All posts by Gabriel C Banda

About Gabriel C Banda

With interest in various local and universal issues, Gabriel Banda is independently involved in Writing (including poetry written and performed, drama, and commentary and analysis), Community Theatre, Social Development Work, Social Research and Analysis, and Peace issues (and has been on the University of Bradford MA Peace Studies programme). Has been a columnist for Zambia's private Post Newspaper. Based at Lusaka, Zambia.

Kofi Annan and Us, a Tribute from Africa, By Gabriel C Banda

 

Kofi Annan and Us,

A Tribute from Africa

By

Gabriel  C  Banda

 

THE passing of Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General January 1997 – December 2006, has left us with deep reflection and key life lessons.

His sudden passing, Saturday August 18, 2018, at Bern, in Switzerland, immediately made us reflect on Kofi Atta Annan as a person and some of the times he was involved with. Born April 1938 in Kumasi, Ghana, he has died at 80.

Kofi Annan’s personality and leadership has much to teach those living now and in future. Dr Kofi Annan, who spent a lot his working life as a servant of the United Nations system, was a remarkable example of rulers and leaders.

Always Calm

Kofi Annan was always, always, calm. He was extremely polite. He was thoughtful. He was measured. He was a listening person, no matter who he was speaking with. He was unhurried. He was friendly. He showed great humility.

Grey-haired yet youthful, Kofi Annan was soft speaking. He showed that to make a valid point and be listened to, you do not have to package and wrap it in an aggressive tone.

It is in the mood or adopted style of some persons to make their points aggressively and in offensive tones that their disturbed audiences end up reacting to instead of considering the merits of the points.

Sample of Peace

Kofi Annan was a sample of a person at peace. He was what a United Nations leader can be expected to be. Very composed.

He was unruffled.   Kofi Annan seemed to have mastered himself. He came out as a Sage, wise and calm. And understanding and tolerant of others. He had an air of deep sincerity. You found you loved him and had some bond with him.

These are qualities that many wish in good leaders and rulers. The world would be less violent with more leaders and rulers that are students of Kofi Annan.

The seventh Secretary General, he was concerned about the mission of the United Nations and was sincere in its implementation. He was concerned about how leaders and rulers, some he did not name but we can name, have caused tensions that have brought disharmony amongst governments and citizens of the world.

In an audience-attended BBC World Service feature facilitated by my sister Zeinab Badawi to mark his 80th birthday anniversary, Kofi Annan called for selfless contribution by rulers instead of being self-centred and negatively driven by ego.

Even after he retired from the United Nations, the United Nations mission in his spirit did not leave him. He continued to contribute to various activities all over the world.

At United Nations, Two to Three Minutes meeting

What the Kofi Annan came across as in the media is what person he was when met in person. I met Kofi Annan on May 25, 2003, at the United Nations headquarters, New York. For some two minutes or so, perhaps some three minutes, the two of us spoke, just the two of us.

I had gone with Dr Kenneth Kaunda, first president of Zambia, to the United Nations where KK had been asked to make a key-note address in recognition of Africa Day. It was the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Union, later turned into the African Union.

So, after the talk, away from the hall, there was a time I stood together with Kofi Annan. There was just the two of us. And that is when we talked for some two to three minutes.

I commended him for his composure and thoughtfulness. I said he was representing well many in the world, we who were citizens of humanity and believed in deep human cooperation.

Perhaps, as with many things in many fields of life, some things could have been approached differently.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

I was unhappy with the recent invasion of Iraq by the George W Bush administration as it would have many implications for the whole world.

The March 2003 raid and occupation by USA and team, on the unproved pretext of Saddam Hussein and “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” had largely been condemned worldwide.

Then living in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, I had known about fairly wide local American opposition to the threatened raid on Iraq. When the possibility of invasion was gathering, there were even some protests. It was moving to see school pupils marching against the coming invasion.

As one supportive of non-violence and critical of impact of armed conflict, I was hoping, like others, that the invasion would not take place.  But it took place on March 19, 2003. The consequences were as feared, and even worse, for many in the world. The effects are still with us today, just as the effects of the invasion of Libya and offshore supported rebel attacks on Syria are with us worldwide.

Withdrawing Weapons Inspectors

As an observer and student of peace and conflict-settlement, an issue that has occupied my mind was how the invasion of Iraq could have been aborted.  One thing I have always wondered about was what would have happened had the United Nations not withdrawn its weapons inspectors from Iraq.

I believed that the Kofi Annan administration could have helped abort the attack on Iraq by refusing to remove the weapons inspectors. From the beginning, I believed that the US administration would not have gone ahead to bomb Iraq if UN weapons inspectors did not leave Iraq.

The weapons inspectors were from various countries, including the USA. I did not see how the USA forces would have gone ahead, starting with horrible air bombardments, to attack Iraq with the weapons inspectors present. That is something I continue to think about.

That day at the United Nations, in May 2003, after commending his dignity, as an observer of peace issues, I very briefly wondered about that to Kofi Annan. We did not go into discussing this as I was aware that, although I had been privileged to have met him, his time was limited.

A person who at some point came close to where we were standing was Gideon Manasseh, the New York photographer and teacher contracted by the South Africa UN mission to cover the Africa event. Recently, I learnt that our brother Gideon Manasseh passed on in 2016.

I have always wished another occasion to meet my Big Man Kofi Annan and ask that question about withdrawing weapons inspectors and its effect on USA raiding Iraq.

Of course, Kofi Annan and team were dealing with more factors than I may know.  In recent times, in some BBC feature, Kofi Annan indicated that, while hard he tried to prevent the invasion, it was already cast by a determined George W Bush Jr administration.

 

Opportunity

Sadly, now I will not have the opportunity to directly hear from Kofi Annan more about this issue of withdrawing weapons inspectors and its effect on possible aborting of invasion or going ahead.

The state funeral and burial ceremony in Accra, Ghana, Thursday September 13, 2018, will be very moving and will give many persons further reflection and inspiration.

What is clear is that Kofi Atta Annan’s composure, thoughtfulness, dedication, and dignity have inspired many and will have great impact on us and many around the world, for generations to come.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing and the arts, social development work, and observation and analysis of peace and conflict-settlement issues.

 

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GCB, August/September, 2018, LUSAKA.

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Mama Aretha Franklin and Us, a View from Africa, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Mama Aretha Franklin and Us,

a  View from Africa,

by Gabriel C Banda

 

ARETHA Franklin has passed on!

Many persons in America and other parts of the world have been greatly moved by the passing of the very gifted singer, music artist, and actress Mama Aretha Franklin, Thursday, August 16, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan, USA. She went down following some cancer condition.

Aretha Franklin, born 1942, was from her childhood and teens performing and reaching many church and popular audiences. She established herself in the hearts of many worldwide.

Mama Aretha Franklin came onto the wide world stage at a time of great transformation in human relations.

Aretha Franklin reached more than persons of African descent. Yes, in America, Africa, and other places with numbers of persons of African descent, people were inspired by persons like Aretha Franklin.

People in various parts of the world did not consider her American, but foremost as one of them, a human being close to them.

