled the pain of the old wounds. Further to the old wounds, newly inflicted wounds are being cut. Here we are in a turning point as a group begins to break through the old wounds. The break down of the old wounds has put the world in a position where the New World Order hope of the late 80’s and early 90’s can be restarted. Before too much hope is put upon the table of the Syrian peace efforts we must recall the core needs of peace. Patience allows us to work through the vital/priority tasks which (singularly) is bringing peace to the communities of Syria. The path to peace has been written about so many times in my previous articles yet there is one path that needs to be reviewed. The one path is the building the connections of communities from refugee camps, internally displaced camps and those living in destroyed communities. This path is very much an education/communication program and one I have written about in a previous article. There is a great opportunity to break the violence in Syria. What we do know is that the battle of peace never ends.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Syrian Peace

In many of my past posts I have spelled out plans (paths ways) to peace. We are now seeing some of the efforts taking place that should have been taken four years ago. These efforts are sitting down and talking with a broad coalition and the main parties being the military elites. Without the strength of teamwork amongst the elite military power there was no hope for an end to violence. Sadly the violence will have to increase for the short term. The next step is to put people on the ground. There is no getting around this fact. This was a reality four years ago and has only grown since. The team work of United Nations agencies and other NGO’s will have to organize and prepare for a lengthy rebuild. Yet the issue of Assad will be a sticking point, so how do we get past that point? Assad must be voted out by the people. This will give the people the ultimate point of control and allow the process of bringing legitimacy back into democratic society. Now what needs to be understood is that elections can not take place within the next two years. The two year wait allows for people to return, communities to rebuild, power vacuums to settle and a solid education of what the people want for government leadership to take hold. From my experience two years has often been too short of a time frame but it is a target. On a regional scale we must understand that Syria will remain in a state of harm as long as Iraq is in chaos as well. The two countries need to have a strong working relationship focused on mutual peace. Of course the entire region is in the same situation. Since we do not have the courage to encapsulate the entire region in a ceasefire/weapons ban we must work with one country at a time. This will be done by strengthening all borders as strongly as possible. As mentioned in past articles, there will be a strong need for an alternate governing system that focuses on security first and social norms second. What this means is that the international forces on the ground are there to enforce the ceasefire agreement first (weapons checks). The social factors such as education, hate literature, religion, etc… are to be dealt with by local authorities and non military NGO agencies. This is a very simplistic outline as the logistics become very complex, to be truthful it is already very complex. Who goes in, where, when, how are all to be determined. What will most likely take place is that the airport which Russia is currently using will be a staging site. Next Damascus will become another staging point as will Aleppo and Homs. I hope that Syria will return to peace as soon as possible.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Building a legitimate government: From Refugee camps back to communities

In every war zone there is a need to bring security, which is a very obvious statement to make. That security is always viewed as the physical security of controlling personal attacks such as rape and of course gun control. These elements can only be controlled effectively through a legitimate force. In most war zones there is a severe lack of legitimacy to carry out such controls. To use a single word, “trust”. To build trust takes both education and action. As simple as this paragraph seems to be, the complexity is limitless when striving to bring security to any area because of the broken trust. As a peacebuilding effort is put into motion the main issue is always trust. From there that single issue moves into what is often known as “boots on the ground”. How does a policy of peace translate into action? Refugee and Internally Displaced camps are often places of great need and have been known as targets for recruitment of all kinds. Could we begin the work of building community peace from the camps back to the communities? As the people form up to enter the camp they can be filtered as to where they came from. This list can help develop a shadow council of the community people left yet are still very much attached to. Every camp can track this information and begin to filter people together based upon their desire to return and rebuild. For those that have not experienced life in such camps, there is a quick decline in a persons understanding of purpose. Other than just getting through each day life in such camps becomes almost pointless. Building such councils will offer a purpose and hope of returning to their communities. Furthermore those that doe return will have a large portion of understanding what is needed to bring peace back. Such a program would provide a purpose for those in the camps. It would provide a source for government officials when the need arises. Also, such a program will bring a sense of community that has transcended the chaos. Furthermore, such a program would put the power of decision making on the people that lived in the community, not some unknown group of international workers. The above idea is just a thought I had this morning. I have no knowledge of such a program that exists or how difficult it would be. I do know that it would be very difficult to implement. The idea is that such a program would provide a legitimate source of community leadership. With a great connection of communication these people involved would bring immediate trust of any future government. Thoughts?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Syrian screams for peace dies with each bullet

Loudly chanting slogans of death, destruction along with the burning of flags and effigies are images of what hell is like. The screaming and gnashing of teeth, beating the war drums, using violence as a deterrent, supressing others to impose ideology/will are all experiences we have to look forward to in hell. In hell we will be the suppressed, we will be the screamers and gnashers of teeth. Our focus will be upon each other yet blindly and ultimately the focus is truly upon our own selves. This is the truth and reality of hell. Throughout the years of my work in peacebuilding the wisdom which has constantly come to light is that every protest a person makes, every change a person asks for is a reality which they themselves seek to change within their own mind/world. Such actions are quite masochistic and it is a form of self-acknowledgement to our problems. Sadly it is one of the most ignored symptoms/cries for peace each of us engage in. For example, compare what ISIS members scream and gnash their teeth about to their own actions? You can go down the list of every person, organization and country. Quickly it becomes obvious their actions relate to the subject of their screams and teeth gnashing. It truly is insane. This very moment in which each of us experiences/acts in this manner is living in hell. Understanding our own mind is paramount to peace. Take notice of the changes you most ask for. Take great comfort in the source of your anger. Such is your personal ISIS guide to peace. Difficult as it may be to acknowledge these cries for change, the effort to actually make the change is often the stopping point. Thus begins the cycle of screaming and gnashing of teeth. We lash out in anger to ease the pain of suffering our own minds endure. Eventually, the screaming and gnashing will turn to action if not understood and dealt with. The path to peace is evolution of mind. The evolution takes time and courage. How much of these elements is unknown until the change has completed. At the end is complete awareness of everything. Until then change is our life, anger a useful guide and our choice to embrace both will determine how peaceful each of us are. In the broadest context of Syria what does the above mean? At the outset of the conflict in Syria there was at least three competing methods to a singular goal. The singular goal is and was a peaceful society. The three methods were evident in the actions of the people, the actions of the government and the actions of the rebels. The people acted with peaceful demonstrations. The government and the rebels acted with violence. On the outside/rest of the world, the actions were almost nothing but talk. The simple math shows that two players acted violently, one did nothing and the other player could only take cover as the bullets and bombs slowly increased. In comparison we can look at what happened in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia which all had similar experiences of massive public demonstrations. What was different in Egypt than in Syria? The difference is the mindset of the people to know that peace is worth standing up for. That evolution of mind takes place within the leaders at the request of the people. This simple equation is why Libya fell apart, why Syria fell apart, why Yemen fell apart and why the world leaders failed to stop those countries from falling apart. The leaders of the world listened to the screams and gnashing of teeth. Then they acted in the same manner. The leaders could have listened to the peaceful calls but they got caught up in a learned mindset of violence.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Syrain solution

Both Russia and Republic of USA (RUSA) agree to co-command the military operations with the single goal to completely lock down the borders of Syria. Both will not have to put one soldier on the ground. The soldiers/fighters currently on the ground will have the opportunity to hammer out an alliance agreement with a designated UN force command. Also as always a UN force can be made up through a UN peacemaking order from the Security Council. The Assad question is settled with the fact that an election will be held two years after there is a stable and hopefully peaceful society. What a stable society looks like is when people can open cafes, community markets, children can return to school, homes are being rebuilt although there still maybe a few acts of terrorism. The two years of stability will allow people to feel free enough to understand who is seeking election. During the two years the general society will be run somewhat of military ruling coalition of UN officials and Assad. How long will this take? That is always a question that can only be answered this way: War never ends. Peace is always in need of work. As to the end of violence, that will be when the death count falls to a level that is no longer frightening. Furthermore, the end of a violent conflict such as Syria can only be seen when people start to move back into their communities. Next the end is known when a group of school children can play in the streets, walk to school and we see children rest in parents arms because they are tired of playing not out of exhausting fear. When such a reality returns to every community, Syrians can transform to a society of peace instead of fear. After two years of such a reality, elections can be held.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Peace is an act of great personal strength and working together

The 70th session of the United Nations kicks off today. The largest topic was the meeting between Russia and RUSA (Putin and Obama). Both understand the need to battle terrorism yet the understanding stops with dealing with the President of Syria – Assad. As mentioned in a previous article, when trying to end a war you have to work with those that are involved. There is no choosing who you must deal with in such situations. If you think you can choose who is to be at the negotiation table you risk missing the solution, making matters worse and/or prolonging the war. This is the exact situation we have experienced with Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other areas of conflict. The lack of communication in the realm of peace has caused further damage and larger issues for the entire world. One of many reasons that the Syrian conflict is escalating rest with Russia and RUSA not finding a way to work together. We have seen the divergent ideology in each others speeches at the United Nations today. In peace there is a rather huge part of courage that is rarely understood. The part is to stand up and do what you are not use to doing. In the case of many of the conflicts around the world the stumbling point has been the unwillingness of the major powers to work together.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Peace needs us to act when we must

Four years ago the world watched as Syria was taken up in the Arab Spring/Occupy movements. Sadly the demonstrations were also when Syria began its slide into civil war. Everyone hoped there would be a calming point. Again it was with a sad heart we watched the chaos grow. As the chaos grew we fought about who should be at the peace talks, who should lead Syria, what countries have a legitimate reason to be involved and what strategy is best to solve the chaos. Then a three year old child washed up on a beach. Let this war be a turning point for all of us on how to deal with the chaos of war. Today the world is scrambling for a solution to the refugee problem. From now on we must understand to get such issues dealt with before hand. This would be our risk management teams focus of work. As for the Russia and RUSA standoff, this should have ended twenty years ago. However there are still some that need to have the cold war rage on. The standoff between these two is causing more civilian deaths, more refugees and more destruction. In many reports we hear how this war was caused by Assad. Well in truth there was another major player in the chaos and that partner is the Islamic State. They took advantage of a tenuous situation and helped make it worse. In absolute truth the entire world helped the Arab spring demonstration get out of hand. From the supply of weapons, equipment then coupled with a do nothing of serious impact ideology Syrian society was left to ravages of war. Four years ago we knew what could take place and we did nothing. Today we are now experiencing what was warned by many. What is so frustrating is that the media are telling us we had no idea this was going to happen or we have no idea how this war got to this point. The exact same thing is taking place in Libya. We knew what was going to happen and no one cared to take the advice of the experts. Now we have to work ten times as hard, a hundred times as long and suffer a thousand times more tragedy in both countries/regions. These are the impacts of chaos. If we do not have the courage to do what is necessary we can expect to endure the chaos of war in Syria and Libya for decades to come. From this moment on you can stop crying about how sad it is to experience the loss of life as three year children wash up on beaches. You can stop crying because now you know that we could have stopped both Syria and Libya from this hell. We did nothing when we should have. Why we did nothing was due to fear and intolerance. That is the impact of chaos. We get caught up in rhetoric. By the time we regain some sense of order we become perplexed as to the complexity of relationship building, peace talks and how to fight a war without actually physically fighting. We are well past the point of not engaging in a physical fight. Boots on the ground will be a cornerstone of ending the chaos in Syria as well as Libya. Who is strong enough to stand up for that duty?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Management of peace (savagery)

During the past four years we have witnessed the collapse of Syria. Sadly this was a situation that could have been avoided if we (the world leaders) had acted with peaceful respect. That was not the case and now we must endure the pain of war. Equally as disheartening as the loss of life is the sudden loss of memory the entire world has concerning how we got to this point. Both Russia and RUSA have countered each others peace plans. Such action has stalled any hope of a quick solution to the war. Added to the stalling of action was the and still is the finger pointing of who to blame for the chaos. To be very blunt, the government of Syria was partly to blame for the civil war. At least half the blame goes to the parties such as Islamic State and those that provided the weapons to wage civil war to the rebel groups. Even though the past can not be change and such finger pointing accomplishes nothing, we must acknowledge that the government of Syria was not the only factor in destabilizing the country. Where do we go from here? The game plan that needs to be used is the exact game plan that Islamic State used to destabilize the country. This game plan is the book known as the Management of Savagery. There is no time line, no set course of action, no clear operative measurable goals and clearly there is no one chain of command. We use that management system for peace instead of chaos. For that to happen we will need both Russia and the RUSA to put aside the childish rhetoric and start working together. Next we need a strong international support network to encircle the area. From there we have to be completely resolved in this war. The Islamic State as we all should understand now, is very far from what Islam stands for. This war in Syria has very little to do with religion and everything to do with power being grabbed by a group of lost souls. Will the world have enough courage to pull together? With the recent escalation of Russia there seems to be a greater hope of a quicker end. If we can get past some of the finger pointing and second guessing we may see a major shift in the world of peace.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Unity for a Syrain Peace

Doing what is right in hopes of solving middle east conflicts has been amplified this past week due to the refugee deaths. The popular question of how to solve the conflict coupled with finger pointing to heave blame on who started the conflict are fueling a wider circle of chaos. The only reality that needs to be noted is that the Syrian conflict was mishandled by everyone except Islamic State. How we got to this point is only valuable information if you are going to seek an unbiased view. Furthermore, solving the conflict will need an equally unbiased view of the current situation and future possibilities. To encourage such a state we must lean on the cliché – politics makes strange bedfellows. In such circumstances as Syria, we have Hobbes state of nature taking place. Life really is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short for every person trying to survive in Syria. On the global scale we have Russia and RUSA at odds with how to solve the conflict. This global conflict only makes matters worse. At this very moment we have a responsibility to protect both the individual that is currently living in the middle east and the entire world at the same time. There can be no doubt of the importance of the Syrian conflict if it spreads. We have allowed it to spread far enough due to mismanagement, old childish global squabbles and ignorance of peaceful tactics. Countries that deem themselves too small to have an impact are vital to the solution. Having such countries at the table can speak as a collective. This was known as smart power or soft power during the 1990’s. Regional powers and of course the United Nations are vital to the process. There must be a singular global tactic taken because without out a singular front we are all in danger of failing. Sadly there will be the questions of motives as to why any country will become involved. Even more disappointing is that some will be motivated by selfish ideology. Even though such a reality is going to happen we must take the steps with a questioning heart. Rest assured that setbacks will take place for the simple reason that we are dealing with people. That is how we got into this mess in the first place. One of the first steps to take is the letting go of who is to sit at the table for peace talks. Assad is the leader of Syria. Whether we like it or not that is the reality. Assad must be voted out, not assassinated or forced out by other similar external means. The Syrian people must have every opportunity to speak their collective mind to vote for or against Assad. In truth we must all realize that the people will vote against Assad. Even Assad must understand that by now. The complete collapse happened with him in power so why would anyone (even himself) want to have him return. Until the vote can take place we must include Assad in the peace negotiations. Those that will not allow him to be apart of the process have little to no understanding of a peaceful transition. In such cases you have to engage with the people that are there. You have to engage with the people that made the mess and the people that are working to clean up the mess. Furthermore, you have to respect internal constitutional laws. Respecting the internal laws will allow for the continuity of culture, provide a framework of succession and give the people a chance to progress under familiar circumstances. Of course this progress is done so under tight security provided by the agreed international methods – whatever they are to be. Knowing that talking, dwelling over the past mistakes is of little help, peace processes are more difficult to manage and endure than chaotic wars as Syria is. The reason that peace is more difficult to manage is that each of us has to let go of the emotional satisfaction of quick redemption. Case in point Iraq invasion of 2003 was an emotional response. That response has provided us with the chaos we are currently in now. Had the world taken the difficult path of peace then -?????

