It takes a warrior to make peace.  (Sorry Cindy Sheehan.  That’s a warrior, not a warrior’s mom.)

As you may have heard, the former Israeli military leader and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died today after a lengthy coma.  These days, he may be best remembered in the U.S. for his promising efforts at a true peace with the Palestinians that were derailed by his stroke.  For those of you who don’t know, he had also founded Israel’s hardline conservative party and abandoned it late in life to create a more centrist alternative.

[Photo Credit: Jim Wallace, Smithsonian Institution]

Sharon is the second major world figure to die recently, the other being Nelson Mandela.  If we put these two next to Barack Obama and John McCain, we can learn much.

I can already hear the cries of outrage that I would put those four men’s names together.  To placate the protesters, I’ll offer a small hint about the rest of this post and you can sing along if you like:

One of these men is not like the others.

One of these men just doesn’t belong.

Can you tell which man is not like the others

By the time I finish my song?

Let’s review, shall we?  Sharon forged a broad consensus among Israelis for peacemaking solutions they would never have accepted if the proponent weren’t so credible on national defense.  Much of the Right wouldn’t cross their war hero and Sharon’s agenda pleased much of the Left.  You can see the same thing with McCain’s opposition to torture and Mandela’s peaceful activities after he was released from prison.  (Let’s not forget that Mandela had endorsed violence before entering prison and the government offered him an earlier release if he would publicly denounce the use of violence.  He shrewdly refused the offer.)  All three men are known for their willingness to use violent tactics, which made their recommendations against such acts more meaningful.

(None of this is meant to disparage nonviolence for social change, such as MLK Jr. used.  I am not a dunce.)

On the other hand, guys like Dennis Kucinich lack credibility among everyone but his fellow pacifists because we all know that he’d have to be smoking some (different?) mushrooms to suggest anything but a non-violent solution.  For guys like Kucinich, the solution precedes the problem and therefore the solution will always be the same.

Sadly, the reverse is true as well: it takes a pacifist to make war.  Look at Barack Obama, the agent of “hope and change” who Amnesty International recently designated a war criminal.  When Bush was making war, Democrats and much the media never ceased the criticism.  Now that a liberal is performing the same (or worse) misdeeds as George W. Bush, Obama’s allies in the media and the Left have become largely quiet while the non-libertarian-leaning Right has no reason to complain.  Obama the “pacifist” can get away with more war than Bush ever could, at least in the eyes of U.S. voters.

So… Obama was the man who’s not like the others.

Nevertheless, I wish Sharon would have adopted two of Obama’s typical actions to make his peacekeeping activities more effective: eating healthy and exercising.

The world needed Ariel Sharon a little bit longer.

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