Reactions to Operation Python Dance 11, the second phase of a military exercise in Nigeria’s Southeastern region is predictably dominating the social media with personal opinions, amateur videos and other textual forms. Opinion and interpretations understandably vary between those highly, moderately and minimally against it and those highly, moderately and minimally for it. Whether against or for is what is required is the question.
Some peace practitioners would argue that working for de-escalation is what is required. In what might to date be the most systematic articulation of this, Cees Hamelink, the University of Amsterdam Emeritus Professor of International Communications said in 2008, among others, that: “The essence of living is conflict. Conflict between life and death. Conflict between who we are and who we would want to be. Conflict between expectations and realities. Conflict is the source of creativity, growth and productivity. Conflict is at the core of a democratic society. The prevention of conflict is an unrealistic proposition and most likely also a very undesirable enterprise. What needs prevention is the escalation of conflict into lethal violence or forms of ‘deep damages to human relations’.
With Professor Hamelink’s distinction, it is expected that all those involved in healing fissures in the society will get more concretely involved and produce a more lasting resolution of the circumstances underpinning the escalation in this case. This would automatically stretch from the Nigerian State to the non-state sector involving diverse global governance actors, moral authorities, the media, etc.