Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flight of Reason

It's not uncommon to hear voices imploring moderation, reason, dialogue -- anything but extermination of enemies and those they succeed in imperiling with their propagandistic public relations schemes. After years of captivity by a terrorist organization in Columbia, we have some insight from a survivor with hard-won experience that being thoughtful, tolerant, and reasonable may simply not be a technique that can be applied to some adversaries:
I thought that perhaps we had that common ground. I was mistaken. I didn't understand that they think completely different.
If you don't work with them, if you're not one of the members of that club, you are an enemy.... I didn't know I was their enemy, but I was.
-- Ingrid Betancourt, via CNN, interviewed by Larry King.
The question then becomes interesting. Assuming there are adversaries against which reason is inapplicable, one wonders how one decides to classify adversaries in this manner, and how to decide how to handle them. Presumably the self-satisfied pacifist certainty exuding from certain quarters is as unrealistic as the shoot-first imperialism that obtains in others. Some civilized and serious discussion on how to handle uncivilized and crazed adversaries is warranted. Unfortunately, serious discussions on policy matters are highly unlikely under the currently polarized political climate.

As we move forward, though, we can't simply accept the kind of "who needs action?" perspective that seems to issue from the United Nations, pushing discussion and so-called resolutions so devoid of any resolution that no effective action ever matures therefrom. We need a plan of action -- thoughtfully developed -- and not merely a diplomatic screen for failure to act when principles require action.

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