Monday, July 31, 2006

Foreign Affairs for Dummies

It strikes me that trying to get to the bottom of any international dispute requires some simple
  1. It would really help all international disputes if a UN resolution was passed to the effect that any party that uses force or threat of force either as an act of aggression or act of defence is by definition 'a terrorist'.
  2. Having a democratically elected government doesn't mean you can't be a terrorist nation.
  3. There is no point in determining which terror is justified and which isn't.
  4. There also isn't much point in measuring proportions of terror (or for that matter, grief or justification). Proportionality of response is a stupid, stupid logic which presumes that a response was justified and that the only thing in question was the appopriateness of said response.
  5. Saying that you won't negotiate with terrorists is a noble but futile position. It is futile because history shows that the only groups that ever get negotiated with are those which threaten violence.
  6. Suggesting that an aggressive nation is guity of crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or mass genocide is an unnecessary distinction. This only serves to move the argument away from the absolute evil that is being perpetrated to a debate about the scale of that evil.
  7. A people that have suffered genocide in their recent past are no more likely to desist from conducting their own ethnic cleaning than a nation that hasn't so suffered.
  8. Promulgating the view that another nation should be wiped off the face of the earth is likely to encourage that nation to get their retaliation in first.
  9. Saying that you will stop being evil, if they stop being evil first is nothing to be proud about. Only the nation that breaks the cycle has any claim of the moral high ground and even then only a tenuous one.
  10. Wringing your hands and pretending to want a peaceful resolution whilst (a) doing nothing to bring peace about (b) providing more arms to one side to continue the slaughter (c) you don't talk to terrorists (d) or any of the above, means that you aren't really a superpower. You are just as despicable, culpable and evil as any of the warring factions.

Now, for the record, Israel and the Hezbullah are evil terrorists. Any resolution of this dispute will require US & Britain, Iran & Syria to stop supporting terrorists and start talking to terrorists.

The above clarifications generally also work in other international theatres of war, disputes between neighbours and resolving arguments between teenage boys.



Blogger Fence said...

So have you printed out multiple copies of your guide and sent them round to all relevant parties?


8:54 p.m., July 31, 2006  
Blogger Valannin said...

"Now, for the record, Israel and the Hezbullah are evil terrorists"

Only a European can make such a (true) statement and not be villified for it. Here in the states, you place the words "Israel" and "terrorist" too close to each other in a sentence and you're branded with a bright letter "A" for Anti-semite.

IMHO, any group that fires missiles at another group because of disputes over centuries-old superstitions is automatically a terrorist.

And don't hold your breath waiting for the UN to pass an resolutions. They don't move on anything unless there's profit to be had...

10:42 p.m., July 31, 2006  
Blogger parnellpr said...

I thought this was interesting so can i link 2 it in my blog 2morrow?

1:14 a.m., August 01, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Fence, thanks for the quote.

Valannin, that was going to be another one of the points - "Calling someone anti-semetic or zionist doesn't help the situation and only serves to polarise a dispute that doesn't need any more polarising. In general during dispute resolution, it is unhelpful to call the other party names however justified the label may be."

Many Irish people have an empathy with the US and have some regard for the past persecution of the Jewish people. However, we also have experience of what damage a minority group can do when they become a localised majority. No-one has a monopoly on pain and suffering.

A good friend tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Pippa, please link away.


10:03 a.m., August 01, 2006  
Blogger Curly K said...

Well said Paige. I like the humour about young boys at the end nice touch ;)

11:41 a.m., August 01, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Oh what a fine big contribution to thinking. You have sent me back to the drawing board. I better try harder to tease out my views before opening my fingers.

Above all it's great to have something to bounce off on here.

I'll be back.

1:41 p.m., August 01, 2006  
Blogger plurabella said...

Thanks Paige, have printed out and will read carefully, should help my "confusion".

1:03 a.m., August 02, 2006  
Blogger John of Dublin said...