                                             One of Our Mothers

For the young in Africa, Aretha Franklin was considered One of our Aunts, One of our Mothers. For those older, such as our biological fathers and mothers, Aretha Franklin was one of their Sisters.

In Africa, some widely respected singers we then considered our Mothers and Aunts included Mama Miriam Makeba and her friend Mama Dorothy Masuka. Mama Dorothy Masuka we considered one of our Mothers when at some point of my childhood she lived some forty metres or so near us along Mulilima Street, Libala II, Lusaka, Zambia.

In America, there were singers like Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, and Joan Baez. Music artists, as with other artists, could be both gifted singers and activists in favour of rights, harmonious humanity, and life.

                                                       Of  African Descent

In the 1950s and 1960s, as Africa’s societies were getting independence, there was still organised racism and apartheid in USA. The US Constitution had some two hundred years earlier proclaimed the freedom by birth of human beings while it had massive, organised, slavery against persons of African descent.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Martin Luther King and others were fighting racism and apartheid in the United States.

In 1960s Africa and the Americas, images and symbols were important. Music and the arts were important channels for freedom. In the 1960s and 1970s, fighting for their fundamental rights, Africans and persons of African descent were wearing themselves with pride.

They were parts of the human race. They were legitimate parts of humanity in both its unity and its deep and pleasant variation. No person was by birth in a particular group born superior or inferior to another of some other group. Africans were not on the margins. They were also on the centre.

                                                                    Afro

Rather than just fit into the agenda being designed and dominated by others, artists of African descent sought clothing and colours that they found creative for their situation. They made creative and artistic expressions that were very innovative.

The physical features of Black African persons were not to be stigmatised and repressed, but to be celebrated. The African, in all particular features, was a legitimate part of humanity. The African was not inferior. Thus the decision to take a stance of acceptance and pride in their inherited features.

It was not one’s fault that they were Black or White. In fact, it was not a fault to be Black. Being of African descent was to be accepted and celebrated.  Thus the skin tone was accepted.

And thus, the Afro hair style, as promoted by persons like Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Angela Davies, Muhammad Ali, and millions of persons in USA, Africa, the Caribbean, UK, and other places of residence of persons of African descent, asserted their hair as part of being a person and being a natural part of the human world and life itself.

For persons of African descent, Mama Aretha Franklin and others were symbols of self-appreciation and self-acceptance.

It was not just about the message in their songs. Some fans were not concerned about the message but that the singers were persons of great deepness. The singers could stand up as great persons of African descent. Some were inspired not by their songs but images they proudly pronounced, images like Afro Hair style.

And when they were singing, they DID sing!  It was singing from the soul and reaching your soul. They not only moved the listener who was of African descent but others of other backgrounds. The artist of depth is able to reach the human soul in whatever circumstances the person is found in. True art is universal.

Many loved these persons, these beings, these beings showing and sharing deepness.

                                                                    Movers

Mama Aretha Franklin has been one of those that stand out as great movers of the various sectors they are in. Indeed, their work affects people from other fields.

This is in similar ways that during the struggle against racism and Apartheid in Southern Africa, a person like Mama Winnie Mandela, sparked strength in many persons in various fields, including music and the arts.

In various fields, they have affected how things will be done.  They move things in directions that forever transform sectors and, indeed, the whole society.

They affect many things near and far. They heavily affect those in later generations.

                                                                  Deep Talent

From their presence, musicians and artists like Aretha Franklin have set the direction in which things will move. They do their remarkable works with ease. The easiness flows with great depth and reach.

They come in and do angles that other persons will be inspired with. They show others how things could be done. Their talent fills up and provides the direction and the minimum standards to follow. Their innovation becomes a way of doing things.

Mama Aretha Franklin brought out deep talent. She was deeply passionate in her singing. She was confident in her talent. She was one of those eternal artists that take a space in their generation and move on to reach generations that follow.

They reach relevance in all generations. They cross generations. Deep art is boundless. True art is eternal. True art lives on after the maker. The maker lives on in the art.

Their arts and works reached many in the world. They were appreciated as innovators and masters in their fields. What they said and did had great influence on many others.

                                                               Foremost Human

From various backgrounds, Aretha Franklin and colleagues were foremost human. They showed that each is valuable. We are valuable to others and to the body of humanity as a whole.

Apartheid and racism were sins against humanness. They were sins against humanity, as individuals and as a whole. Apartheid, racism, tribalism, and sexism are crimes against humanity. They are sins against life itself.

Africans and persons of African descent, as all humans, were human first. We were legitimate. All skin tones of humanity were legitimate. Wherever you were born was also an important part of the world.

Aretha Franklin reached and crossed generations. She linked generations. Aretha Franklin has been an important figure in people emphasizing the humanity of all persons from all backgrounds.

Over the six and half decades, performing to her Brothers and Sisters of various backgrounds, singing at the Martin Luther King funeral in 1968, singing in the presence of President Barack Obama in 2009 and later, or presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton before that, with a Presidential Medal of Freedom given to her by George W Bush Jr in 2005, or playing roles in the very memorable and enjoyable Blues Brothers movie, Aretha Franklin put her soul into her performance.

Aretha Franklin did not hesitate, delay, or avoid practising her talent. She expressed the deep wisdom that Barack Obama was to, decades later, in 2008, say:

“… Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. We are the hope …”

Yes, “we are the ones that we have been waiting for.”  I believe this, from Barack Obama, is one of the biggest transforming realisations you will find.  And, without hesitation, decades earlier, Aretha Franklin had started to follow and practise her artistic gift.

Like others, I felt some bond with Aretha Franklin. Some of us have lost another of our Mothers and our Aunts.  Mama Aretha Franklin has passed on and her works continue to live on in the souls of many worldwide, now and in future.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

The writer, based in Lusaka, Zambia, is independently involved in writing and the arts, social development work, and observation of peace and conflict process issues. 

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GCB, August 2018, LUSAKA.

 

 

 

 

These Elections and Us, by Gabriel C Banda

 

 

These Elections and Us,

By

Gabriel C Banda

ZAMBIA’S current elections of mayors and councillors in by-elections and new positions give us thoughts on elections, governance systems, and practices. Violence and campaign rallies concern us.

This July, it is pleasing that PF and UPND officials a few days ago sat together to sign pledge about their party members not to be engaged in violence.

At the signing ceremony and other functions later, PF youth chairperson Stephen Kampyongo and UPND’s Deputy National Youth Chairperson, Habeenzu Munji, spoke with sincerity about renouncing political and elections-linked violence from wherever it came.

And Namakau Kabwiku, UPND Chairperson for Women’s Affairs, has given the very deep human aspect of the effects of political violence.

In the background, the Electoral Commission of Zambia, ECZ, has done well in encouraging political parties to meet to condemn a culture of violence in politics and elections.

Violence not only affects combatants, mostly young persons, from the competing parties, but also the participation of voters. As Mama Namakau Kabwiku observed, political violence and elections-linked violence intimidate some members of the public from involvement in political processes and elections.

Many women keep away from violent electoral environments. Sadly, those parties that know this sometimes may cause violence so that some voters keep away and leave the field for political party members.

Violence among political party members contributed to Zambia becoming a One Party state. Inter-party political violence was by large put in check with the coming of the One Party Democracy time.

