Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Peace

This topic arises in light of events in nearby Lebanon. It is clearly a disaster in the making, one made even more tragic by the fact that it is all reminiscent of the nightmare Lebanon suffered through, in the 1980's.

It also comes at a time when conditions in Lebanon were finally starting to normalize: much of the infrastructure was repaired, tourists were returning, and foreign investment was coming in again. The Lebanese, in spite of or perhaps because of the Hariri assanation in late 2004, had begun to assert a kind of people power, leading to the establishment of more representative governance.

That relative peace was shattered less than a fortnight ago when Israel decided to retaliate against a Hezbollah provocation by attacking Lebanon's infrastructure and poplualtion centers. It was a sudden, unexpected outbreak of all-out war in a country that was just beginning to enjoy the fruits of peace. (See also, The Real Cost to Lebanon.)

The question of peace, of course, goes beyond the present conflict. It is an absolute requirement if a society is to develop and prosper. Even when there is conflict within the society, an atmosphere of peace and security is necessary to permit solutions to be worked out.

In Sri Lanka a war between seperatists and the government rages on--for more than two decades now. A lull in the fighting persisted for a few years, only now to be reversed by an escalation of violence on both sides. Whatever the desires of the separtist fighters, they defeat their own cause in creating havoc in the country. Any government whether in a rightful or wrongful position has no choice but to battle against such a rebellion.

Peace at Some Cost

The cry for peace can sometimes be deafening, as began to happen in cities around the world in response to the build-up leading to the current conflict in Iraq. But the notion of peace at any cost is a notion doomed to fail. It surrenders the right of the righteous to protect themselves when their rights are being trampled upon. It invites abuse by those in power. In the history of the civil rights movement in the United States, there was a point when lynchings--a humiliating form of persecution through public flogging and execution by hanging--and other insidious acts against the African-American minority had to be challenged and, if need be, by force. The threat of revolt inspired some to change laws and change their ways. But the ultimate force which won civil protections for this minority arose from the footsteps of peaceful protesters.

In this instance there was more power in the force of peaceful and passive resistance. And, indeed, this was not an unprecedented form of protest. It was modeled after an even grander protest against British rule in India, and it has been followed by peaceful protests in places like the Philippines, Burma and recently Nepal. Not all of these efforts have succeeded, but such tactics appear to offer far more hope than Tamil Tiger, Sikh separtist, or Hamas style rebellion.

There are, however, legitimate reasons for people to choose to shatter the peace, in protest. When one's rights are being trampled upon and vociferous yet peaceful protest repeatedly fails, it may be time to resort to acts of aggression--particularly by way of self-defense. Perhaps the Jewish minority in Hitler's Germany failed themselves by opting out of a violent protest--that is, if they ever had a chance.

What is worse and indefensible is when a powerful state launches acts of violence against those already struggling for their rights--not as an act of self-defense, but as an act of further subjucation. The Sri Lankan Army is waging a battle of self-defense; the army of Israel a battle of subjucation.

In either case, the continuation of war precludes the emergence of peace. When the offending parties cannot work out an arrangement among themselves, they owe it to their poplulations, which suffer through the strife, to seek the help of outsiders. Both parties, ought to find proxies who can negotiate objectively on their behalf. And those among the population who have it in them to advance a movement of peace, should rise up--in defiance of those who would only offer revolt.

In Sri Lanka, in Palestine, in Punjab and everywhere that there is civil strife, men and women for peace need to assert themselves.

Postscript:

The Attack by Israel on Lebanon, is clearly unjustified.

A thoughtful, clearly worded petition is being circulated online, to be forwarded to decision makers in a number of Western countries, who may be able to positively influence the course of events in the Lebanon crisis. I invite readers of my blog to read the petition and decide for themselves whether or not to sign.

Also,Comments:

The two links were selected randomly and then reviewed to see whether they provided either balanced views or at least sincere points of view. They are just two of many listed from the two countries at The Truth Laid Bare.

