King's non-violent philosphy key to peace in Syria???

King's non-violent philosphy key to peace in Syria???

Postby Oscar » Fri Feb 26, 2016 3:40 pm

Martin Luther King's non-violent philosophy could provide key to lasting Syrian peace

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By Harrison Samphir | February 26, 2016


The Canadian context

February 15 marked a distinct change of course in Canadian foreign policy, and the first indication of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's international outlook. Marking a distinct break from the previous government of Stephen Harper, the Liberal Party honoured a campaign promise by announcing the end of Canada's bombing of targets in Iraq and Syria and the withdrawal of its six CF-18 warplanes from the coalition strike force. [ ... -now-ended ]

Preparing for a revamped non-combat mission -- although reconnaissance and refuelling aircraft will remain deployed in the region -- which includes a tripling of special forces training personnel and more than $800 million in humanitarian assistance, Trudeau declared a "new role" for Canada in the fight against ISIL.

"Our goal is to allow local forces to take the fight directly to ISIL," he said, "to reclaim their homes, land and future....We believe there is an important role for Canada to plan in the fight against ISIL, a role that we can play, a role that we must play."

Interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose fired back, claiming Canada's withdrawal from the bombing campaign "is not in keeping with the contribution of [Canada's] allies," and "blunt[s] the sharp end of [the military's] spear."

In the halls of Parliament, a decade of majority Conservative rule inculcated within parts of traditional Canadian consciousness the belief that Canada's only acceptable contribution to international conflict -- as defined by the other major Western powers -- should be a violent military one. Ambrose's comments certainly reflect this thinking. The Liberal's plan, however complicit as it may be in its allies' destructive bombing strategies, corresponds more closely with the tenets of nonviolent personalism discussed above.

It should of course be obvious to any discerning reader that the policies of a centre-right party like the Liberals are fundamentally antithetical to the radical philosophies of King. Indeed, Trudeau is not a pacifist. King was. Yet there is an ongoing reflection in this new Prime Minister's thinking which takes stock of Canada's proud peacekeeping legacy and seeks to discard the previous government's bellicose approach to foreign policy.

Whatever the case, the post-9/11 neo-conservative dogma which vehemently declares "We Don't Negotiate With Terrorists" is by now completely bankrupt. From a purely semantic point of view, the labelling of groups as "terrorist" implicitly delegitimizes non-violent responses and makes them less possible. (LINK is broken) Then, of course, comes the unpleasant and by now well-known reality that governments including the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been arming and funding the very "terrorists" they condemn publicly. [ ... .html?_r=0 ]

Canada's Liberal Party has taken a constructive step, albeit a small one, toward rectifying a generation of blunders that have only aided and abetted extremism worldwide. In its new approach to ISIL, this new government is keen to project a nuanced -- if at times mildly sanctimonious -- global viewpoint.

Personalism, thought it may remain below the surface of mainstream political discourse, has found a fragment of potential for a legitimate and newfound reemergence.

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Harrison Samphir is the web editor at Canadian Dimension magazine and an MA candidate studying International Relations at the University of Sussex near Brighton, U.K. He can be reached at
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