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Peace and conflict illiteracy: The Russian-Turkish deal about Syria

October 29, 2019

Interviewed by RT International

Among other things, I argue that the international so-called ‘community’ – there definitely is no such thing – is still regrettably simple, or primitive, when it comes to making peace.

Here two leaders meet and discuss affairs pertaining fundamentally to what shall happen on the territory of a third sovereign state which is not present. Their focus is on the means of violence – which have already been used and created the situation whereas there is no awareness, it seems, of how important it would have been to address the underlying conflicts.

Conflicts are the basic unit if you want to create peace – the violence mostly a symptom of conflicts – problems – un-resolved.

International law is violated in several ways – and has been the last 10-15 years when it comes to Syria. It started with the US deciding to go for regime change several years before the vioence broke out in Daraa – that everybody seems to believe was “when it all began”.

The entire mainstream media world reports about Syria without even mentioning that Turkey and all the terrorist groups it and its Western NATO allies plus Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have supported have no legal right to be there. Or that the US has no right to build bases there, deploy troops – or steal Syria’s oil. Or that there is no basis in international law for just-like-that establishing your own statelet/autonomous unit (Rojava) on a sovereign state’s territory.

Except for the last-mentioned violation, such policies used to be called aggression or illegal intervention.

The UN has been marginalised by NATO countries and the US in particular, since the days of the Balkan wars. The EU seems to never be able to get its acts together on anything important, or got scared by President Erdogan’s threat that if the EU criticised loudly his cross-border military intervention, he’d send a couple of million refugees its way. And the Arab League also don’t perform as a mediator – how could it with it ill-considered expulsion of Syria at an early stage?

International “community”? No, because if so at least these three would have done something for that community’s common good.

So the world is left with two – male – heads of state who have probably never read a book about conflict-analysis, conflict-resolution, mediation, nonviolence and that sort of thing – in these dark times, seemingly considered totally irrelevant.

Does any of them have a peace-making adviser? A national peace council? A ministry of peace with some expertise? Does their country have fully-fledged institutions that research peace issues and teach students with MAs and PhD programs in peace? If – tell me!

They pursue their traditional, geo-political national interests and the main tool in their toolbox is weapons. And, so, they make a deal – about the future of millions of people who are also not consulted but will have to bear the burdens of their deal.

The rest of the world, to the extent that it bothers, buys this whole procedure as a legal, productive way of making peace… Well, we’ve got a long way to go still.

I allow myself to predict that when we look at this ‘deal’ in ten years from now, we will – if we remember it at all – likely see it as futile, counterproductive and – why not? – as a demoralizing step backwards for the region and the world.

None of the underlying problems and conflicts in Turkey, in Syria and in their relations – nor these countries’ relation to the rest of the world – has been addressed.

Symptom treatment, in order words. It usually produces more violence – if not physical, then psychological. Some feel hurt, ignored and abandoned – and they will look for rational trauma-based revenge or become terrorists who can then – again, again, again – be fought with more “anti-terrorism”-terrorism producing means.

The perfect perpetuum mobile of violence and counter-violence.

If there were an international community and some basic knowledge – and the professional and financial resources and organisational set-up – peace would be made in completely different – professional – ways.

Peace-making illiteracy flourishes – which is bad enough in itself. The more of the militarist way of thinking, the less of the peace way of thinking.

Worse, however, since there are no professionals in peace-making with any influence on such processes, that sort of deal-making appears acceptable and natural in most people’s eyes, passes as peace-making and statesmanship. Well, perhaps not by those on the ground who pay the price.

The peace emperors of this world have no clothes.

And there are no small boys in the media – hardly anymore in the academic community – who can or dare, say it aloud.

You may say now that this is old hat. It is. International politics/relations, foreign policy and security policies were never about making the world a better, more peaceful place for all. It was always and first and foremost about national interests, geopolitics and satisfying the insatiable demands (no, not needs) of the MIMAC – Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex in virtually all countries.

October 22, 2019
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