Tag Archives: United States

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.

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Donald Trump and Olympics and Oscars, by Gabriel C Banda

Donald Trump and Olympics and Oscars**

by

Gabriel C Banda

DONALD Trump, newly in office as United States 45th President, signed orders to implement the human divisions he had promised in his campaign. He, by decree, restricted persons of seven countries from entering the USA.

As during the campaign for presidency, for days, we have continued to wonder about practical aspects and effects on the world, and the implementers themselves.

There was confusion as some aspects and effects seemed not to have been considered by Trump and company. But the Trump enterprise is determined to implement controversial things it had said it would.

Some aspects were happening as intended by the Trump spirit and were being defended while some things were bringing about critical questions about human relations.

There was confusion at airports, border points, and in the travel process. There was fear and apprehension. And there were protests in the United States and many other parts of the world.

One aspect that came to mind was sports and the international interaction that it involves within societies and during international events. I then wondered whether United States cities and government will bid for some international tournaments.

                                                                      Olympics

These include the Olympics. United States cities have since 1904 hosted many Olympic games, summer and winter. After the St Louis games in 1904, winter ones were held at Lake Placid in 1932, with the Los Angeles summer games taking place again in 1932.

Lake Placid again hosted the games, in 1980. Los Angeles hosted the summer ones in 1984. Atlanta, in Georgia, hosted in 1996. The 2002 winter games were held at Salt Lake City.

For now, Los Angeles is amongst cities bidding for the 2014 summer Olympics that will follow the 2020 games in Tokyo, which has previously hosted them, October 1964.  Los Angeles wants to go on to host for the third time.

There is expectation that some US cities may compete for future Olympics in collaboration with other USA cities and with some cities of Canada in the north. But a question right now is the effect of the Trump entry rules.

                                                                    Refugees

President Trump also signed the ban on some refugees coming to the USA. This ban has implications for Olympic games being held in the USA. In Rio de Janeiro in 2016, there was excitement as an international team of refugees was assembled and took part.

As Trump’s term in office is scheduled to be four years, the Olympic movement should be considering the effect of the Trump entry ban.

Olympics cannot take place with citizens of some seven member countries not allowed to enter a host country. The seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen.

Of these, the US government military intervention, in team with other regimes, for regime change in Iraq, Libya, and Syria contributed to instability, displacement, and refugees in these societies.

                                                                 Trump Card

Sadly, the Trump factor may act as a card against the Los Angeles Olympics 2024 bid.

And the United States is expected to be among those that bid for World Cup soccer tournaments. There are also other sports events that involve international participation. Some will involve persons from the seven societies banned entry into the USA.

Sport is not the only field affected by the Trump spirit. Trump has sought isolation and exclusion in other fields, including trade and economy. For instance, we wonder if under the Trump spirit the USA will continue to be members of the World Trade Organisation.

                                                                          Reaction

Of course, actions against others will not always go without reaction from the others. Some governments and societies may react through counter-actions that will greatly affect the United States.

There will be prolonged reaction to the Trump isolationism and apartness. As in the times of apartheid, Afrikaans for “apartness,” in South Africa, some persons will protest international events taking place in the US in sport, film and arts, education, research, and various fields. Some persons, due to conscientious positions, will decline attendance.

                                                                       Oscars and Farhadi

Already, I hear that in reaction to the Trump entry decree, a film director from Iran, Asghar Farhadi, and whose film was being considered for the 2017 Academy Awards, has said he will not travel to the Oscars this weekend.

And reports have followed that Khaled Khateeb, filmmaker of Syria, has been denied entry to attend the Oscar Awards his documentary is contesting in.

                                                                               Basketball

While I was wondering about the Olympics in view of the Trump entry ban, I learnt of some great concern in the USA basketball fraternity.

“I do have concern on the travel ban,” Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, told the BBC. “We are a business based on global mobility,” he added. “25 per cent of our players were born outside the United States. We do a tremendous amount of business on a global basis…”

Adam Silver said the NBA stands for “…the best in the world all coming together to perform at the highest level.”

“So, government restrictions on travel, I am concerned about. It goes against the fundamental values, and the fundamental ingredients of what makes for a great NBA, and that is: the very best of the world coming here.”

                                                                                    Unpredictable

Yes, like other Trump decrees and measures, the entry ban will have some predictable and unpredictable reversed effects that will be unfavourable both to the USA and others in the world. Some measures are working against the development of healthy human relations.

With government policy contributing to an enabling environment seized by them, some vigilantes will take it upon themselves to search for migrants and even to punish and harm them.

                                                                         All inter-dependent

It appeared to me that through wholesome banning of entry into the United States of members of some whole nations, Trump was banning the United States from hosting major international sports tournaments, and events from other fields.

Citizens of the United States are not special isolated species but are also members of one humanity and one life, all interdependent for various things and for the continuity of the whole.

And it is known that some advances were made in the United States because of migrants, from other parts of the world, that contributed greatly in various fields. In past times, persons of Africa were forcibly taken to the United States to toil as enslaved persons.

Life continues on in the United States because of the contribution of others from other places and across all fields.

Now, courts have put aside the entry ban but Trump is trying other ways to achieve the intention.

If Los Angeles does not get the 2024 Olympics, it might be that the Trump card might be a factor.

(**The title has been slightly expanded to include the Oscars focus that this writing already includes. All content is exactly the same. Thank You).

ginfinite@yahoo.com

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

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GCB, February 2017, LUSAKA.

 

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, 10: Syria and Peace Talks Issues

Syria and Peace Talks Dynamics

By

Gabriel C Banda

SYRIA provides great lessons about issues affecting armed conflict and its resolution. After slowdown by conditionalities and problems from various involved parties, the January 2014 Geneva II talks are finally here. That it could have been possible to hold the talks earlier and avoid deaths and hardship is saddening.

Still, in Geneva II there is some window to prevent further suffering that can deeply affect generations in Syria, neighbours, and the whole world.

As many of us believed quite early and warned, neither the Bashar al-Assad government nor the rebel forces could through military victory expect to rule for long. Military conquest could only be temporary as significant sections of Syria’s society will not expect and accept to be ruled for long by those they strongly oppose.

The forces for both Assad and the rebels, both groups backed by internal and external support, are so significant that no side can by military conquest hope to rule Syria. As in other places, there can be no military conquest that will hold over Syria. Clearly, eventually, there could only be political settlement.

Sadly, the delay to talks dragged on because fighting parties and backers seem to believe that military gains will provide them strength to have their way in talks. Some rebels said they would only go to talks if they have more weapons to tilt military balance in their favour.

In many conflicts in the world, some only come to talks when they have been put under pressure by opponents.  They go to talks because of a military stalemate. Sometimes persons may not want talks to succeed.

Sadly, this is based on the military strength and prowess of the victor and not on what is the best way to settle a conflict.

Yet conflict resolution and agreement should not depend on military victory and the weakening of an opponent. Agreement arrived at through the military strength or weakness of some parties will not last long. Even if it takes generations, military balances of opponents may change and fighting will resume. Violence begets violence

It is important to face the issues in a conflict. As Nelson Mandela’s South Africa showed the world, it is important to have healing, reconciliation, and fairness for all if a society has to work and strengthen towards harmony.

Some delays to Geneva II arose from deciding who comes to the talks. This question affected both government and rebels. The rebels had differences amongst themselves. Some did not want the talks as those rebels’ aim is to remove the Assad administration or take over office to become the rulers. Some do not recognise Assad’s administration as government.

Then there was the problem of which rebels could claim to be representatives of the rebellion. The rebels were many fighting groups that did not necessarily have similar background, vision, and views. There has been much rebel on rebel violence.

And some rebels did not want President Assad to be involved in the talks. Many rebels wanted Geneva to be a surrender meeting for Assad and colleagues. Some rebels did not recognise Assad as ruler. This attitude contributed to prolonged fighting and suffering.

Assad, expected to be under great military pressure, was expected to yield, leave office, and go into the uncertainty that has characterised rulers who have been deposed by armed rebellions that later dominate rule. But, learning from examples of Iraq, Libya, and even Egypt, Assad was more prepared for survival.

On the part of the Assad administration, it did not want to deal with some of the rebels. This was, I believe, an error as agreement should be made by reaching out to all fighting parties and their forces. Thus both the Assad government and rebels prolonged the armed conflict by insisting on who should attend or insisting on working only with those they got on well with.

But reaching agreement to solve a conflict requires that you even deal with those you do not like. What is important is to reach agreement that is fair for the rights and safety of all in a society.

Another problem was which external forces should be involved. Because of their own relationship issues generally unrelated to the internal Syria conflict, the United States and others were opposed to Syria neighbour Iran being involved in the talks. The US has been at Cold War with Iran.

Yet, for conflict to be settled, involved internal and external forces must be engaged. If we seek long term conflict resolution, there is no logical reason why Iran’s government should not be at Geneva II.

Iran, whose situation is more than just about being backers of Syria but also has to consider its own existence if Shiite linked regimes fall in the region, is important for settling Syria’s conflict. So too are Iraq. And others like Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and all neighbours.

Besides Turkey, rebel backers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are important part of the Syria quiz and its solution. So too are rebel backers like United States, Britain, France, and other offshore rebel supporters. These must be involved, in various roles and ways, in settlement issues at Geneva II.

Other important forces are Russia and China’s governments, who although may, like the western governments, have interests in the region, are also concerned about the spread of religious based armed rebellions to their own countries.

Deciding to include or exclude some internal and external parties has contributed to continuation of the Syria war. Violence begets violence.

We should open up and accept that other persons who may vary from us are also truly citizens and members of society and are entitled to actively participate. Opening up our minds, we should learn to let go of our own narrow, inflexible, and limited inflexible stances and consider the health of all.

From the poor and avoidable examples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt it is important that rulers of conflict countries be involved in designing transitions to provide environments of fair and good governance. When current rulers and opponents are involved, their local and external supporters will be more supportive of agreements made and systems designed.

It is important for all parties in a conflict to work together in designing and finding the constitutional, systems, structures, processes, elections, and governance practices that the renewal should have. Syria needs agreement as they go towards Assad’s presidential term end, scheduled to be in 2014.

Egypt’s poor management of the transition from Mubarak contributed to current problems and tension there.  A dispute is more likely to be solved if it involves all parties in a dispute. A conflict stands better chance of long term resolution if it covers persons in various situations, such as colour, ethnic link, language, culture, religious and spiritual path, geographical location, origin, political stance, and material and financial status.

The discussion must deal with the situations and interests of these persons and aim at fairly covering them. Talks and mediation must involve inside and outside forces closely related to a conflict.

The results of recent conflict places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt show that exclusion of some members of society has led to building of conflict, some of it armed, and disharmony that is affecting stability of societies. Syria cannot succeed without involvement of key internal and external players involved in the conflict.

Yes, there is significant support for both Bashir al-Assad’s government and rebellion forces. Assad represents much more than himself. This is a conflict which neither the government nor the rebels, with its various formations, can win on the military field and hope to rule over others.

We can only hope fighting parties do not use Geneva II as a window to pause, reorganise, and rearm for further armed action.

Both internal and external forces have contributed to deep problems for Syria. Even when a ceasefire decision arises from Geneva II, there are other rebellion forces, some not even present in Geneva, that will not accept ceasefire but are determined only in military conquest.

Those who are participants or backers should not vet who comes for peace talks. For Syria and Geneva II, the United Nations should be more active and in the forefront. Talks are better facilitated by the United Nations organisation, in league with other organisations, and not controlled by those who have taken sides and are belligerents.

A primary purpose of the United Nations is not only to stop war but to put an end to war. That is, put an end to the practice of war.

Parties to a fight do not have to reach huge arms arsenals in order to be involved in negotiation. Even without weapons, committed persons and parties can reach agreement.

                                                                                           *          GCB, Lusaka, January 2014.

                                                             ginfinite@yahoo.com

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


 

 

 

 

 

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.