Some of the destruction caused by the IRA attack in London's Canary Wharf on February 9, 1996
You cannot make peace with your enemy until your enemy is prepared to make peace with you. It doesn't matter that you yearn for peace; if what your enemy yearns for is victory, no peace is possible. There may be a peace process, peace talks, a peace treaty, there may even be a Nobel Peace Prize -- but there will be no peace. At best, there will be a lull in the shooting while your enemy pursues his war by other means. More likely, there will be bloodshed.
As there has been, these recent days, in Britain and Cuba and Israel.
Twice in 10 days, IRA bombs exploded in London, leaving three innocents dead, well over 100 wounded -- and Northern Ireland's "peace process" in shards. "I was willing to believe that the IRA had ended the killing for good," lamented Ireland's prime minister, John Bruton. "That act of faith has now been thrown back in my face."
But why should Bruton -- or anyone else -- have believed that the IRA was out of the killing business? It hadn't renounced violence, hadn't surrendered its arsenal, hadn't abandoned its vow to unify Ireland by any means necessary. The IRA's chief demand -- the forcible incorporation of Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic -- remains irreducible and nonnegotiable. To get what it wants, it has never scrupled at devastation and murder. People for whom homicide is an option are not peacemakers. It was no "act of faith" but an act of self-delusion to believe otherwise.
Equally delusional is the notion that Fidel Castro deserves to be treated as anything but an international criminal. Yet for months, a stream of US businessmen, journalists, and politicians has lobbied to "normalize" relations with Castro's regime -- to whitewash his atrocities and subsidize his reign of terror with Yankee dollars.
Typical of the be-nice-to-Fidel claque is US Representative Joe Moakley, who led a propaganda mission to Cuba in January. "This is not the Cuba of the missile crisis," he snapped when critics warned that Castro isn't a peace-seeker but a brutal enemy. "This is not the Cuba that sent troops into Angola." No: It's the Cuba, we were reminded on Saturday, that scrambles MIG-29s to blow little unarmed Cessna planes out of the sky and butcher the Americans on board.
To Moakley, not even four American corpses are an argument against friendly relations with Castro.
"Some people don't think you should talk," he said, but "talking is the right thing to do."
No: Talking is the wrong thing to do. Treat a barbarian with civility and good will and the result will be more barbarism. Talking with the vilest dictator in the Western Hemisphere will not curb his sadism. It will only encourage it.
Nowhere is the peace-at-any-price fixation proving more suicidal than in Israel.
Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat at the White House in September 1993.
"We will not stop the peace process," intoned Shimon Peres as always. "We will continue with it."
That is exactly what Hamas and Arafat's PLO want. Already Israel has turned over the Gaza Strip and most of the major West Bank towns to Palestinian control. Next month it gives up Hebron. Hamas and the PLO have no wish to stop the "peace process." They're trying to speed it up.
Hamas never disguises its goal: It exists to wipe out Israel. But the PLO was supposed to be different. The theory behind Israel's treaty with Arafat was that in exchange for Gaza and most of the West Bank, the PLO would live peacefully alongside the Jewish state and keep the irredentist fanatics of Hamas in check.
But literally from the day of the White House handshake, Arafat has made clear to Arab audiences that the PLO's purpose remains the end of Israel. His speeches promised a "jihad" for Jerusalem and praised bloody terrorists. He reaffirmed the PLO's 1974 "Plan of Phases" (to "liberate" Israel slice by slice). He has refused to amend the PLO Charter, which calls for Israel's abolition. On Jan. 30, he even told a group of Arab ambassadors that Israel's collapse -- "the complete elimination of the Zionist entity," he called it -- is imminent.
"We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem," he exulted. "I have no use for Jews. . . . Palestine will be purely Muslim."
It well may be, if Israel persists in the hallucination that you can "make peace with your enemies."
The key to peace with the thugs of the IRA, Castro's regime, and Hamas-PLO is not to soften them with concessions or to take them at their word. It is to defeat them. Enemies are not peacemakers. History is littered with the carcasses of good people who wouldn't learn the difference.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe. His website is www.JeffJacoby.com).
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