The Power of the Metaphor: The Fairy Tale of the Just War
By Paul Wahrhaftig
This Article Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: Wahrhaftig, Paul. "The Power of the Metaphor: The Fairy Tale of the Just War." Conflict Resolution Notes. April 1991. V. 8, No. 4. Pp. 33-34.
The American administration and its allies used a powerful metaphor to win public support for their use of force in the Gulf conflict of 1991. "Villain attacks powerless victim and then the hero comes to defeat the villain and rescue the victim. Villain is not a rational human being, he does not respond to persuasion or rational reasoning, thus the only way of dealing with him is through his defeat." Saddam Hussein was presented as a villain. The US, leading the coalition forces, was a hero and Kuwait was the victim. This perception prevented any attempts for a negotiated solution of the conflict. Stereotyping and demonization did not allow for the arguments made by such people as Roger Fisher (co-author of a famous book on negotiation, "Getting to Yes") to be taken into consideration. The historic example of Hitler's appeasement before the World War II was used to prove the uselessness of negotiation. Paul Wahrhaftig concludes this article with a call for creating alternate metaphors that support peaceful resolution of conflicts.