Tag Archives: Gaddafi

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.

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US Elections, Hillary and Trump final effects, by Gabriel C Banda

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US Elections, Hillary and Trump final effects,

by

Gabriel C Banda

AS 2016 election day finally cometh, the results will have deep and long-term effects on the stability of United States and the whole of humanity.

The current and future character, temperament, beliefs, and approaches of both the front candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, will affect how human relations and the world proceed.

 The Trump Spirit

The Donald Trump spirit is very active and unprecedented. It is a very difficult spirit. Donald Trump speaks, and behaves, rough. He insults, demeaning women, persons of other colours, migrants, persons of some religions, and persons and communities in various situations. He is defensive and proud of actions some may consider shameful.

The spirit in Trump is troubled and troublesome. It can very negatively affect the world. The Trump spirit comes forth showing some inner violence within it. It has bothered many persons in the world that such a spirit can actively roam amongst human beings and this beautiful creation. And that he actually does have significant numbers supporting him.

The Trump Doctrines

Donald Trump shows pride in having tricked the financial system and gained on things like taxes. By the way, we are now not hearing much about Trump’s promised release of his controversial taxes status!

Donald Trump believes in some Republican positions and more. Trump is for lowering taxes for the financially rich, whose efforts in enterprise are supposed to benefit others through trickling down.

Trump is strongly for removing Obamacare, which has been intended to help a huge uncovered part of the American society have some access to healthcare. America has had situations where some fifty million Americans when in need did not have access to health facilities.

About fifty million American have lived in poverty. By volume and ratios, these high ratios of want in society cannot be found in places like Britain, the Nordic countries, and China, whose welfare systems have provided social stability for decades.

Trump invokes against migrants, even though his current wife Melania migrated from Slovenia. Perhaps Trump is against migrants of some types, some colours, and some cultures. The anti-migrant fight is a fight against the natural intermingling that leads to growth of individuals and societies in the whole of humanity and life itself.

Trump wants to take America to an era of racism, as when there was a Constitution proclaiming freedom while there was slave trade and, even up to the 1960s, apartheid in America,

There are some things Donald Trump has that are strong Republican beliefs while other things currently defy existing classification. Donald Trump is for firearms with little regulation, even though firearms misuse and mistypes have led to much violence and deaths in America. Donald Trump also has a pro-life stance against abortion. Some Republicans and Democrats are pro-life and against abortion.

Externally, Trump has expressed reservations about the Syria, and USA seeking good relationships with Iran. Trump wants to build a rough Superpower, Superpower itself, I believe, being some unachievable concept based on myth.

Trump is for building an America that is strong militarily, politically, and economically – achieving this economic strength through protection from imports from places like China, having firms bring jobs from China and other places to the USA, and of course through exporting to others while restricting importing from countries growing and becoming economically strong.

Donald Trump wants an America that is a bully, not just a crucial part of humanity. In many parts of the world, Donald Trump is exhibiting characteristics, qualities, values, and policies not compatible with criteria of a good leader or ruler. Stock markets had been disturbed by Trump rising in polls and have been stabilising when Hillary Clinton appears in lead.

Though painting Hillary Clinton as a continuation of some bad establishment, Trump, reputed to have assets worth billions of dollars, is himself from the business establishment. It can be a mistake to think of him as “one of the people,” and, with his vile actions, a “people person.”

Evil’s Workshop

Donald Trump lies about some things he hears about. Some things he just creates, and keeps on repeating the lies and untruths. And insults. Some unproven things he has thrown, with hostility and hatred, at Hillary Clinton and current president Barack Obama. Trump speaks lies and sticks to them, even when the lies have been shown as untruths.

Trump has come with hate speech unfairly protected under the shield of election campaign. He has little limits to his insults and who he insults.

Some speech and actions of Trump are evil apparent, evil evident, exhibited, and manifested. Some of Trump’s utterances and intensions, like on migrants and Muslims, come directly from evil’s workshop, with the devil’s imprimatur. These are some of the things he wants to unleash upon the earth. The Donald Trump spirit is one that can make the world divided and unstable.

