Thursday, May 14, 2015
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
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.