The idea of meeting force with resolve, violence with peace, hatred with acceptance has an enormous moral power. However, it has one critical flaw, one Achilles heel that keep it from being a guaranteed success: it depends on your opponent having a conscience.
(The successes of Gandhi and MLK Jr.) gave the nonresistance tactic far more power than it deserved. It became embraced as the ONLY moral way to confront oppression.
Sadly, it is not. The Hungarians tried to escape the Soviets in 1956, and were crushed. The Czechs tried a variation in the "Prague Spring" of 1967, and were crushed by the Soviets. And in 1989, the Chinese tried to appeal to the conscience of their Communist masters -- and found them sorely wanting in that element.
In the light of these new circumstances (of the G.W.O.T), the anti-war side has not bothered to change their tactics. Their only concession to the new reality is to realize that in these new conflicts, one side is utterly immune to their policy of nonresistance. And instead of trying to find a way to adapt to the challenge, they have redoubled their efforts on the other side.
In the current fighting in the Middle East, one doesn't see large protests against Hezbollah or Hamas for their indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The International Solidarity Movement doesn't send its members on Israeli buses and into marketplaces to serve as "human shields" against Palestinian suicide bombers. And "peace activists" aren't fanning out across northern Israel to appeal to Hezbollah's better nature and cease their random bombardment.
It appears that these noble, worthy, high-minded anti-war activists lack the convictions of their heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi. They either cherish their own lives too much to put them at risk, unwilling to put their principles to the ultimate test, or in their heart of hearts they know what many of us already believe: those we fight have no consciences, no "better natures" to appeal to -- or, at least, are unwilling to pay the horrific butcher's bill of innocent blood required to finally reach that.
Until that day, when those high-minded and hazy-thinking moral exemplars finally acknowledge the essential vacuousness of their actions, they will continue to provide nothing but an annoying distraction to those who honor the threat. And their every action -- and inaction -- will continue to put the lie to their noble words.
Monday, July 24, 2006
the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance
...is not universal: