The situation at the moment seems intractable. The death, damage and suffering seems incomprehensible by any measure of rationality. My heart certainly goes out to the Syrian people and their Canadian-Syrian families.

In terms of what Canada can do, perhaps the new government will seek something constructive. The current approach of relentless diplomacy, expanding to include all parties must continue. Unfortunately, negotiation is often a question of timing, inclusiveness and understanding possibilities.

Some principles come to mind in the peacemaking domain:

  •  You cannot just pound stakes in the ground and call it dialogue.
  • Do not fall in love with solutions that do not work, however elegant and caring and just they may be.
  • Until readiness and willingness, engage the meta questions.
      This is unfolding as “desperate and helpless waiting” as the war drags on. Perhaps the political solution is not the current concern. Perhaps the violence and refugees are the main concern. What comes to mind is a model of

peace operations which include as a minimum, strict obligations and every reasonable effort to:  

  • Stop or prevent violence or killing as a first priority.
  • Care for the victims.
  • Create safe spaces for peace talks or diplomacy.
  • Strengthen or rebuild governance at all levels.
  • Make efforts to create safe, healthy and socially responsible communities.
  • Reconstruction of economies and infrastructure.
  • Enable truth, reconciliation and justice activity.

The ethic of care should supersede the ethic of justice. The care/heart level concerns outweigh the transactional issues at this moment. This may be a key point of dialogue with all parties which has possibilities. (Which I hope is a big part of current efforts.) Could Canada be the neutral party to advance or broker this? We may be a small country, but should not refuse to do what we can do.

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