Mowahid Hussain Shah In a conflict-ridden world, with an unequal balance of power, there is always some pressure to seek a way out through dialogue. But those with less leverage often find themselves hitting a wall. The context of the dialogue is controlled by those with the most clout and not necessarily by those who may have the law, facts and morality on their side. Those not operating from a position of strength are virtually vetoed and outflanked by the sheer volume; and weight of the coordinated lobbying power of the influential few. This lopsided imbalance is perpetuated by afraid-to-offend local elites, whose meek cunning, survival skills, and talent for money grabbing are often underestimated. To control the parameters of dialogue, the usage of specific terminology is revealing, especially so, with reference to key issues. A discussion on terrorism, for example, focuses on the murderous conduct of individuals and groups, but the cruelty inflicted by the state machinery of violence escapes similar scrutiny. Accordingly, the excesses of the state tend to be swallowed while individual excesses are amplified. Then there are the 'moderates'. The propensity to pamper and prop up local 'moderates' is a well-entrenched strategy to foil militancy. Has it worked? Whether the moderate ruling classes are democratic, autocratic, despotic, or theocratic, the evidence suggests it has not. The so-called 'moderates' have no problems becoming extremists when it comes to self-enrichment. There is nothing moderate in their extreme greed. Pertinent also is the Palestinian problem and its treatment in the West in that it touches core US domestic as well as overseas interests. Rather than it being honestly recognised at the root of Western-Muslim tensions, it is falsely floated as one of "other" issues, quite similar to the manner in which India wishes to depict the Kashmir dispute. In a December 17 interview to The New York Time, Prince Saud al-Faisal, who has been the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia for 35 years, pinpointed the Palestinian issue as the "central factor in regional stability" and said that "the burning crisis has ruined Palestinian lives and left the region staggering from crisis to crisis.' Instructive, too, is the jargon surrounding democracy and the so-called legitimacy of the elected. Somehow, being elected is supposed to launder the soiled process which got one elected. Under the hijab of democracy, robbers have become rulers simply because their obedience fits geo-political agendas. The net result is that it has an impact opposite to what is intended in that it further inflames militancy. Le Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) won the first round of Algerian elections on December 26, 1991. The French denounced the results, ensuring mayhem and civil strife as the electoral process was cancelled. Similar was the international mistreatment meted out to Hamas, after winning the Palestinian elections of January 2006 in an electoral process observed by international election monitors, including former US President Jimmy Carter, who termed the elections "completely honest, completely fair, completely safe and without violence." In striking contrast, the tyranny of the next door Mubarak regime is sugar-coated, which is now building an underground steel barrier next to Egypt's border with Gaza where Palestinians have built tunnels which serve as a life-line circumventing Israel's suffocating blockade. Mubarak's action serves to augment the Israeli encirclement of Gaza. Crucial is the issue of nukes. All nukes are not seen in the same light. The nukes that are dressed in red, white, and blue are viewed as relatively benign. It is the green nukes that find themselves diagnosed as particularly malignant. Despite clear and convincing proof of it not working, the hegemonic trend to over-control continues. In theory, it is supposed to 'shelter' the status quo. In reality, it is slowly 'shattering' the status quo. There are signs that the dynamics of relationships are shifting, so that what worked yesterday may not work today. A danger to watch out for is the self-defeating habit of resentful victimhood, whose damaging side effect is its over-simplification of complex issues and the avoidance of looking inward for necessary self-correction. The writer is an advocate and a senior political analyst.