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Canada in the World

Being Canadian, it has been very embarrassing to see the current Prime Minister (stephen harper) work to destroy any credibility we had on the international stage. At a time when the world needs a solid peacemaker, Canada has been able to foster such supports. With our the current Prime Minister that ability is non-existent. For example, our own military reported the dangers of entering in the Libyan conflict. The report made note of the possibility that Libya would fall into a failed state unless a strong ground force was provided. Despite this forewarning, Canada bombed Libya and chaos ensued. The same situation has taken place in regards to Syria, Ukraine and Egypt. Canada is a small country yet the actions and credibility Canada has been known for carried a great amount of respect. Sadly we will never know what could have been if Canada was more engaged in peace processes and negotiations instead of being an antagonist. The world of diplomacy is a delicate balance which the Syrian conflict exemplifies. The Syrian war has no one side that can be supported fully other than to support peace. Syria is such a mess that often opponents are actually being supported by enemies. This situation is best defined by the actions and relationships of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest supports of ISIS. Canada is one of the largest suppliers of military hardware to Saudi Arabia. Canada is just beginning its involvement in Syria which means we will be fighting a enemy that is supported indirectly by us. If that is not bad enough, a similar situation has taken place in Libya and Ukraine. All I can hope for is that someday Canada regains its reputation on the international stage as peace makers. Under the current Prime Minister that hope is dead.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hell and Peace

Loudly chanting slogans of death, destruction along with the burning of flags and effigies are images of what hell is like. The screaming and gnashing of teeth, beating the war drums, using violence as a deterrent, supressing others to impose ideology/will are all experiences we have to look forward to in hell. In hell we will be the suppressed, we will be the screamers and gnashers of teeth. Our focus will be upon each other yet blindly and ultimately the focus is truly upon our own selves. This is the truth and reality of hell. Throughout the years of my work in peacebuilding the wisdom which has constantly come to light is that every protest a person makes, every change a person asks for is a reality which they themselves seek to change within their own mind/world. Such actions are quite masochistic and it is a form of self-acknowledgement to our problems. Sadly it is one of the most ignored symptoms/cries for peace each of us engage in. For example, compare what ISIS members scream and gnash their teeth about to their own actions? You can go down the list of every person, organization and country. Quickly it becomes obvious their actions relate to the subject of their screams and teeth gnashing. It truly is insane. This very moment in which each of us experiences/acts in this manner is living in hell. Understanding our own mind is paramount to peace. Take notice of the changes you most ask for. Take great comfort in the source of your anger. Such is your personal ISIS guide to peace. Difficult as it may be to acknowledge these cries for change, the effort to actually make the change is often the stopping point. Thus begins the cycle of screaming and gnashing of teeth. We lash out in anger to ease the pain of suffering our own minds endure. Eventually, the screaming and gnashing will turn to action if not understood and dealt with. The path to peace is evolution of mind. The evolution takes time and courage. How much of these elements is unknown until the change has completed. At the end is complete awareness of everything. Until then change is our life, anger a useful guide and our choice to embrace both will determine how peaceful each of us are.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Governing peace in your community

The past year we have witnessed the brutality of ISIS, Iran breaking down barriers, Cold War tactics ramp up and a number of other incidents which make the entire world unsure. How we got to this point is a very important path to know and understand. Of course each of us will have a different interpretation of that path. Furthermore, each of us will have a different view of how to deal with the realities of today. Lets take the Israeli/Palestine situation as an example. Israel backs up its actions by stating the need for security. This security is due to the constant call for Israeli demise by some neighbouring countries and regional organizations. This leads to Israel overtly working to accomplish a similar task in the name of security. Such a situation is not sustainable for peace and Israel is screaming foul as Iran negotiates a nuclear deal. To be completely honest and fair neither side of any recent conflict have acted with honour or with a peaceful mindset. Sadly, the goal which is sought is often good governance and a peaceful society. Regretfully, no one can point a finger at anyone because most countries have committed and are committing acts which destroy peace. The same goes for the many organizations which seek to bring structure, order and peace. A glaring example is of ISIS acting in a completely hypocritical manner. To keep a positive mindset though is of great need. These are difficult times and with that comes great opportunity to change. The positives are the many individuals working in their communities to have peace, despite the chaos of war surrounding them. The people ensuring hospitals, schools, local markets and basic services are supplied. There are people working to build communities which focus on a supportive, inclusive and accepting ideology. Some of these people are profiled in the following website: It is these people that provides and environment for peace to grow. From there the governing of the wider society can also grow.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Global debt management

With the Greece situation taking center stage the last year or so, you think that the world has never been through such an ordeal before. In fact there are always countries at the brink of collapse and the impact just as great. Argentina is one example of economic collapse which causes global unrest. However the question remains, how to stop or slow down the collapse? As always the advice is to not panic. Sadly that is what takes place because the doomsday thoughts take over. To manage such panic rests with the negotiation tactics of the lenders, supporters and the borrowers. The advice on how to manage the debt pay back is to not air the dirty laundry in public at all. Next is to take the long term view of repayment. Meeting the fixed payment amount should not be the focus. The focus should be making as much a payment as possible at each target date. Most economist would quickly point out that such a plan would only create a never ending cycle of missed payments. Furthermore there is the issue of interest payment. The money is leant out in order for the lender to make money. Now this is where arguments often diverge on two paths. One being economic and the other being social. What is the main focus in global debt servicing? Is it to secure economics or is it to secure society? There can only be one top priority. It should be no surprise that society is the main focus in this short essay. In this focus the debt repayment schedule is hinged upon the borrower making as much payment as possible. The negotiations should be able to monitor and understand the moving dollar amount well before the due date. This keeps the security of the economy going. In such a situation it is absolutely necessary to not panic, worry or openly fight about the repayment schedule. Each due date a payment is made then, future due dates and amounts are adjusted accordingly. Such ideology of flexibility is often met with the phrase – you have no idea what you are talking about. For those that say that, they are often more interested in the making money, interest payment, in short greed. The civil unrest is of secondary concern. The flexible approach would save us from the talk of the European Union breaking up. It would save the banks from closing and save the ripples of panic attacks. All of these are the social impacts we are enduring right now due to a focus on economics not society.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Peace talks and legitimacy of membership

