The long, hard road to peace

The greatest virtue of international politics is the capacity to de-escalate and limit war. Here’s to a pandemic of virtue.

As Eastern Washington battles devastating wildfires, and Western Washington focuses on all-things-recreation, the clouds of war in the Middle East and Ukraine throw shadows visible here. We’d much prefer the shadows give way to light, and everyone sing the gospel refrain, “I ain’t gonna study war no more.”

But to de-escalate is to engage. Washington’s congressional delegation, tracking a war-weary, summer-loving constituency, mostly errs on the side of silence.

There are a couple of exceptions, including Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee.

“We must do whatever we can to achieve a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas-led government in Gaza,” Smith said in a statement. “Hamas must reconsider and accept the ceasefire offered by Egypt which Israel agreed to accept. Suffering on both sides has been horrific and we desperately need a solution to stop the fighting.”

Spokane Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Republican Conference, is more subjective, avoiding ceasefire talk or acknowledging the asymmetries of power and nuances and history of Gaza.

There’s no moral equivalence between Hamas terrorists and Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime, but to disregard the suffering of the people of Gaza is as unjust as it is strategically misguided. ”We send the people of Israel the steadfast and unending support of the United States of America,” McMorris Rodgers said in her statement.

New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof offers a more comprehensive read, which underscores why peace is so elusive.

“Israelis are absolutely correct that they have a right not to be hit with rockets by Hamas, not to be kidnapped, not to be subjected to terrorist bombings,” Kristof wrote. “And Palestinians are absolutely right that they have a right to a state, a right to run businesses and import goods, a right to live in freedom rather than relegated to second-class citizenship in their own land.”

The shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine is another shock, with civilians in the cross-hairs.

Engage and communicate your concern. Will the Boeing Co., reliant on Russian titanium, support sanctions against Putin’s murderous regime? Will Washington’s delegation go on the record promoting a Gaza ceasefire or adding teeth to Russian sanctions?

The clouds of war can’t be wished away.