Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sorry John Lennon - sometimes, love isn't the answer

I was reading this post by Landismom over at Bumblebee Sweet Potato and it got me thinking about the idea of diplomacy vs. the use of force.

First let me say this - I'm not a fan of war. I think the loss of life and waste of resources is horrible and sad. I would love it if the concept of the United Nations actually worked. Representatives of every country sit in a room and talk out issues and war is prevented. Wouldn't that be nice? But I'm realistic enough to know that there are times when a show of force, or even a full-scale war, is necessary. Sometimes you're faced with an enemy who isn't interested in talking. You can't (and shouldn't) always turn the other cheek when you're attacked or threatened. Sometimes, force is necessary.

If your child was being bullied and the bully wasn't willing to resolve things peacefully, how would you tell your child to react? I used to agree with the phrase "Violence never solved anything." But when my little brother was being bullied at school, and all attempts at playground diplomacy failed, my brother (at my dad's suggestion) punched the bully in the mouth. Voila - no more bullying. Sometimes, violence is necessary to STOP violence. Or, said another way - violence begets violence. The bully started it, my brother responded.

Similarly, look at what happened with Israel and Lebanon. Lebanon allowed Hezbollah free reign inside the country (kind of like my brother's school allowed the bully to push other kids around on the playground). Hezbollah had its own army and was openly threatening Israel. Israel kept warning Lebanon but Lebanon (like my brother's teacher) pretty much said "Well, there's not really anything we can do about it." And then Hezbollah started sending it's army into Israel, taking hostages and killing innocent people. So - should Israel have continued to try to talk to Hezbollah while Israel's citizens and soldiers were being kidnapped and killed? Should Israel have begged the Lebanese government to do something about a problem that the government had been unable or unwilling to deal with? Most importantly, how can diplomacy work in that situation where Hezbollah and their ilk refuse to acknowledge that Israel even has a right to exist? The ONLY thing that stopped Hezbollah (at least for the time being) was war.

I'm not going to express an opinion one way or another about the Iraq war mostly because I simply don't have enough facts to argue with the all-knowing Internet on the topic. (I probably don't have enough facts to argue the Israel/Hezbollah issue, either. But that seemed to be a pretty clear cut issue to me.) In all honesty, I don't know whether we did the right thing in Iraq.

But I feel very strongly that you can't negotiate with terrorists. We can't play by one set of rules (talk nicely and don't hit) against a team that plays by a different set of rules (it's perfectly okay to kill someone who doesn't agree with you) and expect to come out of it alive and well.


Sandra said...

The problem is, people are not always going to agree on who is the bully. In your example, you see Hizbullah as the bully, but I think Israel is the bully.

I know war is a reality and it will always be with us, but I think it is wrong. I find most Americans kind of shrug and throw up their hands about war, but most of them have never actually experienced it first-hand, never had to worry about how to live and raise their children in a war zone. If there was an actual threat of a full-blown war on U.S. soil, most of us would suddenly see the value of diplomacy.

My husband grew up in a war zone and it's absolutely devastating to humans to live like that. One never fully recovers.

I believe in negotiating with anyone who is willing to negotiate, no matter what bad things they've done in the past. The U.S. has done horrible, unforgiveable things--ethnic cleansing, genocide, slavery--but other countries still recognize us and negotiate with us. No matter what mistakes a nation has made, as long as it is still willing to negotiate, that is always preferable to war.

War should always be a last resort, and it should be recognized as a failure of leadership. If our leaders can't keep us out of war, what good are they? In my opinion, their highest priority should be to prevent war.

Kristen said...

The other problem (I agree with Sandra's comments above - very well put, Sandra) is that what we hear about these issues is rarely the entire story. For instance, the U.S. has committed more terrorist acts and more unprecedented ones, than any other nation. They aren't presented in this country as terrorist acts of course (even though they meet the definition of international terrorism). Before the U.S. steps up to "defend" or "pre-empt," it's necessary to ask whether or not that act is going to further terrorism or curb it. So far, our acts of war (even if we don't call them terrorism directly) have done nothing but enhance the threat of global terrorism.

This is a complicated issue - I usually don't address these things because people feel so strongly one way or the other, but I thought you had some interesting points and I felt I could add to what Sandra said.

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