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.