tv World Apart with Oxana Boyko RT July 14, 2013 10:29pm-11:01pm EDT
he's building one piece i taught a second down the subject and here proceedings are all over the world but the lessons of previous conflicts seem to be forgotten with every war the international community is often paralyzed down the spread of violence and sometimes openly aiding and well to discuss the subject i'm now joined by fred tanner is the director of the geneva soundtrack for security policy thank you very much for your time sir now when i was a student at one of them merican universities i took many courses on the external and internal dynamics of war and of course i never expected to utilize this knowledge but these days you can pretty much cover international politics without covering war so i wonder with so much knowledge and it could demick expertise on this issue why is it that violence is sparked so easily and sustained for so long. i think clearly it is a distinction between theory and praxis we all know intellectually that.
of war is spent use of force civilians will be victims but then of course to apply the concepts of peace theory or term in a. completely different story because you find those one is that they're completely different story if we know how bad the war really nice for the civilians some might argue that it is precisely because we know the dynamics of war so well that well some countries would resort to using war as a policy tool exactly i think. in their. politic politics where interests of states or such they they may lead to to go beyond the threshold see the problem with with series of international relations is that. there's
a term acceptance that conflict is not bad we have conflicts every day being that home at work but that we want to avoid that conflict turns while it but of course i think that that perception that conflict you know. all over the world is only pertinent to a signal number of countries because people on the receiving end of those policies sydney don't think that conflict is ok yes i think of course one theory is of a. democratic peace which actually has been found by a terminal also for comment i think about two hundred years ago. assuming that if you have internally in a society a peaceful coexistence the state will be peaceful as well this has been picked up again more recently which led to his theory of democratic peace which was picked up by some states. arguing like mr bush at the time with regard to iraq
if you exports democracy to the region in the middle east that we will become more peaceful now the legacy of mr bush has been analyzed very great extent but i would like to turn to the legacy of his successor barack obama and in particular one conflict the conflict in syria the most pressing conflict being faced and i think you would agree with me that. the best chance for successful mediation would be in the early stages of any given conflict but that's right that's right so if we analyze the syrian conflict it won through a set. stages of. gradual building up of tensions than gradual militarization and then pretty early in the conflict in the summer of two thousand and eleven we had some members of the international community declaring one of the sides to this conflict as illegitimate and throwing their support behind the other side now i'm
not interested in debating the political aspect of that decision obviously i think there could be many different views but from a structural point of view from the point of view of conflict resolution what impact did that decision had on the dynamics of war did it help to prolong the conflict or did it help to bring about peace what we know now i mean it's a very bloody conflict which has been known to going on for more than two years with more than seventy thousand people killed a lot of them civilians children it's completely unacceptable that this war is still on and that the united states i mean be talking about the security council but let's let's not downplay the united states influence because it's the dominant power and do you think the decision makers in the white house and destroyed the ramifications of that decision the strategic ramifications because they're not just states is of course the home country for all of that war and peace expertise scientific expertise it is in the american universities that war is started in
great detail of course i mean here we talk really about this a failure of conflict prevention. that of course has to be understood in the protocol. wakening i mean you had it like a domino effect to start with tunisia. to egypt libya where rulers were overthrown and in a way there was an assumption this will continue yemen was also affected and i think the united states again the most a menu other countries through i mean or involved in this. they. of course have been involved in the. security council resolution to protect civilians against. respects eventually to regime change so what you're saying is that they.
they then taken to calling the potential severity of the circumstances so they miscalculated the impact of that judgment what it was like do you think they understood that it could actually prolong the war well in libya actually the intervention helped to shut down the comp but it was very clear from the very beginning that syria is not libya and i think most political scientists even at that point for saying that i think that there has been a failure to early going to how do you intervene when you have a position which may be considered to have legitimate you know concerns to going to . recognize their concerns are legitimate but it's something else entirely to recognize that as the legitimate representatives of the syrian people and to prep you they totally recreate the other side of this that still enjoys the support of a significant proportion of the syrian population would you agree with that well i think that it's very hard to say. exactly why would you need to
intervene to issue these legitimacy certificates rather than trying to bring these two warring parties to the negotiating table but you know this has been. in the coffin for it was only after the united states intervened declaring the assad government of egypt and that. yeah i think that's. an important point and u.s. is not alone i mean let's not forget the arab states were at the. very quickly actually today you do have the first and only embassy of the opposition actually. and let's not forget that the arab league has accepted your position as. scenery percentage is in the lead so i think there it's not just united states it's a broader community but again we have to reality that blood is flowing and there is a terrible tragedy happening and this a failure. to shut this conflict. can take an issue with what you just said that
with the failure to shut the conflict down because. i think that there are two competing policy goals here and specially again when it comes to being out of state on the one hand it is their policy goals to get freed of assad on the other hand they also want to put an end to his filleted so i think that you would probably agree with me that. conflict mediation by itself is a very challenging and daunting task when it's burdened with an additional policy goal not just getting rid of the head of state down god becomes almost impossible and it's not difficult to imagine a scenario when these two policy goals would come into direct confrontation with the other you're saying this is what this had i think in terms of mediation the you're right. if you look back now it probably was a mistake so early to be very open with this because the key really is to stop.
stop the arm while and still have a ceasefire very quickly and in the meantime crimes have been committed war crimes have been committed people have or will be accountable for it have to be kept for it but i would say that of course. he has been made so much more difficult because you have two blocks on the outside which were hundred eighty degrees opposite to each other with the court to actually who is the legitimate representative absolutely and i think what was. even more difficult is because pretty much i've been covering this conflict from its very beginning and for the first year and a half the only thing your heard from western media is that assad was killing his people going around and killing his people indiscriminately and you almost never heard of this recognition that this is actually a direct confrontation there are two sides to the conflict they're involved in
direct violence there is violence and counter-violence so i wonder why do you think the academic community i'm not talking about journalists because i think their signal to blame but what do you think the academic community that understands these internal dynamics of war that understands that it's impossible to have such a huge death toll without having two warring parties why the economics never intervened and said stop you know this is not the fair portrayal of the conflict that it is in fact prolonging the suffering of the syrian people you know i mean you have different theories i mean again that's the approach of conflict prevention and then you have of course early termination of conflict where you are theories again which but it needs intervention if you want to have a conflict terminated early positive or twisting doesn't have to be military but you know even russia which is of course close to the government may have been doing more and twisting as well to the government to stop certain actions which we. and
then of course you have to humanitarian aspect because here i must say that you know it is one thing to have a legitimacy question on who is representing syria internationally who should really take over the government it's another thing how to conduct war but this is not my question my question is why do you think this is my opinion and you can certainly disagree with that why is it that the conflict the syrian conflict was so misrepresented both in the media western media in particular and in the western political science community because you know almost again for the first year and a half you never heard anything about the existence of the other side the other side that is now. about i'm sure the many western leaders have concerns about what would happen if they emerge as a friend and why do you think it was so misrepresented is it just a mistake on the part of a western community like happenstance or
a deliberate policy no i don't think it's a labor policy i think the middle east is very complicated and you have so many different forces which come in you again you have to states which were involved then you have your own of. or thought it would make sense to continue with this rising death toll in syria for the sake of getting rid of or diminishing around iranian influence well i don't know i think the point is simply that the conflict has evolved so much today it's not just an issue of human human tragedy it's an issue of state failure even if you have a ceasefire this is already breaking apart absolutely but i think it's also an issue of the failure of democracy in many of the western countries but this is an issue i hope to touch upon after the break.
welcome back to worlds apart we are discussing the very divergent theory and practice so conflict resolution with fred thompson and the director of the can you were center for security policy. stephan stedman one of the world's leading experts on civil wars and conflict made a statement about a decade ago he said that the humanitarian tragedies of today were caused mainly by leaders who weren't interested in either reaching nonviolent for a solution nor making concessions and i think you and i would agree that concessions is a major appeared requisite for any peace process is that right. i think steve at the time i know him personally work together was certainly the one who brought up the entire notion of spoiler that you have spoilers in
a conflict which are not prepared to. to find common ground and then at a certain stage it's the conflict itself which will solve. but again you have then of course sometimes. depending on what you take you may have the killing the good guys want to go back to the issue of concessions because. obviously again the west is still supporting the opposition in syria the main policy stance of the syrian opposition is that. they would accept nothing less than the full capitulation of the other side in their resignation do you think this is again. peace conducive policy stance to support this side that would never compromise. well. i think a lot of mistakes have been made in this conflict and i still being the prize is tremendous. on the other hand one can ignore also the syrian people and
a lot of them or organizing groups which want to get rid of president song. i think that's certainly an important element as well but those groups certainly exist i don't dispute that but i think the the amount the number of syrian people who want nothing to do with either side to these companies much more substantial and civilians are extremely tired of war so i would suppose and i know that from my personal conversations and work on the ground that they would support some peace process but the problem is that the rebels and western countries back at the rebels are not ready for that they don't want those peace talks to even begin let alone a continuing. resolution i think the problem is that the war has its own self sustaining effects of famous spoke about the fog of war this has nothing do anymore
with conflict prevention or mediation women situation here were actually the war produces a chain aeration which. is prepared to go all the way i mean you see terrible pictures you can also put in from the government i mean that the leader is bombarding cities but airplanes or hillary absolutely but i think when when we say that we also have to keep in mind that the rebels are launching attacks from civilian quarters it is essentially an urban war now and one of the reasons why why it is an urban war it's because the rebels chose to fide in a way to put those civilians at risk i think the point is that the international community. to work on the humanitarian side there's no access we don't have humanitarian corridors we don't have human and cease fires where the
international committee of the red cross and order. red crescent organizations can do the work help the civilians help the woman the wounded that's the problem it's this is just really. hard to understand. brutal conflict between parties which seem to be not open to any guy at all but mr turner you say it's difficult to understand the brutality of this conflict but of course there is nothing really new about the syrian conflict i mean if we go back to the aftermath of the second world war and then your unfair trial and the statements that were made at the trial and i think the u.s. prosecutor made a statement that the main that sick cry was not the holocaust that the gas chambers the main that's a crime was the war of aggression that enabled all their crimes no matter who they are committed by the sides because both sides commit crimes during
a war that was the main main that's a crime to enable of these violence to first start and then spiral out of control so i think this could have again easily been predicted. certain members of the international community decided to intervene well you know you have here like the case you use some and you have to to notions of international law use of means like you know again you buy a late certain rights if you it's not on the international law of war of aggression for instance and that's something actually which still needs to be debated to what extent has your position the right to have recourse to while and set a certain stage and then of course you have you seen below the entire question of crimes committed during the war on that achieve a conventions and. i think the i think in both cases the situation looks quite quite dramatic i agree with you but my point is not about the opposition i think
many even though we now know that there are many foreign elements i mean there is also a grassroots militarized opposition who. really don't have any deep understanding of what war is like because syria was ever elegantly peaceful country for the last few decades but again the international community and the decision makers and the international community they have the benefit of the history and they for some reason chose to for a goal of those lessons yes i think that the problem was that an early response could have stopped it or prevented it or brought certain structures in to bring this conflict to an end now the conflict is kidnapped it's hostage to opposition and government but to international forces mean you have to hizbollah you have lebanon being involved. israel had to make strikes so i think you you are start to have an escalation which which really will bring
a rapid solution. will make it quite quite difficult now i was listening the other day to one of the policy discussions holmes that by your organization the geneva center for security policy and some of the speaker said that the proliferation of small arms was a major threat to global security now in this context what do you think about the continuing discussion in some european capitals and in washington about the need to supply a position of additional arms how do you think it's going to change the the flow of the conflict when it's a. certain level it's been a debate for a long time to what extent international arms trade should be among states or to what extent they should also be allowed to be given to none. state actors and non-state actors. know or could be a freedom fighter and i think really he's
a political implications again from a structural point of view if you were to inject another significant amount of small arms into this already extremely volatile region with porous borders. what kind of a placation could it have not only for syria but also for the rest of the region and probably even globally as well it's a it's a power game i mean if the opposition gets more weapons which can really strategically hurt the government meaning interdiction with regard to air operations or longer range. they could change to the equation very rapidly even if that happens and for example if the syrian opposition manages to take control of managers to take power as for example happened in libya. is that still a desirable outcome you know of the nations of the libyan intervention in mali and how it affected the north africa so again these are all threats to global security
that are quite interconnected is it all worth. having read of one leader that you perceive as hostile and illegitimate well you know it's this is a very philosophical question too to what extent opposition. actually has to use force to prevail over sometimes tyranny i mean look with your country i mean the nine hundred seventeen. has been a revolution and i think in st petersburg they needed that ship forgot the name of aurora which this is this is this was this is a situation of a roommate a big difference i mean the french revolution have succeeded it was against tyranny now i want to shift to one more question and one more implication of the syrian conflict which i thing is right up your alley and this is the issue. of refugees now i know that a couple of years ago you call for the book on the manipulation of refugees
in in a conflict sense the syrian refugee issue is so pressing these days according to the u.n. more than one point five million of people have flat syria because of the conflict there also enormous number of people internally displaced. do you think this refugee manipulation is taking place in syria or outside its borders i think in both. internally displaced people in syria and the problem is always that persons leave for a reason a neighborhood which may be controlled by certain belief shows the militia may be a sunni you have to leave or the other way around there may be kurdish the problem is that it creates certain ethnic cleansing. and of course the increase of refugees or internally displaced persons in certain areas will change
to mix with. herrion questions but i think this is more on the line of the consequences of war rather than direct manipulation of the refugees and i want to quote something from from the book from furious some armies in civil war use refugees as assets to establish the international legitimacy of their cause and again i that's really chance with me because i think the refugee issue has been exploited enormously by the by the syrian opposition because. these people were forced out of the neighborhoods because the opposition signed it took up arms suddenly became the poster boys for for the rabbi. because where in fact they may or may not agree with the with the rebels way. you know what i think let's first say refugees are always weak
timbs. regardless of what party or what what the only nation to have a lot of them are women children vulnerable groups that need to be supported but you're right i mean this manipulation. and of course refugee camps are used who for and or who are for opposition groups or other groups which want to have a certain sanctuary for a certain time before they go back in and of caused this is why it is hard to say tax in turkey very recently at the border between syria and turkey this is very explosive and the last question i would like to ask you you know that a couple of weeks ago the russian foreign minister lavrov hostage his american counterpart john kerry in moscow and they finally two years later after you know almost eighty thousand people were killed in syria decided that i actually american and russia can do something on the on they on on the syrian issue do you think
there is after everything we've been through and everything that we discussed today do you think there is any chance for them actually coming. sort of compromise that would bring a difference to the lives of people on the ground well let's be optimistic going to have to i think there is no alternative because the situation as it is as you said is really completely unacceptable. the question will be then of course what's next let's hope there will be cease fire let's hope that to rebuild syria will be a huge huge problem and those are the chances has to come in i mean crimes were committed again on the eve of conventions persons have to be kept accountable now you just mentioned. this may be an optimistic scenario and i think what's important also to point out is that russia never can. that itself as an optimist that calls itself a rationalist rather than optimist and maybe it just struck me that being an
optimist is actually the worst thing you can be in the in the international politics because obviously i guess in many of the western decision makers were very optimistic that syria after getting rid of bashar assad will become. a burgeoning democracy in the next day but two years down the line they have slowed are still continuing but unfortunately this is all we have time for thank you very much for your time and please join us again same place same time here on the. wealthy british soil. from time to.
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