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Sensible Mandate

by Daniela Dahn Saturday, Aug. 26, 2006 at 10:06 AM

Peoples do not win wars, only governments. People only delight in war when they are poisoned by propaganda and indoctrinated by the school, media and religion.. War, this orgy of killing and destroying, is the absolute horror.


Middle East: Searching for the Rational Animal, Solutions are risks that begin in heads

By Daniela Dahn

[This article published in: Freitag 32, 8/11/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

They have all become mad – that is the most common diagnosis of all conversation partners on the war between Israel and Lebanon. The anxious question is always: What will happen? A moderator of the ARD-press club prophesies outrageously that Israel cannot be stopped and Europe will have to accept Jews again. Why does Israel have nuclear bombs?

The recent escalation in the Middle East casts us back to a very ancient question: Is the human being capable of community as a "zoon politikon"? The ancient world said yes, soothed by the mild light of the advanced Greek civilization. Men were regarded capable of community. The needy, women and slaves were ignored. Consistency is not an especially great art among equals.

A little later the chroniclers of the biblical stories of God had nothing but human stories of longing. Expelled from Paradise, people were described as harassed by fears on a vain search for happiness and acknowledgment. Outfitted with the genes of Cain, the fratricide or brother murderer, we are obviously programmed for merciless competition.

The progressive civilization does not always strengthen trust in peaceable reason. Enlightenment was also insight in the egoistic restriction of human drives. Balance was promised from volonte general, the general will. The sovereign was dependent on community and therefore committed to the well being of the whole. Rousseau, the most important intellectual precursor of the American and French revolution, distrusted human nature gifted with reason. Instead he held the only motive was self-love. His motto was: Be anxious for your welfare with the least possible harm to others.

However one can only join the critique of human judgment after considering the universal extent of the suffering inflicted by people on one another.

Kant also saw limits of human reason in nature. Therefore people should abandon their wild freedom and “accept compulsory public laws” as the state must also abandon the lawless condition “that is nothing but war” in favor of a peace covenant of international law. He saw the way to eternal peace in such a world state.

In the meantime we have international law. War has been outlawed since 1928. And yet humanity is not free of this scourge. The scourge is granted to the powerful when they break or bend the law.

An international law as a right to war was unthinkable for Kant…

The majority of Israelis, Lebanese and Palestinians believe the murderous violence of their fighters is just. They are not brought to reason by the minority of peace dissidents on all sides but slander them as traitors. Is the majority right?

The German government, the European Union and the United Nations do not demand an unconditional end to this two-sided delusional shooting and occupying. No overpowering peace movement of startled citizens intervenes. Who in Germany asks whether selling the most modern U-boats of the dolphin class and cluster bombs in this “tense area” satisfies the special German responsibility for Israel? Doesn’t expansion of this war have immense consequences for us?

Peoples do not win wars, only governments. A minority earns as much as the market will bear. This was always true. Why have people fallen for this for more than two thousand years? All this destruction would have been impossible without the mobilization of hatred and revenge, without the lust for aggression and death, the misuse of religious feelings and patriotic ideas and without ignorance and disinformation – in short, without the dominant paranoia. People only glorify war and delight in war when they are poisoned by propaganda and indoctrinated by the school, media and religion.

Against this mass psychosis, individuals and oppositional minorities have said everything there is to be said again and again in vain. Nothing remains but to sacrifice a summer day and repeat for the thousandth time an idea that could become practical reason seizing the masses:

War, this orgy of killing and destroying, is the absolute horror. It makes more wicked blood than it takes away and creates the next war. Civilians must defend civilization. Peace demands the same efforts that we make unresistingly for war. Everyone could have enough to eat and enough work and money if the riches of the world were distributed justly. Preparing for peace means financing education, art and culture. People granted the experience of an improving life will defend this good. Citizens must free themselves from the underage existence of their own making and guarantee that their state on the way to international security observes international law and unconditionally foregoes a part of its freedom of action.

What would this mean for the Middle East? Only forced compromises are conceivable for the short-term. Solutions need time. Solutions are risks that begin in heads. The first insight is that modern terrorism cannot be combated with war. The despair of a living bomb defeats every high-tech weapon. This war is ultimately waged ad absurdum and its extravagance unmasked. War itself becomes the worst form of terrorism. Militant governments must negotiate with terrorist organizations. Peace can only be made with enemies. Despite everything, we on this earth are condemned to negotiate reconciliation.

Therefore another forced ceasefire alone will not be enough. All states that want to help, at least states in the region accepting burdens, must organize a calmed neighborhood with the funds once spent on armaments. With accepted borders, everyone could profit from economic incentives. Prisoners could be released and join in rebuilding.

In the long run, a sensible mandate helps,. not a robust mandate, a mandate intent on reducing hatred, misunderstandings and social abuses. With all their hopes and feelings, a host of development advisors, peace researchers, psychologists, teachers, filmmakers and authors are searching for the rational animal.

Exciting schoolbooks, not fissionable uranium must be the priority. Languages could be learned and congresses, exhibitions, sports competition, city partnerships and patent classes organized. On the theater stage, Nathan the Wise proclaimed his ring-parable in Arabic and Hebrew. The self-love of the other must be strengthened by good, neighborly gestures like gifts for the host and invitations and not violated by arrogance and contempt. If this self-interested program were initiated, it could be successful within two generations after little inevitable setbacks.

However this is not happening. This solution is out-of-place for noble politicians who want to quickly enter history as heroes and self-seeking business moguls determined to maximize their profits undisturbed by social movements.

The possibility is dismissed. Resigned delusion or revolting reason streams into the vacuum of difference.

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