It is to be hoped that the recent anti-violence stance by the big political parties will stay long term. There is need to make the interactions constant. They must be nourished. Cadres must see that their leaders are constantly meeting to discuss issues of violence and peace.  The leaders must often be seen together at public functions.

It is important to consider what factors and entities drive violence in politics. Systems must be designed and implemented to deal with the violence. Codes of conduct must be introduced and enforced in each political party and across parties.

The frontline militants and cadres must realise that many officials of parties use political parties as vehicles. The officials can move from one party to another, even to and from those they previously condemned.

The party officials must also realise that cadres that are sent by leaders to implement violence can later act against you when you have moved from their party. Officials must be considerate and feel for other people’s sons and daughters who may end up being victims of political violence.

And for a long time, many of us have appealed for public places like market places and bus stations to be politically neutral places that are not run by political party cadres. It is pleasing that recently PF and UPND officials have started discussing this and talked about “depoliticising” the places.

 

Rallies

Now, besides issues of violence, Zambia’s current mayoral and ward by-elections and elections provide us thoughts on some basics around campaigns and rallies.

Firstly, we note that, at least in our Lusaka city, political parties are very active and very public in their campaigns. However, unlike during the August 2016 combined presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections, this time we find little publicity directed to voters to turn up.

Some voters may be considering the mayoral elections as internal matters of councils and their political party ward councillors. This was the way things were before the new Constitution. But now mayors are to be voted for by everyone, not just councillors.

Our concern is that as it appears the field is being left to the political parties, many among those of us who are ordinary members of the public may not be involved in voting.

Disconnect and apathy towards council elections and local government may develop, thus distancing the general public from public issues that they should be actively involved in. With cadres in dominance, the current appearance is that the mayoral elections belong to political parties and many in public are mere spectators.

It appears that in practice, in the environment of the new Constitution, the mayors are being moved from being civic leaders to being representatives of their political parties that seek to run councils.

The dominance of political cadre campaigns may find many registered voters stay at home and leave the council field to political parties. But local government should involve the active participation of all persons, with or without political parties.

I think that just after Zambia’s independence, local government elections were about residents, not political parties. These residents included even those that were not national citizens but were permanent residents of the town and country.

Presidents and Campaign

Another aspect that concerns us are who is involved in campaigns during mayoral elections. From the re-introduction of the multi-party system in December 1990, some of us have argued that the president of the country should not be involved in campaigning at by-elections.

From the administrations of Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, and Rupiah Banda, to Michael Sata and now Edgar Lungu, some of us have been concerned about the president appearing on the side of their party at parliamentary by-election rallies.

I believe that the president should be spared the stress of campaigning for their own party or against other parties, the opposition. I believe there should be official rules about the president not campaigning at by-elections.

A president campaigning may drive some citizens away from that president. We believe that party officials should do the campaigns without the president – and preferably without ministers, who are also holding state offices for all.

The president is for all and should not be subjected to taking sides during by-elections of MPs and mayors.  A president’s participation in campaigns during by-elections may lead to hostility towards the president.

If the candidate the president publicly supports does not win, it does not go well with the president having campaigned. It becomes some referendum on the president’s rule. If the president’s party candidate takes the seat, voters of other political parties may not be supportive of the president.

The president should after election be always associated with belonging to all, of all backgrounds. A president needs to be for all, whatever party they come from. I believe that a president should not be involved in partisan campaigns during by-elections of MPs and mayors.

Full-time Mayors

There has been high tension over the July 26, 2018 by-elections and elections for new districts. Political party cadres have been very active. Some cities and towns are hot areas.

Election as fulltime and executive mayor in some big cities may provide exposure and ladder to those who are interested in future public positions such as national president.

When there is voter apathy and elections are dominated by political party members, persons of rough character may slip through and be voted in.

Landmark

The PF-UPND Covenant of July 2018 is some landmark. There should be Zero Tolerance on violence. The members of political parties should not only avoid violent behaviour but end violence altogether.

Party youth groups, sadly, may act as militias, sometimes very aggressive and even violent. Violence is sometimes promoted by officials while at times the militant cadres act on their own interest and lead to dynamics that affect the wider political environment.

Sometimes officials lose command of cadres, with some cadres acting as freelancers in the scheme of violence.

Party officials must actively discourage and dismantle cultures of violence within their parties. Officials must make sure violent cadres in their own party are firmly dealt with.

The factors, instruments, and drivers that enable and nourish violence should be identified and defused.

Many times there are strong grudges against other cadres – for something that is happening now or happened before – and these must be healed. We must also recognise that some cadres seek gains such as those advantages that accrue with controlling public spaces like bus stations and market places.

Discipline and obedience are important in running big groupings. Groups should have fairness for their members and other persons. They should follow a discipline based on core human values of respect and dignity for all.

Basic human rights must be respected by all – within the party and in behaving towards other parties.

Attitudes and practices of violence must be unlearnt. Cultures of tolerance and peace-building must be activated and consistently practised.

And after the election results, those who are declared winners must not humiliate those who have not won seats.  Victors should not mock, laugh at, down-sing, and otherwise humiliate those candidates and parties not declared winners.

Nourished should be systems, structures, and practices that help a non-violent political and elections environment.

So, the current mayoral and local government elections will contribute towards what will be dominant future practices. As have PF and UPND officials recently done in their covenant of July 2018, it is important to continue to practically act against political violence.

It is also important to consider issues around campaigns, including the effect of a president participating for their party in public election campaign rallies.

Besides wide publicity to encourage voter turnout, we also would be interested in ECZ thinking about the election day timing. The July 26, 2018 polls date has now been made public holiday. It may be helpful for ECZ to be selecting dates that may be on weekends.

Of course, there may be many factors involved and the date setting may be quite complex, but the date must be closely considered. There are times it might even be possible to think of election hours been longer than closing at 18.00 Hrs. And then, another complex situation, we may need to think about government pronouncing holidays only in those places doing elections.

It is necessary to adjust some rules and practices if things are to be harmonious in future mayoral and local government elections and administrations.  The building and nourishing of non-violence should be continuous, beyond particular election times.

GCB, June-July 2018, LUSAKA

Based in Lusaka, the author is involved in the writing and the arts, social development, and observation of conflict and peace issues.

Thailand Cave Rescue and Us, a view from Africa, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Thailand Cave Rescue and Us,

a View from Africa

By

Gabriel C Banda

THE cave rescue efforts currently taking place in Chiang Rai, Thailand, provide key lessons to many of us, all over the world.

Since they went missing on Saturday, June 23, 2018, efforts to locate and rescue the members of a soccer team, of twelve youths and coach Ake, have involved goodwill and action by people all over the world.

It is a challenge of difficult natural conditions as well as a celebration of human goodwill and togetherness. It is a lesson on how people and institutions working in teamwork can overcome deep challenges.

This is humanity putting huge support and resources together to achieve a good thing.  The same dedication can be applied to many other challenges we find in situations small and big.

Shown by the urgency of flooding and Monsoon rains threatening to pour big, Chiang Rai has been about how you put together many factors as you approach a big task.

It is about determination, resilience, and proper methods while we remain calm and in control of ourselves. It is about not giving up on ourselves and on others. It has been about connecting with our other parts who are elsewhere.

