By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Ending War, Building Peace
Edited by Lynda-Ann Blanchard & Leah Chan (Sydney University Press, $35.00, softcover, 187 pages)
This is a remarkable anthology of essays born out of the successful 2008 conference titled, ‘Iraq never again: ending war, building peace’ which was held by Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
They got together because the participants wanted to deliberate about peace in Iraq as they were tired of the notion that violence solved problems. It also commemorated the 20th anniversary of the founding of the centre.
Ending War, Building Peace studies the catastrophic consequences of the war in Iraq – economic, humanitarian, environmental and political.
Part one of the compilation investigates the fascination with violence and part two approaches non-violent alternatives.
The scrutiny is on how and why this ‘unmitigated disaster for humanity was allowed to happen’ and how we can prevent it from being repeated.
In the introduction, Professor Stuart Rees recommends a peace settlement that includes financial compensation, removing the debris of war, extraction of foreign
troops and establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
He sets up the interaction of this edited collection with how do we unmask our fascination with violence and what might the non-violent alternatives look like?
Mike McKinley infers that we only conceive of peace through war… implying that we are illiterate about non-violence.
When tackling the truth about war, he investigates topics including money in war, divine justice, violence and sacrifice and unrepresentative democracy.
In the following two chapters, Richard Hil and Sue Wareham explore the consequences of such observations with concept that include the human and environmental costs.
The dynamics of cultures of violence are also considered.
The notion of peace with justice comes to the fore in the second half. Associate Professor Jake Lynch brings our attention to the link between the vested interests of the arms industry and the use of force.
It’s a strong case for conflict resolution through non-violent alternatives.
Edition 307, 3 April 2012
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.