Thursday, April 03, 2003

We didn't want to believe they would really invade - but in retrospect the signs were all there. Some of us tried very hard to understand their thinking so as to communicate with them more effectively, but their continued resort to violence which could in no way lead to a more peaceful world convinced us that talking alone was not enough - and the talkers were sadly mistaken. To many it came to seem the talkers were almost traitors, conceding the enemy time to continue while pretending to resist. The sides became more and more polarized, and conflict within as well as without may well be permanent.

Are we and they the United States and Iraq, from the invasion of Kuwait, with the anti war movement as the talkers? Or are 'we' the opponents of the Iraqi war, with some protesters vandalizing 9/11 memorials? Not too long ago an (alleged) hacker visited my site with a plan to attack a CNN website. How could any reasonable person think this a step towards peace?

If you talk to the people around you, it is sometimes surprising who favors this war and who opposes it. Almost all of us seem to agree that one side is clearly right and another is clearly wrong - and yet the people on the wrong side often seem so normal. It is hard to avoid the feeling that our civilization is all of a peace in some sense. If the peace protesters are in some sense right, they must also in some sense be wrong - because resorting to force when it cannot possibly be effective in the long term is such a human trait. Yet if those who are convinced our civilization is so enlightened that we can be confident of remaking another nation by force under adverse circumstances are wrong, there is still something amazing about a nation allowing peace protesters while it is at war. There are not many nations in human history that would, certainly not Iraq.

As an opponent of this war, I say give non violent action a chance. The more we try and explain our reasons, the more they seem to sneer and discount us. It is only natural to become angry in such circumstances, to become more strident rather than try harder to understand 'them'. Since that very natural reaction is just what we think is inappropriate to an age of nuclear weapons and information that has almost escaped control, we must show we are serious about resisting it.

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