Unrealisable   

And although raising some emotions in some persons, Trump’s policies, stances, and hate-speech are in practice disjointed and not easily implementable. From building walls against other human beings, to blocking Muslims, insulting women, removing the benefits of Obamacare health system to millions, and fighting US businesses from establishing plants in China and other areas, blocking other countries exports to USA, and putting Hillary Clinton in jail for the mail servers, Trump’s evil speech can, when practiced, create difficulties for the USA and the world.

  Other Republican messengers

At the same time, it is possible that some other candidate with some position similar to Trump’s might have got a more respectable assessment from some in America and other parts of the world. The 2016 electoral contest might have even been more civilised.

A problem is more than about the content of Trump’s message and what he stands for. A problem is how Trump packages his positions and messages. He wraps them in insults and uncouth behaviour that insults and demeans other candidates and other members of society.

Would some people have listened to someone who is not Trump but raises some issues similar to Trump’s? Are there some messages and positions that persons who are anti-Trump would have tolerated in other Republican candidates? Are some anti-Trump persons reacting more to his character, which they find undesirable, than to his messages and positions?

Trump himself may be thought to be aggressively raising some issues, in some rough and populist ways, just in order to get into presidential office but it may not be known how he will practically stick to those issues if in White House.

There are some issues that would ordinarily have been more considered if they had not been raised by Trump, and in the ways he has raised them. For instance, the situation in Syria has been complicated by the role that the United States and allies in Middle East and the West have sponsored armed groups, of the so-called “Arab Spring,” to fight Syria’s Assad regime. The rebellion against Assad has provided some window for ISIS to flourish in the region and also to threaten the Western world.

There are also other issues like abortion, that would have given a non-Trump Republican candidate more understanding and attention from those who consider the complexities of this abortion and life issue.

.Hillary’s Issues

While there are concerns about Donald Trump because of his open projection of crudeness, there are concerns about what will be Hillary Clinton’s positions when she becomes president. Some concerns we have previously raised are around how she needs to avoid supporting the American military belligerent machine and its allies in interventions and regime change.

The USA government and allies created problems for the world and themselves when they invaded, with much opposition from many in the world, Iraq in 2003. They continued the error when, reluctantly for Obama, but that reluctance not a big excuse if they still went along, the USA joined France’s warlord Nicolas Sarkozy to intervene in Libya and remove ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

This became a regime change contributing to later disability of Libya and the nourishing of armed uprisings by extremists in Africa and the Middle East, right up to the current ISIS problems in Iraq and Syria.

On Syria, like war monger and rebel supporter John McCain, she has at times been for a more active intervention by the United States including the difficult to impose No Fly Zone.

Important on Syria is the fact that the US government and allies have contributed to problems and instability by supporting the armed rebels fighting the Assad administration. The western and allies supported armed rebels have kept the Assad administration fighting them, limiting Assad’s ability to fight ISIS.

If Assad had fallen, ISIS would have taken over Syria, with Syria becoming the ISIS state and government. The problems for the world would have been deeper had ISIS taken over Syria. It is important for a President Hillary Clinton to take the American machinery away from belligerence and regime changes that are creating instability and difficulties for the whole world, including the United States itself.

Hillary Clinton seems to have realised that Iraq and Libya interventions she and others tolerated or supported were inappropriate. But that lesson is still not being applied to Syria. If she is in control of government, Hillary Clinton must retrain herself and approach things differently.

Hillary’s Putin

Another thing Hillary Clinton must deal with is her fixation with Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Russia has a presence in Syria, supporting the Assad government being fought by American and allies supported armed rebels and ISIS. In some interesting way, Russia’s support for the Syria government has helped Syria not go to ISIS or get into some other deeper disintegration whose consequences would greatly affect the world, including America and the West.

Hillary’s fixation on Russia and Putin may enable some of her local opponents and schemers against her to go unnoticed. It may not be that the thins linked to Russia are from the Russian government and Putin. Some may be locally, American, grown, thriving under protection of a shield that has been formed by Clinton and her people diverted by looking away towards Russia. The recent work under the FBI on so-called new email issues worked against Clinton but was not Russia made.

