War is Peace by Arundhati Roy is contingent upon the paradoxical statement and concept that in fact, ‘War is Peace.’
He uses concept to introduce the idea that this war on terrorism is polarized by ideologies and by taking sides of each citizens’ occupied country, specifically either that of the U.S. Government or Afghanistan. But what his claim comes down to is that “One country’s terrorist is too often another’s freedom fighter,” all these acts of violence are inherently terroristic and also violence creates and amplifies the creation of more violence.
What makes this piece challenging is that he is writing a month after 9/11, in which the threat of terrorism is at large and on the minds of millions. He uses this moment to look at this terrorist attack from the other side, being that of the U.S. government as part of the infliction of these crimes against humanity. The International Coalition Against Terror is introduced into his argument after listing the nineteen countries that the U.S. had bombed since WWII. Roy describes the International Coalition Against Terror as, being made up of the richest countries and essentially the ones who manufacture and distribute weapons of mass destruction to the entire world. Roy’s implementation of these rhetorical and evidentiary choices, puts the U.S. government in a position as the antihero, and also frames the paradox and issues of global peacekeeping. This is used to show how the United States government in a similar position, as how the western nations generally view the acts of terror of the Taliban.
His first significant reason that back his claim about the hypocrisy of The International Coalition Against Terror, is best illustrated by the quotation, “Between them, they have worshipped, almost deified, the cult of violence and war.” This essentially puts the blame of the global culture of violence on The International Coalition Against Terror, which is supposed to be, well, ‘against terror.’ This points fingers at the U.S. government showing that they are in some ways more violent than that of the Taliban government.
An important use of definition, or acknowledgment of the lack thereof, is when Roy says that there is no universal definition of ‘terrorism,’ “One country’s terrorist is too often another’s freedom fighter.” This is meant to emphasize his claim that the world has not found an acceptable definition of what ‘terrorism’ is. The lack here of a definition illuminates a humanitarian read on the system of violence, which shows that all violence is violence against humanity. A scenario that Roy proposes is that if the Taliban bombed New York City, claiming to be against the U.S. government and not the humans living in it, and then further providing food packets of stereotypical middle eastern food, then the American people would eat it out of hunger but would inevitably hate the Taliban government for their insulting condensation. This usage of role reversals is meant to appeal to the audience of this piece, which is understandably assumed to have rage against the Taliban government. This “put yourself in their shoes” tactic emphasizes the general grounding in the humanity of all the victims of violence, we are one of the same.
All this is meant to do is again illustrate the paradox to what I assume to be a western, if not American, audience, the hypocrisy of the war against terrorism.
The question Roy poses that have only some half articulated answers bring to light elements of his argument that are most essential to his claim, by pointing out these unanswerable questions there is a sort of call to action and is also pointing out inherent flaws in the system as it stands. For example he poses the questions: But is war the best way to track them down? Will burning the haystack find you the needle? Or it escalate the anger and make the world a living hell for all of us?”
This series of metaphorical questions inextricably ends up answering its own question and supporting the claim in the suggestion that the world will become a living hell this circulate system of violence continues.
Another point of evidence that is significant to Roy’s argument is the articulation of the idea that industries of arms, oil, media, and foreign policy are all controlled by the same people, rendering the people victim to the façade of the government’s wrongdoings caught of in the romanticization of war and violence.
This is insistent on his argument that no matter what ‘side’ a person is on violence produced more violence.
Finally the metaphor of consumption used throughout the piece, specifically in reference to the food packets circles the reader back to his initial claim that war is indeed peace. “The daily consumers of the lie and brutality smeared in peanut butter and strawberry jam being air-dropped into our minds just like those yellow food packets. The use of this metaphor puts the American reader in the position of the Afghani peoples who received the packets initially suggesting that we as Americans are victims of violence in a different way by the same government. They are here to feed us, to quell the masses.