Saturday, May 5, 2012

Give war a's not as horrible as people say it is

                                          (I can't believe I found a relevant video that is also related to current pop-culture)

"Paradoxically, an all-out civil war in Sudan may be the best way to permanently oust Mr. Bashir and minimize casualties. If a low-intensity conflict rages on, it will lead to a humanitarian disaster."

Seriously Gerard Prunier? I now imagine you're the type of person to put out a grease fire with an RPG.
You sound like an artificial intelligence robot that developed consciousness and calculated the conclusion that the only way to solve humanities problems is to eradicate humanity itself.

Polemic bullshit like this really gets on my nerves......all I hear is an endless barrage of emotionally driven irrational rhetoric that is more destructive than helpful. High-intensity conflict is not the solution. Its a nice thought, but clearly not one that has been very well though through.

For instance, how can one be sure that an all-out civil war won't simply be stretched out over a long period time with innumerable casualties on all sides? Is it really fair to throw those who may not necessarily have a desire to fight into a  full-scale war? Irrelevant of which side of the battlefield they stand on, in an all-out civil war, everyone is thrown into the line of sight. Furthermore, Prunier assumes that the dynamics of an all-out civil war is will be so simple, with one united front clashing against Bashir and his henchmen. Rather, we have long seen the complications of the group dynamics within the various conflict afflicted regions. These complications arise from distinctly differing reasons for their rebellion in the first place and more importantly, differences in their end game or vision for the conflict. For example the various Darfuri rebels have always had problems agreeing on issues. More recently, there was this. In an all-out civil war, it really wouldn't be that hard to imagine that Bashir, being true to his diabolical Bond-villain-like nature, would simply exploit these differences to cause internal clashes, thus weakening any united alliances. We've seen it happen in South Sudan with the apparent financing of rebel groups by Khartoum during and after the war.

More importantly, even if somehow the rebels were able to stay united and manage to oust Bashir.........what then? With so many differing visions of what Sudan should be, coming from a range of peoples who are typically ethnically and culturally distinct from each other, can it be assumed that they would all just sit down be able to come up with a clear plan as to how the country will be ruled and by whom? Or is it just as likely that the these various rebels representing their community will continue to fight and will continue to increase the death toll, long after Bashir is gone?

I realise that I sound extremely pessimistic......but thats because I am. I will always be pessimistic towards the war option, especially when I am still very optimistic about a peaceful option.
"The status quo is not working, regardless of what American and United Nations officials might believe."
Yes, the status quo may not be working......but that doesn't mean that we give up and simply start shooting. It means that we change the status quo. For example, Prunier argues that;
"Whenever foreign leaders demand greater respect for human rights or peace talks, Sudan always agrees, because agreeing makes the international community happy"
 Well, equally valid is the fact that foreign leaders also always promise Sudan that they would finally ease up on all the sanctions if Sudan did "X", but when Sudan does "X", foreign leaders do not follow through. More on this point here.
"Indeed, without some moral common ground, “negotiations” are merely a polite way of acquiescing to evil, especially when one’s interlocutors are pathologically incapable of respecting their own word. And in the case of a murderer like Mr. Bashir, there is no moral common ground."
Only fools hold negotiations based on moral common ground. Negotiations need to bring about mutual agreements that reflect a sense of interdependence for all parties. You can't expect people to be motivated to work together when there is no strong reason for them to do so. I think that with more time, investment/commitment from foreign leaders and with a continued preservation of hope for a peaceful solution, the war option can be kept under the bed along with all the other childish fantasies.

And in regards to Prunier is so fucking easy for you to sit there in your armchair and talk of war when the saliency of the suffering, sacrifices and casualties of conflict is so far from your arrogant mind. Place your life and the lives of those you love on the front line and then we'll see if your strong support for war persists. In the future, be more careful with your sentiments, as your words are likely to influence the opinion of those that read it, and this world does not require anymore warmongers..........unless your solution to humanities problems is in fact to eradicate humanity itself. I need to go wash the taste of hippy off my mouth.

h/t: Roving Bandit


  1. While I agree that the argument itself is faulty, I think you might want to chill out about Prunier himself. First, ad hominem does nothing to help your argument along. Second, dude is like 75 years old and has spent a long, long time working in the field, getting to know the people suffering the wars he's covering. This applies to the Rwandan genocide and the DRC and Sudan conflicts. And third, following on this point, he has spent rather little time in his 'armchair'. He was with the NRA/M when they were still a bush movement, the RPA/F in the early 1990s before the genocide, etc. Relative to other academics, he's one of the more knowledgeable about 'the suffering, sacrifices and casualties of conflict', having witnessed it firsthand, repeatedly, across East and Central Africa. So he does have a decent idea of what he's talking about, and while you (and I) may disagree, there's a certain element of respect that (I think) ought be accorded to him.

    (NB: I've never met Prunier and have no personal connections to him.)

  2. boredinpostconflictMay 6, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Thanks for commenting, I do really appreciate hearing other's opinion on the matter. 

    1) I'm not writing as an academic. In most circumstances, I like the fact that this blog allows me to have emotionally charged rants. However, in this situation, I was doing in on purpose to reflect (and exaggerate) the tone of Prunier's writing. 

    2) I don't know anything about Prunier and don't think that it really matters what he has done in the past. I'm directly criticising what he wrote. If what you say about him is true, then I'm even more surprised that he would suggest such things. However, just because he has spent a lot of time in the field amongst various "bush movements", does not really say much about his level of sympathy. Equally (although I'm not suggesting it), he may just be a war junkie who loves the idea of conflict and therefore follows these "bush movements" for fun……at the end of the day, he is an academic, and so one can't assume that his long-term engagement in Africa was for anything more than implicit interest. 

    ….and seriously……just because someone holds a great deal of knowledge doesn't automatically mean that they produce the best suggestions/decisions.