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How Peace Movements Move

John Hinderaker, in his style, finds (and often generates) the most incisive top-down analysis of the current state of global politics. This morn he points to a column by Thomas Sowell who generously offers an appraisal of the historical effectiveness of the peace movement. Here’s Thomas:

“Peace” movements are among those who take advantage of this widespread inability to see beyond rhetoric to realities. Few people even seem interested in the actual track record of so-called “peace” movements — that is, whether such movements actually produce peace or war.

Take the Middle East. People are calling for a cease-fire in the interests of peace. But there have been more cease-fires in the Middle East than anywhere else. If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth instead of the most violent.

Was World War II ended by cease-fires or by annihilating much of Germany and Japan?

There was a time when it would have been suicidal to threaten, much less attack, a nation with much stronger military power because one of the dangers to the attacker would be the prospect of being annihilated.

“World opinion,” the U.N. and “peace movements” have eliminated that deterrent. An aggressor today knows that if his aggression fails, he will still be protected from the full retaliatory power and fury of those he attacked because there will be hand-wringers demanding a cease fire, negotiations and concessions.

That has been a formula for never-ending attacks on Israel in the Middle East. The disastrous track record of that approach extends to other times and places — but who looks at track records?

This morning I woke up to National Public Radio news, as I usually do. (It is still, after all, one of the few sane-sounding things on the radio. I say sane-sounding because the content itself is objectively insane—in the sense that it lacks the ability to discriminate between right and wrong actions. But, gosh, it all sounds rational as can be.) The reporter offered his lede: “The war between Israel and Hezbollah continues to grow more violent, as each side extends deeper into the other’s territory.”

He continued to say something like, “Hezbollah has declared that it will not accept any ceasefire unless it requires Israel to cede all territory gained during the war.”

No such statement from Israel, because Israel is interested in playing the ceasefire game only insofar as its protector nation will eventually force it to play. Hezbollah, too, is disinterested in a ceasefire. Didn’t you hear—each is gaining land on the other. Hezbollah slices south and Israel cuts north; both deeper by the day. And Hezbollah, at least, has made it known that it won’t stop the rockets ‘til Israel gives up every acre it has gained and all goes back to the status quo. We used to call that a demand for surrender. It is a strange and probably unintended aspect of our international regime that a terrorist group can call on its enemy—one it still swears to destroy, because it believes in the wrong God and all that—for surrender and that terrorist group is seen as desiring (and deserving) peace.

The international community, in love with short-term peace and terrified of long-term solutions which require a spot of faith and a bit of risk, paints this picture. It is a tableau of misunderstanding, miscommunication, misdirection. Everything with the United Nations begins in mis-, because mis- imparts all wrongdoing to an anonymous third party. It is the passive voice of international relations, and it does a terrible job describing what is actually happening on the ground. On the ground, the NPR reporter tells me, Hezbollah cuts and Israel slices. They both are digging deeper and fighting fiercer. They have forgotten, really, about the two kidnapped soldiers. They are warring. They’re two men in a bar at one in the morning. Insult wife, shove, shove back, swear, swear and shove, punch, punch, break bottle and swear, etc. It never occurs to anyone to put them both in a quarantine—sustaining the heart’s madness but refusing the muscles the ability to turn, and therefore to sap, that madness with a few blows.

Why is this gnawing stasis seen as desirable in the Middle East? Very simply because stasis is the new substitute for resolution, at least in the distant gleaming halls of the United Nations.


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