Tag Archives: Barack Obama

UK Election Candidates and Lessons, by Gabriel C Banda

 

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UK Election Candidates and Lessons

By

Gabriel C Banda

THERE are some lessons the UK Elections of June 8, 2017 have for the conduct of elections and politics in other parts of the world.

We will now consider the leaders of the main political parties.  Prime Minister Theresa May, of the ruling Conservative Party, called for the elections after she got into office after taking over from her leader David Cameron, a fellow Conservative, who resigned after the negative result of the Brexit referendum.

David Cameron, who had expected a vote in favour of remaining in the European Union and called for the referendum, was disappointed with the “Leave” result. He could therefore not preside over the exit from Europe, an exit he opposed. Therefore, David Cameron resigned to give way for another ruler to deal with the exit.

                                                                 Brexit

Mama Theresa May is in a position of heading a government that must respond to the Brexit Referendum result requiring UK to leave the European Union. Of course, leaving Europe is very complex for Europe, UK, and others and will have effects that are likely to leave Britain worse off in various things.

After UK leaves the EU, it is almost certain that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom.  There will also be complications in Northern Ireland, administratively a part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland. We feel Brexit is more of a Break It.

But Theresa May is now prime minister and has, whether she likes Brexit or not, the task of following the referendum result that requires UK to leave UK. Because she must administer the exit required by the referendum, she has focussed on performing the task, whether she wants of not.

She has set her mind on doing some necessary task and role. She is making herself to flow with it. But we have to wait to find out if she will turn out like Cameron, calling for a poll and not winning it. But the elections she called are useful because they enable people, all citizens, to actually make a choice about who should be their prime minister at this time.

Of course, the elections will be more than just about Brexit.

                                                          Conservative for All?

Now, there are some issues that may be difficult for Theresa May because they are Conservative Party position and issues, not necessary that they are her limitations. It is interesting that Theresa May has, from the beginning of her rule, has called for a Britain and Conservative Party, often associated with positions of wealthy persons and the right wing striving for the exclusive, that works for prosperity for all people.

She wants to move the Conservative Party to be a party for people from all areas of life, rather than the wealthy and exclusive, so-called “elite.” She wants a Conservative Party and Britain for all.

Of course, sometimes Theresa May acts with a sincerity that can be considered naïve. At her meeting new USA president Donald Trump, one would have been careful about showing a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship with the Trump presidency.

Some people’s attitude towards her can be affected by their attitude towards Donald Trump. But Theresa May comes out as a person one may differ with over some issues but will respect for her listening to what others are saying and to her sincerity.

                                                               Jeremy Corbyn

In the elections also is my big man, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader. Just like my big man Bernie Sanders of the USA, Jeremy Corbyn is both sharply analytical and very courageous. He is fearless. And he is sincere as he speaks his message. His sincerity connects to the hearts and minds of many.

There were some persons, many from Labour in Parliament, who blamed him for what was not his fault – the “Yes” Brexit result.  They implied he did not do enough.

But Jeremy Corbyn could not do much about the result. Jeremy Corbyn did not cause the “Yes” Brexit result. Some persons, some of them Labour parliamentarians, also tried to stigmatise Jeremy Corbyn but, without much facts and basis, implying that he did not appeal to voters.

While those politicians within and outside Labour may not like Corbyn or his political positions, he actually has a lot of support with the public. The plotters of the coup plot may have envied, ignored, or underestimated Jeremy Corbyn’s widening appeal to the public.

If Corbyn’s Labour does not win the June 2017 elections, Corbyn, who was for Europe, will be saved from a very uncomfortable and complex Brexit UK delink process. If he then stays as Labour leader, he is very likely to win the next elections.

It seems Corbyn may currently be in a Win-Win situation. But, like in all elections, you do not speculate but just wait for the final announced results. In the UK, the elections are not held directly on the leaders of parties, but the leader of the party that gets the most parliamentary seats, or a coalition of parties with most seats, becomes prime minister. A victor may get the most seats but not necessarily the most votes nationwide.

                                                                   Lessons

In the June 2017 elections, there are also other contestant parties and candidates. For now, some of the key lessons are about the conduct of candidates during elections. The controversial, and cut-throat 2016 United States elections provided big contrast to the current UK elections.

