Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pollyanna Politics

Let's suppose one's country is involved in an international activity which many citizens find reprehensible and which they publicly criticize. And let's suppose someone, maybe another citizen or maybe a non-citizen, takes that criticism to an extreme by launching a bomb attack on a busy street in protest of this international activity.

Because of the emotions released by the bomb attack, it becomes difficult for the citizens who originally condemned their country's actions to continue to criticize without being branded traitors. Some of their countrymen would argue that, now that the attack has taken place, if the government were to withdraw from the international activity, it would be seen as bending to a terrorist act. So, of course, the government cannot do that. Regardless of how right the original citizen protestors were, the government cannot act to "correct" its behavior for fear of being considered an easy target for terrorists' extortion.

If the government were mine, I would want concerns about seeming to "cave" to pressure from terrorists to play no part in its decisions. I would want it to do the right thing, regardless of perceptions about its motives. But I would want it to be upfront about the matter.

For example, I'd want it to say something like:
  • Citizens' criticisms of our policies have caused us to reconsider them;
  • Based on that reconsideration, we have decided the original policies were wrong and we have decided to change them;
  • Coincidentally, a terrorist act was undertaken in an attempt to force us to change our policy;
  • That act had no relevance to our decision to change our policy...only our own reassessment and our citizens' criticisms led to the change;
  • Regardless of our policies on this matter, terrorism will not be tolerated and we will pursue any threats of terrorism and any acts of terrorism with absolute dedication to bring the actors to justice;
  • While we acknowledge our previous policies were misguided, we did not and will not bend to extortion as an acceptable way of getting us to change our policies.

This, of course, will be viewed as a Pollyanna approach to the world. I just want the world to be less inclined to save-face and more inclined to save lives.

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