Peace through war?

By Matthieu Ricard on October 29, 2010

A few days ago, the International Herald Tribune ran a revealing front page article : ‟Hitting Taliban hard to encourage peace talks.”*
The article reports that from June to September this year, U.S pilots dropped 2,100 bombs during airstrikes against Taliban insurgents, a 50 percent increase over the same period last year. This effort, orchestrated by Gen. David Petraeus, is portrayed as expanding a parallel path to the end of the war, a U.S.-led diplomatic initiative aimed at ‟persuading the Taliban to make peace with the Afghan government.” In short, waging war to make peace. This reminds me of a general in the Colombian army who declared some years ago: ‟We want peace, but the only way to have peace is by destroying those who don't keep peace."**

Yet, peace is not just the absence of war and conceding defeat is an even paler version of genuine peace. Peace is the active process of bringing hatred to a halt. It is very hard to imagine that more bombing can result in less hatred. You don't develop a spirit of reconciliation while being pounded by bombs and when your kin is killed in great numbers.

Conversely, dialogue seems to be the only way to reach to a mutually acceptable solution that can bring people to lay down their arms. Thus, as long as the deep causes of reciprocal resentment are not sincerely considered and addressed, and as long as a shared wish of making peace is not born in people's mind, peace is likely to be no more than a lull in the eye of the storm. As the Dalai Lama often says: ‟Outer disarmament must begin with inner disbarment, outer peace with inner peace.”

* Dexter Filkins, International Herald Tribune, October 16-17
** General Jose Bonett, quoted in a 1998 BBC program.