The UK elections of June 2017 provide great lessons. The UK party leaders, like Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, are generally, or relatively, polite. You do not hear outright insults and uncouth statements. They try to focus on policies and issues, and actually discuss those issues, even if they do not have the answers.

What I find striking is the sincerity of both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in opposition. You may differ with some things they say, but theirs are not political gymnastics to please voters. They are sincere in their discussion. They lay out their positions on issues. They are persons who have missions they feel are important for the society, not just for their personal and group interests. Their sincerity is very notable.

                                                              David Cameron

Besides the examples of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in UK there was also some good lessons from David Cameron. One of the greatest things Cameron did was to allow the decision of parliament about not striking Syria over accusations of chemical weapons.

David Cameron, who actually as a person comes out as a likeable person, respected the decision of parliament. In America, that provided Barack Obama a window to also not raid Syria.

Raiding Syria at that time could have made ISIS thrive earlier and brought about further difficulties for the Middle East, the Western World, and the whole. Syria would have become ISIS.

Earlier, David Cameron and Barack Obama had made the mistake of supporting, even if reluctantly for Obama, the war-lord Nicolas Sarkozy, in charge of France’s forces, to, despite caution and opposition from the African Union, raid Libya and murder and overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and regime, leading to instability that has greatly affected the world.

The 2017 lessons about sincerity of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn towards politics and governance can help others in many parts of the world. Politics would be more civilised, more cultured. UK June 2017 elections are better example in politics and governance than USA 2016. And, currently, we have not heard about some Russia conspiracy to hack into the UK Elections!

ginfinite@yahoo.com

The Author: Based in Lusaka, Zambia, Gabriel C Banda is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and observation of conflict and peace issues.

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– GCB, June 2017.   At Wednesday, June 7th 2017.

 

 

Obama and a Syria Strike, by Gabriel C Banda

 

Obama and a Syria Strike

by

Gabriel C Banda

Yes, I believe, Obama’s 2013 position not to openly strike Syria with American forces was the appropriate one.

As outgoing President Barack Obama’s legacy assessment will continue for ever, we will consider one issue.

There are those who feel that if Barack Obama had in 2013 ordered an attack on Syria due to accusations around the Bashar al-Assad administration and chemical weapon use, the recent outcome in Aleppo and Syria would have been against Assad. The accusers almost blame Barack Obama’s non-striking as the cause of the situation they are unhappy with.

Their wish had been for a “swift” and “sharp” strike that would have disabled, and removed, the Assad administration.

Strike supporters included John McCain and, sadly, Hillary Clinton, and others such as “Professor” Bernard-Henri Levy, so-called “philosopher.”  Bernard-Henri Levy, consistent with his war-mongering, had been a strong supporter of the intervention in Libya and the removal of Muammar Gaddafi.

War Monger

Over abuse of force, Levy has been a war monger hiding, or excused, under the coats of academic freedom and free expression. Had it not been for the tags of “Professor,” “Philosopher,” and “intellectual” he is referred by others with, the unclothed position of Bernard-Henri Levy would be more clearly recognised as that of a thug.

Still unrepentant about the terrible and evil effects of his position, Bernard-Henri Levy greatly supported and continues to defend, when on BBC and other media, the 2011 invasion of Libya led by the war lord Nicolas Sarkozy, who was then France’s president.

Nicolas Sarkozy, with a guillotine trailed against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, used the machinery of the France government, and even twisting the United Nations system, to force a coalition of force that removed Libya’s Gaddafi and led to instability that has affected Libya, Africa, the Middle East, and the whole world, including innocent people in France and Britain, the USA, and ally nations assembled in the raid on Gaddafi and Libya.

Crossing Line

The proponents of a swift strike and knock-out of Assad and administration have used Barack Obama’s warning about not crossing some red line against him. They use it as an Obama weakness because Obama had given a warning and did not follow it up with action.

It does not seem to matter to them whether Obama’s action would be right or appropriate for the emerged situation but that he had said it and therefore should have proceeded to attack Syria. It seems not to matter to them that the issue of chemical weapons use was not easy to definitely assign.

It does not seem to matter to them that the reasons or excuses of Weapon of Mass Destruction or Crimes Against Humanity used by intervening governments have at sometimes come out false or snares.

It seemed not to matter that the position of a clean, swift, strike was an assumption that was based on a sense of supremacy of oneself over others considered easily conquerable. Why is there an assumption that military might will always defeat others?

In long gone times and recent times, some rulers have acted improperly and created long term difficulties for all of us. Many leaders and rulers, from George W Bush Jr to Tony Blair, have acted by poor egos and handled the arsenals of military and force with immaturity. Many leaders and rulers have not been mature enough to handle authority over force.

Angela  Merkel Maturity

However, not all rulers have the same immaturity over use of force. One who has been cautious about use of force has been German’s Angela Merkel, a person of greatness, and one of the most mature of rulers and leaders in modern times.

To some degree, especially for an American president, Barack Obama has on some critical times acted with great caution where others would have thrown in the military machine heavily. This, not acting to go in when one is not sure, has been faulted against him.

In my view, it is better to be cautious about the use and effect of force and violence than end up creating the results that George W Bush Jr did in Afghanistan and Iraq. Barack Obama’s caution is a more sustainable and just position than that of leaping and attacking first and then thinking later, with turmoil around you.

Some bully others because these bullies feel they have weapon arsenals and can always defeat others they consider lesser.  It has been said that some bully others because the bullies have weapons and want to try out the weapons or intimidate others. Without weapons, they will not bully others.

Duet

In 2013, there was pressure to have Barack Obama and Britain’s David Cameron to repeat a duet, as George W Bush Jr and Tony Blair did over Iraq, and attack Syria. What helped the situation was the British parliament, with much of the public behind them,  voting against the move to another open war.

To his credit, and democratic credentials, David Cameron readily and politely accepted not to proceed with the proposed open armed intervention. That helped Barack Obama’s position for, without ally Britain, as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, America has been reluctant to attack alone.

What if Barack Obama had directly used America’s forces to intervene in Syria and remove Assad? The results might have included the following: If Assad had fallen, ISIS would have been stronger. If Assad had fallen, ISIS may have now been in control in Syria. ISIS may have become Syria or Syria would have become the ISIS state.

Then also, there would have been no guarantee that American strikes could have happened without injury on America and those intervening. In scriptures, the story of small David and big Goliath is a lesson for all times.

You should never underestimate your opponent. Already, without factual basis, many officials in the West had underestimated the resilience of the Assad administration and thought he would collapse in a short time, in months rather than years. The situation turned out differently.

Barack Obama had been reluctant to get in to support Nicolas Sarkozy in the removal of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Obama’s weakness was to yield to Sarkozy and reluctantly join in. It is not enough to say one did something wrong because another had insisted to be joined.

Within his administration, war monger Susan Rice pushed for the military intervention and even insulted Africa’s rulers for calling for caution because of the effects they feared would happen with intervention. The effects feared came to pass. Obama had allowed people like Susan Rice and Nicolas Sarkozy to work against his inner caution over Libya.

Spring

Another sin that Obama fell into was to agree to support the armed rebels fighting the Assad administration in the so-called “Arab Spring.”  Clearly, ISIS was, from the beginning, in the “Arab Spring.”

Yes, I believe, Obama’s position not to strike Syria was the appropriate one. Already, the position to support armed rebellion against Assad’s Syria in a conflict with religious undertones was not appropriate, with its consequences that led to the rise of ISIS as Syria government forces faced militias from many groups.

There have been times when rulers of America’s regimes, feeling and acting on the myth that their country is a superpower and can push around others to do what it wants, have gone on to take actions that have created immediate and long-term problems for others, the USA, and the world.

Over the decades, even just to take the decades following World War II, this has happened under various administrations, Republican and Democrats. There seems to be in the background a machinery that, with whatever party in office, tries to assert intervention in other parts of the world – even where the intervention will create difficulties for those intervened, others, and the United States itself.

In recent times, this has happened over the invasion of Afghanistan, occupation of Iraq, and, without lessons being learnt and applied, intervention in Libya. Another key burden of a US administration has been supporting the armed rebellion against Syria’s Assad administration. But Barack Obama’s avoiding of striking Syria in 2013 was, I believe, the appropriate one. That will be a pleasant memory of the Obama legacy.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

**Gabriel Banda has been on the MA Peace Studies Bradford University  programme.

Hillary and Trump first debate lessons, by Gabriel C Banda

 

The Hillary and Trump first debate lessons,

By

Gabriel C Banda

The first televised debate involving Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, done September 26, 2016 USA day, provided some deep lessons. We learnt, through Hillary’s presentation, that it is possible to tame persons that behave roughly.

Of course, there are some moments when Hillary Clinton allowed some chances to slip away following Trump’s words or responses. Trump called treating another person badly some business achievement. He tried some gymnastics over not revealing his tax details.

Even though Donald Trump threw in some cynical comments and remarks that would have shaken and destabilised other persons, Hillary Clinton kept steady. She was in control of the debate and even Trump himself.  Trump’s gymnastics, which had humiliated fellow Republican candidates of the primaries, did not make Hillary Clinton fall.

With skill, facts, preparation, and keeping balance, a calm, gentle, person can actually tame a beastly creature. Even a beastly creature that is normally unpredictable can, under effective approach, be tamed.

Actually, Hillary continues to show that she is connected with issues and people. There has been heavy propaganda, much of it from her opponents, about Hillary missing something in terms of connecting with persons. It is possible that even her team may be believing this statement which sometimes is difficult to prove as always true. But her opponents have created a “connection” stigma on Hillary. Yet this calculated stigma seems exaggerated.

In our last post written just before the debate, we were concerned that Hillary Clinton should not be ruffled by the crude diversionary and humiliating antics of Donald Trump. We said she should keep her cool and not have some instinctive, knee reflex, “knee jerk,” reactions to Donald Trump. She should avoid Trump driving and avoid herself been driven into a direction Trump was crudely determining.

But the actual first debate showed Hillary Clinton with great composure and with masterly over the Trump personality in human body. In the process, such as on business and taxes, Donald Trump mumbled some words that made him appear crude in his relations with the public. Donald Trump seemed not ashamed that he had fanned the prejudiced Barack Obama was not born in America “Birther” lie.

Trump had been persecuting and slandering an innocent person and now, as it is in the open that what he said about Barack Obama was false, and crude, he says his evil actions actually helped Obama. It was as if he did the Birther campaign as a way of helping Barack Obama!

Many times, the more Trump tried to defend, dismiss, or cover up on something, the more open and fake he began to appear.

Many observing the debate should have been taken aback that Trump casually dismisses off serious things he had done wrongly and had thrived on. To many, it should be frightening to have such character as a President, influencing America and what influences it has in other parts of the world.

He defends exploitation of persons and the public as being astute, clever, for finding ways to cheat or beat official systems and human morality. Instead of correcting and improving himself as many persons all over the world try to do, Trump seems proud and protective of his very evident weaknesses.

The first debate, and Trump’s words and attitudes have shown there are distinctions between mere political debates/games and actions that nourish and drive evil.  Yet the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debate has shown that, with good preparation by those confronted by such, falsehoods and evil do not triumph.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

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GCB, LUSAKA. September/October 2016.

Mama Hillary Clinton in Zambia, by Gabriel C Banda

In 2011, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then United States Secretary of State, visited Zambia. I wrote about her in relation to some key challenges facing humanity and human relations.

Hillary Clinton, in whom many of us have for long been well pleased, has just had official endorsement as Democratic Party’s 2016 US presidential election candidate.

Of course, I differ with her on events of Libya and Syria. Unlike persons like John McCain and Sister Hillary Clinton and Bernard-Henri Levy, I believe that President Barack Obama did the right thing not to directly invade and strike Syria. If more armed pressure had been made on Syria and Assad had fallen, ISIS would have risen earlier and things would have been worse now.

On Libya, I believe, then as now, that Barack Obama, reluctant at first, should not have allowed himself to join France warlord Nicolas Sarkozy and others to invade Libya and destroy Muammar Qaddafi, leading to the chaos that will be with us for long. Western support for armed rebels in Libya and Syria, as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, has created difficulties and some instability for the whole world, including Western societies.

And in the view of many of us in various parts of the world, Hillary Clinton will definitely make a good president for the United States.  The rule of Barack Obama has dignified America in the world and managed to make many outside the United States appreciate the projection of a United States that has a more friendly and humane nature, a society that is surely a close family member of humanity rather than its boss and bully and actor for the Superpower idea, “Superpower” being a myth that cannot be achieved in nature by any government or group. 