Immediately, the missing of the youth soccer team was of great concern. From many places of the world, many followed, on television and media, Thailand’s Chiang Rai events.

And from many places of the world, many came to help the soccer team members. They joined the Thai workers in the search. Some were employees sent by institutions while some were experienced persons that were volunteering.

In the bowels of Tham Luang Nang Non mountain cave, the gathered team of humanity searched. These, the Chiang Rai soccer team members, are our brothers.

 

Contact

The rescue effort, using various skills and methods, was steady and getting closer. On Monday, July 2, there was great relief when rescuers on the frontline encountered the team and it was known all team members were alive and active.

Among others from Thailand and various parts of the world, the cave diving team from Britain had included Rick William Stanton, John Volanthen, and Robert Charlie Harper. They had explored Tham Luang Nang Non cave before.

Of course, the rescuer that television shows in first contact and talk was just on the frontline in a team supported by many others, working together at the same time, and in various places.

It may not be accurate to say the team was discovered by the shown rescuer from Britain. We do not surely know. This may be inaccuracy from media reporting rather than the rescuer’s fault.

Sympathetic

But through his approach, we learn from that frontline contact rescuer from Britain, the combination of skill, calmness, timing, and human relations in difficult situations. He was calm and deeply sympathetic, trying to feel with them and be reassuring. There was deep humanity. The voice was gentle, polite, and reassuring.

The contact was a great example from a person that is anchored, mature, considerate, and deeply reaching out to another in soul to soul.  We realise that goodwill from participants was deeply evident, thus moving the rescue towards success.

Release and Families

The rescue team kept reaching, supporting, and nourishing the soccer team members in various ways. Both rescuers and soccer team members made extensive preparation for evacuation.

Sadly, in the process of supporting the team, on July 5 there was the death of volunteer worker Samarn Poonan. He died in noble action.

The rescue team calmly kept on learning and planning. And through that careful planning and teamwork, on Sunday, July 8, four boys were brought out of the cave. Many in the world prayed that with continuous learning by the rescuers and authorities, the rest of the operation should succeed.

When some of the boys have been rescued and evacuated out, they seem embargoed. Authorities have not released them to their families but confined them to hospitals, initially without physical contact with their families.  It was later explained that authorities did not want to risk infections from conditions got from the caves.

Yes, but of course, there could have been other considerations, such as the fact that immediately releasing the boys to their separate families could not only have affected team work in the boys and families but that the authorities and teams needed to concentrate on completing the rescue.

There was also risk that boys released early to their families could have led to a situation of confused information and even panic as the boys and families could have been giving some narrations that may have greatly affected some things.

And, of course, being an older mentor and like the captain of a ship, the coach, if in good health, is expected to be the last team member to be evacuated.

Teamwork, as International Space Station Zarya

There has been great teamwork within the rescue team, within the soccer team, and across various persons and teams. This was an international effort. It was about humanity first.

The Thailand rescue mission reminds us of the International Space Station, “Zarya,” which I like to watch as it passes our space over Lusaka, Zambia. The space station has persons in it. They are citizens of various governments, including those of Russia, USA, Canada, Japan, and Europe.

So while there may be tension involving the establishments of USA, UK, and others against Russia, since 1998, in space, their citizens have been cooperating in driving the space station and doing experiments and observations.

When we move away from narrow and closed nationalisms such as components of “America First,” Brexit, and other human isolations and exclusions and instead embrace our common humanity that is a basis of life, we can deeply achieve. As the Thailand cave rescue mission has shown, let us have Humanity First, and, deeper still, Life First.

Learning and Classroom

Chiang Rai has been about understanding a situation and its challenges and then using opportunities and windows available. It was about thorough planning and preparation. It was about team work. It was about leadership and guidance.

The exercise was about connecting to other humans and effectively working together for the Common Good.

Learning and classrooms are everywhere and all the time. Capacity building is continuous. An army is always training so that it is always ready for various challenges that may emerge.

All fields of life should have persons training in them and building expertise. These will come in handy at some point, near or far, home or abroad, now or in future. A society must always be prepared and alert in all fields.

Africa

Persons dealing with rescue service, the military, disaster relief, psychology and counselling in crisis, and other fields, should study the Thailand cave rescue event. They should study it both in Thailand and in their own groups at home.

My prayer has been that people from Africa and other parts of the world should rush to Thailand to witness and study the rescue. They may go there now or even later, for the lessons do not end and still need to be studied.

For example, Zambia’s government could send a team that includes experts and instructors from rescue services, military commando unit, mines department, medicine and health, communications, psychology and counselling, cultures, and disaster management.

They can go to Thailand not only to learn about rescue approaches but to also contribute to the effort. Amongst other experiences, Zambia has built much capacity in drilling and rescue over mining incidents.

The team members could then come back and work with their sectors and together on various issues of rescue and emergencies. The Chiang Rai experience is good learning for everyone.

The 2018 Thailand Chiang Rai international cave operation should remain a major lesson in humanitarian rescue.

 

GCB, June/July 2018, by Monday, July 09th, 2018, LUSAKA

 

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Korea Kim-Trump Talks Concerns, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Korea Kim-Trump Talks Concerns,

By

Gabriel C Banda

OF course, effect of Tweeting on issues may be one of the concerns we may have about the coming Korea talks involving Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

The talks on Korea will have many issues of contention and concern. The issues will be about process, content, and outcome of the discussion.

A concern will be that the parties may affect the discussion and spirit of the meeting by the way they want to appear to be the ones controlling the meeting or its outcome.

Audience 

The parties may be keen to tell their home audiences and the world that they are the ones deciding and influencing the direction of the talks. Thus parties must be careful with the official and unofficial statements being issued by the leaders and their team members.

As happened in recent days, remarks considered unfavourable by others involved almost derailed the Singapore talks on Korea. This was worsened by junior officials of the American and Korean governments attacking the other’s head of state.

Already, some members of wide media are in coverage not reporting accurately or fairly. There is prejudice and bias, lack of understanding, and there seems desire to influence the direction and result of talks. This affects people’s attitudes towards the activities and outcome of the Kim-Trump first direct talks.

Trump may be going in as ruler of a superpower, something that will not help relations. (We have argued in our other writings that there can be no Superpower on earth and that the Superpower concept is a myth).

First Contact

The parties must go in at a human level and they will find there is some common humanity they can build on. As we have suggested before when Trump was implying an immediate agreement to denuclearise at first meeting, the Kim-Trump talks should be considered a first contact meeting that will enable the two to go past the dehumanisation that US and North Korea government propaganda has for some seven decades made of the other.

When they are humane with each other, they will find respect of the other as a member of our common human family. With respect for each other, tension will decline. It is then easy to put aside the cleavages of past militarism towards each other.

The Singapore meeting could be better considered a meeting that enables knowing one another and the building of relationships.  It should be some process that enables all parties to get to understand each other and deeply deal with appreciating their key situations and concerns.

When you get close to another and interact, prejudices are reduced and you appreciate the other as a person, as human also. Then it is easier to work together with the person.

When friendship begins, the tension will lessen. With less fear and tension, and one being at ease, one does not build huge military arsenals against those that are becoming their friends. North Korea and the United States then need not spend hugely on the military.

