Friday, September 5, 2014

I am proud of our peacekeepers

In all ages, internal strife produces the same effect in all nations which is retardation; the abeyance of life - social, economic, and spiritual. External strife likewise retards the life of regions, continents, and entire worlds. How do we shelter ourselves against such an evil?

I am proud of our peacekeepers.

If one is to look at our world today and see the extent of brokenness among nations, it is not difficult to see the need for peace keeping. In fact, we might as a world be better served to recognize why it is that we find ourselves in such a need - that we may as one family of nations better receive the advantages of maintaining missions like UNDOF.

Peacekeeping is not warfighting.

The full spectrum of warfare from total war to low-intensity warfare doctrinally define opponent force/s distinctly from that of peace keeping missions. Peace keeping mission commanders, in my view, should therefore be expected to possess a different sort of mindset.

Wars are fought and withstood. Peace is gained and maintained. Whenever a peace keeping force is deployed, we have to remember, not anymore - what to fight against - because that battle has already been fought and bled (by those nations mutually resolved to work out their remaining tensions through channels other than the military), we have to remember what we fight for. (I have spent time in thought about this matter. And to be honest, I am still developing some of it in my mind.)

We fight to deliver a space for a necessary peace to take its hold and plant firm root.

In an ideal sense, there is no external enemy to defeat in peace keeping. If the reality of each mandated deployment were such that they were always consonant to the ideals of peace keeping, it is always a win-win scenario to deploy a peace keeping force - anywhere, anytime.

Such must be its good reputation that in itself spells safety for the troops.

What may really defeat us - as a family of nations - where peace keeping is concerned is a failure to clearly appreciate how the actual mission must consistently apply itself to prevailing realities on the ground.

What happened at the Golan of late is an example of a failure in (not of) the peace keeping force.

The operational dimension of the UNDOF mission changed since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, and has steadily deteriorated right under our watch.

I am including myself in my own critique because I support the UN mission on the Golan. I still do.

I am a firm believer in the potential of that besieged Region as a whole to soon enough break itself out of its most ancient rut. In particular, I am quite proud of my Country's deployment on those heights.

A peace keeping force exists on a plane that is above the ordinary field of battle. Because it must. A different landscape of mission prevails in peace keeping, quite distinct in itself. The mission must at all times defend its own internal sense of clarity - as if from a height. I am speaking figuratively here of course, but as regards the particular mission on the Golan, those words might also be taken literally.

What we seek to preserve and represent there in my eyes is a hope for a future Middle East region that is much more than the shadow of itself that we everyday witness at this present time. A future that is as near as each tomorrow - everyday we maintain clarity and focus on the missions the UN as a whole has decided and mandated as essential to keep the specters of greater conflicts in that area at a minimum.

In view of what our contingent did in their storied bid to deflect the armed threat that was forced upon them - by an adversarial force that before this time, existed outside the basis of all our planning and training - I am fully in agreement with their tactical decisions - every one of them that led to an outcome that gave my nation a deep sigh of relief and our AFP - along with all our uniformed services, a boost in confidence and belief in the excellence of the Filipino profession of arms.

I thank the Irish contingent and all who had helped make it possible for our troops to extricate themselves from their primary positions. It will indeed be remembered.

It is my opinion that the UN force commander, Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha, miscommunicated his instructions which in the heat of the moment, land force commanders wont to have made sure was clear, concise, and never-wise contradictory to any and all standing TSOPs general to the force or particular to any contingents that comprise its composite whole.

I regret to disagree with Gen. Singha but those orders "to leave your weapons quiet" should have been given less succinctly and more clearly - in the mode of the receiver.

It is not an act of cowardice to stand up in one's defense - any time, any place. Overall, I believe there was a failure of strategy to evolve with the prevailing reality on the ground in Syria. This failure can not be laid upon the shoulders of down echelon rank and file but is a command responsibility that should be accounted to by the force commander himself.

This is by no means an indictment of the honor of the entire Indian military, the UNDOF mission, or the UN institution as a whole.

(I am a firm believer in human institution and the transformative power of national cultures; that good is by nature a communal undertaking in Man, that virtue is vested in human societies because virtue is original to their native character.

Evil therefore, whatever the extent of its mystery is to be better overcome in greater society by actively and consistently building on what is good. Law and its judges is in the courts system. Justice and its watches is in the people. Both of them, by their separate institutions and departments, seek together to love and serve the life of our communities - with hope and vigilance - because of what is good in each human life, its intrinsic value.

Mankind is innocent by first principle, so that - unlike all things good and excellent in every act we shall together sow in the human spirit and reap through those many harvests of the blessings and gifts that Divine Providence multiplies according to His pleasure in and through our national communities - evil acts are individual and singular, being inherently a corruption which is always isolated in nature.

The key to the 1 is in the 99 is my chosen approach. You seek for the lost by knowing those who are not.

Individually, as citizens in a society of citizens, I believe in seeking what is questionable, not what is evil. Evil is not as relentlessly pursued and the spirit of the people are well rested - because in the face of a great and noble culture, within a human nation, evil flees by itself.

I value the uniform. I know what is sacred in it. Above all, I love those who wear their colors within, who live and breathe always clothed by the living memory of their sovereign citizenship.)

Playing the blame game is a political matter which I will not tread upon here. It might be far better in my opinion to internalize what valid internal UN concerns there are and externalize the lessons learned to current deployments without much ado as soon as possible.

What is more important is to move forward and keep on moving forward.

Finally, as a citizen of this world personally grieved by the pointless argumentation being openly made in the media between what should be a united camp, I should like to draw our attention to the more urgent matter of trying to resolve the plight of our brother Fijians peacekeepers who, at this present writing, are still being criminally detained against their will.

May all people of good will within the UN and around the world continue hope, work and pray for their safe release at the soonest possible time.

Mabuhay po tayong lahat.

20140912 UPDATE: Fijian troops were released safely. The group that held them against their will were calling themselves the Nusra Front. Peace be unto the region.