The Awesome Power of Peaceful Negotiation

I just signed a card being circulated by a group that wants to show United Nations peacekeepers how grateful the world is for their service. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to sign it. It seems to me that the United Nations and its peacekeepers are among the best things in the world today.

My father served in the First World War, choking on the desert sand in places like Jordan and Egypt, fighting the Turks under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, risking his life in the “war to end all wars.” He wasn’t there to kill Turks, he told me (to satisfy my childish curiosity), he was risking his life to bring peace.

My brother Bill was a UN peacekeeper, taking fire from both the Turks and Greeks in Cyprus. He gave a presentation to elementary school students in Canada recently, and was filled with pride when the teacher told him that she later heard  one of her kids telling a belligerent group that he was also “a man of peace.”

I would call President Obama a man of peace, too.

He has resisted relentless pressure from American hawks who have been itching to bomb Iran, for example, and it looks as if his policy is paying off.

The Iranian people have made it clear that they – the vast majority, anyway – don’t want war with America. And it seems their leaders are listening at last.

Crazy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is gone, and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani (above), is making conciliatory gestures. He has exchanged letters with President Obama, I understand, and the two might meet face to face while Rouhani is in America for the UN assembly.

The hawks who have been itching to bomb Iran must be gnashing their teeth.

Who would have thought Iran would suddenly seem so reasonable? Who would have thought Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would allow such a turnaround?

Of course, the path to peaceful relations with Iran is clouded by uncertainty. The Iranian nuclear program is proceeding undeterred. Sanctions against Iran remain in place. Old wounds have not healed.

But a glimmer of hope has appeared out of nowhere. And as long as the two leaders are talking, bombs are unlikely to fall.

The power of peaceful negotiation should not be underestimated. No sane person prefers military confrontation to peaceful compromise. Like love, peace will find a way – if we let it.

Click here for the AP report.

Click here to sign the card.