Content

Some concern will involve the content of the discussion, which is based on current and past contested issues.  There are some key contested issues to settle. The issue of “denuclearisation” by North Korea will need deep discussion.

For decades, the various North Korea administrations tried to develop nuclear capacity as defensive mechanism against USA nuclear and non-nuclear weapon threats.

Just after the Second World War, where the US government had within days used atomic weapons against Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Korea War led to the deaths, by USA forces’ use of unethical military attacks, of millions of Koreans. The USA even threatened with use of atomic weapons in Korea. Thousands of American, British, and allied troops died. Like other wars, it was a war of no-winners.

The 1950 – 1953 Korea war, like the effects of the Japanese invasion of Korea and China, has remained part of bitter memories that make the North Korea governments be on guard and unyielding towards USA or Japan military threats. The war also affected troops and families in the western world. The war was not officially settled and stopped. Korea continued being divided into North and South.

The publicised immediate “denuclearisation” goal as Trump’s main one in the planned talks was not realistic. It was too early. A relationship first needs to be built. The Trump side seems to think they will even supervise the dismantling of the missile and nuclear facilities.

 Key Issues 

On Korea, there are some key issues eventually to be settled. One is on nuclear weapons. Another military issue is the presence of the USA forces in the region. Their presence threatens North Korea, which in turn has tried to arm itself, to extent of nuclear weapons, to avoid being destroyed by USA wrath.

The issues involve many parties. There is North Korea and South Korea, formerly one nation, divided by Russia and American forces. There is the North Korea-USA tense relationship. There is also China in the picture, China being concerned with the presence of the USA forces in the area. There is also Russia in the picture.

And then there are US allies like Japan, who are in some military alliance with USA over North Korea.

In some ways, much of the tension between North Korea and the USA helps the USA to put troops and forces in the area, officially to mark North Korea but mainly to be there to check China.

North Korea does not threaten the United States save to defend itself against threats of military attack and regime change. Left to itself, North Korea has no reason to attack the USA. Thus, for a settlement, the need for the USA to move away from demonising and threatening the North Korea administration.

Within North and South Korea, they dream about their people being free to move within the united territory. There are families that have been divided and want to reconnect. The two governments of Korea think about officially settling the Korean war with ceasefire. They also need to nourish economic relations.

The meetings of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in showed that much advance is possible, with Moon from the beginning of his presidency having been pro-peace with the North.

What often prevents the two Koreas from making advances are strong external forces with various interests in the area. Sometimes some interests of those external forces are not supported by the Koreans.

The long tension between US and North Korea governments is not necessary. It has been long because of external interests. Left to themselves, North and South Korea could have found some way of living together without excessive tension.

One reason the United States may in recent years not have attacked North Korea is that attacking the North would lead to war between North and South.  USA ally Japan would also be drawn in through being attacked. That deters possible US attacks for regime change. There would be many casualties in Korea North and South, and even Japan, while the USA rulers may be far away and safe.

 

Denuclearisation

 President Donald Trump seems to imply that denuclearisation is about disarming North Korea.   It is unclear what the USA is offering to do to reduce its part contributing to tension.

Insistence on immediate and complete denuclearisation at this time might work to disturb the reaching of some agreement now and later. For now, the two forces can start with some issues they can easily come to agreement with. These will enable them build a relationship that will lead to later dealing with more complex issues like denuclearisation and adjustment of military presences.

The issue of “denuclearisation” of North Korea is complex and will not be immediately fully settled. From past USA examples over Japan, Iraq, and the Libya model, North Korea is unlikely to immediately dismantle what it has for decades built and used as deterrence against possible USA aggression and regime change.

The USA will not be easily trusted not to attack militarily or use other sanctions to bring down North Korea’s government. Saddam in Iraq, in 2003, and Qaddafi in Libya, 2011, were examples of United Nations instruments being used to dismantle military capacity and then the USA and allies going in to attack and eventually kill the rulers, leading to instability that has affected the whole world.

Moral Authority

Another problem is that the US does not have the moral authority to disarm another government of weapons which the USA itself has in large quantity. Genuine denuclearisation requires that the USA itself de-nukes, at least in the Korean peninsula.

But with the nature of technology, which includes far away missile platforms on land, sea, and air, the North Koreans will still feel threatened by the USA even when there are no ships and aircraft near the Korea borders.

It is also unfair for the USA negotiators to expect Kim to yield quickly to disarmament when the USA and allies have recently been involved in controversial military exercises that have for decades threatened North Korea.

The USA administration should have shown some step towards goodwill and peace by a favourable response to North Korea’s recent actions of, as Kim had promised, dismantling some of its missile and nuclear testing apparatus.

One expects Kim Jong-un to ask Trump to dismantle the presence of American forces in the Korea peninsula. As a way of going forward in the talks and relations, a USA military down-adjustment or withdrawal, complete or partial, will be key issues proposed.

Leaving or reducing military presence in the Korea peninsula will have some effects on US and Korea military economies. In the Singapore talks, a USA’s decline in reducing or removing their military arsenal will affect discussions about North Korea’s denuclearisation.

 

Not the United Nations

Another factor is that the United States government is not the United Nations. Already, they are a party to the Korea conflict and a more neutral party would have been easier to facilitate a meeting where the USA and North Korea, and even South Korea, would have been the key parties seeking to solve the conflict.

 

Regime Change pattern

North Korea may fear regime change efforts by external authorities. The pattern behind justifying and preparing for attacks against some opponents includes: declare that a ruler is a dictator, ruthless, has committed crimes against humanity against their own people and others, is armed with weapons of mass destruction, supports terrorism, and threatens the USA and allies.

The ruler will also be shown as isolated, a “recluse,” a vagabond without companions. While the USA and allies will be called “the international community,” they will label those governing by the unfavourable term “regime.” The ruler is portrayed as worthy to be destroyed.

Then the United Nations system or some other system or alliance set up has been used to cripple the opponent’s economy and disarm the military. Then the disarmed ruler and regime is attacked. And the ruler is killed, using legal or non-legal instruments.

Such events people like Kim Jong-un may be worry of and will try to avoid being victims of.  Thus the denuclearisation or disarmament talk will be complex and not solvable within a few days.

 

Economic Support

Now, as enticement, President Trump has put forward the reward of economic support and progress for North Korea if Kim denuclearises. Yet this is a complex thing. North Korea, as happened with Zimbabwe, has been affected by economic sanctions, led by the USA and allies.

So it is not necessary to reward the North with payments for Kim to find economic relief. Important is to let North Korea be freed from sanctions led by the USA.

When sanctions are lifted, North Korea will be free to trade and make many linkages. It is unlikely that the North Koreans will focus on the USA as their economic saviour. Freed from sanctions, North Korea is likely to go full strength with those they have trusted for long, those like China.

North Korea may avoid financial handouts from USA because they may bring vulnerability in times of issues like differences, with examples like Trump’s threat to withdraw American finance to Palestine.

Stigma

Kim and Trump have inherited the tension of long ago and have nourished it.  Now is another chance to move from tension and work towards healing.

Due to propaganda by American and North Korean governments over the decades, there is some problem of generalising and stigmatising Americans and North Koreans.

For some explained or unexplained reasons, some persons do not like Kim Jong-un and North Korea.  Without aiming to understand the truth and context but following the prejudices and hostility of some opposing government rulers and others, some have portrayed Kim Jong-un and administration as harsh and inhuman.

But in terms of the walk towards the Singapore meeting, actually Kim Jong-un shows self-control, order, and organisation. He and Donald Trump are able to work together and produce a result for the Common Good.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump will need to keep his Tweeter addiction in check. It has affected local and external politics and even financial markets.

It must also be realised that, unlike what is portrayed, the stigmatisation and demonization of North Korea and its rulers is actually not world-wide. Over the years, North Korea has had good relations with some governments of Africa and other places.

 

Sufficient Achievement

Besides what we have discussed here, there are other issues that will be of concern at the Kim-Trump June 2018 summit in Singapore.

But, for now, both Kim and Trump must be commended for the courage to reach the other that had been, by propaganda of decades, portrayed negatively.

This Singapore meeting must be regarded as an important foundation step in helping to reduce, and eventually remove, unnecessary tension between them, a tension that has bearing on the whole of humanity. Other meetings will follow.

Even if there is no major announcement of solving a contentious issue such as nuclearisation, it will actually be sufficient achievement for Kim and Trump to just have met.

For now, it is important that some careless tweet from folks does not disturb the progress of the Kim-Trump first talks.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

 

GCB,  May/June, 2018, LUSAKA.

 

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Based at Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and observation of conflict and peace issues. Attended the MA Peace Studies programme at University of Bradford.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why No Trump Nobel Prize, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Why No Trump Nobel Prize

by

Gabriel C Banda

IT is presently unlikely that Donald Trump will get a Nobel Prize for Peace. Even if, from the coming Singapore talks, some advances were to be made on settling some Korea issues, it will not be easy to give Donald Trump a Nobel Prize.

The reasons why Donald J Trump is unlikely to be offered a Nobel Peace prize are many and easy to understand. The Nobel Prize for peace is meant to honour a determined and deeply humane quality that acts to build peace where there is extreme disharmony.

There are many factors around Trump and a Nobel Prize. The award of a Nobel Prize is not just about opposing parties reaching some settlement. The method and process of reaching some settlement are very important.

Method Important 

Depth of Spirit and Method are what are rewarded for being examples of action towards high human achievement and dignity. The spirit and method must be in combination.

The method must show some peaceful approaches. The Nobel Peace prize suggests Non-Violence and Non-Aggression as its base. Important are the spirit and method through which a conflict is settled. It is about action that very positively transforms the family of humanity.

Some persons turn round from rough individual and group methods and practices to embody more non-aggressive, respectful, and harmonious attitudes and actions. They accept and embody the essential humanity and dignity of others.

The Donald Trump spirit’s approaches, in word and deed, will likely exclude him from honour of the Nobel magnitude.

Fire and Fury 

Installed president in January 2017, Trump has made himself an emperor, complete with ruling princes and princesses, that has decreed some policies and actions that have hurt humanity and the integrity of Creation.

Trump has some issues that are “disqualifying,” to borrow a term our Big Man Senator John McCain has said about other issues.

Donald Trump’s methods counter the spirit of the Nobel Prize for Peace. In local and international relations, he believes in, and practises, Fire and Fury, to quote his own words.  He bullies and pushes others around, issuing threats and strong-arm tactics to get others to yield to his position of advantage against them.

He insults others. He disrespects the humanity of others. He tries to bully citizens and rulers of other dominions. He is proud, boastful, of the aggressive style.

Trump has been consistent in his harsh attacks on others. His performance makes many uncomfortable. In his presidential election campaign, he displayed sparks of inner violence towards others.

In the Korea issue, Trump and Team have made “fire and fury” threats against North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. As incitement to stop North Korea’s nuclear weaponisation, Trump has offered economic benefits or else economic sanctions and even force.

Trump is seeking some surrender of Kim rather than an amicable settlement over differences involving North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. He was rushing for immediate “denuclearisation” instead of, as we suggested before, working towards first understanding Kim Jong-un and building some relationship and friendship that will help the parties reach amicable settlement of contentious issues.

“Denuclearisation” has become a term for some disarming of North Korea while the USA keeps its weapons arsenal and presence in the area.

There was some taunting of the other just like some boxers have done before matches. Some poor Trump and team remarks and approaches towards his Korean counterpart threatened the planned June 2018 Singapore meeting with Kim Jong-un from taking place. But Kim has not been scared by Trump and team.

Recently, in the same breath of denying such intention, Trump has openly asserted that the “Libya Model” or scheme of force as said by his National Security Advisor John Bolton can be visited upon Kim Jong-un if the North Korea ruler does not comply with Trump’s demands.

The Nobel Prize is not just some matter about reaching a settlement. The method you use is important. Otherwise persons would have been honoured for using force to make others surrender and thus stop a war.

Carrot and stick diplomacy does not seem consistent with the Nobel approach. The Fire and Fury doctrine or practice counters the spirit of Nobel peace. The method of threat prevents Trump from being honoured with the Nobel Prize.

Enemy of the Earth

Besides approaches in international negotiations, the Trump spirit has continued to act against the integrity and togetherness of humanity and creation itself.

He has put into place policies and laws that act against persons of some religions – Islam. Trump is still planning to put up physical walls to divide persons in their human variation.

The anti-immigration policies, with Mexicans as the immediate face of that deep prejudice, are creating disharmony in humanity. Trump has also created problems for families of migrants through his policies that divide parents and young ones.

And, also, Trump has pulled the USA out of the international agreement on Iran and nuclear technology.

And through effort to withdraw the USA government from the Paris Climate Accord, Donald Trump has acted against humanity’s collective efforts towards healing the earth and maintaining a sustainable environment in the present and future.

At home, the Trump spirit has worked against the earth and communities by encouraging industries and businesses to disturb the environment.

Trump has taken a position as an Enemy of the Earth. Meanwhile, the Nobel Committee has honoured those, like our Big Sister and Aunt Wangari Maathai in 2004, that worked strongly towards wide environmental health.

Besides actions against the health of our common environment, for the earth and environment are one and wholesome, Trump has disturbed world trading relations through imposing or threatening selfish economic tariffs and sanctions that will have negative effect upon many in the world, including Americans.

And Donald Trump, carrying along with him Britain’s Teresa May, and France’s Macron, in April 2018 attacked Syria even before the planned international investigation team on accusations of use of chemical weapons had done its work.  In some pattern, there had been another US attack in April 2017.

This was like George W Bush Jr, in Iraq, before him, and the fake Weapons of Mass Destruction charge against Saddam Hussein. George W Bush, Jr, had carried along Britain’s prime minister Tony Blair as accomplice. There has been no learning from the self-evident misdeeds of his predecessors.

Locally, in the USA, Donald Trump has put into place measures that will reverse Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and lead to reduction of access to medical services by millions of Americans, as was before Obama.

Obama Legacy

It seems Donald Trump’s obsession and hatred around the legacy of the Barack Obama presidency prevent him from making his own achievements in some things.

