After the First World War the winners punished Germany with exorbitant reparations and military occupation of the Rhineland. Germany’s humiliation allowed a psychopathic regime control of the most productive and technologically advanced society in the world.
Twenty one years after the end of the First World War the Second World War started. Six years later Europe was wrecked. This time, instead of punishing the belligerents they were supported. The Marshall Plan provided substantial financial and practical support to rebuild the economies and societies of Europe and Japan.
The First Gulf War of 1990 allowed a psychopathic terror group to attract funding and recruits. The 9/11 attacks on New York started an escalation to the Second Gulf War and the ongoing “War on Terror”. After 14 years of suffering death and destruction and of diminished civil liberties we seem to be further from rather than closer to peace.
To stop the war we have to break the cycle of grievance.
To stop the war we have to switch from punishment and slaughter to support and opportunity.
We need a “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East.
A flourishing, educated and successful middle class is less easily persuaded into acts of terror.
This is not the easy option. It requires extraordinary leadership to change the conversation from belligerence to peace, from division to inclusion. The fact that it is not happening is proof that currently we lack leadership of sufficient quality to inspire a change of heart and strategy.
Winston Churchill once said “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”
This kind of “tact” is one of the key skills of great leaders. The ability to inspire lobbyists, pundits, media and the people to do the right thing and not just the simplistic, populist, reactive thing.
There is a saying “Cometh the hour, cometh the man/woman”.
Another way of saying this is that once a crisis gets deep enough and all of the simplistic options have been tried the “social energy” for an alternate, positive solution increases and the opportunity emerges for a leader to guide the way.
It is up to us the followers to signal that change of “social energy”, when the clamour rises the leader will emerge.
We want peace not punishment.
We want prosperity not poverty.
We want a “Marshall Plan” for Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan at least. We want leadership that is willing to take on the political, commercial, tribal and sectarian challenges and end the conflict.