Ceasing Fire?

This recent opinion piece on President Duterte’s suspension of peace talks and the military truce with the NDF insurgents has some interesting thoughts on ceasefires:


The subject of a ceasefire has always been a thorny issue in previous talks. Duterte’s demand that bilateral ceasefires be used as a precondition to a peace negotiation appears to be reasonably attractive. But our experience in the peace process tells us that using a ceasefire as a precondition carries several risks. If either of the parties lacks a strong control over its ground forces, or if the ceasefire provides spoilers with a favourable opportunity to sabotage the process, it is better to wait for a more supportive climate.

While it is true that ceasefires can lessen the human costs of war in the immediate term, the key here is to understand that the time horizon of those who engage in the peace process is longer-term. In the Philippine experience and in other countries like Colombia, spoilers have been a crucial element in the breakdown of peace negotiations. In the meantime, informal and formal agreements on exercising restraint, even if partial and temporary, could be arranged to scale down the impact of the war on civilians while the peace talks are ongoing. Landmark agreements in the peace talks like the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law were signed without any protracted ceasefire.

The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

An extract from Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Keeping ‘alive’ & ‘relevant’ in the ‘present’

It is now when the twits are tweeting and personalities are going live on facebook that we so need men and women to be involved in the enterprise of rigorous humanities & social sciences research.

To disconnect (ironic that I say this on a blog) …

To understand how the past is rhyming with the present. And more importantly, …

To know how that being ever so in-the-moment (whatever that may be) is actually dangerous and distracting from the long, difficult task ahead of us.

We don’t need more commentators on facebook but we need more faces in books. “Tolle Lege!”

The man whom the “masses” have “found?”

I’ve been reading Kevin Passmore’s well written introduction to Fascism. A noteworthy quote is as follows:

“It would be complacent to assume that democracy is now so deeply rooted as to make it impossible for the extreme right to win power, for democracy itself is not free from discriminatory terndencies. Democracy is deeply rooted, but it is not always connected to a belief that all human beings deserve equal treatment. For many, it means simply the right of the majority to do as it wishes, and nationalist-populism has successfully exploited this conviction.” (Fascism: A Very Short Introduction, 156)

Minutes to midnight….

“My greatest concern is the lack of public awareness about this existential threat, the absence of a vigorous public debate about the nuclear-war plans of Russia and the United States, the silent consent to the roughly fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world. These machines have been carefully and ingeniously designed to kill us. Complacency increases the odds that, some day, they will. The “Titanic Effect” is a term used by software designers to explain how things can quietly go wrong in a complex technological system: the safer you assume the system to be, the more dangerous it is becoming.”


Arendt on Totalitarianism …

Noteworthy quotes from this WaPo piece on Arendt’s work:

The lesson: Freedom is fragile, and when demagogues speak, and others start following them, it is wise to pay attention. …

The political party system, and parliamentary government more generally, were regarded as corrupt and oligarchic. Such an environment was fertile ground for a “mob mentality,” in which outsiders — Jews, Roma, Slavs, gays, “cosmopolitan intellectuals” — could be scapegoated and a savior could be craved: “The mob always will shout for ‘the strong man,’ the ‘great leader.’ For the mob hates the society from which it is excluded, as well as Parliament where it is not represented.” …

“What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part . . . Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction . . . [and] can outrageously insult common sense only where common sense has lost its validity.” Cynicism. Contempt for truth. Appeal to the craving of the masses for simple stories of malevolent conspiracy. …

“Representative government itself,” she writes, “is in a crisis today, partly because it has lost . . . all institutions that permitted the citizens’ actual participation, and partly because it is now gravely affected by the disease from which the party system suffers: bureaucratization and the two parties’ tendency to represent nobody but the party machines.”