Hillary and Health

Hillary Clinton was a pioneer in the USÁ’s recent drive for Health for All, as in welfare Europe. Although she does not mention it much in her debates and campaigns, when she was at White House as First Lady, she worked strongly for widening access to health services. She was forerunner to the revolutionary “Obamacare” health act Trump and others condemn.

America needs to work on things and find ways of effective health reach for all, as in much of welfare Europe. This theme Hillary already started on should enable her to do well through improving Obamacare in practice.

Hillary and Abortion

Hillary must also address the concerns of Pro-Life and anti-abortion believers. For too long, in America, abortion has become like a form of birth control. It may not be enough for Hillary to believe that the abortion issue should rest in the control of the women involved and family members. Of course, issues around abortion involve many things and are complex.

Without criminalising those involved, many times without much joy for it, in abortion, it is necessary for America to work on making things move more towards effective birth control practices that prevent women reaching the situation of abortion.  Hillary Clinton Vice President running mate, Tim Kaine, who comes across as a very mature, thoughtful, and mentally organised person, is personally pro-life and not for abortion, but treats the issue with other considerations.

It may be from Tim Kaine’s Catholic faith, but there are many persons from various faiths and no organised faith, who are critical of the current situation of abortion in America. Some Pro-abortion believers are for Hillary while others are not. Some Pro-Life persons are for Trump while others are not. While this is an important issue for many, other factors become more key than others.

Sadly, our other concern is that Hillary also seems to tolerate the vision of an American government in the world’s forefront and an American “superpower.” In President Barack Obama’s rule, the world has given America some respect because of less bullying and “superpower” myth action by Obama.

Hillary Clinton is a good person that has shown some imperfections. So, there are some things that a President Hillary Rodham Clinton will need to re-learn and re-train her mind on.

Hillary the Survivor and Victor

There are many lessons about US Elections 2016. One lesson is that where even Republican candidates in the primaries had been shaken and even humiliated by Trump, Hillary Clinton has managed to stay focussed and unruffled by rough Donald Trump. With dignity, in the discussions she has managed to rise about the Trump spirit.

Trump threw all sorts of mud at Hillary Clinton. Not many of us would have survived the onslaught of the Trump spirit. Many of us would have been broken where Hillary survived and even triumphed. In the world, not many persons, Democrats or Republicans, could have succeeded, as Hillary Clinton has, in not being unruffled by the Trump spirit’s attacks and acts during debates. During television debate, Hillary succeeded to tame the harsh Trump spirit. Yes, it is possible to rise above rough characters and be in control.

Trump and Rigging

Instead of letting the people of America make free electoral choices, Trump has tried to criminalise his opponent. He has recently, days just before election day, even tried to get through the elections some poisonous coup that disables the participation of his stronger opponent, Hillary Clinton. He does not want the public to choose but he wants to push to become the president

He has, without fair evidence, stigmatized and criminalised Hillary Clinton, using the unconvincing reason of email server, which issue in itself is no evidence of criminality. Without proper evidence, some Trump supporters have labelled Clinton criminal.

Trump has tried to discredit the elections by claiming unsubstantiated organised rigging. Trump himself wants to rig the elections by having opponent Hillary disqualified or throwing fears of later disqualification and removal from office if she gets in.

Timed in with the Trump attack, the late FBI actions also contributed to the unfairness against Hillary Clinton. The FBI unusually, without complete facts, threw in the “new emails” card that helped Trump against the Clinton rising wave. The emails were later, as expected by some who thought them unnecessary, proved not to have contained criminalities linked to Hillary Clinton. The FBI actions had done damage but it was not known how repairs would occur, save for hoping that some persons unhappy about the FBI action would turn up to vote in large numbers.

In other places of the world, the FBI head would be expected to resign if not now, just after the elections.

Matter for All

Nothing is ever an “internal matter” of a country for everyone is related to everyone else in the world. One thing has effects on others in the world. If a population, about five percent of the world, is going to be under a ruler that threatens the integrity of humanity and creation, that should concern everyone in the world. The USA elections of 2016 have effects on all of us, wherever we are domiciled.

