Can We Trigger Peace in the Middle East?



If you haven’t been under a rock for the last few months (and really, over the last 50 years) then you know the Gaza Strip has erupted into some of the planet’s deadliest direct warfare. Most recently, actions have led to an international rhetorical frenzy featuring media and citizens alike. Protests have swept the streets and editorials have swept the news as international relations specialists rush to weigh in on an international, national and local level.

The intricacies of the conflict are nuanced enough to warrant an entire body of literature. However, if there’s anything we the sane people of Earth can agree on, it’s that the world would be better off if there were a lot less fighting and a lot more harmonious interaction in the region. And in that respect, the 7 Triggers has something positive to say.

So how do you trigger peace in the Middle East? There’s certainly no magic bullet, and some of the world’s finest diplomats have given it their best shot and returned home empty-handed. Yet Israel was once at war with both Egypt and Jordan, and has long since buried the machine gun in those conflicts. In addition, sectarian religious violence has been quelled in other parts of the world such as Ireland. It doesn’t take a John Lennon caliber dreamer to believe that we could one day see a peaceful functioning interaction between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The first step to figuring out what works may be figuring out what won’t work. We might call this the “anti-triggers”.

Here’s a good start: the Authority Trigger seems pretty unfruitful in this case. Neither side is likely to persuade the opposition by claiming the high ground of expertise in the conflict, especially when the facts themselves are central to the dispute.

You can probably scratch the Reason Why trigger, at least to start. Supplying reasons is just fine at some points throughout the process, but it’s probably not enough to forge any old reason and hope it stands alone.

The Friendship Trigger feels like a non-starter, too. If conviviality and shared interests held any sway, the ceasefires would likely last longer than a few hours. That trigger’s out.

The Consistency Trigger seems tricky at best. If the two sides act consistently with past actions, that just means more war. Not exactly the intended outcome of leveraging the triggers for peace.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of paths to peace inherent in the remaining triggers. The Reciprocity Trigger is always successful in diplomacy. Even in highly aggressive scenarios, give-and-take, especially when regulated by a third party, allows two sides of a conflict to take care of business effectively and intelligently.

The Contrast Trigger may also be useful as a tool to cool the violence. It’s not difficult to make the prospect of peace look good by comparison to the day-to-day firefights that have claimed the lives of thousands. But it would take some imagination to illuminate the contrast effectively.

Perhaps most powerful would be the Hope Trigger. The Hope Trigger is one of the easiest internal triggers to activate. It promises health, independence, stability and success. One has to think that after several thousand years of war, such a promise – if articulated and presented with enough skill – might actually change the course of the conflict.

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