Restrepo, 2010, a film by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington.
Reviewed for Peacehawks by Jamie Arbuckle

It is a characteristic of our very advanced communications media that the medium is often not the message, and sometimes contains almost no message at all. This film is one such non-message.

The intention of the film seems to be to accompany the book, War, by Sebastian Junger. Junger is a skilled writer with a strong sense of contemporary history and is well known for his narrative skills, both of which are amply displayed in his book. War presents the operations of Battle Company, 2nd Parachute Infantry Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan from May 2007 to July 2008. (The other companies in the Battalion are called “Chosen” and “Destined” – the irony, as in so much of the terminology used here, is certainly unintentional.) In particular, the movie tells inter alia the story of the Second Platoon of Battle Company in combat outpost Restrepo, which was named for a very popular medic, Juan Restrepo, and which was established shortly after he was killed in action in Afghanistan.

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by Jamie Arbuckle, presented to the Workshops on Diversity and Global Understanding, Vienna 2 June 2010

A thoroughly modern complex humanitarian emergency typically is a multi-agency operation, involving a vasty array of organizations: international, regional, local; governmental, non-governmental; civilian and military. All have a contribution to make, and some will be vital, but none of them can work alone. Meshing their capabilities to avoid duplications and omissions, is a major challenge for what, begging your pardon and for lack of any better term, I will call the international community. Collectively, they pose a staggering range of diversity, and they present the most complex operating environment I have ever encountered. It is therefore on this, the humanitarian emergency, on which I will now focus. The challenges arising from the organizational and cultural diversity of international and local actors in this type of peace operation are poorly understood, but the problems are so well-known as to have become like Dr Johnson said of the weather: more productive of conversation than of knowledge.
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Light Candles or Curse the Darkness: East Timor Turns the Century

“Militaries that are doing something bad sometimes go into their shell. It’s them against the world.”
– Admiral Dennis Blair, CinC U.S. Pacific Command, on the Indonesian Armed Forces, in 1999.
“ … cutting off contact with Indonesian officers only makes the problem worse”
– Paul Wolfowitz
“Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
– Confucius

- a book report by Jamie Arbuckle for Peacehawks:

If You Leave us Here, We Will Die – How Genocide was Stopped in East Timor, by Geoffrey Robinson, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2010, 317 pages, $35


This book tells of the terrible and the wonderful events in East Timor, centred on but not limited to the years 1999- 2000, and of the candles that were lit then. For us the messages in this book are three, and they bear directly on our central belief that peace must be maintained at least as robustly as it is violated. These three messages concern:
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As the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) comes to a close at the end of this year, it may serve as a model for successful peacekeeping, as well as a prototype for the UN’s new emphasis on peacebuilding.
- From UNAMSIL: A Success Story in Peacekeeping, from “End of Mission Press Kit”, December 2005,
A book review, by Jamie Arbuckle, for Peacehawks:Operation Barras: the SAS Rescue Mission, Sierra Leone 2000, by William Fowler, Cassell, London, 2004. 211 pp, $9.95 (pb)


In the summer of 2000 things just couldn’t have been much worse for the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Since February, 1998, nearly 650 persons – peacekeepers, relief workers, priests, nuns, diplomats, and normal people whose luck had run out – had been kidnapped, and 19 of them had been murdered. 575 of those taken were Blue Berets, the equivalent of a whole battalion. By late summer of 2000, about 600 persons had been released, including all of the UN peacekeepers. But about 50 were still captive and, when 11 British soldiers were seized on 25 August, things were getting pretty serious. Yet, less than two years later, the civil war had ended (and seems to have stayed that way), and in 2003 the Kimberly Process virtually ended traffic in the “blood diamonds”, which had been used to finance the rebels. In 2004 the disarmament of the rebel factions was completed and a war crimes tribunal was convened. At the end of 2005, just five years after that nadir of 2000, the peacekeeping mission was being phased out to a peacebuilding mission, and the close-out briefings in New York were presenting this as the poster child of a successful mission.
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Trackless Diplomacy – At Play in the Fields of the Lord’s Resistance Army

… the peacemaker must ‘wage’ peace.
– Ben Hoffmann
Peace Guerilla – unarmed and in harm’s way, my obsession with ending violence
By Ben Hoffmann, Ph.D., The Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation, Ottawa, 2009 206 pp., $12.96 (Cdn)
A review for Peacehawks by Jamie Arbuckle