For the past two years Russia has been excluded from the leadership circle know as the Group of Eight (Seven). This exclusion is due to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Such exclusions demands answers for why the Republic of the United States (RUSA) and United Kingdom (UK) were not excluded for their aggression towards Iraq in 2003? It is those situations which draw the questions of legitimacy and leadership on the global scale. As we work the question of legitimacy down to make comparisons and draw insight, we can look at the questions of legitimacy of groups in civil war zones. There are numerous of examples where violent actions of a group are linked to a political group. For example the Irish Republican Army alliances with Sinn Fein. Al Qaeda also has a political branch. In Afghanistan a similar situation took place with the Taliban. In other groups the main statement is made to be a political stance that is forced to use violence to secure themselves. The Palestinian Liberation Organization is such a group. During many civil wars there are circumstances where groups see an opportunity to grab power and legitimacy by acting violently. Such situations are often seen in more turbulent areas such as Syria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and other conflicts of such composition. The mindset of these groups are rooted in the ideology that if they can grab and hold enough area they will gain a seat at the political table. This seat will provide power, influence and of course money. All of these scenarios bring the question of legitimacy into play as decisions are made as to who is to sit at the peace negotiation table. It is easy to understand the mindset of those that act violently to gain a seat at these tables. The payoff is seen as worth the risk. To make all of this very simple, there is a perfect cliché to use – The squeaky wheel gets the grease. The louder the squeak the more grease provided. However what is become well known is that such tactics are destructive to social cohesion. Applying the cliché will only build a society that rewards negative civil disobedience. However there are groups that will succeed in obtaining power through such actions. A recent battle of who get to sit at the table is the Syrian Peace Negotiations? This question has been one of the largest hurdles to peace in Syria. Who decides the members are to be at the table? How do you have a negotiation without the current Syrian government of Assad? How do you allow anyone from the Islamic State to sit at any peace table? Which neighbouring states and/or regional organizations get to sit at this table? Next we have to include the international actors. In the case of Russia, UK and RUSA, they are legitimate world leaders whether their actions are right or wrong. Which of them get a seat? The short answer is, everyone gets a seat at the table – EVERYONE. This is the most challenging part of peace negotiations. How do we bring that reality to the table? The answer to that question is the absolute core of each and every article that has been and will be written on this forum. Peace negotiations are truly an ongoing element of a prosperous society. In truth the negotiations never end. Yet how does such a thing begin? In Syria for example it starts with each and every person having a desire to stop the violence. Such a reality may seem impossible but that is why peace efforts can never end. The question of legitimacy has to be taken out of the debate as to who sits at the table. At the outset all we can work with are the current leaders. For Syria that is President Assad. There is no choice to be made or argued. The same would be if we needed to talk with the governments of Russia, RUSA or UK, the only option is the current people in office. The one element that is to be very clear is that peace takes time. The members who are to sit at the negotiation table will arise from community engagement sessions/ programs. These community sessions are designed to bring out legitimate actors of peace in every community. These are the people that are working to build positive communities that focus on inclusion of diversity, peace, tolerance and good governance. As such operations tend to go, there will be major upsets. Often these meetings are targets of attacks by groups such as ISIS. Car bombs, suicide bombers and/or rocket attacks have been applied to destroy these meetings and early stages of the peace efforts. Such acts only support the exclusion of such groups from the negotiation table. Sadly the debate about who is to have a legitimate seat at the negotiation table starts all over again. The spiral of arguments, finger pointing and revenge are set in motion stalling the peace process. This is the exact situation we are dealing with in Syria, Israel, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya and many other places. The question of legitimacy in terms of who sits at a peace table is a barrier to peace. The only way through the legitimacy barrier is to push it aside and focus on the coupling of the current leadership and a very determined community engagement program. This dual approach must be met with a very stoic resolve to have peace. We know that violent acts will take place, they will most likely never end. To match that vigilance, peace efforts must also never end.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Which side are you on?

Across the world we have witnessed a number of movements explode into chaos and then into civil wars. The Arab Spring is one such movement. This movement began as a peoples demand for fair governance, equality and to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Unfortunately most of the countries where demonstrations took place have slid into civil war. The most damaging demonstration has taken place in Syria. The situation in Syria has confused many world leaders as to how they should deal with the chaos. The Canadian Prime Minister has stated he has no clue which side to support. Russia and the Republic of the United States of America (RUSA) are always at odds and Syria is no different. Next we have Saudi Arabia who are strong allies with RUSA yet are actually supporting the groups fighting against RUSA. Oddly enough RUSA also supported the rebels (terrorists) in the early stages of the Syria chaos. This is the crux of confusion of which side to support. To add further confusion, many statements of the cold war mentality have sprouted up. Some world leaders are saying that the Cold War is over while others see its continuation. For this writer, the Cold War has been renewed on many fronts and the Ukraine is a front line. Syria as well can be seen as an extension of the Cold War with a mix of old war crusades. With such labels the truth of the matter is that war is war. No labels are really needed as to the participants, politics or place. When people start killing each other on the scale which is Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, etc… the ideology, politics and or place become second to the solutions. With that statement taken seriously, there is only one platform to focus on. Only one side to be on. Only one issue to be discussed. The one platform is Peace.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Realities of Peace Management

To achieve peace on a global scale a few realities need to take root: - Armies give security not peace. - Leaders need to keep talking no matter what takes place. - No country or person is above the law – respect is the issue here. - The adhoc manner in which we deal with conflicts needs to change. Take any current conflict and each of the above points will clearly standout where mistakes are made. At the outset of a conflict, the third point is often the fuel for unrest to begin. In broader terms the rule of law speaks to fairness and when people live with the feeling of imbalance long enough, they begin to protest. For examples we can look at Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and Burundi. Also we can not ignore the unrest in many communities of RUSA such as in Baltimore, Maryland. These protests present leaders of the community and these leaders must be listened to. Unfortunately this step is often missed. The reasons or causes for the miscommunication rests with two factors – time and panic. It takes quick action to quell the swell of emotions. This quick action leads to panic on both sides. From there the people begin to rally and hold demonstrations. Again this is the opportunity to talk and set solutions in motion. What we often experience is the rush to arms. Police or military are moved in due to panic on both sides. This is when we hear the tag lines that peace must be restored. In fact peace was broken well before the demonstrations happen. What is being sought is security. That security will allow time for peace talks to find solutions. The above paragraph is the process that usually takes place. If leaders are interested in finding solutions, taking responsibility and taking charge greater efforts must be made. These efforts (discussions to find solutions) need to happen well before the swell of emotions rises to the level of public protests. All too often we allow such protests to spin out of control. This is due again to the panic people feel from the unknown of what to do and little or no hope of improvement. What is clear is that peace is a constant, fluid process. Ultimately the constant need of focus on peace is the main reason peace efforts often fail. The efforts of peace are deemed unnecessary when life seems to run quite predictably. The lull of order allows for discussion to be viewed as tedious. Once that mentality sets in, issues go unchecked, communication is lost and anger rises. The Arab Spring movement is a great example of the breakdown in peace management amongst government, business and society. The second point of the list is encompasses in respect. Each of us have laws, rules and guidelines to follow. These are in place to provide structure and a sense of knowledge about the future. When these are not adhered to, the entire system is thrown into question. For example the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 put the entire global system of law into question. From there a complete distrust in leadership had given rise to Arab Spring, the fall of Syria and the worldwide turmoil of Islamic State. Had certain people adhered to the rule of law and the guidelines of international law the world would be a very different place today. In the context of law, we have the capacity to take actions when governments use questionable methods. Unfortunately the laws or guidelines are thrown aside for reasons that are centralized on a one sided perception of righting a wrong and a peace process takes too long. Also, these processes again take great effort. However the need for quick action puts panic into the minds of leaders. This panic leads to adhoc methods, questionable actions, less communication and disrespect of law. The opening four points are not the total list of needs for peace to take root. The complete list would include insanity. For every effort of peace we must take into account the acts of insane people. Clearly such situations are part of life and cannot be foretold. However in the process of peace, such factors can be mitigated. This is why we must be diligent in our efforts to keep talking, respect laws and manage peaceful solutions. The recent talks held between RUSA and Russia has shown some promise of a respectful peace process finally taking place.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pan African Peace

