I am concerned, watching this drama unfold from my home in Ireland, that President Bush is talking himself into a corner from which all-out war will be the only exit without losing face.
Public feeling is reported as 90% in favor of vengeance, and that worries me. I have seen nothing in the press that indicates anything but an eye-for-an-eye response. That is the one option that would surely add to our losses.
An American in Ireland
I was excited to read Carl Stieren’s article, “Peace on a Global Scale” in the latest issue of Peace Magazine. From the perspective of a professional soldier with peacekeeping experience, I have a suggestion and a caution. Many Canadian initiatives can make important contributions to third party nonviolent intervention (TPNI). Carl Stieren’s Ottawa office might usefully link these up to the Global Nonviolent Peace Force. The secret to doing this is to ask specific institutions or NGOs to make contributions. The Peace Force is based in the US, but Canada could be a major player. For example, the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution might concentrate on developing interpersonal conflict resolution skills. The Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation is skilled in developing formal negotiating training. The strength of Peace Brigades International seems to be in developing and applying nonviolent tactics for specific tasks like witnessing and accompaniment by unarmed monitors in dangerous situations. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (PPC) might serve as a bridge to diplomatic, police and military organizations involved in TPNI. CIDA’s Peacebuilding Branch and Department of Foreign Affairs’ Peacebuilding Fund might be able to help, perhaps through the PPC. The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre partnered with Conflict Resolution Catalysts (CRC) to experiment with “neighborhood facilitators” in Bosnia in 1998, with support from the US Institute of Peace and US AID. This experiment is reported on the CRC website [2011 ed. note: an archived version can be seen at http://web.archive.org/web/20060221223920/http://www.crcvt.org/NFP.pdf]. Three 10-day courses developed in 1997-98 for facilitators may be of interest to the Global Nonviolent Peace Force, because they address the specific skills needed for specific tasks.
Having been involved in two of the three courses and the field evaluations, I would be first to admit that there is room for improvement, drawing on the skills of Carl Stieren’s colleagues. The caution I wish to raise stems from the last item on the list of things a peace force would do — “creating safe zones for civilian populations.” Srebrenica was intended to be a safe zone for civilians. In July 1995, aware that UN military forces were inadequate and that Zepa, Gorazde, Tuzla, and Sarajevo could be similarly collapsed, we sought advice about nonviolent tactics that might increase the safety of civilians. The answer from many experts (including Hans Sinn, Michael Beer, Bruce Jenkins and others) was that it is irresponsible to advocate nonviolence when faced with genocidal intent. Nonviolence can accomplish a lot. When they work well, military peacekeeping missions are nonviolent, though armed. Military observation missions and civilian police missions are usually unarmed. But there are times when only military force can create safe zones. Difficult though it may be for committed peace activists, I think they can become more effective by learning to work with soldiers. I hope the Global Nonviolent Peace Force considers liaison positions for their military counterparts. We’re in this together.
Major David Last, Ph.D. Assoc. Professor Politics, Royal Military College Kingston, Ontario
David Last was right: Canada does have skills to share in nonviolent peacekeeping. I just profiled eight institutes in my chapter “Canadian Training,” in the book-length research study for Global Nonviolent Peace Force International directed by Christine Schweitzer. However, Last missed four Canadian institutes that also teach how to be peacemakers:
His caution about Srebrenica and other “safe zones” that military peacekeepers could not establish is well taken. We are aware of this failure. The list from which he chose creating safe zones for civilian populations,” is simply a draft list. It will be amended in July.
Where Last and I disagree is when he says “there are times when only military force can create safe zones.” Let’s keep up the dialog. He may be right when he says “difficult though it may be for committed peace activists, I think they can be more effective by learning to work with soldiers.”
Carl Stieren, Ottawa