October 16, 2009

Better to Sweat in Peace than Bleed in War

Hopeless barbaric slaughter

The violent nature and controversial social effects of war raise troubling moral questions for a thoughtful person. Is war always wrong? Might there be situations when it can be a justified? Is war an outcome of unchangeable human nature or of changeable social practice?

War is a phenomenon which occurs between political communities and it seems that all warfare is precisely, and ultimately, about governance. Carl von Clausewitz the (so-called) philosopher of war famously suggested that war is “the continuation of policy by other means”. Governance by bludgeon might be a better way of putting it.

We all had high hopes going into the new millennium in 2000. In many communities the midnight bells were followed by John Lennon’s call to peace -“Imagine”. Within a year Afghanistan was invaded. Within 2 years the US and UK went with the utmost belligerency into a war on Iraq. The Lancet estimated that 601,000 people were killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. The rule of non-combatant immunity has been replaced by the heartless term ‘collateral damage’.

Can there be such a thing as a just war when aggression is defined as the use of armed force in violation of someone else's basic rights? Aggression attacks the very spine of human civilization. Is it not absurd to punish someone for an offense they have yet to commit? International law forbids pre-emptive strikes unless they are clearly authorized in advance by the UN Security Council.

The just causes most frequently mentioned include self-defence from external attack and the protection of innocents from brutal regimes. Terrorism is the use of random violence against civilians with the specific intent of spreading fear throughout a population and advancing a political objective. Terrorism is not overcome by killing the same innocents which the notion of a just war is professed to protect.

The nature of humans is formed by their experiences and education. This is changeable. Unless practical and effective alternatives to violence are offered, policy-makers without imagination will always tend to favour the default method (violence), borne from historical teaching rather than future planning.

Military approaches to conflict have limited use and often make the underlying problem worse. They are also very expensive. For every dollar spent globally on conflict prevention and conflict resolution by non-military means, nearly 2,000 times as much is spent on defence and the military. The average direct cost of one violent conflict is $64 billion. With just a fraction of that sum, violence could be nipped in the bud, thousands of lives saved and many millions in post-conflict reconstruction costs avoided.

Since the early 1990s more wars have ended by negotiated settlement than by military victory, and yet the chances of violent conflicts restarting are still almost 50%. Ignition or re-ignition of violent conflict is much more likely where local peace builders are insufficiently mobilised or resourced to engage in the peace process. Non violent resolution to conflict is entirely possible. The only thing lacking is funding.

One organisation which encourages dialogue on the practical means to prevent, transform and resolve violent conflict is the APPGCI. Read more here - http://www.conflictissues.org.uk

Be the Change

At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He runs classes for hundred’s of children too poor to attend school from his own backyard. Like many young people today he sees a pressing need, realises that no government, no other individual, is going to fulfil it, and so gets on with the job himself. Money is no longer an issue. Babar Ali does it for nothing; the climate campers do it for nothing, the peace activists, the change campaigners – they all do it for nothing because at last they see what needs to be done. They get on and do it because enough time has been wasted and money is no longer the issue. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8299780.stm

CODEPINK in Afghanistan
Afghan women told the visiting CODEPINK delegation that more troops would mean more civilian deaths and more Taliban. Afghan women want peace talks and economic development, not endless war. In Afghanistan most men join the Taliban out of economic desperation. In the UK and the US similar forces are at work with record numbers joining the armed forces. Are these boys really fighting material, or are they just cannon fodder propping up outdated ideology on both sides? Providing jobs will do more for world security than spending billions on warfare.
It's time to change our military focus to a focus on improving the health, education and welfare of the Afghan people. The protection of Afghan women is often used to justify the military presence, but an astounding array of Afghan women said that sending more U.S. troops is not the answer. President Obama should listen to these women and focus on economic needs in Afghanistan, not war. http://www.codepink4peace.org

Imagine there's no pipeline - planned for Afghanistan.
Imagine women are included - in the Brotherhood of man.
Imagine Turks & Tajiks - & Pashtuns belonged to one clan.
You may wonder what the fighting's for,
Who's monster is "the Taliban"?
Born of a committee of the CIA & ISI
Chaired by Islamism not Islam.
Kindly donated by Patrick Parks

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