Hillary Clinton would more likely continue the improvement of human relations than, say, a person like Donald Trump, a personality that may lead to increased tension and division in human relations. Already, Hillary Clinton has made some remarkable contributions to the Common Good. More good than bad will arise from Hillary Clinton’s rule.

Here, I reproduce, courtesy Post Newspaper, Lusaka, the piece published on my then “Another View” column in the Post of Saturday June 18, 2011:

 

Mama Hillary Clinton’s Challenge

By

Gabriel Banda

“ALL too often, we were doing programs that continued year after year, and we, frankly, did too much of the talking and not enough of the listening, ”said Mama Hillary Rodham Clinton, USA Secretary of State, in our city Lusaka, Friday, June 10, 2011. She was closing the AGOA, African Growth and Opportunities Act countries, forum.

She observed that, “despite the best of intentions, for too long, in too much of our development work, the United States was not focused on the kind of partnerships that should be at the root of development,”

And Mrs Hillary Clinton said the United States administration of Barrack Obama aims to be more sensitive.

“In this Administration,” said she, “We have embarked on a new way of doing business.” And, “Our approach is based on partnership, not patronage.”

Also, “Ultimately, it is aimed at helping developing countries chart their own futures and, frankly, end the need for aid at all.”

Sister Hillary Clinton’s words in Lusaka highlight some key problems in human relations and development. These issues face not only people in USA and Africa relations, but governments and persons all over the world. It is about patronage or true partnership.

Problems of patronising attitudes and practices affect various fields. Besides the social development field, in politics example is the George W Bush administration’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The results of the invasion continue to affect not only the United States and the Middle East, but all of us, worldwide. Tensions increased.

Before invasion, the Bush regime had been cautioned, by many worldwide, of unjustness of the actions and the likely negative effects. These came to pass. Even now, clearly, instead of using the United Nations system to broker peace, in Libya the current external governments’ military role, which does not meet “just war” criteria, will bear huge negative effects worldwide. The war lord attitude has not been restricted to Bush rule.

But in development, trade and business, civil society, and other fields, actions arising from the patronage mindset are still with us.

Apart from other variations in nature, human variation is noted in issues like skin colour, being male or female, religion, ethnic link, culture, language, nationality and citizenship, and location.

Variation in many aspects of the world contributes towards a more whole earth and life. That there is variation on earth is great resource for us to learn and grow from many angles. This variation actively contributes to the making of the whole and the balance of that whole.

Each individual part is unique and gifted. Each we must appreciate. I believe that none is inherently superior or inferior by being born in some particular community. I believe a person born in the deserts of Africa can learn to fly a Boeing 747 while a person born in the skyscrapers of Manhattan can learn to live well in a desert.

We need to open ourselves to other persons. There is no stranger in the world. And the earth being circular, each point of the world is the centre of the world. Each individual or place is important for the maintenance of the whole world. Wherever you are is the centre of the world.

And wherever each person is, they must actively contribute their skills, experiences, and thoughts. A problem is when we are doing “too much of the talking and not enough of the listening.” This has meant closing, or limiting, ourselves off from the skills and experiences of others.

Often projects and activities are tackled without the active consultation and involvement of the ones who live the practical situation. This has led to projects not working well. Even where much money is poured in, lacking the essential human ingredients, the projects have reached less than they would have had they involved input from a wide variation.

Some who handle cash and resources tend to control the direction of projects and activities. They leave out the thoughts, skills, experiences, and visions of others they consider less able because those persons in material, finance, resource, and background situations are thought to be lesser than controller’s.

Many projects do not take in input of local persons as the projects merely implement templates designed from outside. In Zambia, Africa, and elsewhere, work against HIV and AIDS could have advanced further or earlier had there been more listening to others. The resources would have reached and done further. This is a bigger problem in mono-donor situations, where some donors dominate particular fields. They stifle creativity and growth.

Various talents, skills, and experiences willingly shared can contribute to the benefit of many. We are fortunate that with some six billion persons, male and female they are, we have chance, if we open ourselves to them, to live some six billion lives and deep experiences.