The Hillary Clinton character effects or the Trump character effects will in presidency have great bearing on not only the United States, but the whole world, future generations and what the world has so far achieved.

The result of the 2016 US elections will not just be about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It is about ways of life and values. It is about life and living in American and beyond. It is about good, bad, and ugly. It is about creation itself. We trust that Conscience and long-term Goodwill should dominate and triumph.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

Gabriel C Banda, Lusaka, Zambia, based, is independently involved in writing and the arts, social development work, and observation on conflict and peace issues.

GCB, October 2016/November 07th, 2016, LUSAKA.

The ICC and Us, by Gabriel C Banda, (a reproduction)

Three years ago, in October 2013, this writing was published on WordPress, some three years before the recent October 2016 moves by some governments of Africa, starting with South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia, to practically pull out of ICC. “The ICC and Us” was published on WordPress.com as Number 05 of “Gabriel Banda Peace Notes,” done on WordPress. I here reproduce it, exactly as it came out, to contribute to current, October 2016, discussion on ICC, Africa, and human justice.

Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 05: The ICC and Us,

October 12, 2013UncategorizedAfrica, Africa Union, Crime of Aggression, Crimes against Humanity, George W Bush Jr, ICC, International Criminal Court, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Tony Blair, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto Edit

The ICC and Us,

And How ICC Can Worsen Conflict

By

Gabriel C Banda

IT was eventually bound to come to this! This October at Addis Ababa, Ethipoia, Africa’s rulers gather, as the continental African Union grouping, to discuss whether their governments should continue to be part of the International Criminal Court, ICC.

The ICC has the task of helping humanity through the trial of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression. While the ICC can be an important institution for the world, it has been considered partial, selective, in picking who to prosecute.

There is increasing concern that the ICC prosecution has targeted rulers from Africa while some possible offenders from other parts of the world, including the western world, have not been brought before international judicial platforms, including the ICC at The Hague.

The ICC has decided to put to trial Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, and his deputy, William Ruto, who has already been at The Hague for trial. Kenyatta and Ruto had been on opposite sides in the national elections of 2007. They were accused of organising violent attacks on each other’s supporters.

But in March 2013 elections, the two stood together as a pact for president and vice president, and emerged winners. There are accusations that some external forces had not wanted Uhuru to be president and thus moved the ICC charge to prevent him from standing for elections and winning.

From the Kenya case, there are practical issues. How will a country function when its president and vice president are not around because they are out of the country, and on trial?  The two are not convicts. How does ICC deal with sitting rulers?

The earlier reluctance of Africa’s rulers to support arrest and trial of Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir by ICC may have been more linked to potential effects of the trial on society, at a particular time, than shielding the ruler. There are many stability factors that Africa’s rulers may be considering.

Some persons consider ICC prosecutions as Made for Africa. Some persons in the West are considered, from their actions as government rulers, to have caused huge suffering of societies and humanity. They are not being touched.

While there is talk about details of crimes some persons of Africa are accused of, we hear no proper answer about why George W Bush Jr and Tony Blair have not been brought for trial before international crime platforms. George W Bush Jr, besides the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, has over him some warrants issued for torture. So far, he is not being touched.

If the USA is not part of ICC, the UK still is. There seem strong reasons to consider the trial of Tony Blair for crimes of aggression over Iraq, with the deep suffering and instability that followed.

There is also need to deal with crimes that may have been committed in Libya by external and local forces fighting the Muammar Gaddafi regime. There is need to investigate the targeted killings and harming of Black Libyans and Black Africa migrants during the Nicolas Sarkozy’s French forces 2011 campaign in support of some opponents fighting Gaddafi?

And in Libya, UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, over Libya, did not allow external governments to have troops on the ground. Yet anti-Gaddafi external coalition forces and troops from neighbours like Qatar and Sudan where on the ground fighting the Gaddafi forces. International systems should consider investigating crimes of aggression.

As in Libya and Syria, some consider the ICC as another front against some regimes targeted for change. The ICC, United Nations, and others cannot just sit by and say Africa’s governments have no reason to pull out from ICC.

And it is not enough to say Africa’s rulers are against ICC because they are thinking of escaping justice. To avoid being ignored and going into a cocoon and decline, there is urgent need to address concerns raised by critics of the ICC.

Fearing that membership of ICC has potential punishments, many may withdraw membership. Withdrawal may be a safety, protective, mechanism against possible arrest. And not all who will pull out have things to fear but may just believe the ICC has been unfair. Even clean rulers may leave the ICC.

Criticism of ICC is beyond Africa. Already, besides Rwanda in Africa, China, India, Israel, Syria, the United States, and many others do not cooperate with ICC.

Now, I believe issues are more than about ICC being partial and biased against Africa. Away from issues of leaving out non-African offenders, one believes we also must, worldwide, consider concepts of punishment and retribution and their effects.

In some situations, ICC may, unintentionally, act as an instrument fanning war, strife, and conflict. What are effects of ICC trials on conflicts and societies? And we must consider other factors like the timing of ICC action and how that affects societies.

The ICC can end up worsening a situation. The threat of ICC over members of Gaddafi’s Libya regime may have contributed to more vicious conflict. Similarly, threats of ICC charges against Syria regime members may actually harden the current armed conflict.

Whether guilty or not, there are times when some arrest, punishment or sanction, or their timing, end up causing many others to suffer, beyond the convicted persons. Many generations can be negatively affected.

In some cases, the primary objective is to stop atrocities and heal a society. Poorly applied punishment will create further problems, especially for fragile or divided societies. Instability may follow.

Yes, it is crucial to stop atrocities and their causes. But the ways of the ICC may not be the best to deal with conflict in some societies. While reigning in guilty actors, a harsh judicial retributive approach may actually worsen armed conflict. Thus the ICC may be contributing to continuation of wars, instability, and delay of ending armed conflict.

There is need to consider how proportional ICC processes and judgement are when related to various potential effects on a society. Poorly timed and executed, ICC action can lead to further suffering and disharmony.

Although not perfect, South Africa’s landmark Truth and Reconciliation process showed humankind possible ways of dealing with injustice and moving towards healing.

One’s argument is not that the ICC should not be there, but must be fair. ICC must be just. Its actions, focussed on punishment, must not cause the suffering of many others. Its concept of “justice” needs to be broader than just achieving some narrow accountability, punishment, and retribution.

The ICC can be an important international instrument for protection of basic human rights worldwide. It can help avoid biased local prosecution of opponents by those who control governments.

Those who conquer others and get into government may affect the fairness of local trials of their vanquished opponents. It is not easy for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to be tried in his native Libya. Thus, for fairness and basic human rights, there is need for international legal institutions beyond states.

It is important not to dismiss concerns raised about the ICC by persons from Africa and other places. It is important to answer the issues raised.

International and state systems must not be biased to prosecute or not prosecute some persons because of factors like colour, culture, religion, language, origin, citizenship, political link, social status, being male or female, and other conditions.

The international community needs to consider issues of selective prosecution, timing, and effects of ICC procedures on stability of societies. October 2013 is a turning point for Africa, the ICC, and all of us worldwide.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing, social development, and peace issues.

–          GCB September, +Thursday, October 10, 2013, LUSAKA.

Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 11: Syria, Why Involve Assad

Why Involve Assad

(or “Why Assad Must Be Involved”)

By

Gabriel C Banda

WHETHER one likes him or not, the roles, with actions and reactions, of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad have great effect on present and future situations of Syria, the Middle East region, and the whole world.

I believe that the Syria war is such that neither the Assad administration nor the rebels, in their various formations, should expect to have a military victory and rule stably over the whole society. Defeat of other forces will not lead to acceptance of the conqueror as ruler.

Not all conquest is victory. Those opposed to the victor will not necessarily accept the rule of that victor. For no military victory can ensure acceptance and long support for the rule of the victor. No conqueror can rule for long without consent of others.

