EDITORIAL: Diplomacy key to Western war cry

Eric Dezenhall's thought-leadership in this week's ThinkPiece is so

lucid and so strong that it pulls us in and tempts us to adhere to his

view. Perhaps, however, he is in danger of hurting innocents with his

so-called "straight shooting."



Of course, straight-talking and demonization of the enemy are reassuring

for many members of the public. It is also easier to slap labels such as

"zealots," "despots" and "backward" on different countries than it is to

start to explain fully the complexity of those peoples. That does not

make it right.



Very few people would disagree that the Taliban, and even more

relevantly the terrorists that they are harboring, must be punished. But

let's also remember that we have not been attacked by a nation or a

religion here, consequently we should be very careful about who and what

we are demonizing.



In war you need clarity of purpose. And we have clarity of purpose - to

respond appropriately to the grotesque acts of September 11.



But TV programs focusing on the cultures in which these terrorists

exist, aimed at turning the American people against them, are

unnecessary and a dangerous step down the road to cultural

imperialism.



Beyond this war with the Taliban and bin Laden, cross-cultural

understanding is necessary to improve the chances of peace around the

world. We won't get that by firing out statements that may be

interpreted as anti-Islamic rather than anti-terrorism. We'll get that

understanding by educating people about different ways of life, not by

narrowing our focus.



In that regard the American government is absolutely right to choose its

words cautiously and to wage diplomacy not just war. Being "tranquil" in

our language is not "dangerous," as Dezenhall suggests, it is vital to

the effort to isolate the enemy. Stomping on eggshells will only make a

bigger mess.



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