Slavery, slave trade, and apartheid have been evils because of pain and working against preferred choices of the enslaved as things are directed to service of the slave masters. Left to their own choices, enslaved persons could have contributed greatly, in many other ways, to the world. Slavery made the world lose out in growth and opportunities.

Currently, there are so called “experts” who are not competent, while some have skills but are not very appropriate, relevant, to the situations. Some do not do “enough of listening” and allowing other persons.

IMF and World Bank and their allies have shown arrogance, bullying, incompetence, and dictatorship. They pushed aside local views and imposed some inappropriate programmes. They kept imposing their activities through various sanctions and threats against governments and society.

The fruits of IMF programmes include increased poverty, crime, corruption, environmental impact, and inequalities around factors like ethnicity, cultures, gender, and regions. Their programmes have caused reduced capacity of societies. The programmes worked against growth and opportunities of societies. The activities have acted against peace and the integrity of life.

They have not organised resource and other reparations to redress the damage they have done to societies and humanity. Perhaps some recent debt write-off may be considered silent reparations. But the organisations still control economic programmes which are still inappropriate for societies

But, even though many have sought it and others been assigned, in this unitary and interdependent world, there can be no superpower. Superpower is a temporary human created myth without basis in truth.

Now or in other generations, the action of one in one place affects all others everywhere. To grow, we should be moving towards relationships of mutual respect, growth, and realisation that the work of all of us on earth seeks to eventually pull together towards a common good.

The world will flourish through partnership and creativity, not through patronage. It is important to allow others. Every one will nourish and grow. Many should listen to, and practice, some of Mama Hillary Clinton’s words!

END

– GCB June 2011, LUSAKA.

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Abducted Nigeria Girls and the America Brand, (Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 12)

Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 12:

Abducted Nigeria Girls and the America Brand

by

Gabriel C Banda

THE recent abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls at Nigeria’s Chibok Girls Secondary School has deeply stirred worldwide concern, including demonstrations and high social media postings.

The abduction and other violent attacks, sabotage, massacres, and destruction before and after April 15, 2014 are of concern not just in Nigeria and Africa but the whole world. Captured girls are from backgrounds of Christianity and Islam.

The Chibok incident is touching our common humanity. Those who condemn the abduction and other violence by militants include Muslims.

It is important that responses to the abduction lead to the safety and freedom of the hostages. With relevant approaches and even some types of external support, it is possible for Nigeria’s authorities to swiftly make recovery of the captives.

Responses and approaches should minimise harm to the girls, their families, communities, and society. While there is a wider anti-terrorism and anti-banditry context, approaches used should not endanger the safety of the held school girls and other persons in other parts of Nigeria and beyond.

Some of us were worried when, with innocence, Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan said his government had made approaches to the United States to help in dealing with the hostage situation. Later, United State’s President Obama and John Kerry and Britain’s David Cameron said they would be involved in supporting Nigeria deal with the abduction.

And France was reported to be ready to get involved. It has also been reported that Israel’s government offered to help Nigeria in this Chibok issue. In the Middle East, the Israeli, Palestinian, and anti-Israel forces are some of world’s most skilled and efficient forces when it comes to fighting in non-regular warfare. Yet open involvement or suspected involvement of Israel and others may lead to negative effects.

Officials from governments of Nigeria, USA, Britain and others should have been careful about talking about the involvement of forces of external governments in the Chibok hostages mission. External interest may be well meaning but can contribute to deepened hostilities.

Already some officials from external governments have been quoted as discussing Nigeria officials and government’s unannounced and closed door responses and positions.

But openly asking for external military assistance in rescuing the hostages and combating bandits has many implications. Who comes in to assist will also affect direction of the rescue and the whole conflict.

Officials of Nigeria and external governments should avoid making pronouncements that can lead to negative effects on the held girls. They should also consider the effects of the announcements on relationships in the Nigerian society and the neighbours.

There may be some fear that external forces may take over control of the anti-insurgency work and people then begin giving the activities some American or other external branding. Branding may go together with marketing the brand through activities of “visibility.”

The entry of external forces may or may not be worrying to the captors. Captors might feel they have made some achievements by bringing into the conflict offshore troops from western governments. They may feel their status raised. Some bandits may welcome the USA and external involvement, seeing this as a new stage to proudly go to and take the conflict to another level.

Actions to free the Chibok girls and also protect the public from acts of sabotage need wide support. But open involvement of external forces may make persons who don’t support terrorism but are still critical of, or opposed to, the USA and other governments not to be supportive of the mission against the Chibok captors.

Currently, the primary task is to get the release of the school girl hostages. One has to be careful about not getting this to be overridden by other actions, attitudes, and policies towards terrorism. The general action against terrorism and banditry is important. Yet some policies and stances may affect recovery of the hostages.

For instance, Americans and others have official policy, generally inflexible, about not bargaining and negotiating with terrorists, captors, and hostage takers. Yet there may actually be instances where negotiation with bandits is a useful step to safety, conflict resolution, and deeper understanding. A hope is that policies and positions should not endanger the Chibok school girls.

With governments collaborating, it is easier to quickly deal with abductions and the conflicts behind them. But how they get involved is important. For some governments, some presence in the Chibok crisis is useful for the external governments’ own continuous training and preparedness.

It is possible for governments of the United States and others to be so involved in Chibok as part of their worldwide anti-terror programme that they may put their brand on the Nigeria situation. This may create difficulties for the held hostages. Anti-American feelings may rise when US and other forces openly get involved. Existing hostilities and conflict may escalate.

A risk is that the Chibok abductions may be considered by external forces to be part of their own worldwide fight against anti-western banditry and violence. They may view Chibok with their past and current lenses and incorporate it into “the fight against terror.”

Some governments have fairly advanced equipment and technology, but you need more than machines to solve human conflict. Some methods Americans and others have used in some parts of the world have worked well while some have led to responses of more violence and terrorism. Negotiators and those intervening must be sensitive to local knowledge and processes, otherwise they may create problems.

External involvement has potential of aggravating hostile attitudes and actions by bandits involved in abduction. Some people are already hostile to forces and peoples of the United States, Israel, and allies. External involvement may provide branding that may create further problems for the situation.

Some military presence, approach, and rescue attempts do not ensure success but may create big problems. Crucial is understanding of local environment, local social issues, and local negotiation dynamics. Insensitive external input may endanger our young sisters.

While banditry and terror occur in many parts of the world, there must be close focus on local conditions, approaches, and issues. Working on relationships and human approaches is what finally settles issues. External supporters must study local ways of doing things, settling conflict, and reaching agreements. Roots of grievances should be considered.

You need to involve those with some influence on abductors and government. This may include the use of elders, persons of religious and spiritual influence, and other persons in reaching the abductors and moving towards release, safety, and freedom of the young women.

In many parts of the world, there is abduction, enslavement, and abuse of women, boys, and other innocent civilians by militant combatants. There is use of non combatants as hostages and even human shields against attacks. The innocent are used for bargaining in grievances.

Militants seem to feel the result justifies the means. They believe the extremity in the use of the Chibok girls as bargaining factors against government forces will bring them desired results. In the captors’ view, the Chibok girls, attracting worldwide concern, are some huge bargaining chip.

Although assistance may be required from all angles as the Chibok event is a concern for the whole of humanity, there must be caution on how external support gets involved.
Priority of government, families, and many in the world should be to have the girls released, even if it means going against policies of external governments.

The key expectation of the families of the Chibok school girls and the wider society worldwide is safety and freedom from violence for the captives and other communities.

The announcements of external interests and involvement may delay or endanger the safe return of our young sisters. External support, even with goodwill and sincere intentions by providers, must be handled very carefully.

The Chibok event can provide chance to do something about abductions, enslavement, and human trafficking worldwide. It can be time for Nigeria to find effective solutions to insurgency.

While external support can be useful and some forms of it should be allowed, in this situation, to succeed effectively and sustainably, the Chibok girls rescue process must be locally rooted and not externally branded.

                                ginfinite@yahoo.com

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and peace issues. He holds an MA in Peace Studies, University of Bradford.

 

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GCB, May 2014, LUSAKA.

 

 

Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 04: March on Washington and Us, 50 years later

Gabriel C Banda

March on Washington and Us, 50 years later

 By

 Gabriel C Banda,

THURSDAY September 5, 2013, was chosen as a day for American citizens in Zambia to gather with local persons and appreciate Martin Luther King, Jr, and the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington.

