DJ at Asymptotic Life was directly involved a group that was instrumental in brokering a cease-fire in the Sri Lanka civil war a few years back. They thought the combatants would then do the right thing and continue working towards peace. So they backed off from involvement, thinking their job was done. Tragically, it wasn’t.
The combatants did not use the cease-fire to disarm, broaden understanding, and promote democracy.Â News flash: they never have, and they never will. Instead, they consolidated power, fanned the flames of ethnic nationalism, and worked tirelessly to ensure that peace did not happen. Now we see the results: in a year of fighting, 5,000 more people have died.
For those who would end a war, there is much to be learned here. First and foremost, cease-fire should never be mistaken for peace. When cease-fire breaks out (or when the troops come home), our work had just begun.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if peace is to be made, it will not be made by the combatants. If you’re truly anti-war, plan on participating in the processâ€” because no amount of pressure will cause a combatant party to do the work of making peace. They’ve got a vested interest in continuing the conflict.
Indeed, this is often true. Warlords, rebels, and governments frequently do not want conflicts to end, because it suits their political, economic, ideological, and personal purposes that the wars continue. As an example, it’s clear that neither George Bush or bin Laden actually want peace in the Middle East.
If peace is to be made, it’s up to committed individuals willing to make the commitment to see it through. I truly regret that I let our opportunity pass.
When the troops finally do come home from Iraq. our job, as DJ notes, will have just begun. That’s when we’ll need to prevent further such wars.