Thursday, July 13, 2006

Escalation

Yet another tense situation in the Middle East, where the actions of both sides seems to result in escalation rather than resolution.

BBC News: Israel PM warns of 'escalation' (July 5), Israelis to escalate Gaza raids (July 11), Hezbollah capture marks new escalation (July 12), Israel blockades Lebanese waters (July 13).

Recent commentary (via Technorati): Bush Faces Major Choice Amid Escalation (Jim Lobe, IPS News), Worse and Worse (Yoav, NewZionist).

POSIWID tells us that escalation may sometimes be a deliberate outcome of some tactic, not merely an unfortunate side-effect. For example, escalation is sometimes used as a tactic to convince people that you are serious about something. (Rodger makes this point in Framing Iraq: A Lesson from the Vietnam Experience on the Duck of Minerva blog.) Tactical escalation is also used to build support for your position, although it also tends to build support for your opponent as well [source: Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colerado]. Louis Kreisberg (Beyond Intractability) advocates non-violent modes of Constructive Escalation.

Escalation is also an act of reframing - a way of refusing to treat some incident in isolation, but as part of a long-running chronic situation. "This has been going on for generations ... we cannot continue tolerating this kind of thing ... weakness now would encourage further incidents in future ... and so on." In other words, it is an act that is intended to be interpreted by the other side - a message calling for a response. (Both fight and flight are symmetric responses to violence, because they take the violence on its own terms. Non-violent resistance to a violent situation is an asymmetric response, in so far as it reframes the initial violence.)

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