HAVANA TIMES — The world we see in the news today is a world torn by civil conflict. In the most serious cases, these conflicts threaten to unleash genocides or large-scale, high or “low”-intensity wars.
In countries like Syria or the Ukraine, rivaling factions take entire cities and command military groups that lack neither weapons nor logistical means.
The world’s great powers threaten to become involved and transform these conflicts into conventional wars (those that entail air landings, tank combats and the use of impoverished uranium).
From what we’ve learned from cases such as Iraq and Afghanistan, such escalation often exacerbates the cruelty of the confrontation, leading to Hobbesian situations where democracy is forcefully silenced.
I ask myself: what could someone who is professedly opposed to war and to leaving things in the hands of the powerful do in the face of all this? Can one do anything at all?
I am surprised by the poverty of options offered by current forms of pacifism, particularly when we compare these to the great movements of the 1930s (which didn’t manage to prevent the Second World War, but gave the world someone of the stature of Mahatma Gandhi).
There must be peaceful strategies and tactics that can be used in the struggle for equality and freedom, even when violent conflict between rivaling factions exists, ways of intervening in these conflicts peacefully (I know research is being done in this connection).
Such methods of active non-violence cannot, however, be limited to color revolution technologies or to donating small sums of money to NGOs in order to quiet restless minds, in a world where, on the one hand, we are served a concert by Lady Gaga on high-definition TVs and, on the other, someone is forced to decide whether the person who will starve to death tomorrow (or die as a result of “friendly fire”) is someone’s mother or the smallest child in the family.
I may strike some as an imbecile, but I do not believe in the intervention of the great powers when it comes to resolving conflicts.
We common folk must create means of intervening peacefully in such conflicts.
I cannot help but recall Rwanda, when the UN demonstrated its illegitimacy by allowing the genocide to take place.
I see the Israeli animated film Waltz with Bashir, dealing with the Sabra and Chatila slaughters, while Telesur shows us how the far-right uses tear-gas to kill 30 people in a building in the Ukraine (while the other camp forces a badly-injured pilot to walk). Where is the stretcher, the Red Cross or the Geneva Convention?
I feel sorry for people like Gorbachov, who wanted to put an end to all wars once and for all and hit the mud head on, particularly when we need someone of Kissinger’s intellect.
It has been demonstrated that non-violent struggle demands as much or more courage than any armed intervention – so this is not a question of cowardice.
This struggle also demands precise knowledge of strategy, tactics and technique – those of active non-violence.
We must come up with ways of interposing ourselves between warring factions, allowing those who do not want to become involved in the conflict to walk away in peace and – even though this can come at a very high price, perhaps life itself – be able to stop the bloodshed ourselves.