Perhaps Trump’s hostility towards Obama is driven by envy of the younger President’s achievements. Where Trump has sought to build walls, Obama built bridges.

Barack Obama was in 2009 honoured by the Nobel Committee for his thoughts and actions towards making the world a more peaceful place. The award was for “efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

On becoming USA president, Barack Obama had reached out to those previously demonised and considered pariahs in an “axis of evil.” They included North Korea and Iran. Obama began to work towards denuclearisation. His was not about disarming others while USA kept their nuclear weapons, which their opponents felt threatened by.

Locally, Obama, through the Affordable Care Act, worked on improving the situation of millions not having access to medical services.

Obama, through the 2012 DACA policy, showed compassion towards children and families found in illegal migration. Obama supported the worldwide effort towards a Climate Accord that leads to a healthier environment.

Obama Effects

Of course, Barack Obama’s rule had its negative effects upon the world. One Obama sin was to reluctantly, but inexcusably, joining France’s warlord Nicolas Sarkozy in raiding Libya, after misusing the United Nations sanctions system, an invasion that led to great suffering and disorder in humanity.

The world still has to recover from that Libya invasion. The effects of disorder have reached far, including the western world and nations that sponsored the evil action in Libya.

Another Obama sin was the committing of resources and other support to a rebellion to remove Syria’s Assad administration. Obama’s weakness has been to reluctantly go along with bullies even when aware of a destructive path he was enjoining himself to.

But things could even have been worse had he not declined to use force, as John McCain and others urged, on accusations of chemical weapons use by Assad’s forces. Another US president might have been more forceful and disruptive over Libya and Korea.

The burdens to Obama belonging to the Nobel peace team came up for his actions that happened after he was already honoured for actions making a positive difference in human relations. I do not think Barack Obama would have got a Nobel prize after the events of Libya and Syria.

Rulers and Laureates

As in Obama’s case, the combination of being government ruler and Nobel Peace Prize winner is delicate.

In South Africa, Frederik de Klerk, just before he became president, worked with Nelson Mandela, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda, and some in the worldwide anti-apartheid team to dismantle the evil racist system of Apartheid. In 1993, De Klerk and Nelson Mandela were awarded the Nobel for Peace.

Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos was in 2016 awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his great work and sincerity in working for resolution of a long FARC armed insurgency. He has continued to show sincerity in his belief and effort. It is not known how far the reconciliation process with reach.

Elsewhere, my Big Sister Aung San Suu Kyi got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, after consistently, in a non-violent way, working for social and political change in some difficult situation found in Myanmar/Burma.  She showed deep humanity in the midst of harsh adversity.

Of course, after she took on state office after the social change in a complex situation of military and political authorities, there have been uncomfortable situations involving the sad situation of persons of some ethnic and religious groupings. But she got the Nobel Prize before she became a government official.

Trump’s Burdens

Now, with Donald Trump, his disqualifying burdens are current, before he has been listed for a Nobel prize. I believe that Trump’s burdens against peaceful human relations and creation itself will make it difficult for him to be a worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace prize.

In fighting Obama’s legacy, Trump has been fighting the very honourable actions for which the Nobel Committee honoured Obama. Trump should not hope to win a prize while doing things that work against the Nobel team’s appreciation of another candidate.

Trump sometimes unleashes things he cannot control, things that become problems for the world.

Nobel Peace holders in general have some deep dignity in their demeanour and actions. They show respect for other human beings and they are supposed to respect the earth and creation. They have shown determined action, following non-violent methods, towards peace or the integrity of creation.

Calming Fire and Fury

Nobel Peace Prize persons show that they are deep friends of humanity and creation, not enemies of the earth. Nobel Peace prizes are for those who calm and tame fire and fury in themselves and others.

Of course, over the decades, there are those persons that have been Nobel honoured and others doubt their efforts were sufficiently worthy. Of course, there are some, like the great pacifist Mahatma Gandhi himself, whose non-inclusion has continued to surprise many.

Sins of Rule

The sins of rule that Donald J Trump has committed prevent him from such high honour as the Nobel Peace prize. It is difficult to be honoured for settling tensions and problems you have willingly created or contributed to. By error or belief, Trump practises principles of threat and intimidation, from which “fire and fury” arises, adverse to Nobel Peace principles.

Trump and North Korea’s Kim, with his nuclear weapon tests that disturb the earth, are unlikely to get Nobel awards. But more likely suitable candidate can be the South Korea ruler, Moon Jae-in. Moon has shown good humanity and commitment.

Even before he became president, Moon Jae-in was already for peaceful co-existence with the North and good relations between North Korea and USA. He has been a facilitator able to reach both Kim and Trump, build a bridge, and move towards dialogue.

Thorough

I have no authority over the final awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. But I know that the awarding Committee is thorough in its consideration of candidates in relation to the purpose and basic principles of the Peace Award.

I knew a member of the Nobel Peace Committee. Cheerful Professor Ole Danbolt Mjos, of Norway, was a very thorough person with deep medical, academic, and public service credentials.  When we met in Norway and Zambia, he was always systematic and thorough in his discussions over various issues. Sadly, Ole Mjos passed away in 2013.

I believe other Peace Committee members that have carried on where he left are very objective and thorough. My comments on the suitability of Trump will not affect their views should someone offer Trump as a Nobel candidate.

I have merely tried to show that Trump’s methods and practices have been at variance with the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize. His methods of negotiation have not been peaceful.

Using the antagonistic doctrine and practice of Fire and Fury will prevent Trump from being highly honoured.

He is using his presidency to implement policies and practises that are bringing disharmony to humanity and creation. The Trump spirit has heavy disqualifying issues.

 

ginfinite@yahoo.com

 

GCB,  LUSAKA, May/June, 2018.

 

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Based at Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and observation of conflict and peace issues. Attended the MA Peace Studies programme at University of Bradford.

Korea, the Danger of Trump Talk, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Korea, the Danger of Trump Talk

by

Gabriel  C  Banda

TRUMP Talk or Trump Speak is threat to discussions and settlements on Korea. Trump Speak and Trump style are potential threats to parties getting to reach settlement over conflict in Korea.

Trump Talk, coming from Donald Trump and team members, affects the possibility of direct dialogue taking place. And if dialogue does happen, they also can affect the content of the discussion. Trump Talk affects outcomes.

The April 27, 2018 historic meeting of Korea’s North and South rulers Kim Jong-un and  Moon Jae-in, was pleasing to many in the world. Taking place at Panmunjom, on the South Korea side, here was chance for North and South to improve relations of this area, which arises from one people divided in 1945 by the actions of external forces.  They are ethnically, historically, and geographically one people.

One People

Many of us in various parts of the world observed there was friendliness and goodwill between the two parties. Truly North and South were one divided people and they could still be one people, border or no border between them.  Moon Jae-in had recently, in 2017, won elections with an attitude of reaching out to North Korea. Now, they pledged to work together on Korea’s issues and move towards peace.

As demonstrated recently at the Panmunjom meeting, left to themselves, the Korean rulers, North and South, are able to come to some settlement. The presence of external forces are big shapers of Korean relations.

The result of the Panmunjom meeting was also a chance for North Korea and USA, which is allied to South Korea or is in some ways the South’s godparent, to deal with their tensions.