I would add that the Lebanon blog is presented in a journalistic format, whereas the Israeli blog is written in a personal manner. I must say that I am struck by the sentiment expressed in the Israeli blog represented in the following statement,
...you know we've gone through all this so many times before. We overcame Pharoah--we'll overcome this time, too.
It is as if to say that from enslavement by the Pharoahs to the Holocaust, and now to being bombarded by Hezbollah rockets, the Jews have had to suffer through so much. There is a lot of emotion tied up in such a statement.

But the lament being expressed with regard to the present crisis could not be more misplaced. Hateful as Hezbollah may be with regard to the state of Israel, their little Katusha rockets are simply retaliatoin for Israel's massive attack on the whole state of Lebanon with its sophisticated modern weaponry. I'm afraid it is more a picture of the Pharoahs lamenting the bricks being thrown at them by the slaves.

Still More...

In a comment to an ongoing discussion at the UAE Community Blog post I Take Sides, blogger Bandicoot presents a well-stated synopsis of some of the reasons behind the current crisis unfolding in Lebanon:
I doubt that this war is a simple outcome of the chain of events you (BD) described. Granted, they’re relevant, but it’s clear the plans and objectives have been in place for a while. There are of course the official reasons given by Hizbollah, namely the Lebanese prisoners who were expected to be released after the last prisoner exchange but Israel continued to hold on to them; and the Shebaa Farms issue. But it’s clear now the war is much more than a reaction to the cross border attack by Hizbollah 3 weeks ago.

The scale, ferocity, and duration of the Israeli “response” point to an international / regional dimension. The statements coming out of the G-8 summit and some Arab countries (who criticized Hizbollah) are evidence for this agenda. I think this is seen as another episode in the creation of the “Greater Middle East”, and idea that still dominates the thinking of Bush and some of his allies (despite it’s apparent failure so far.

It is interesting to note that throughout the Gulf Wars including the US and Coalition Forces succeeded in keeping Israel out of the fight, even when Israel was hit by Saddam’s scuds. Such sensitivities have gradually disappeared and the US (and others) don’t seem to have any qualms now about appearing in full cohort with Israel.


Just like Israel was given a free hand in Palestine since 2000, it has now been given another free hand in Lebanon, presumable to help enforce Security Council Resolution 1559. I don’t want to get into the specifics of this issue, but I’d like to observe here that 1559 is not the only Security Council resolution that hasn’t been implemented in the region. Israel happens to be the worst violator of UNSC resolutions. Israel has been in perpetual violation of resolutions 242, 446, and 1397, and none of the countries that have made 1559 their political obsession recently have shown a fraction of that concern about Israel’s violation of these UNSC resolutions; let alone to ask for them to be implemented by force.

I personally would like to see 1559 implemented, and to some extent Lebanon was moving into that direction. But this war cannot be justified as a war to enforce 1559 (or for any other reason). You cannot help a country by destroying it, killing its people, and creating a humanitarian catastrophe. This is a war against Lebanese its civilians, their institutions, infrastructure and private property. Most of the casualties are civilians; in case after case, civilians are targeted on purpose, or with criminal disregard to their lives; families buried under the rubble of their bombed houses, refugee caravans incinerated by Israeli shells, massive destruction of private property and public facilities, etc. And why?

The pattern that emerges here is one of a state that is intent on terrorizing the whole population of a country into submission, and the picture is one of unspeakable atrocities. Israel seems to be feeding on its own madness to kill and destroy with no regard to any human or principles. Its prime target is the defenseless people of the civilization that gave us the alphabet and, more recently, a society that is brilliantly energetic, modern, democratic, and diverse more than any other in the region, including Israel itself. This is a vicious, cruel, immoral and murderous war; and those responsible for it, Olmert and his Generals and a majority of Israelis who seem to be (at least temporarily) riding the wave of national superiority and vengeance are only making a mockery of the suffering they always claim as justification for the existence of their state in the first place.
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1 comment:

Foundation said...

Yes interesting, and where did they get those Katusha rockets? Iran has rockets - Shihab rockets. Where do the Katushas come from? Russia one presumes. Perhaps we should all go bomb Russia now - then we'd be back on familiar territory.