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.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail