Monday, September 19, 2011

Peace is weird

I argued before that it might make more sense to ask why riots don't happen all the time, instead of asking why they do happen occasionally. Many people seem to view peace as an inevitable norm, while crime or unrest is an exceptional situation, a surprise.

So I liked this observation from Enmity into Amity: How Peace Breaks Out by Charles A. Kupchan:
As Thomas Hardy once observed, "War makes rattling good history; but peace is poor reading." When wars occur, there is all too much action, noise, and drama. When peace breaks out, nothing happens; there is no action or noise, and often little drama. The diplomats do their work, but often behind the scenes. For most observers, peace is a non-event – the dog that does not bark – and is therefore chronically understudied.
Lawful peace should not be seen as some kind of default setting that all peoples return to when the exceptional events of wartime cease. Life in the past was much more bloody; there is nothing inevitable about our happy experience of peace.


  1. I always like how descriptions of severely war-torn areas read like "the area had short periods of normalcy" when 5 years of peace in 50 years is an abnormality rather than normalcy.

  2. Wow, excellent point.

    With all the discussion of the Palestinian bid for recognition recently, it occurred to me that I look forward to the day when I open a newspaper and there is no mention of the Middle East outside the business and sports sections. No news would imply peace and stability, because peace and stability are not considered news.


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