Even though Israel and Middle East is a complex situation, your points are still quite valid. In spite of history you can only work within the present. Your views are balanced.

12:41 p.m., August 02, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

I wonder if the principles are connected - whether number 1 is the foundation on which everything stands?

"any party that uses force or threat of force either as an act of aggression or act of defence is by definition 'a terrorist'..."

This makes USA, UK, Australia, Russia, China, Munster rugby team, a householder who beats off a burglar etc all "terrorists".

If we are not careful we will kill the word "terrorist". It will not be useful as a descriptor for anything.

Defensive force = terrorism.

I think it's accurate to say that 'one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter'. So the word "terrorist" is inherently problematic and loaded with value judgement. It might be best not to use the word at all. I agree with you that name-calling is not helpful.

Do UN Resolutions help resolve international disputes? No. Not always. Sometimes yes. I see no necessary connection between such resolutions and peaceful co-existence. Surely UN Resolutions are useful as a process for members of the UN to express what their public opinion expects? Irish people are horrified at the carnage in Lebanon. Irish people want to make their feelings known. So Irish government can support a UN Resolution. Otherwise Irish people will feel even more upset.

I played golf last week with an Irish soldier. Met him for the first time on the putting green at Fermoy Golf Club. He'd been to Lebanon seven times on tours of duty. Afganistan as well. He told me that 43 Irish soldiers had been killed in Lebanon over the years. I was shocked. That many Irish families and friends devastated for the cause of peace in that cauldron. It made me think more about the value of UN Resolutions, their cathartic effect...

If the main value of UN Resolutions is to give voice to pubic opinion, isn't it best to let them be as freely worded and ambiguous as need be. There are times when you need ambiguity to enable one resolution to speak for all - so that all the sides can claim something for them in the wording.

We have seen UN Resolutions manipulated by great powers and small powers. The Resolutions provide a reference point in the search for legitimacy. It is as if all acts of war, whether aggressive or defensive, need legitimising on the altar of some high moral authority. Humans need to feel that they fight for the cause of righteousness. It was once only a religious god that provided that reference point. Increasingly UN Resolutions function in that space.

We seem to need UN Resolutions and to be able to ignore them. This is both valuable and disgraceful. For a complex international order, where it is vital to contain and constrict bloody warfare within (sic) theatres, I suspect UN Resolutions provide fora within which blocs of opposing supporters can safely manoevre - while warlords consider the balance of play.

But there is now a track record of ignored Resolutions, and it is increasingly hard to explain to young people why this is an advance in civilization and peace-making.

I have only responded to your first principle. There was so much richness there.

10:30 a.m., August 03, 2006  
Blogger parnellpr said...

I 4got! Sorry. Will link at weekend. Pippa

12:19 a.m., August 04, 2006  
Blogger -canuck- said...

Do you have difficulty distinguishing between good and bad? Right and wrong?

What a meaningless rant.

6:04 a.m., August 08, 2006  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

Canuck: greetings. I'm not sure whether your comment is addressed to BlankPaige the author, or to everyone who has commented so far.

I have difficulty distinguishing between good and bad, and also between right and wrong. And I am glad that I have such difficulty because there was a time when I thought I knew it all. I was a lot less happy then.

If I had no such difficulty, I would be an arrogant thickO. I would be too self-opinionated to be good company for anyone except those who agreed with me and needed additional confirmation of their prejudices.

Is it right to be so righteous? Wrong to be so sure?

I do hold a view on the politics of the Middle East. I am persuaded of certain things and I don't approach the current situation with an open and empty mind. In my own book, I'm right. But does that make me right?

I've had look at your blog. You are indeed trenchant and self-assured and that appeals to me. But if you want dialogue and communication you'll need to do more than broadcast damning and incurious condemnations.

I wonder what brought you to the decision to write your comment, and what you were hoping to achieve by it?

You may have done your cause an injustice and undermined its credibility, by a tiny tiny amount.

2:15 p.m., August 08, 2006  

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