Homecoming

So much to talk about tonight, and so little time. Perhaps the happiest news from headlines today comes from Iran, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has agreed to release the fifteen British sailors who have been held captive there for twelve days.

Strangely enough, and I know this may be difficult to get your head around, the release of the fourteen men and one woman who serve in the British Royal Navy was secured WITHOUT violence.

Shocking. Who would have thought that diplomacy actually worked?

In a very surreal ceremony earlier today, President Ahmadinejad shook hands with the service members wishing them all success. In turn, the former captives now en route to the British embassy and scheduled to leave for home eight o’clock tomorrow morning Iranian time thanked the head of state, a couple even exchanging laughs.

Now, here’s the deal, this thing is going to get eaten up by both sides. Already, as Kevin Drum points out, the right is already floating conspiracy theories about what occured behind closed doors to secure the hostages’ release. But, I’m going to take the leftist side of this argument, and ask our friends on the right a very simple question.

Are you really that unable to believe that diplomacy works? Seriously? Is there really that large of a demographic that believes all diplomacy should go “BANG”?

I’m curious, because when you look at all of the events that have developed… really since El Presidente came into office, it almost seems as though the only foreign policy that is ever feasible is one that involves large brutal shows of force, as though our leaders have learned the art of international dialogue from old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stalone movies were extra credit).

This is not meant to be an absolvement of all that the Iranian President represents and stands for. The man is still definitely dangerous and bears watching, but there is a greater lesson to be learned here.

Like Michelle Malkin, you may be unwilling to accept that this country is a multicultural society, but you cannot ignore that the world as a whole is. In a society that on a daily basis is growing more and more connected, we must grow ever more tolerant of the differences between cultures. We can not hope to see eye to eye with everyone we share this planet with, and in many cases, we are going to have to accept that our codes of morality will be in conflict.

This basic fact about the nature of a planet populated by many different peoples, however, cannot and must not tilt our hand. We will in such a perilous terrain be confronted by many obstacles to peace, and we must not forget that these obstacles must not be met with a knee jerk reaction towards hostility, but with wisdom and character. We can not always hope to agree, but through prudence, understanding, and a willingness to respect and be peaceful, we can sometimes hope to compromise peacably in such a way that the very fabric that holds our world, our families, and our selves together is not threatened.

In a few short hours, the fifteen sailors will be returning home to a nation that they swore to celebrate, united again with a family that is already reveling in celebration and relief, and the key ingredient here was patience and peace.

I don’t know much about Tony Blair. I don’t follow British politics much, for the most part it just confuses me. But today, upon hearing the news of the release, the British Prime Minister shared his thoughts with the world, and I think that is how I would like to end this piece:

“I’m glad that our 15 service personnel have been released. I know their
release will come as a profound relief, not just to them, but to their families
that have endured such distress and anxiety over these past 12 days,” Blair
said.
“Throughout, we have taken a measured approach, firm but calm, not
negotiating but not confronting either,” he said.
Addressing “the Iranian
people,” Blair added: “We bear you no ill will. On the contrary, we respect Iran
as an ancient civilization . . . and the disagreements that we have with your
government we wish to resolve peacefully through dialogue. I hope, as I’ve
always hoped, that in the future we are able to do so.”

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