While key issues are unsettled, situations of parties may change and armed conflict may again rise, even in another generation.

The Assad and rebel forces both have significant local and external influence and support. The conflict is more than just about Bashar al-Assad and rebel commanders, but includes the various entities supporting the various parties to the conflict. Some influential supporters are offshore.

Whether they like each other or not, for long term stable agreement, the Geneva talks for Syria’s peace require the active involvement or presence of all key local and external parties in the conflict.

Key issue has been what role President Assad should play in a future Syria. Rebels and backers like governments of USA, Britain, and France have insisted that Bashar al-Assad should not be part of the next governance. The insistence of non-involvement of Assad creates seeds of later difficulties in concluding the talks and can complicate actual post- agreement governance and stability.

Assad’s current presidential term is scheduled to expire in 2014. I believe there are many reasons why Assad and his team should be allowed, if they wish, to participate in governance systems, processes, and practices that may come out of Geneva agreements. The population must be allowed to choose who they want to represent them.

A governance system must involve all members and representatives of a society. It must be inclusive and should not exclude and relegate to the margins some members of society.

Worldwide, issues like colour, religion and sect, language, ethnicity and cultures, location, origin, being male or female, health and disease, living with disability, and other factors are used to exclude or include some. But the excluded eventually want to assert their universal right to life and participation.

The talks on Syria’s future must not be about defeat and surrender but the building of paths and walks to peace. The great Truth and Reconciliation process of South Africa still allowed some who had been associated with the apartheid regime free to stand for elections.

Worldwide, members of societies must freely choose representatives. The constitution, governance systems, processes, and practices must be designed to lead to good and fair governance. Rulers must be committed and accountable to a just society that respects the humanity of all individuals arising from various backgrounds.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and even Egypt provide us with active examples of the effects of political exclusion of those coming from groups considered subdued by force.

A constant mistake in these conflict theatres was the exclusion of rulers and leaders who had significant support, local and external. This placed heavy weaknesses and gaps in transitions.

Vanquished or killed, there were no rulers and representatives available to negotiate agreement and future constitutions, systems, processes, and practices. A key weaknesses has been the belief and practice of hitting the shepherd and hoping the sheep will scatter.

Actually, killing rulers and symbols of groups has worsened situations. Supporters may be more resolved to fight when the leader they respect is humiliated or killed. Killing or excluding leaders also creates deep gaps.

In Iraq and Libya, the killing of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi in armed regime changes meant there was no ruler or leader available to negotiate with opponents and urge their own supporters to lay down weapons.

After Iraq’s regime change by invasion and occupation, the organised exclusion of Baath Party members from involvement in politics and governance contributed to the violence and war that continues over ten years after Saddam Hussein’s rule.

In Egypt, Mubarak had offered not to participate in elections scheduled September 2011 but be involved in transition processes. But the regime changers insisted on pushing him aside and on his non-involvement in the transition process. There had been a window of a few months, as time was approaching for Mubarak’s term to end, to have had government and opposition work out governance issues.

Egypt’s result was that although Mubarak was removed, there was no smooth transition. The Constitution, systems, processes, and governance practices were not agreed upon as Mubarak was pushed aside. Some results of Egypt’s poor transition are the current political difficulties in Egypt.

In Syria, even if it means offering to talk to very tough militants, including members of the determined al-Nusra group feared by some, parties involved in conflict must still offer discussion. The Syria government and rebels should not make conditions that exclude significant opponents they do not like.

All in Syria’s conflict, from President Assad to the rebels in various formations, must be involved in designing the way ahead.

The United Nations can rise above the tensions of the local and external warriors and help the parties to design some stable path towards ceasefire and peace. To work, Syria’s new governance must be actively inclusive of all members of society.

Without practices of deep prejudice, hatred, and exclusion, it is possible to talk and make advances benefitting all.

Geneva can be great opportunity. The United Nations and others supporting Good Will and Peace can help Syria’s government and opposition to put into place a governance system that enables inclusion, participation, and enjoyment of rights of all sections of the society.

                      –                       ginfinite@yahoo.com

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                                   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.