Schoolyard Fights and the Status Quo

When a young student, I sometimes stood in the circle of after-school observers as disputes between aggrieved adversaries were settled with flaying fisticuffs. In most cases, there was little or no real damage beyond torn jeans and bruised egos. Usually the combatants rolled in the dirt until one party decided he had had enough and cried uncle. In point of fact, there was a winner and a loser. Thereafter, the issues between the two were settled—at least to the extent that neither had a taste for renewing hostilities.

There is a lesson here that states a principle world leaders would do well to apply. Too often in these turbulent years, the flavor of the day in international conflicts is the status quo. It’s rather like no-fault insurance, where both parties settle their claims with their insurance companies and go their separate ways; no one is charged with responsibility for the accident.

Unfortunately, the international status quo currently being invoked is not as simple as a declaration of separation with no clear winners or losers. We should have learned as much from past wars—ugly affairs that did so much to impose suffering and misery on all too many people.

For example, near the end of World War II, the Nazis and Japanese pleaded for negotiations—a version of a status quo settlement—rather than surrender. Western leaders, however, wisely insisted on unconditional surrender, the international equivalent of uncle.

With clear winners and losers, the world avoids the status quo limbo that misleadingly passes for peace. In reality, it is not a peace at all; it is merely a pause.

In the current global struggle with the forces of terror, peace-loving free nations must win. There is no other option. This necessity translates into forcing the issue with terrorists who live to kill, until the matter is settled. Ceasefire, status quo nonsolutions only buy time until the enemy can rearm, reassemble, and return to fight another day.

In our Western justice systems we don’t put guns in the hands of convicted murderers. The clear choice is to disarm and incarcerate them to protect innocent people. In this global war on terror, the only acceptable outcome is to hear these thugs cry uncle and strip them of their ability to make war.

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