A Cli­mate for Peace

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

Even as we pre­pare to deal with the threat of war and con­flict, we need to fo­cus on the equally crit­i­cal is­sue of the im­pact this has on peo­ple’s hearts and minds. The sig­nal fail­ure of mil­i­tary ac­tion to pro­duce a clear prospect for peace has left many feel­ing suf­fo­cated with il­lu­sions of pow­er­less­ness and dread.

The im­passe could be bro­ken through mil­i­tary force or other forms of “hard power”. At best, how­ever, such ac­tion only re­sponds to the symp­toms of con­flict. To the ex­tent it plants fur­ther seeds of ha­tred in re­gions al­ready torn by strife, it deep­ens and en­trenches an­tag­o­nisms.

Those who pos­sess and wield tools of hard power need to prac­tise re­straint and cul­ti­vate the spirit of self-mas­tery. This is es­sen­tial if the ex­er­cise of such power is to bring about a re­sult other than to deepen the cy­cles of ha­tred and re­venge. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, I urge a united re­sponse by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity — one that cen­trally in­cludes the use of soft power.

No ef­forts will gain peo­ple’s whole­hearted sup­port or suc­ceed in bring­ing about last­ing sta­bil­ity and peace with­out a spirit of self-mas­tery based on an acute aware­ness of the hu­man­ity of others — some­thing that I con­sider to be the very essence of civil­i­sa­tion. It is vi­tal that all re­flect on past fail­ings and find a re­newed com­mit­ment to con­struc­tive di­a­logue. All should join in the search for an ap­proach that con­sti­tutes not just symp­to­matic treat­ment but fun­da­men­tal cure. Those in au­thor­ity need to em­body the kind of soft power that can per­suade, “co-opt rather than co­erce”.

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