Sunday, January 13, 2008
On Thursday I went to see a prominent neoconservative author speak at the 92nd Street Y. (He shall remain nameless so my blog doesn’t become swamped with neocons doing Google searches.) I knew I would disagree with virtually everything he said, but I wanted to better understand where he and others like him are coming from.
One thing he said that I found interesting: If someone wants to kill you, you cannot negotiate with them. This was at the crux of his argument that the United States should take military action against Iran.
I don’t agree with that assessment. I think you can ALWAYS negotiate. As long as you have something to offer - economic purchasing power or global legitimacy, for example - negotiation is feasible.
But it got me thinking about the different ways people approach conflict. I was taught that smart people don’t fight. I’ve always been a mediator, a reasoner, a negotiator. I don’t remember ever having a physical brawl with anyone, even back in school, and I’ve never been convinced that physical confrontation is really necessary. One can approach anything with diplomacy.
I may be wrong - maybe sometimes you have to fight. I’m sure this author and others would accuse me of being historically naive. And if you’ve grown up with a different perspective, willing to fight, and you’ve had success with that approach, I can see how you might advocate military action. But that’s an utterly foreign language to me.
(Photo: Chinatown, Dec. 2007)