One of the most memorable lines in modern movie history belongs to Mandy Patinkin, playing the character of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride. At one point, he turns to his boss, Vizzini, and says, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
In modern parlance that word would be, 'peace.' We keep using the word, while hardly affecting the actual condition. Perhaps because it does not mean what we think it means. This is a point that Major Mike makes very well in an earlier post this week, and one Dueler continues to explore. Thomas Sowell takes on the issue today at Townhall.Com. Peace is not, for instance, merely a moratorium on hostility. Two neighbors that viscerally hate one another, yet who do not brawl in the street, do not enjoy in a peaceful co-existence. They are merely engaged in a tenuous state of tolerance; breached perhaps the moment the one's dog craps on the other's lawn.
Peace is a word frequently misused to describe a specific condition that rarely exists. After WW2 at the beginning of the Cold War, the U.S. Air Force named its first new bomber, the B-36 Peacemaker. One of the largest aircraft ever produce, the gargantuan atomic bomber was by no means a vehicle of peace. It was built to maintain that tenuous condition of tolerance among estranged neighbors known as M.A.D. The aircraft may well have been named the B-36 TreadOnUsAndWellBlastTheCrapOutOfYou. But, that would not have been quite so handsome a moniker for the great silver behemoth even as the concept of actual peace was no doubt understood as little more than a marketing gimmick for public consumption by an institution that comprehended the real peril of the condition. So-called peace keepers and peace movements have no such comprehension, as Sowell points out,
There was a time when it would have been suicidal to threaten, much less attack, a nation with much stronger military power because one of the dangers to the attacker would be the prospect of being annihilated.
"World opinion," the U.N. and "peace movements" have eliminated that deterrent. An aggressor today knows that if his aggression fails, he will still be protected from the full retaliatory power and fury of those he attacked because there will be hand-wringers demanding a cease fire, negotiations and concessions.
That has been a formula for never-ending attacks on Israel in the Middle East. The disastrous track record of that approach extends to other times and places -- but who looks at track records?
And what they actually achieve is clearly nothing of the sort. Peace you see, is not merely the absence of hostility, but the presence of genuine respect and comity. Without that, the idea of peace is simply... well, inconceivable.