This book is the story of Ben Hoffman’s efforts to end a nineteen-year old war between Sudan and Uganda. His chief instrument in this was the Nairobi Agreement, which had been mediated by former President Jimmy Carter in December, 1999. Ben, working on behalf of the Carter Center (, was to oversee the implementation of the Agreement. To do so, he would have to end the guerilla war being waged by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army against the Government of Uganda, from safe areas within and with the support of Sudan. Kony’s LRA was an especially vile band, kidnapping children for “warriors” and “wives”. Kony himself, as Ben makes graphically clear, was mad, bad and dangerous to know. And get to know him Ben did, with all that entailed. If you take nothing else from this reading, you will empathize with the courage and the self-reliance required for this sort of intervention.
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The United Nations Today: As Good as it Gets?

- by Jamie Arbuckle, for Peacehawks

What’s Wrong With the United Nations, and How to Fix It
By Thomas Weiss,
Polity Press, 292 pp., $19.45, 2009

The UN … is essentially the collective agent of its member states. Many of the UN’s organizational incapacities could be corrected by additional resources from its member states, who devote but a tiny fraction of the resources they spend on national security to collective action under the umbrella of the United Nations.
Peacemaking and Peacekeeping for the New Century, Ottunnu and Doyle, Rowan and Littlefield, New York, 1996

This is an interesting book about the United Nations, and an impressive effort to get beyond the usual procedural and structural tinkering which has characterized and limited most efforts to “improve” the U.N. Thomas Weiss is certainly well qualified to write this book. He combines the skills and the background of a practitioner and a scholar: he served with the U.N. Secretariat for a decade, but has also distinguished himself as an academic for over 25 years, during which he has been a profound student of and a prolific writer, researcher and teacher about, the U.N.
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National Sovereignty, Domestic Jurisdiction and Consent

Presentation to the Blue Helmet Forum Austria
4-6 June 2009

National Sovereignty, Domestic Jurisdiction and Consent:
The Last Refuges of Scoundrels

By James V. Arbuckle, O.M.M., C.D.

Shall I say what I mean?
Mean what I say?
– Marianne Faithful

This paper is NOT JUST about peace operations in Chad; rather it is about ALL peace operations throughout the history of peacekeeping:

The issue of consent to an operation is central to the mandating and the conduct of all interventions. The post-Cold War surge in intra-national conflicts has increased the importance of this issue, as interventions almost inevitably encounter issues of national sovereignty. In Sudan, especially in the West Darfur region of Sudan, we see today most clearly the ongoing struggle between, on the one hand, national sovereignty, domestic jurisdiction and “host” consent and, on the other hand, a clear case of a need – some would say a responsibility – for outsiders to intervene.
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By James V. Arbuckle, O.M.M., C.D.

The Haiti earthquake is not quite the greatest catastrophe, natural or manmade, which has occurred since World War II: the death tolls in Bangladesh in 1970, China in 1976 and 2004 and on the Indian Ocean in 2004, probably exceeded the presumed deaths in Haiti this week[2]. Much has or should have been learned form these earlier tragedies about disaster relief and about reconstruction, and these early days of inevitably and excusably frantic and uncoordinated efforts must now be giving way to more effective and sustainable programmes. Detailled planning for the next stages must begin now.
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R2P vs State Sovereignty: The Last Refuge of Scoundrels

Presentation to Canadian Studies Centre Symposium, The University of Innsbruck, 12 November 2009, by James V. Arbuckle

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.[1]

- Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1775


The responsibility for the conduct of states towards their people has long been a subject of controversy. None of any outsider’s business, said Hitler in 1933 (to the League of Nations), and Stalin in 1948 (to the drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). However, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the General Assembly (GA) of the United Nations on 10 December 1948, and changed forever the concept of the relationship of a state to its people, and its responsibility for them.

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Managing Public Information in a Mediation Process

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Issue Areas
Conflict Management and Resolution
Mediation and Facilitation
Post-Conflict Activities
Center for Mediation and Conflict Resolution

February 2009 Book by Ingrid A. Lehmann

Those who mediate international conflicts must communicate publicly with a wide variety of audiences, from governments and rebel forces to local and international media, NGOs and IGOs, divided communities and diasporas.

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