Continental peace in Africa has been a dream for centuries. To be fair not many continents experience overall peace. In truth not many countries experience peace either. However the hope for peace in Africa has been a goal of international relations for centuries. As with many such issues, the complexity of such a goal can paralyse the mind. Peace in Africa has many hurdles and the most important are the leaders. Take for example Burundi. Here is a country that could have peace if one person would set his own desires aside. The Burundi scenario plays out in many countries and is the most crucial component of continued chaos. The personal agendas of political or military leaders have subverted peaceful transitions. Furthermore, many African countries must deal with neighbouring conflicts as well. For example Libyan collapse filtered into several countries. Also the chaos in Yemen will filter into both Sudans, Somalia and other East African countries. These international factors only complicate already complex situations. There are various efforts/organizations working to bring stability to these conflicts. The largest of these are the United Nations, African Union, regional groups and international organizations. Each of these groups and organizations are stretched to the limit as each country need tremendous resources. However the largest resource in need cost no money and that resource is peace. All too often we endure individuals who fight to hold on to power for no good reason and Burundi is an example of this. In other cases the failure comes from a lack of vision to prepare others for the transition of power. These factors cost the least money and give the best results. What stands in the way is the ego of leaders who want to build a legacy. In truth the legacy quickly turns into chaos and the person is just another hurdle to peace. The classic African example is Zimbabwe and Libya. Each of those countries had great chances of peace yet the leaders failed to prepare for that reality. Egypt is in the middle of such a situation. With Egypt, the neighbouring countries have a major impact. Included is the influx of Islamic State across the Middle East and Northern Africa, this group will have its impact as well. Other groups have been causing havoc in many African states such as Al Qeada, Boko Haram, and Lords Resistance Army are the most notable examples. For a continent that is well known for its warlords, poor peace transitions and bad government, ironically the United Nations had two African born Secretary-Generals. Sadly, there are leaders that could bring peace to many countries. The problem rest with the violence that creates enough chaos to make organizing peaceful transition almost impossible. The few leaders that keep the chaos ongoing are masters of spin and fear. Such leaders hold on to power by making enemies and telling lies. It is that last statement which is the crux of every conflict in the world. For a Pan African Peace to take hold there will need to be a few key countries to withstand a peaceful transition of power. There is no bigger player than the Democratic Republic of Congo. The size and resources of the DR Congo are elements which have great influence. If the DR Congo were to maintain a peaceful society, that would stabilize a vast territory on the African continent. The methods to bring peace are well known. The list of reasons why peace has not been achieved are the same as every other war. The number one reason is that leaders are not interested in peace.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Silk Road Rejuvenation.

For those that know about the Silk Road and/or the Orient Express train route, there is a great history of culture, trade, tourism, adventure and war. The traditional routes go above, below and through the Caspian Sea. This rejuvenation will also entail energy trade (oil/gas pipelines) along the traditional routes as well as from the South China Sea into Central Asia. With the rejuvenation there is an economic area spanning from Indonesia to Ethiopia to Central Europe to North China. This is a huge area experiencing great obstacles. The major obstacles are the well known wars which have raged on for decades if not centuries. The Afghanistan war stretches into all neighbouring countries. Iran, Syria and Iraq has put huge questions into trade with anyone for quite some time. Ethiopia and East Africa has endured millenniums of strife. Lastly the unease amongst the countries surrounding the South China Sea also has impacts on the new trade efforts. On the plus side there are two major economic forces which are working to find solutions. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) is one force. The other is a new development called the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Now these efforts will employ a version of trickle down economics. We know from experience that the top down format of trickle down economics has not been as great a saviour as we had hoped. In the last twenty years of peacebuilding we have understood the need for a multilevel approach to society. Such a topic will get extremely complex very quickly. The management of this complexity is what will be of utmost importance. At present there are a number of phrases that relate to this complexity such as, All of government approach, 3D approach (development, diplomacy, disarmament), sector security reform, community based approach, micro lending, corporate social responsibility (CSR), multinational agreements and many others. The BRICS economic group has been around for some time. The AIIB is very new, actually still being formulated. However the support being put into AIIB has been rumoured at $146 billion (US$) and that is just the beginning of the pledges. Both of these groups will no doubt work together and that will produce a very large and influential group. During the next decade or so, we will experience the emergence of this new partnership. As always great things can be done to advance our entire world towards peace. Such a journey will have its share of difficulties. Already opposition to the emerging economic partnership has caused rifts amongst countries. Some see these new partnerships as a slow power grab or at least influence when large economies begin to work with the smallest economies. These situations are common place and defined in a phrase known as Tied Aid, which is illegal. Tied Aid is the practice of donating money to a country with the condition of spending that money in the donor country. Sometimes the tie is to secure a countries support on certain topics, basically a bribe. There are many pitfalls and positives as always. Either way we are in for an amazing time as the rejuvenation of an ancient trade route is reopened.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Common sense in Peacebuilding

Often when we are in conversation we talk of a collective wisdom that refers to an easy solution or understanding that was not taken – common sense. For example common sense tells us to not stand in front of a moving object, more so when that object can cause great harm to us. Even though common sense/wisdom can be a positive influence, it is often just useless points of destructive thought. Often when a phrase of common sense is uttered, the intention is to point out a failure after the damage has been done. On the positive influence of common sense, in the realm of peacebuilding common sense tells us to not kill or even shoot at another. Common sense tells us to talk with each other. We are to work out our issues using calm resolve in concert with those around us. What we are not to do is make enemies of the other who is in the same situation with you. However, such ideology is exactly what we are not getting in many of the wars taking place. What does common sense tell us about the current wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine and Palestine? The first realization is that peacebuilding efforts usually take decades to complete. One of the fastest peace building efforts has taken place in Tajikistan. Japan and other countries held firm to peace negotiations during 1994-1997. A recent article written by Farrukh Usmonov of University of Tsukuba, Tokyo provides a great insight to a peacebuilding success. At the very root of the peacebuilding success is the singular fact that the Tajikistan parties resolved to stop and prevent further conflict. The focus was on the process of negotiation and achieve peace. Peace became a reality when leaders of all put national interests higher than regional and personal gains. During peacebuilding efforts the issue of weapons is a vital component. The solution is easy to speak about but very difficult to implement. The solution is to have a complete ban on all weapons. Farrukh Usmonov wrote about this in the article, below is a quote for that article. “Tajik negotiation, stated to respect signed military protocol and stop the rearming of soldiers/citizens. Such cases are often present in post conflict. Thus, parties had to understand that even if a single citizen has a weapon, if each side tries to hide weapons it may cause mistrust and may add problems to solve issue, which again may harm society. That is not an easy process and it may take several months, however parties do not have any choice but to implement de-weaponization and complete it by given period of time. That is why, military protocol, which obliged leaders of opposition to dissolve their various military groups, were crucial for post-conflict period in Tajikistan.” In many of my past writings the need for a complete ban on weapons has been pointed out. The efforts to achieve this goal produces great results and speeds up the process. Sadly it is rare that such efforts are made due to the difficulties involved. It is easier to prolong the violence than to collect the tools of war. Thus we have many wars that rage on for years due to the laziness of those who are called leaders. Well to be fair it is not just laziness, there is a great deal of mistrust that exists. No one wants to be the first to lower their weapons. The method to a total ban is to slowly implement such a plan. This is the philosophy behind no fly zones and ceasefire agreements. When we are involved in the chaos of war, common sense can help us. However for the most part common sense has pushed us to kill each other. The sense that we need to use is the one that seeks to build a peaceful society. Rare are the situations such as took place in Tajikistan. We can only hope and pray that such sense overcomes the leaders in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Israel and other war torn places.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Two State or Multiple Solution?

Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran have been dealing with the Kurdish peoples desire to have their own state for many years. That reality is shaping into being due to the recent collapse of Syria and Iraq. Not only is the possibility there for a Kurdis state but also a Sunni state in Iraq. In 2007 many people talked about the breakup of Iraq into three separate parts. During those times it was seen as insane to create three separate states. The reason being is that the three would be in a constant war scenario. Lost in that argument is that fact that Iraq was already in a constant war scenario. Here we are almost ten years later, still at war and still in dire need of solutions. The method of shooting our way through has only made things worse for the entire world. As we go back to seek another solution, the multi-state issue has cropped up again. Looking at the multi-state solution was not popular in with the Palestine/Israel conflict for many years either. Over time the reality has given leaders the wisdom of peace to understand that was the only real option to begin with. The same wisdom has just started to settle into the minds of those looking into the future of Iraq. Has the time come for the breakup of Iraq? To some extent Iraq has already broken up. For those that are fighting within Iraq they may believe that they are fighting for their state - such as Kurdistan. This scenario will be one of great complexity added to an already complex environment of chaos.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The rule of law?

The “Rule of Law” That sentiment is a base line for many governments and partnering agencies when building/forming societies. At the very root (the bottom to top structure) of a society is the reason a single person follows the rules of law. For the top down structure example, we have what Nazism did in Germany during the 1930’s. That example is what an organization can do when using every law properly and then, take hold of the governing power. With that example it is clear to see why “the rule of law” is not the only factor in having a peaceful society. The other factors rests in the ideology and morals of a person and organizations. Again, in simple terms, the rule of law is only as good as the moral law of the people. As was written in previous postings, the system of governance is not the issue. The issue rests with the people who operate/lead a system/society. Who a person listens to, follows, sees as an authority is very important. There is no greater example than the recruitment of soldiers to Islamic State. What rule of law are these people following? For the recruitment of soldiers, it is (in very simple terms) a psychological war, a war of education and shaping minds. The “Rule of Law” is an ideology which preaches peace, order and predictable outcomes. As with the Nazism example we know how the rule of law can be manipulated. Furthermore and more destructive is when the rule of law is completely ignored by those who preach such realities. Many of my past writings point to the many illegal actions of the Permanent Five Members of the United Nations Security Council (P5). In light of those actions, the formation of groups such as Islamic State are not shocking. The world has dealt with decades of proxy wars fought on behalf of the members of the P5 United Nations Security Council. During this time, the world has believed that might is right and now Islamic State is exercising that right. What rule of law is left to follow now? The P5 security leaders of the world do not follow the rules so why should anyone else? Here we are with a major global threat that was cultivated through the constant arrogance of the P5. The reality of today is a culmination of misguided actions. The Syrian situation is an example of such arrogance and misguided actions. On 26 Feb 2012 there was a referendum to change the constitution of Syria. The next day the civil war escalated with great ferocity. Russia supported the governing power while the Republic of the United States of America (RUSA) supported the rebels. Thus a proxy war taking place. The chaos that has ensued allowed the Islamic State to prosper. With a global situation that is worse than it was before, leaders are resorting to the one tactic which is a foundation of the “rule of law”. That tactic is to talk to eachother. At the beginning of the Syrian war many leaders said that such a tactic is useless. In reality peace talks are only as good as the moral intentions of the people doing the talking. At the outset of the Syrian war the only people that needed to be at the table were the current government leaders of Syria and the P5 members. Six people is all that was needed to solve the problem. Today, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and others have a good reason to be involved in such talks. The “rule of law” preaches that killing is a destructive act to society. However that law was ignored in the case of Syria and killing is what is taking place. The “rule of law” in Syria at this moment is “might makes right”. That method to the “rule of law” was taught by the P5 members, the very societies which were to uphold the ideology of peaceful society rooted in the “rule of law”. Hypocrisy, insanity and idiocy all mixed together is the only way to describe the leadership of the P5.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Chaos reigns from Mali to Afghanistan - Peace was the reason.

We are to learn from our experiences as wisdom tells us. Why do our leaders continue to use violence to bring peace? For example, the current band of insanity waging chaos known as Islamic State. This group of zealots have roots in Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iran, Palestine, etc… Each of these places have been and still are hot zones of conflict. Each area has been on the international hit list of major military operations to bring peace. Each area has seen a military solution of killing. The quote below is a very popular ideology shared by Islamic State, Russia, RUSA and almost every warlord out there: “the only way to have any effect in this region and turn the tide is start killing...killing so many that the media can’t hide the fact that soldiers are returning to their motherland in body bags.” That quote has been altered but the core of its meaning remains steadfastly unaltered. Here is the link to the original quote, At some point we must understand that violence is a breeding ground for hatred. The birth of Islamic State is a huge shining example of the poor leadership we are getting in regards to solving any major social uprising. When the Jasmine Revolution sprang into the Arab Spring, there was so much hope for peaceful transitions. Now we are not sure who is responsible for firing the first bullets. Some believe that protesters fired upon the civilians to spark a war, blame government forces and sit back as the chaos ensued. In other areas we had international forces engage in bombing raids such as Libya in 2011: Canadian foreign minister at the time, John Baird scribbled "Free Libya. Democracy" on one of our bombs before it was dropped on Gadhafi's crumbling forces. Whatever befell Libya, Baird predicted, "wouldn't be any worse than Col. Gadhafi." Even in my postings during 2011, I was aware of the dangers of a power vacuum being created in Libya and Syria. We had a chance to talk our way through the transition but our leaders decided to shoot their way out. Well that strategy has brought us at least another decade of civil war in Libya, has destabilized North and West Africa to the point where we have a corridor of chaos stretching from Mali to Afghanistan. This enormous swath of chaos has been cultivated by politicians who have chosen to shoot their way to peace. As for the Ukraine, the only hope we have here is that it has both Russia and RUSA fighting eachother – proxy wars. Due to this fact an all out war is most likely not going to take place. Sadly it will drag on for a very long time. Here we are being lead into chaos by insane leaders speaking about peace as our decent into hell draws nearer. For what purpose? To what end? Furthermore, who is paying the price – civilians, children and the soldiers who follow orders.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Western influence to eastern influence: The change of economic power

Once upon a time the French dollar (Franc) was the global currency. Today the Republic of the United States dollar is seen as the global currency. For the past decade or so the areas where financial transactions take place have desired a new global currency. Due to this there has been a global discussion as to a new system. In a peace and conflict realm this discussion is very important. The importance hinges upon the fact that money/economics is seen as a driving force of power, control and influence. Since 1945 the dominant global organizations have been World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Those two organizations spawned the Asian Development Bank. What has been a major force in the discussion of a new system deals with emerging economies. India has a billion consumers, the continent of Africa is also on the verge of a billion consumers. China has been growing, also South America has been edging towards a larger consumer ratio. All of these areas are in deep need of peace development as well. The work that has been done to bring peace is far too slow. To help bring peace faster the need for a different financial funding system is being sought. In 2001 Brazil, Russia, India and China were seen as a new economic force, which brought the acronym BRIC into the world. This new economic group has been calling for a new system of global finance. Today that call has spawned the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and a possible new world currency. The first western country to jump on board is the United Kingdom. Behind all of this global money rests the lender being paid interest, gaining influence, expanding control and having power. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is rebuilding the “silk road”. This road will be both a step back in time as well as a new twist of reality for the world. Today the global development banks are western based. The new systems are eastern based. This change can have a major impact on a great many global organizations. These changes may also bring a certain period of unease, unknown and chaos. As mentioned, the discussions have been taking place for many years. Furthermore, power is always changing. Also, for those that have been aware, the western based countries have been challenged to make changes and are too slow in making changes. In simple terms, the world has had enough of the current power structure. The United Kingdom understands the need to join now and be at the table when the foundations are being set. The talk of having another global development bank has been taking place for sometime. Now the talk is almost over and action is required. The action is the redevelopment of the old silk road. This should be a very interesting change we are about to experience.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Management of Savagery

Clearly the Islamic State is about as close to Islam as apples are to oranges. Islamic State tactical ideology. A very interesting read.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rebels, Radicals, Terrorists, Freedom Fighters and Peacebuilders all need to be taught

In each of the labels above, there is a strong need to gather support. The need to gather support is the beginning of an education program. Without support a person is seen as the harmless lone wolf or just insane. Harmless until they reach a point where they feel violence is the only option. Even worse is a group that believes the information to a degree where they follow, defend and promote the ideology. In some circles these programs are called indoctrination, radicalisation, brain washing and/or culturalization. Even in a peaceful society the tactics of indoctrination are similar to what Islamic State uses. Every political party in existence uses the same tactics as well. For those that think Islamic State and Boko Haram use brutal tactics need only look at recent tactics used by members of the United Nations Security Council Permanent 5. Knowing this reality, each group understands that the youth are of great importance. As each of us go through life we are faced with all sorts of decisions and during the ages of 9-18, each of us will have a time of rebellion. This age group can even expand into the middle twenties or later. This stage of life is very important to acknowledge, understand and work with. The reason being is that a person is easier to mould when they are within that age group. Furthermore, a person belief system becomes hardened over time. Due to that fact a young person, once committed is usually a member for life. The most saddening part is that youth are often taught how to be violent rather than peaceful. The obvious question is - How else do you combat groups such as Islamic State or Boko Haram? The answer is simple. The answer is to work with each other. This is how every person is radicalized. Looking back in time had Iraq not been invaded would the Islamic State be as strong as it is? Also the Russian tactics in Chechnya have proven to bolster terrorist groups. Afghanistan as well has proven to be a wrong move. Now we are making the same mistakes in Ukraine as was made in Syria, Libya and of course the constant idiocy we tend to employ with regards to the Israel/Palestine situation. Peace is not easy, killing is. Also killing is an immediately gratifying solution. Since we are indoctrinated with a fast paced world mentality, a long process that peace is will not satisfy the current mentality. For example most of the world believes that the second world war ended in 1945. For those that understand peace, they know that wars never end, they just take on different forms. Again many believe the Cold War ended in 1989. Others see the break up of Yugoslavia as a continuation of that war. The battle within Georgia is also seen as a Cold War and so is the current war in Ukraine. Now to go even further back in time, the Crusades which have pitted Islam against Christianity is still being fought today. Jerusalem is still a city divided, Syria remains a battle ground as does Turkey and many North African countries. With all of these failing examples of killing each other to solve wars, why do we still employ such a failed tactic? The reason is rooted in the fact that those who act violently have been radicalized to believe peace is only possible through violence. Also killing is understood as a quick and easy solution. Whereas peace talks are understood to be unrealistic, to time consuming or even useless. The irony of such thought is that groups such as Islamic State, Boko Haram or any political group begins with talking and the every war we deem ended has done so through peace talks. It all comes down to education. Call it radicalization or psychological warfare, the need to engage each other is the base of each tactic. Whether it be for the building of a peaceful society or the destruction of society, indoctrinating people to a grand plan is a must.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Are we really committed to peacebuilding?

As the birthday of the United Nations is celebrated there are heated debates focused on its relevance, impact, success and its future. The chief reason for the United Nations is to maintain peace on a global scale. Crazy as it seems, on a global scale we are moving ever so slowly towards peace. However in contrasts, why is it that there is such a belief that war and chaos are rampant? Recently I heard an interview where the topic was that very question. One answer that I thought really made sense of the reality versus the perception was this comment: “News reports and information tells us about situations/realities that are out of the ordinary from our everyday life. The more we are made aware of war and chaos is partly due to the fact that we experience a relatively peaceful life”. That quote does have truth rooted in its point. However, there is a great deal of work still ahead for greater peace in the world. This goal of global peace, in reality is not going to arrive in the next few weeks or the next year. This is due to the collection of old minded leadership styles currently in power. There is no need for chaos to continue in places like Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Iraq or Afghanistan. The only reason that wars rage on in these areas is very much due to the lack of leadership in the world. For example, the world has a ready made solution to every war or civil collapse. This solution is peacekeeping with ceasefire agreements. Even though this solution exists the leaders of the world have failed to utilize this tool. When it does use peacekeeping strategy, implementation is so poorly executed that any mention of such tactic is quickly denounced. Furthermore the need for weapons bans are in deep need. We only have to look at the current ceasefire agreement in Ukraine to see how poorly we manage peace. Additional we can look how poorly the transition of peace in Libya has played out? Again, how much longer are we going to live with the insanity of the Palestine and Israel relationship? In each of the examples there have been all sorts of methods rooted in violence, fear, physical power dominance and revenge ideology used to bring peace. We have experienced the power vacuums created when such tactics are used as well. As these power vacuums become a reality, the next reality is a protracted war leading to a failed state. We have had enough of the failed methods used in Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, and other conflict zones. It is time to really put the resources of a true ceasefire, peacekeeping, and negotiated governance model into action.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ceasefire in Ukraine

“A glimmer of hope” That is how German Chancellor Angela Merkel describes the peace talks concerning Ukraine. She is very precise and honest in that observation. We all know how such cease fire agreements break down so easily. The most telling point which speaks to the hope of the ceasefire holding deals with those that sat at the table – France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. All four of these countries have a tangled relationship in politics, economics, and social investment to see peace return. One of the questions that remains is how true is the control of the people doing the actual fighting? All it will take for the entire agreement to fall apart is one rpg round fired by a person who has sees the agreement as faulty. From experience such agreements will be broken a number of times. Another question is the resolve of these leaders to work together in such cases where a rogue person does fire off a round or three. An indication of such an answer is the fact that these four made an agreement in such a short manner. That small time frame speaks to the resolve of these leaders to find diplomatic solutions as soon as possible. The reason for the relatively quick agreement is due to the fact that all sides realized there was no good outcome for anyone if the violence escalates. Russia certainly has no desire for another Chechnya as well as the economic impact of sanctions has to be considered. The same for France and Germany, a destabilized Ukraine will only bring more instability to the region. Such instability will leach into France and Germany. Both have had enough radical violence within their own countries in recent years to deal with. Also the economic costs are too high. Finally the people of Ukraine have endured enough senseless violence. The farther we move away from the first days of this crisis the less we recall the reality of how and why it began. Furthermore, the reality is that this war is one that need not have taken place at all. However, it did and so we must deal with what we have at hand. This ceasefire agreement is a glimmer of hope. Rebuilding the communities that have been destroyed can begin as the people try to return to homes and communities. Let us all pray that the violence will end and peace will hold.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Peace, hope and faith

Across the world the threat of extreme religious sects are causing a great deal of violence. How and why these groups have become a reality is very clear to those that are strong enough to understand the reality of our actions. Basically a person acts violently because they have lost hope in the current leadership, lost control of themselves to be peaceful and their faith in peace has been destroyed. Moving from the basic ideology to the complex, the cold war mentality has allowed groups to play off the Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council (P5). In this reality people have lost faith in peaceful means because of the inability of the world leaders to work together and act peacefully. In truth there is no one starting point to say that was where everything went wrong. However the world had its best opportunity to bring peace after World War II. This point in time has made the Middle East a hot bed of hatred. From there we have many Central and South American states in perpetual civil war, African countries in turmoil, many Balkan states have been at war, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other areas impacted by the division of the Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council (P5). To get very pointed, the use of Viktor Bout is a clear example of how the P5 have allowed wars to rage on. Again the illegal invasion of Iraq is another example of the P5 lack of peaceful leadership. More recently the situation in Ukraine is now playing out in the cold war mentality. Sadly the leaders do not pay the price of their idiocy. They sit there a wonder why youth are joining groups like the Islamic State. With the situation in Ukraine we know the western countries supported the initial coup attempt, which went out of control. Now the entire situation is being blamed on Russia. Although Russia has been supporting rebels, would this situation even be taking place if the initial coup was not started by western nations? Even though that question is there, answering it is not important because it has no bearing on replacing the peace in Ukraine. Letting go of such answers to place blame is the foremost urgent need. In reality we are all to blame equally. This is where the hope and faith in a peaceful world must come in. We must realize that acting with violence has not brought peace in almost every war that has taken place. Killing each other certainly will not work in the Ukraine, Middle East or other places. What we are left with is the method which brings every war to an end - negotiations. From there we must take great steps to teach the next generation to act with faith in peace. Teaching the next generations to act with such faith in peace is our only hope to realize peace. Each of us must take courageous steps to forgive past wrongs and not to seek blame. For peace to take hold we need a strong show of faith and hope that peace is possible.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Freedom of Speech, Religion and Responsibility

First of all it must be completely understood that anyone can do whatever they want. The argument is whether a person should do what whatever they want. For example, people have the ability to say or act upon the most hateful ideology. People also have the ability to act on the most loving ideology. Within those dichotomies is the reality of thought, which everyone must control and will experience. The difficulty is managing thoughts before a person moves into actions. In essence this is a psychological warfare playground. In the realm of psychology, thoughts are first played upon in order to bring a person into a state of mind or belief. From that state of mind, a person has the capacity to act. No law or decree can stop an individual from acting however they choose to act once that person has decided to act. Again, we must fully understand that only the individual controls themselves. Each of us has the capacity to act in the most peaceful or the most hateful manner. That is the reality. Each of us must decide how we are going to act. At this moment I can write or draw whatever I choose to. This is the crux of the issue with freedom of speech and religion – self-control and responsibility. Outside of self-control we must interact with society. As we interact with others, each of us is responsible for peace in society. The decision to spread peace is our responsibility. Society is made of other people who have their own guidelines for what is allowable. To ensure there are general understandings of social conduct we look to leaders who inform us of acceptable actions. This is how we have built cultures, religions, and other organizations of social structure. From these organizations we must understand how government, religious and citizen leadership relations are very much needed for a positively peaceful society. In simplicity there are the Ten Commandments. One of these ten is the rule that we shall not kill. Now apparently the Jewish faith, Christian faith and the Islamic faith all follow the Ten Commandments. So how is it acceptable to incite death because someone draws a picture of God? That question has been answered by some who have deemed it acceptable to kill someone for drawing a picture of God. As we delve into freedoms, there are constraints on what a person thinks. These constraints come from moralistic ideologies which are played out in the many cultures and religions around the world. As we move through social issues, each of us must understand that each of us has to make their own decisions. However, each of us has to contend with what consequences are acceptable. Also we must understand the relations between what we think, what we say and what we do. The culmination of those three realities defines who you are. If you draw a picture of god, you are an artist to some and a blasphemer others. If you kill a person for drawing a picture of god, you are a killer. If you are killed for drawing a picture of god, you are a martyr, a victim, an artist, and a blasphemer. These are some of the freedoms of choice people have made. Choice is personal yet we must take others into consideration. That is our responsibility.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tactics of war, the need for change

Going on its fourth year of violence, the war in Syria has made some big steps in regional and global chaos. At the outset of this war almost every world leader sided with the rebel faction. This support even called for the overthrow of the leadership of Syria. Today we have a clear understanding that the rebels are now known as the Islamic State – (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Islamic State in Levant). The difference of these names is easiest to understand by seeing the ISIS as an internal focus and ISIL as the global focus. To make things even confusing the phrase Islamic State terrorists has even been used. Either way, the world is dealing with a group of misguided and lost souls who are hell bent on violence. If such people really were devout followers of their religion, killing anyone would be seen as killing yourself. However, killing is what is being done. Thus far the leadership of the world has failed completely in handling this war. Those that sought regime change are now proven to be wrong and have wasted both time and resources in such a pursuit. Here we are today with an even greater mess to deal with. In order to end this war there will have to be large numbers of boots on the ground. Old school tactics of building front lines have to be employed. The American tactic of forward operating bases, has failed miserably in two if not three or four wars and needs to be abandoned in face of such failure. The tactic that must be employed is the exact same tactic of the Islamic State. This tactic is to move in and stay, never leave, remain in force, patrol and police every step you take from one end of the country to the other until there is no more need. This tactic is without a timeline, has unknown cost and will consume untold resources and people. However it is a tactic that has and will work, unlike the tactics of Afghanistan and Iraq. In short the tactic is like a pebble hitting the water. From this top down tactic there needs to be and equal effort of bottom up peacebuilding. The grass roots peacebuilding is easier to accomplish with establishing frontline tactics. With such grass roots efforts the reliance on religion is going to be very much needed. Never mind the nuances of religion, the focus must be on the basics of peace which each religion is rooted upon. In fact religion can even be left out of the conversation and the word peace put its place because peace is all that the leaders of each religion asked for. Twist the words of such religion all you want yet Islam follows the same God as the Jewish and Christian religions. With that it is hard to see how the Commandment of Thou shall not kill is over ruled. Both Moses and Jesus bowed to the will of the law to the point where they accepted punishment and death before they would use violence. Even though religion is a major theme in the Syrian war, reality proves that it is the furthest reason or cause. The only reason for this war is rooted in the seven deadly sins. Furthermore, each religion tells us that the best way to fight evil is to ignore it, tell it to go away. Engaging with evil only brings more. Unfortunately most of us do not have the same level of trust and faith as Moses and Jesus.