Perhaps through facilitation by Moon Jae-in, a historic meeting was  scheduled for USA and North Korea rulers, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Moon Jae-in has been a good facilitator. We do not know if Moon Jae-in has been influenced by the social teaching and anti-war stances of his Catholic faith following.

Knowing the Other

Our hope was that the planned Trump-Kim  meeting would first be about knowing each other at a personal level, actions which help to de-stigmatise the other parties. Such Know Your Opponent meeting need not immediately involve strong demands on the other. Such meeting, or series of meetings, should instead help build a relationship and confidence in each other.

The planned first Trump-Kim meeting that was welcomed by many in the world is now threatened by Trump Speak.  For many days now, one has been concerned that the Trump spirit may lead to disruption of process and progress over Korea.

One is concerned that some approaches that have had negative effects on others, even American citizens, may be used in delicate situations like that of Korea. We are concerned about Trump and team’s speeches and comments.

Trump Talk will affect the result and achievement of the attempt to meet parties in conflict over Korea. Trump Talk can affect the direction of relationships of parties involved over Korea.

Some aggressive, rude, insulting, intimidating, demeaning, insensitive, or harsh remarks by Trump and team members may evoke responses that will throw away the window that recently opened through the direct talks of North Korea and South Korea’s rulers.

Rough or tough talk that has come from the spirit of Trump, in Tweet or other platforms, will here be counter-productive. Trump has been belligerent in both tone of delivery and word content. Trump Speak vexes many at home and abroad, Americans and non-Americans.

Unleashed

Some remarks of his have been insensitive to others, under-rating others. He has taken actions whose effects on others, and him self, seem not to have been considered.

He seems not to realise or consider or care that some speeches, comments, and actions may have negative and profound effects on others and himself. He has unleashed things he cannot control. Yet these things unleashed, released, may destabilise the world and the integrity of life.

Through his speech and actions, Donald Trump has invoked actions that have unleashed negative results that are difficult to control and undo.

Trump sends messages that Force and Threat are currents to use. He may think about rough strategic moves rather than opening up to work with someone he must respect.

Broadcasting

Over Korea, a key problem is that Trump and supporters are broadcasting that his method of toughness and threats have led to North Korea’s Kim accepting to go to the negotiating table.

That position, perhaps welcome to his fans, actually poses problems for potential talks. In fact, the reality may not have been that Trump’s tough or rough approach compelled Kim, but that Kim’s standing up to Trump through unrepentant missile and nuke tests, tests that damage our world, may have, using the law of the jungle, made Trump be careful about Kim and North Korea.

So, the reverse may have played a part, not that Kim feared Trump, but that Trump was influenced to negotiation by the challenge Kim made through nuclear technology development and missile tests.

In the jungle, the bully pushes around others it considers weak but yields to and leaves alone those who stand up to the bully.

Force and Violence

The use of threats and force creates many problems. Believing that they work, those who use them begin to make it a habit to do so. And those who are threatened begin to either yield to threats or instead build their capacities for force so that they reach a strong point where the bullies do not threaten them. As in the story of David and Goliath in scriptures, a bully cannot forever intimidate other human beings.

Often, aggression, force, and violence beget violence. Some persons respond well when the other party is polite and respecting and not bullying or disrespectful. Some persons may comply with being pushed around but will later, when strong, squarely face the bully. There is often reversed effect in the method of strong and aggressive approaches.

Some parties do not want to appear to have been forced into agreement. They want to get into dialogue and settlement of a situation through their own choice and commitment, not because they had been threatened.

Boasts, Threats

The more Trump and team give the impression that they are pushing Kim about the more it will be difficult to have the talks happen or, when they take place, reach a good result.

The boasts and threats of Trump and team may make others think that they should use threats and force to get others into agreement.

The method of threat and sanctions may not have worked on Kim. From evidence, Kim does not have fear of Donald Trump. While Trump may bully other rulers, and even fellow American citizens, Kim stands up to Trump.

As we have noted before, USA regimes’ actions for regime change over Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria have led to distrust of USA positions towards some rulers and administrations.

On Korea, there is also the painful experience of the killing, by American forces, of huge numbers of people during the Korea war of the early 1950s.

No Super Power

Now, the United Nations Organisation and international community, pledged to settling conflict, building peace, and avoiding war, have promoted dialogue based on respect and Goodwill towards fellow human beings, even when in conflict with them. It is inappropriate to treat some as lesser than others. Due to the nature of  life, there can not exist an eternal super-power in the world.

Perhaps Trump feels uneasy when things are about to harmonise, so he gets some compulsion to say or do something to disturb the emerging potential peace. Perhaps the Trump spirit finds mission in rough speak that disturbs the path towards settlement and peace. The spirit of Trump Speak can be threat to settling Korea.

It seems some habit of Donald Trump, and sometimes some members of his team,  to openly disrespect some persons.  Trump Speak often vexes other. His words can be demeaning and insulting to other persons and groups. Some people feel Trump is trampling on them.

With some local storms coming at him from many fronts and shaking his presidency, Donald Trump may turn and divert the attention towards external events like Korea.

Cultures

There are cultural issues to be learnt. There are issues of the culture of negotiation itself. And the cultural backgrounds of parties involved may affect their attitudes and practices during negotiation and discussion. In some cultures, the one who shows tolerance, patience, and maturity comes out a respected person.

Like violence and force beget violence, threat begets tough responses. People respond well to those who respect them. In some cultures, many persons will do good business with those who show respect and politeness.

In some cultures, the one who threatens others gets declined credibility. One who appears not to be in control of them self is considered not well prepared. One who keeps cool is considered in control, respectable, and admirable.  You are respected for being very humane, not being bully.

In some cultures, threatening other parties is considered disrespectful. For good outcomes, there is need to understand the cultures of other parties and be very sensitive to them. There is need to understand the basic humanness that seeks, across all cultures, respect and dignity.

Fire and Fury disturb

Interstate relations should be influenced by what is fair and truth for all, not how big the weapon one has acquired and trailed on others.  Boasting about how big and destructive your weapon is is not honour. In some cultures and situations, fire and fury disturb dialogue. Fire and fury can burn many.

Some talk and actions may lead to instability that negatively affects all of us, members of the human family and the earth, all over the world, including the United States.

Although we belong to various states and jurisdictions, the essential fact that is paramount is that we are human beings belonging to a common life whose cooperation is beyond human-made borders. Trump is a member of the world and is not the judge and executioner of the world.

In talks, threat, toughness, and roughness may have reversed effect and disturb possible success. For progress, one must show respect to others before talks, during the talks, and after talks. It is possible for Trump and team to train themselves not to threaten others through the Trump kind of talk or tweet.

So, yes Folks, there are threats, there are potential dangers Folks, in the Trump spirit’s words and tweets.  Yes, Folks, Donald Trump’s talk can disturb the reaching of settlements and peace in conflicts like that in Korea.

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The Author has been on the MA Peace Studies programme, University of Bradford.

  • GCB,  April/May 2018, LUSAKA.

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**This piece was a general concern done many days before North Korea’s officials cancelled a planned session with the South Korea administration and before threats by US officials about a Libya Model.