For Memorial Day USA, May 30, 2016

War

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

What more can be said of war
That has not already been said,
That has not already been written,
That has not already been sung in song,
Recited in verse, shared in epic tales?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been committed to screen
In iconic movies with legendary actors,
Fighting and dying with glory amidst waving flags,
Or in heralded documentaries carefully
Edited with photos, letters, poignant
Words of lament spoken amid haunting tunes?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been in sculpted in marble,
Painted on canvases,
Photographed in back and white,
And vivid color,
Revealing blood is red, bone is white,
Death is endless.

What more can be said of war
That has not already been inscribed in minds and bodies
Of soldiers who survived,
Civilians who endured,
Prisoners captive to trauma,
Scars visible and invisible?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been carved
On ordered granite gravestones
In national cemeteries, honoring sacrifice,
Their death veiled in shade and sunlight?

What more can be said of war,
That has not already been said about heroes and villains,
Soldiers and generals,
Warriors and misfits,
Freedom fighters and terrorists,
Victims and collateral damage,
Apologies and reparations?

What more can be said of war,
That has not already been said about
Glorious and evil causes,
Lusts for power and control
Access to wealth and resources,
Messianic responsibilities, moral duties,
Domination . . . ascendancy . . . revenge?

What more can be said of war,
That has not already been eulogized
On fields of battle
Where lives were lost, minds seared,
And historians’ crafts polished
With the biased narratives of victors:
Waterloo, Hue, Fallujah?
There is no winner in war!

And why, if so much has been
Spoken, written, and engraved,
Why do the lessons of war,
Continue to be ignored, denied, distorted?
And now . . .  Syria.

August 28-29, 2013

___________________________

Comment:  I wrote this poem in the course of two days as I witnessed the tragedy of death and suffering in Syria, bewildered again and again, by the endless uses of so many death technologies. I was dismayed that a score of nations appear to be pursuing selfish interests amidst the ethnic and tribal cleansing and genocides occurring. We are living with endless war.  Nothing more can be said about war. Violence begets violence, war begets war! No cries of noble responsibilities to protect and defend from either side are sufficient or warranted. They are merely part of the tactics, strategies, and policies that sustain war. Who benefits from war?

Anthony Marsella, Ph.D., a  member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 September 2013.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: War, is included. Thank you.

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AFRICAN BORDERS AND THE POLITICS OF EXCLUSION: REVISITING THE COLONIAL PAST, Part 2

Emmanuel Mbaezue interviewing some immigration security personnel I met at the border between Nigeria and Niger Republic. Posted with permission from Emmanuel Mbaezue.

Emmanuel Mbaezue interviewing some immigration security personnel I met at the border between Nigeria and Niger Republic. Posted with permission from Emmanuel Mbaezue.

By Emmanuel Mbaezue

 

The artificial boundaries and the false foundation laid by Colonialism  accounts for the present day features of the African continent. Colonialism was largely a system that not only bred chaos in the internal politics of most African countries, but also continues to threaten the peace of the entire region.

From inter-state border-related conflicts caused by poor and depleting economies, high levels of forced migration and weak/porous borders, to intra-state conflicts fueled by undemocratic and exclusive governments, inept/moribund political institutions and weak nationalistic projects, it is evident that Africa’s mostly political woes are symptomatic of a malignant, external involvement that never prioritized the interests of the continent.

Courtesy of western civilization, the unique African communal ownership of lands that de-emphasized territorialization gave way to private ownership with all its extortionist tendencies. There was basically an anachronism between the continent’s colonial heritage and the dynamics of its societies. The African cultural boundaries experienced difficulty assimilating the new notion of an “independent State.”

As more African States gained their independence, there also came a general awakening to the realities left behind by colonialism. It was a distasteful heritage that could not be erased or made to operate properly. While some African countries called for the maintenance of the incompatible borders that the continent inherited, others agitated for a re-delimitation and re- demarcation of African territories.  It was in the midst of this dilemma that the now defunct Organisation for African Unity (OAU) in July 1964, at its first Summit of the African Heads of State, resolved that Nation States on attainment of independence should preserve the existing borders.

The hallmark of the OAU’s effort to resolve the continent’s increasing number of border-related conflicts was attained with the establishment of the African Union Border Programme (AUBP). Nevertheless, problems stemming from colonization continue to plague the continent today and more horrific is the role they have further played in compounding the challenges posed by the spread of present-day religious extremism in the continent.

While we are certainly not calling for a revocation of the resolution of the July 1964 meeting of the African Heads of State on the inherited borders, we however cannot downplay the inefficacy of that resolution. Worse still, there is apparently a clear lack of commitment on the part of the African leadership to proffer workable solutions to this quagmire. To date, some African countries are annexing lands that do not belong to them, and in the process displacing a lot of border communities. The influence of ethnic Diasporas can still be felt aggravating the civil unrest in most countries as in the case of Rwanda, the DRC, and Burundi. Religious extremists still take advantage of the similar socio-cultural backgrounds existing between their countries and those they share borders with to clandestinely spread radical ideologies.

These continental problems that never seem to abate are particularly reflective of a societal gap yearning to be filled. In my view, unless pan-Africanism is given the same place as nationalism, politico-economic trivialities and partisanship will continue to remain the bane of the African society, regardless of any efforts made to remedy the ills of her colonial past.

 

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AFRICAN BORDERS AND THE POLITICS OF EXCLUSION: REVISITING THE COLONIAL PAST, Part 1

emmanuel image 1 african borders

Figure 1: Nigerian border. Photo by Emmanuel Mbaezue.

By Emmanuel Mbaezue

 

Once known as the cradle of civilization, endowed with a rich cultural heritage, and a communal style of living that was almost equal to none, Africa’s position in the World was once enviable.  The Continent’s conservative but still “uncorrupted” nature allowed her to remain secluded and hidden to the rest of the world for centuries. For some, she was “the unknown world,” and for some others, the Dark Continent, but still in her solitary state, Africa amazingly thrived.

That tranquil and serene environment, and the gradual and peaceful evolution of the Continent, came to an end by decree of the West. In the years 1884-1885, the Continent’s fate was decided by the European powers in Berlin, Germany. Without her consent, an unwilling and un-participating Africa was arbitrarily divided into 53 mostly incompatible units, with little or no cognizance taken of her geo-demographic peculiarities.

Led by Otto Von Bismarck but mostly guided by their economic interests, the Europeans scrambled for the resources in Africa, resources they so desperately needed to feed the industrial revolution in Europe. In the course of all this, Africa not only suffered environmental and physical abuse as vast numbers of slaves and mineral resources forcefully left her shores, she also experienced deep sociological harm.

The arbitrary demarcation of African lands without any respect for its different constituents and cultural landscapes not only led to the forceful fusion of incompatible national groups into single entities and the imposition of artificial boundaries upon them, it also resulted in the distortion of entities that naturally belonged together. By their “divide and rule” system, Europe not only magnified the differentials existent in Africa’s diverse ethnic groups, but also, in some cases, arrogated more powers and privileges to one ethnic group to the detriment of others (as in Rwanda when the Belgians favored the minority Tutsis over the Hutus); thus, Europe set the stage for most of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts.

Mr. Chukwuemeka Emmanuel Mbaezue is a doctoral student of Peace & Conflict Studies, specializing in Boundary & Border Studies, at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. He is a co-founder and member of the Border Areas Development Initiative (BADI), a non-governmental organization focusing on the development and security of Nigeria’s northern borders and border communities through education, research, advocacy programs and addressing issues related to forced and undocumented migration. His research area is on the trends and challenges of trans-border radicalization of young people.

 

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Syrian Refugees and the Earth Household, Part 2.

Camp in Lebanon close to the Syrian border. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Author: Elgaard.

By Guest Author Dana Visalli

The second camp I visited in my visit to Lebanon was considered more hazardous than the first. It is much larger and has been in place longer; a raid there a year ago netted many guns. Some women will ‘trade sex for money’ at the camp—with both Lebanese and Syrian men attending the services.

Tarek and I never really quite obtained permission to enter the camp, so we spent our time standing on a road passing through it, talking with a gaggle of men and children that gathered around us until we were kicked out. There was general agreement among those gathered that the United States was behind the violence being perpetuated in Syria by the fundamentalist rebel groups, especially ISIS and Al Nusra. I asked them why the United States would want to destroy Syria, and an answer flew from the mouth of an old man almost before I finished the sentence: “Israel. Israel wants the Arab world broken up into small pieces,” he said, “and it wants to see the Arabs fighting against one another.” He probably had that about right; as I noted in a previous report, there is an Israeli action plan published in 1982 that calls for fragmenting the Arab world.

At just about that time, the Lebanese owner of the camp happened by. Upon learning that I was an American, and was there out of a sense of concern for the Syrian refugees, he said he had a story to tell me. It seems there was this very poor man, who complained to God about his poverty. God replied that he would give the man a donkey, a sheep and goat, and he could make a living with these animals. But soon the man was back, complaining that he couldn’t sleep at night, because the animals constantly made a racket. God advised him to get rid of the donkey and things would be better; but still the other animals were rambunctious and wouldn’t let the man sleep. So God advised him to get rid of the goat, and then to get rid of the sheep; then at last the man could sleep and he was happy; he had completely forgotten about the original complaint that had initiated the cycle of emotions.

“And you Americans,” said the owner, “are like this poor man. You create this enormous problem out of your own unhappiness, destroying the country of Syria with your weapons and ignorance and maliciousness, driving the Syrian people out of their homes. And then afterwards you look upon the results and ask with feeling, “My God what happened here, this is a terrible situation, how can I help.”

To take in the magnitude of this human diaspora, one has to take the story of any one refugee individual or family, and multiply that by the 12 million Syrian refugees that currently exist, or for full effect multiply by the 60 million people on the planet today who have been driven out of their homes, by far the majority of them by violence.

The impoverishment of these people’s lives is analogous to the impoverishment of the global biosphere that is currently taking place on the planet, with the widespread loss of plant and animal populations and species. Anyone willing to take this all in will see clearly that the human species is challenged to change behaviors and strive to learn what it means to live ecologically balanced lives. I find such an inquiry extends from where I get my food to whether I am willing to pay for a nation’s nuclear arsenal. It is a personal journey for each individual.

Dana Visalli

Charre, Lebanon

 

Dana Visalli is a biologist living in Washington State; he has visited Iraq and Afghanistan often and attempted to visit Damascus in Syria in March of this year. He has essays on Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam at www.methownaturalist.com 

Posted in Armed conflict, Children and war, Economy and war, Environmental impacts of war, Poverty, Uncategorized, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments