Under The Sun
Friday, February 21, 2003
[A descent into high oratory. My first blogged rant :-).]
The application of unvarnished truth (in contrast to the polite lies of diplomacy) is in and of itself a powerful force for change and--as truth is good--improvement. In fact, Gandhi called it just that: satyagraha, truth-force.
And, indeed, we can see that in two of the more notable current examples, speaking the truth has caused profound change. Rumsfeld's mention of Old Europe versus New Europe has become a ground on which the New Europe has asserted its desire to move beyond the long-decayed framework of Franco-German balance-of-power. And by including the mullahocracy of Iran in the "Axis of Evil", Dubya made possible a statement such as this (link via OxBlog).
Truth can also be dangerous: naming North Korea's evil caused that evil to make a show of force where it had been quiescent before. But quiescence is not passivity; indeed, it may be that Kim Jong Il will prove to have played his hand too hastily, provoking a minor crisis now but precluding a much greater crisis later. If indeed an enemy who stands illuminated is less dangerous than one who stands in the shadows, then we should count another victory for truth-force.
Is Gandhi spinning in his grave at my co-optation of his conception of non-violence for an ideology that endorses war? No doubt. But even as truth is the ground for war in Iraq, we hope it can also be the ground for precluding war in Iran and North Korea, by focusing attention on both the evil of their current regimes and on the potential for good concealed within their borders. We can deny the value of pacifism--an absolute just as misguided and dangerous as any other--while still affirming the value of peace. And we can believe that peace must be made, by sweat and, alas, sometimes by blood; and that the first step to making peace, by any means, is to recognize reality, and see what conflicts need resolution. For that purpose even the warrior may justly employ truth-force.
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