Dear RN list, Carolyn Ballard, whose collaboration with Richard pre-dates mine, and who has inspired us both, sent me a message from someone else whose work has been a great inspiration, Tom Atlee. It describes how some PLO people managed to "defuse" a terrorist group that had served its purpose. Quite the story (leading to some very interesting reflections by Tom. See next message.) Moving from violence to non-violence is a problem for us all, and has been for ages. As it happens, Hans Sinn (a peace-building "veteran" for sure!) raised the issue with me before. It's worth copying what he wrote below. all the best, Jan ****************************************************************************** From: Hans Sinn <•••@••.•••> (Feb. 2001) "In my experience, most young people join the military as a way of finding a job, to get an education, to make a living not to die. The need of people to make a living constructively becomes apparent by the significant number of soldiers who, when they lose the opportunity to use armed force on behalf of society, will go on to make a living by armed force on the back of society. For instance, since the collapse of the Soviet Union a large number of former soldiers and KGB officers have become part of the global crime network, drugs, prostition, smuggling, extortion. In the US, The Hells Angels had their beginning as former US bomber pilots. And then there are the militias all over the world. One could go on at great length to show how men who served (or seemed to serve) the public by their military skills went on to become a scourge of society once they lost the chance to use their military skills for the public good. It is a classic problem with no easy solution. Today, as in the Middle Ages, former soldiers, militias, mercenaries and armed gangs terrorize, kill, plunder and generally live on the backs of unarmed civilians. According to John Keegan, one of today's foremost war historians, Charles' VII King of Frances first addressed this problem and around 1445-6 started to bring these freebooters under some measure of control. ... (John Keegan, A History of Warfare, Vintage Books, 1993, ISBN 0-394-58801-0) ...John Keegan cites the Russian Cossacks as in many ways typical of the predominantly male assemblies, who were never brought under social control. The Russian Cossacks evolved their own tradition as lordless, womanless, propertyless marauders, living off the land. "Involvement of the Cossacks (in a military campaign) was in itself a guarantee that incendiarism, pillage, rape, murder and hundred of other outrages would abound, for to Cossacks war was not politics, but a culture and a way of life." ( Keegan p. 7) I am focussing on the militias and death squads, the freebooters, because our Peace Brigades International (PBI) volunteers are encountering them in the daily attempt to protect community activists against being assassinated. Thus a week ago, on February 8, the Colombia right wing militia announced that PBI-volunteers in Colombia (the site of our largest current project) are now militia targets, along with the community activist to whom our volunteers provide protective accompaniment. Which presents PBI with the classic dilemma of the unarmed civilian: Should PBI call the "official" Colombian army for help? Or should PBI heed the Russian proverb "If the dogs attack you don't call the wolf for help." The Russian proverb reflects the experience of the majority of working people with armed force and the immense difficulty and pain involved in weaning ourselves gradually from our dependence on armed force."