Tuesday, October 01, 2002

REMEMBERING NON-VIOLENCE

Paddy McGuinness has moved on from asking why strike at Iraq, to hoping it is done efficiently.

He raises a few important points, not least of which is the fact that pacifists are immune from being held responsible if their methods prove ineffective. To this day, Chamberlain is more likely to be remembered as a knave pursuing the noble goal of peace. It should be noted that this is probably not the feeling on the ground in Czechoslovakia. Pacifists and appeasers can rightly be confident that their peers, which is the only opinion they care about, will always forgive them for their misguided but noble goals.
What these [non-violent] means might be is, of course, not specified. It only needs to be noted that there has never been a case in which non-violent means have proved effective against a determined and ruthless aggressor. (Gandhi's Satyagraha, or non-violent resistance, only ever worked because Britain was always a namby-pamby, civilised colonial power.)

It’s probably not stretching the truth to call Britain “namby pamby”, when compared with other colonial powers of the day. And Paddy is on the money when he points out that non-violent resistance is unique in that it relies entirely on the opposition not using their superior strength. In other words, the success of non-violence relies on the enemy accepting the rules of non-violence as presented to them by their enemy. While I can accept an individual’s right to place their body in harm’s way, isn’t suggesting non-violence as national policy another form of the draft?
brinkmanship may in fact be the best tactic to employ against Iraq. If Saddam can be convinced that there is a credible threat, he just might back down and allow effective sterilisation of his WMDs. Only if one believes that he would never employ such weapons to further his own ends (one of which may well be to destroy Israel) does it make any sense to simply sit back and hope and pray to a God who has never been known to prevent a war. As Napoleon said, God is on the side of the biggest battalions.

Perhaps the oddest thing is the assumption by peace-pushers that Saddam will not use the weapons. Why are we not hearing from the Cold War peace activists who were absolutely convinced that the US would launch missiles, simply because they had them. Remember the argument of “why else would they build them?”? Anyone who felt that way must be able to see that Iraq is an order of magnitude more likely to launch that a superpower. Where are their voices? Could it be that maintaining solidarity with their peers is more important than telling the truth?

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