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The Meaninglessness of War

Saturday, March 25, 2017 1:08
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Human Wrongs Watch By Jan Oberg*
In Syria
March 24th, 2017 (TFFTransnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research) Imagine… that there was no arms trade to places where there were ongoing conflicts. Or, imagine a gigantic magnet that could suck up all weapons in the Middle East – and elsewhere.

What would people who conflict have to do then? They would have to dialogue, talk, negotiate – and find creative solutions to their problems, use their brains and humanity and – eventually – build peace together.

It’s a solid law of sociology that conflicts in which violence has been introduced is way more difficult to solve than conflicts in which the parties have not used violence against each other.

If you do not believe in any of such idealisticunrealistic – thinking/dreaming, I suggest you travel to such a zone after war has raged. I’ve seen Sarajevo, Knin, Mostar, Vukovar, South Ossetia, Abkhazia. I can now add Aleppo in Syria.

I know that peace by peaceful means is more realistic and of higher quality than peace by violent means.

As Gandhi said – “the means are the goals-in-the-making”. Violent means do not produce nonviolence.

One reason there is anyhow such much war is that people lack alternative thinking and civilian tools for conflict-resolution – governments in particular. We live in a world society in which the military is given almost US$ 2000 billion and the UN – for all it does – 30.

Another is that there exists what I call MIMAC – the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex – in which small elites outside democratic control have vested interests in profiterring from war and destruction. That is, from other peoples’ suffering and death.

A third reason is fear – when people fear they can do anything. Fear is much more important in explaining violence than evil – which explains nothing.

I share these photos because I was shocked by what I saw in mid-December 2016 when Aleppo was liberated from 4,5 years of occupation by Western backed RIOTs – Rebels, Insurgents, Opposition and Terrorists, most of the latter.

More about the battle for Aleppo which has also been called Syria’s Stalingrad here.

These photos, together with the other photo series, illustrate the utter meaninglessness of war.

No side has gained anything. All sides have lost. History has lost. The future has lost. Over 30.000 inhabitants of Aleppo are dead. Lives extinguished and living made inhumanly difficult for generations ahead.

The only thing that has been achieved or created is destruction. And what hasn’t been destroyed has been looted and the profits from that converted to weapons that have created more destruction

It’s a kind of war that lacks any rational motive, or rationale, except that violence begets violence.

We should ask: What did those who occupied this place want to achieve? A better society? Better economy? More faithful people? Freedom from al-Assad’s and Syria’s government control? And independent state? What?

Whatever it may have been, it wasn’t achieved. The only thing that was achieved was the destruction you see in these pictures.

I will not give up the belief that we can learn from the horrors and pains of wars to deal more intelligently with our conflicts.

That we can learn to hate violence and war, not each other. And thus to reduce and, later, abolish wars.

That we can learn to distance ourselves from all violence and side with peace – instead of siding with this or that violence-obsessed party in conflicts and legitimise that side’s onslaught on “the others”.

We must create a tectonic shift in the paradigm of international politics. ASAP. Hashtag #keepfocusonaleppo

If not, one day the rest will be silence.

*About the author:  Dr Jan Oberg, Peace studies professor. PhD in sociology, peace and future researcher. Associate professor (Docent) at Lund University, thereafter visiting or guest professor at various universities. 

Former director of the Lund University Peace Research Institute (LUPRI); former secretary-general of the Danish Peace Foundation; former member of the Danish government’s Committee on security and disarmament.

Visiting professor at ICU (1990-91) and Chuo Universities (1995) in Japan and visiting professor for three months at Nagoya University in 2004 and 2007 and four months in 2009 – at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. Oberg has taught peace courses for more than 10 years at the European Peace University (EPU) in Schlaining, Austria and teaches MA courses twice a year at the World Peace Academy (WPA) in Basel, Switzerland. Learn more about Jan Oberg.

Jan Oberg’s article was published in: TFF – Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. Go to Original.

About TFF:  TFF is an independent think tank, a global network that aims to bring about peace by peaceful means. It inspires a passion for peace from the grassroots to the corridors of power.

TFF is an all-volunteer global network. It promotes conflict-mitigation and reconciliation in general, as well as in a more targeted way in a selected number of conflict regions – through meticulous on-the-ground research, active listening, education and advocacy. Learn more about TFF

2017 Human Wrongs Watch


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