Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Neutrality – clean hands in a dirty war

4 June 2015


Yesterday, I received an email from Amnesty International asking me to support a petition against the Nigerian Government regarding its alleged brutalities against alleged members of Boko Haram. I refused and even replied to them that I don’t appreciate their “neutrality”. It’s rather naïve to think that you can’t have clean hands in a dirty war. The extreme violence by this terrorist organisation requires retaliation. Any soft approach will only reinforce their despicable actions.

Like many people I used to support Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. I have withdrawn my support as they don’t deserve it given their behaviour in this conflict. Both parties are involved in a dirty war – and worst of all – with no aim or intention to resolve their conflict. It’s just survival of the strongest. Frankly, I stopped caring for both parties which is by the way something entirely else than being neutral.

Staying neutral in conflicts is usually not an option as parties in a conflict typically have a “friend or foe” view: if you’re not my friend then you must be a foe. You can hardly blame them for that as it’s important to count (on) your allies and adversaries.

During my divorce most people took sides and 1 person insisted to stay neutral. Most likely, latter person ended up with nothing as neutrality isn’t considered a plus when it comes to emotions. True friends take sides and give counsel. Their counselling may even be the only way forward to resolve conflicts. One of my remaining friends took that role upon him and I’m grateful for that. Else I would still be in court today. At times, our friendship took a severe beating. Yet it survived.

In many conflicts you see that one party is assuming the victim role. A victim role may earn you friends as people usually feel pity for the underdog. However, even victims may ultimately have had a decisive role in the conflict without anybody being aware of that. Often the cause of conflicts is deemed less interesting than its consequences. However, there is no lasting solution if the root cause of the conflict is ignored.

Yesterday, I received an email which I had already expected to receive on Sunday. This email will go unanswered as I’m not interested to talk to that person after all the lies, hurt and grief that this person has caused. Yes, there’s a status quo of live and let live. However, there is no lasting solution as the root cause of that conflict has never been resolved. That person may pretend to be a victim to everyone. I know better. And victim roles don’t last forever.

The European Union is another interesting example when it comes to neutrality and – at the same time – continue benefiting from it. Some recent UK articles (link 1, link 2, link 3) mentioned the clear disadvantages of opting out while still benefiting from it. Obviously, these articles are meant to influence the UK debate on EU membership. Nevertheless, it doesn’t make any sense to want both: opting out AND continue benefiting. Still the EU allows this somehow by requiring mandatory implementation of its directives without these countries having had any say in its preparation.

There’s no way you can have it all: benefits, influence while opting out at the same time. Whose side are you on? I know. Do you?


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