Actually, addressing various issues and organised by various persons, many marches on Washington have taken place before and after August 28, 1963.  But it is the 1963 event that is widely engrained in the mind of the world.

The United States of America, with its previous system of open and harsh enslavement of African Americans by Euro Americans, was in 1963, while some societies of Africa had achieved political independence, living in racial apartheid which was even official in some places.

Because of enslavement, trade in human beings, and some apartheid, the American Constitution’s initial promise of “freedom” was only enjoyed by some groups of citizens but not others such as African Americans and Native Americans.

The social justice and anti-racism campaign by various civil rights groups, with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr emerging as a major symbol, drew huge support from society. At Washington DC, they walked together, singing together.

The dream they were taking steps to materialise was a better society with enjoyment of rights, respect, and basic needs by all. Martin Luther King was a personal friend of Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda.

And fifty years later, the March on Washington reminds us about our constant pilgrimage towards justice and peaceful living of individuals and societies. It is a journey against oppression and suppression.

The March on Washington is example of effective action for change. It is about justice, human rights for all, and dignity. The March on Washington was not just about change, but the methods used in making change.

It was, like Mahatma Gandhi and colleagues in South Africa and India, about how non- violence approaches can be effective in bringing about social change, justice, and dignity.  Human dignity is a universal condition.

The non-violence approach is not just the absence of using force and violence, but some organised active processes and systems leading to harmony and stability in groups and society. Non-violence is about healing individuals, groups, and societies. It also applies to conflict involving governments.

The opposite, use of force and violence to remove or keep oppression, has created many difficulties. Unleashed, violence and force are not easy for humans to control. Force and violence beget violence and long term disharmony and instability in societies.

The March of Washington contributed to great advances. Its effects live on in us. Singer Joan Baez, who in 1963 walked and sang with Martin Luther King, still supports non-violence. In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has showed that change can happen through effective non-violence approaches.

Non violence has billions of supporters in various roles of life. Many of us believe in peace, human cooperation, and the integrity of life

Around 2003, I watched as school pupils in Boston, USA, demonstrated against the invasion of Iraq by the George W Bush administration. The invasion and occupation very negatively affected Iraq, neighbours, USA and allies, and the whole world.

Persons like France’s former prime minister Dominique de Villepin, against current plans by some Western governments to strike Syria, have been consistent against governments’ unilateral invasion of countries.

Recently, before being martyred, eight year old Martin William Richard, a victim of the Boston marathon bombings of April 2013, wrote the eternal words, “No more hurting people. Peace.”

Non-violence approach is anchored on confidence and hope. At the 1963 March on Washington, led by singer and pacifist Joan Baez, they were singing “We shall overcome.” “Deep in my heart,” the song goes, “I do believe, that we shall overcome…”

The journey is one with courage. “We are not afraid,” the song states. And also, “the truth shall set us free.” Truth is a force with a self protective mechanism.

Non-violent action for change thus has deep conviction, deep courage, and is driven by the belief that the activist person, based on truth and its power, will achieve.

And at the march in 1963, from deep in his heart, from the base of creation itself, came Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” words. He shared a future where persons were living at peace and harmony within them self and with others.  It was about improving things just as it was about what is supposed to be the cooperative natural state of life and human relations.

There is no stranger in the world. Each is related to all others. None is inherently superior or inferior because of the group they are linked to.

Fifty years later, on August 28, 2013, US President Barack Obama, an African American, in a moving symbol of change, spoke at the same site as Martin Luther King.

King was in 1964 given the Nobel Peace Prize for his work while Barack Obama was awarded the Prize in 2009 for genuinely reaching out to deal with nuclear weapons and reaching out to governments previously stigmatised and isolated by US administrations.

But there, depending on what will happen in the next few days of September 2013 in the American government and legislature system over threats of attacking Syria, comparisons on Martin Luther King Jr and Barack Obama may show closeness or apartness in their manner and actions.

Martin Luther King was pacifist, opposed to the US forces involvement in wars like Vietnam. If Obama openly attacks Syria, the March on Washington will be a casualty. The example of 1963 and the dream of Martin Luther King and team may be diminished. But the world’s march for non-violence action advances, in various situations, eternally.

ginfinite@yahoo.com                                           

          Lusaka based, the writer is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and peace issues.

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                                    GCB, August/September, 2013. LUSAKA.