These are bad days for peace. There are riots in Ulster, the PLO and theIsraelis are nose to nose again, and there is new talk of confrontation inthe Middle East. How is this possible? In each place it all comes on thetail of something called the "peace process." There has certainly beenplenty of process, but it always seems to make things less instead of morepeaceful.
The spectacle recalls a curious gap in George Orwell's list of rhetoricalswindles and perversions (in "Politics and the English Language"). Orwelldid not mention the word p, though there was good cause to do so. In1947 when his essay was first published, the image of Chamberlain wavingthat pathetic scrap of paper in the wind was vivid in the memory of everyonewho had ever seen a newsreel.
Advertisement - story continues below
Why did Orwell skip over such an obvious case for indictment? Maybe hetoo was subdued by the peculiar hypnotic spell which is cast by the mantraof peace, peace. Its current underlying element of appeasement is --if journalists do remark on it -- studiously ignored by politicians."Peace" (joined at the hip with "process") is chanted by ministers and hacksas a kind of hieratic litany which is not to be questioned, nor evenproperly defined. Any attempt to do either can provoke angry accusations ofwarmongering, of callous indifference to bloodshed, of enmity to thebrotherhood of man, and other hideous moral crimes and misdemeanors.
An interesting remark on peace was made in the famous book "On War," byCarl von Clausewitz. He observed that the aggressor always prefers peace,because it allows him to get what he wants without the effort of fightingfor it. This view is confirmed when the goal of "peace" and its "process" isinfused with malice, shown in the forked-tongue pronouncements of SinnFein/IRA in Ulster, or Islamist rhetoric in the Middle East, which calls forthe destruction in Israel while talking peace in English. And in Ulster SinnFein/IRA sit smugly on their hands watching the Protestant riots -- thefruit of a "process" of one concession after another to Sinn Fein/IRA,salami-slicing away British sovereignty while the Republican terroristscontinue to bomb, kill, and maim.
Running circles around Western governments, terrorists and theirsupporters have transformed a relatively straightforward swindle andperversion ("peace in our time") into an adroit and crooked game ofpolitical judo ("peace process"), in which a vicious, undemocratic minority(Sinn Fein/IRA in Ulster, Islamist bigots in Israel) trip up a more powerfulopponent and render him vulnerable in the court of public opinion. Defensiveaction by Israelis, or the British government's anti-terrorist legislation,is treated as morally equivalent to bloodshed and violence perpetrated byterrorists, whose own calculated viciousness is ruefully portrayed bypoliticians and journalists as "unfortunate," the work of "splinter groups,"or simply as "provoked" by the "failure" to accept terrorist demands --e.g., an armed IRA's United Ireland, or, in the Middle East, an independent(and armed) Palestinian State in return for palpably hollow promises ofsecurity. In Israel the knowledge of this double standard is grimlycartooned on a T-shirt sold all over Tel Aviv: an American Indian in fullwar bonnet says to the late Yitzhak Rabin: "Let me tell you about land forpeace."
Of course "stubbornness," i.e., refusal to truckle to terrorists, isdecried as the greatest threat to the 'Peace process' in either conflict.Western journalists and politicians are notoriously reluctant to moot anyidea that terrorist goals in Ulster, let alone violence, might representsuch a threat, or that the Islamist commitment to destroy Israel is inimicalto peace. These factors are neatly shuffled out of the "peace process";terrorists are rewarded for mere rhetoric, or transparently tacticalgestures like the IRA "ceasefire." Mrs. Albright courts Syria, tries toplacate Hamas and, against all common sense, removes the (fully armed) IRAfrom America's list of terrorist groups. This despicable schmoozing allowsterrorists in the Middle East and Ulster to exploit the "process," like MelBrooks' Nazis singing "Springtime for Hitler," with "a little peace of this,a little peace of that."
Advertisement - story continues below
This moral double standard is now a normal part of internationalpolitics. Perhaps it always was. The wide-eyed diplomat will certainly replywith a shrug: "What is the alternative? War?" The question is disingenuous,because an effective state of war already exists, both in Ulster and theMiddle East. The very label of "peace process" in both areas underlinesthat fact. It appears less concerned with ending these wars than withmuffling the embarrassment they have caused. If wise-monkey smugness overthis state of war serves (as it does in both cases) to envenom mattersfurther, well, er, we don't talk about that.
The starry-eyed preference of liberals for this loathsome game isunderstandable. For them and their journalistic ilk here in Britain and inAmerica, active resistance to Islamists and/or Sinn Fein/IRA (and itsso-called "dissidents" who enjoy the use of its arsenal) smacks too much offighting. Fighting is bad. It is violent. It hurts people. And if peoplesometimes get hurt when they do not fight -- as in terrorist attacks --well, then, we must not do anything that will provoke terrorists. It followsthat if they attack anyway, it must be the fault of their victims, who haveupset the terrorists, as when Israelis voted for a prime minister whorefuses dangerous concessions to the terrorists and fights back when theyattack. Sheikh Yassin of Hamas and the rulers of Iran have made it clearthat the real Israeli "provocation" has to do with -- simply and in fact --the country's existence.
What should be done? For a start, less of the tu quoque used byhacks and politicians to justify Middle Eastern and Irish Republicanterrorists. The British, for their part, might try turning the judo tacticaround: by pointing out, for instance, that the goal of a United Ireland isa threat to peace; and by highlighting, especially in the United States, thefact that the so-called "Republican" terrorists are not "The RepublicanMovement"; indeed not a "movement" at all, but a small violent cabalsignificant only for the semtex and arms which they refuse to give up.
Of course these suggestions are spitting in the wind. In any case thequestion "What would you do?" is not one I am bound to answer; I have noexecutive power in this matter, which means that "If I were King" is a cheapgame for a journalist to play in these circumstances; it does no more thantrivialize these grim post-imperial tragedies. Like the child in the crowdaround the naked emperor, my job is to point out that our own emperors arenaked and cowardly in the conference chamber, and (in these matters) areswindling the people they purport to govern. Except for the vicariousterrorists in the Irish-American community, America's mainstream electorateis largely indifferent to (and ignorant of) the problems of Ulster, and seeIsrael as a far away country of which they know little or nothing. Britain'selectorate is now defenseless against the continuing legitimization of amurderous, patently fascist criminal cabal whose real constituency is amongthe vicious, the ignorant, and the politically cynical in the United States.The result of this will be the infiltration of a still-armed and dangerousSinn Fein/IRA into Irish and British politics in exactly the same way thatthe Mafia have infected the politics of Italy.
The continuation of the Drumcree March ban shows the Blair governmentstill inflicting on the desperate and frightened Protestant community ofUlster the slow death of a thousand cultural cuts, clearly intending toshuffle them as soon as possible into the waiting hands of Catholic Ireland.(This is not new. For some years the mainland British have despised andloathed the Ulster Protestants, wishing only to be rid of people whom theyregard as disruptive and brutal rednecks. Like patriotism on the mainland,Ulster's Protestant loyalism is sneered at especially by the anti-patrioticBritish left.)
Advertisement - story continues below
For the Middle East, I can only note that our leaders prefer to live in avirtually real pipe dream in which we are perched somewhere above thatconflict on an abstract Olympus -- supposing that the implacable hatred ofArabs for Israelis is not directed with equal virulence at us in the West.This illusion caters nicely to the poisonous and craven shadow-show whichour leaders give us now, in the name of peace.
Herb Greer is an American writer residing in Great Britain. He is afrequent contributor to the Sunday Telegraph.