“One of the most persistent ambiguities that we face is that everybody talks about peace as a goal. However, it does not take sharpest-eyed sophistication to discern that while everybody talks about peace, peace has become practically nobody’s business among the power-wielders. Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace.”
Martin Luther King,Jr.
Nothing says “Love thy neighbor” more than crushing them under the tracks of armored assault vehicles.With the hostilities in the middle east escalating to a Stalinist standard of neighborly relations, it is certain that more amored welcome wagon behavior will commence. The daily broadcasts of violence and mayhem that permeate over the airwaves leaves one to wonder why peace cannot be achieved. After all , surely there has to be a solution to this intertwined cultural, ethnic, religious, economic, social justice and sovereign issue that’s been simmering for the last few thousand years? The information delivered to viewers via corporate media circulates the images of violence followed by analysis from pundits, policy experts and diplomats. The reported hostilities are delivered in 15 minute soundbytes, often swayed by viewpoint that the information is being delivered. Any information delivered from the Holy Land has the bitter aftertaste of Orwellian styled propaganda.
Although its impossible not to try and wrestle the multi-tentacled Octopus of middle east peace process, perhaps its best to reflect on a more simplistic topic of the mechanics of peace. While the topic of peace is a very old concept, the actual academic study of peace strategies is a very young discipline. The first Peace program was at Manchester college in Indiana in 1948. Peace study programs became an area of university research in the mid 1950s and became more popular in the 60s with the social response to the Vietnam War. Today, peace studies has blossomed into a complex discipline and a unique major at many academic institution. One can only muse at why peace is so difficult to achieve when a PhD is needed to have a complete understanding of the topic.
Through the years one particular brand of peace theory has made the rounds on network media outlets, giving an academic strategy a household name. Deterrence Theory and its bastard kin Mutually Assured Destruction are perhaps the most widely know peace strategies on the planet. One might find it odd that this notion of peace is predicated on the potential use of unmitigated violence to achieve security. It is without coincidence perhaps that this strategy is widely accepted by right wing think tanks, governments with large military industrial capabilities and rednecks overcompensating for a lack of endowment. The other peace theory that is popularly alluded to but not often mentioned by name is the Capitalism Peace Theory. In this theory, the power of open markets creates a system that naturally inoculates people from the need to create wars. This theory was espoused by the Goddess of laissez-fair capitalism, Ayn Rand and has been the product of popular Republican and Libertarian thinking ever since. One hardly ever hears of alternative theories such as Liberal Peace Theory, with that loaded “liberal” word that causes so much grief. The theory originates from Immanuel Kant and can best be summed up in the statement that democracy promotes peace. Non-interventionism is a theory that rarely if ever gets mentioned as a peace tactic, especially among the superpowers. The dominant thought process repeated widely throughout the media is that global powers have the capacity to resolve disputes using their vast resources to affect positive change. Furthest from public discourse is Institutionalized Peace, a type of peace policy that is organized and actively practiced at all levels. In this theory, the sociological mechanisms for seeking peace contribute to a structure and means for avoiding hostile actions. Simply by describing institutional peace, one can understand why its so far removed from the western dialogue. In our era of violent tv, video games and blood sports, hostilities aren’t just a entertaining medium but a God –given right. Who has time to study structural nonviolence when the prostitute in Grand Theft Auto needs to be doused in gasoline and set on fire for extra points?
In an age where nearly sixty percent of all television programming contains violent acts, its no surprise that non-violence is so widely shunned. Violence is a commodity that no one is willing to part with. Good guys blow up bad guys in the movies, why not in real life? And who’s to question the definition of a good guy, the smart people on TV have that worked out for us. Lacking is any ethical construct that rejects violence, the dominant culture revels in carnage. Despite the recent hostilities, sixty two percent of Americans support Israel’s use of force. Non-existent are the polls that inquire if the rocketing by Hamas is supported, although surveying many headlines one would expect the results to be negative as loaded words such as “terrorism” are usually built into the Hamas –lead skirmishes despite the decidedly favorable body count of the IDF. Of course, anytime modern weapons are used on civilians, terrorism is a rather fitting description. Due to the often one-sided coverage by the western media, the negative descriptors are never applied to Israel’s use of violence. When hostilities cease and the smoke clears, there will once again be an attempt at “peace” negotiations which will really be just an attempt to settle sovereign land disputes. There won’t be any attempt to try structured peace, an attempt to change the thinking of the populace about rejecting violence and using other methods of mitigating disputes and injustices. The current trend towards violence has proven to be a worthless tactic, yet it is still largely pursued as population centers pay the price in casualties. American’s watch on from their couch, waiting for their next fix of bloodshed as the right wing ideologies of armed deterrence fail before their eyes. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, its that they play the violent game. After all, pacifism is for pussies.