FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Today’s Survivors May Be Tomorrow’s “Enemies”

by

More than 10,000 people have died and 1.5 million are displaced in South Sudan’s current violent conflict amidst the destructive rhetoric of rivals President Salva Kiir and former President Riek Machar. UNICEF reported that 9,000 children have been recruited or abducted as child soldiers by both sides. Alongside the report, 23-year-old Ring Placido describes his experience as a former member of the South Sudanese children’s battalion, “Nyony,” at the age of six: “’I was very frightened and upset to be taken from my mother … But I could not show fear or sadness, because they would have beaten me. I had no choice but to become one of them.’”

At the same time, members of South Sudan’s Red Army Foundation celebrated their second anniversary, on July 29th, 2014, of transitioning from an organization of violence and warfare to one of peace and welfare. Members of the Red Army Foundation include hundreds of former child soldiers in South Sudan who have dedicated themselves to reviving their homeland through social services, education and similar peacebuilding initiatives.

People are not born as psychopaths engineered to kill. In an environment of fear and survival, people – especially children – learn to believe that violence brings glory, killing brings peace and suffering brings justice. In the same way, people have the capacity to transform their beliefs and value positive, constructive and peaceful methods of conflict management.

If we want peace in South Sudan, Gaza, Syria, Iraq or any other nation, if we want to be effective peace activists, change-makers or conflict managers, it’s imperative that we ground our understanding of violent conflict in structures of violence that produce favorable conditions for war. We have to understand that violence is produced, not some inevitable innate response, and if we don’t restrain violence now by supporting peacebuilding initiatives and nonviolent conflict management methods, we’ll only nurture more violence for the future.

The US, Israel and Western-European states like France, Britain and Germany are caught in a self-perpetuating web of violence and terrorism. The leaders of these nations often blame “jihadists,” “extremists” or certain races, religions, and nationalities for global terrorism. Yet, few today question the roots of this violence. Who engineered the gas chambers at Auschwitz? Who pioneered imperialistic habits that differentiated between “civilized war” and “colonial war” that lead to the rationalization of mass killings of indigenous populations? The US and its allies have indeed failed to recognize the simple truth that some of today’s “enemies” are yesterday’s survivors.  Neglecting to examine these structural, historical (and present) and cultural root causes of violence makes it easy for leaders to justify more violence in the name of peace.

Forced democracy, invasions, military strikes and “operations” are unlikely to create or sustain peace and will likely nurture more enemies for coming generations. Fortunately, nonviolent counterterrorism methods, peacebuilding initiatives like The Red Army Foundation, and other sustainable peace options exist already.  Insight on Conflict hosts a list of peacebuilding organizations in South Sudan, as well as in IraqIsrael and Palestine. Recognizing the root causes of violence, ending the perpetuation of these causes and supporting these organizations working toward sustainable peace is the only way we can end today’s violent conflict and prevent those of tomorrow. Imagine if war preparation were even somewhat defunded and peace preparation were funded a bit more–we could close the gap from war to peace much more often.

Ibrahim Bahati (bahabris@gmail.com), based in Kampala, Uganda, has a degree in Development Economics, volunteers with The Global Education Conference Network and as a communications teacher for Peace for Children Africa and writes for PeaceVoice.

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail