Monday, March 3, 2008

Let's pray for peace

First let me get you up to speed with the particular could be war situation I'm talking about:

Colombia bombed a FARC camp a few miles within the territory of Ecuador. Initially, Ecuador's response was calm, but Venezuela saw this as an affront to Ecuador's territory and part of a US-backed plan to dominate the region. Ecuador then agreed and now both countries have moved their armies to Colombia's borders. Colombia has held its army back but has said that documents it recovered from the FARC camp (which also indicates there was a brief ground mission into Ecuador) show links between Ecuador's government and FARC and more substantial links between Chavez and FARC.

In short, it's a tense situation.

Here's some articles:

Here's the basic situation
Here's an AP News Analyst saying war is unlikely puts the raid into the context of the US-backed war against FARC
The Colombian raid killed an important FARC leader, which Colombia is saying is the #2 rebel in FARC.
Ecuador is claiming that the Colombian raid blocked a hostage release.

There's a lot more out there, but be cautious. There are definite biases when dealing with Colombia and FARC. More right-leaning people tend to be pro-Colombian government, anti-FARC. More left-leaning people tend to be anti-Colombian government, but anti-FARC as well. Strongly left-leaning people (mostly Communist sympathizers) tend to be anti-Colombian government, pro-FARC. I personally tend to be pro-Colombian government, with some reservations, and anti-FARC, with a few reservations.

Now for me.

I'm by no means a fan of war. I'm by no means a pacifist either. During the run-up to the Iraq War I did a lot of thinking about when war was justified, overall I vacillated back and forth over whether the Iraq War was justified in particular, but I'm the kind of man who takes a particular circumstance and uses it for some general thinking.

After all, at the time there was very little I could do about the war if it happened. I suppose if I was solidly against it or for it, I could protest. But even if I was that solid in my opinions about the war at the time, which I wasn't, events were moving too fast. For real wars, events always tend to move to fast. I suppose that's why I doubt we'll go to war with Iran, even in tense moments like several tense naval encounters last year, things have moved slowly. With the current Latin American situation however, things are moving fast.

My ultimate conclusion was thus: Governments can be justified in going to war for self-defense or defense of an ally. Pre-emptive war is unjustified. Humanitarian war... is an iffy concept.

But to get back to this particular situation.

I think Colombia made a mistake. Its war with FARC is perfectly legitimate in my mind since FARC is a rebel army that regularly employs terroristic tactics (like massive kidnapping), on the other hand previous Colombian gov. paramilitary backing was massively bad, since those paramilitaries tended to commit many atrocities (while many of the current gov. have alleged links to paramilitaries, I think that these links are not a fatal infection, and this current gov. is one of the first to take concrete action against the paramilitaries). Now FARC has been crossing borders, and Venezuela and Ecuador, who have ideological sympathies with FARC are likely providing the group at least protection (but I'm unsure if the reports of active and significant monetary and military support are true), so Colombia striking within Ecuador's borders (especially since the original reports said Colombia informed Ecuador about the strike, although Ecuador said it was misinformed) is not I think completely outside Colombia's rights. But it's a bad move. If it does not violate international law, it violates international rules of decorum. Colombia was inviting raised tensions with a strike like this.

However raised tensions are one thing. Moving troops to the border and cutting off trade is another. And that's what Ecuador and Venezuela are doing. And that really is unacceptably pushing near war. Again, this isn't beyond international law, but it's beyond international common sense. This is a bad situation.

So let's pray for peace.

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