Letter to the Southam News Editor-in-Chief - in response to December 20, 2001 national editorial "Sometimes, war is the only answer"

Murdoch Davis, Editor-in-chief, Southam News
 
Dear sir,
 
You are correct: sometimes war may be the only answer.  But not now.  Arguably, the correct response to September 11 should have been a police action under the auspices of the United Nations.  Instead, despite your warning, the United States does have "violence as its first and chief response to the world's complexities".  Since World War II and George F. Kennan, it has been U.S. foreign policy to "deal in straight power concepts to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit the U.S. to maintain a position of economic disparity without detriment to U.S. national security".  The list of violent U.S. interventions since WWII is long, and although well documented is generally not known to the general public because the media ignores it.  In the case of September 11, U.S. survival was not at stake.  (Further, if you think the United Nations would not be effective, keep in mind that the United States has consistently undermined the U.N. because it is "an obvious threat to U.S. national interests".)
 
Your editorial trivializes and stereotypes those working for peace as "mindless" and "foolish".  Frankly, you do not give equal time and respect in your Southam News to peacebuilding and less violent alternatives. 
 
Much present day journalism leaves out the most important part of the story -- how a conflict might be transcended. It is as if a report about an outbreak of disease never considers how the illness might be treated or cured. Can a story about cholera, for instance, be considered complete if the journalist simply describes the suffering of the sick, reports the number of dead bodies, criticizes the doctors, but leaves out everything that might bring the epidemic to a halt? Hardly. Yet by continuing to describe wars and violent conflicts as though they were sporting events, journalists fail in their job to inform themselves and their publics about any alternatives that might alleviate the suffering and bring the conflict under control.  Southam News has an obligation to report them more accurately.
 
Respectfully submitted,
Robert Stewart, Director
Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace
Box 70
Okotoks, AB T1S 1A4
tel 403-461-2469
fax 309-407-6576
stewartr [at] peace.ca
http://www.peace.ca - take a look
 
references:
http://www.peace.ca/howjournalistscanhelp.htm
http://www.peace.ca/introductiontopeacestudies.htm

http://www.canada.com/calgary/calgaryherald/archives/story.asp?id=73955DED-70D2-4FE4-9A1B-DACE7C2758F4