Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Peaceful" Polarization

February 2005 - cntd. -

It's a sad state of affairs when the those receiving public acclaim for their peace efforts are unable to grasp the complexities of international affairs, and as a result, ironically add to the divisive tone in current affairs.

Author Arundhati Roy, when receiving the Sydney Peace Prize in Nov. 2004, made invidious comparisons between governments and terrorists as follows:

"It is mendacious to make moral distinction between the
unspeakable brutality of terrorism and the indiscriminate carnage
of war and occupation. Both kinds of violence are unacceptable. We
cannot support one and condemn the other."

Unfortunately for Roy (and perhaps fortunately for the rest of us), the parallels are hardly this elegant. Many governments (including that of the U.S.) are accountable to their electorate and the "court of public opinion"; terrorists are not. Most governments are confined to protocol and processes (e.g. managing the reactions of their citizens and neighboring countries, at the very least) that are bypassed by the terrorist. As a result, the violence inflicted by terrorists is arbitrary and typically without consequence, and does not lend itself to any framework for negotiation or diplomacy.

This is a great example of how simplistic analysis is contributing to the increased polarization of public dialogue.