Earlier today, on CNN, one of the journalists (or perhaps a translator or a producer, I’m not sure) who had been held hostage at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli was interviewed.  A female who spoke Arabic, she described how she had made friends with one of the guards by talking with him about his family, who he missed.

The journalists were afraid they would be killed by their guards since they were perceived as being on the side of the rebel forces taking over the city.

The woman who talked with the guard also told him about the families of the journalists and how they also missed their families.  Shortly after this conversation in Arabic, the guards put down their weapons and released the journalists.

Not too surprisingly, when interviewed later, Matthew Chance, the senior CNN reporter, seemed unaware of this conversation (though it was reported on CNN) and said only that the guards seemed to come to a decision rather suddenly that morning, to let them go, as they realized that they were on the losing side. He said that there were a “couple of gunman,” and that they seemed to undergo a “remarkable transformation.”

The absence of any acknowledgement of  the role this conversation may have played is really not surprising.  After all, no one “important” was talking, only a woman who spoke Arabic.

The dismissal of simple contact with people as a means of affecting an outcome could be a primary reason why there are a lot of wars and a lot of violent endings.