The path Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took after the Christchurch atrocity has been held up as a roadmap for dealing with terror assaults.
A column in The New Yorker magazine yesterday said that Ardern "has quietly upended every expectation about the way Western states and their leaders respond to terrorist attacks."
The article, by Masha Gessen, said that unlike leaders in other Western countries where terror strikes had occurred, Ardern had spurned "war rhetoric" and consciously
disregarded the accused attacker.
Gessen wrote that since the September 11, 2001 attack on New York, world leaders had routinely responded to terror by promising vengeance and waged war, rhetorically and militarily.
President George W Bush promised in the wake of the Twin Towers attack to hunt down and punish those responsible.
After 12 people died when the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked, French President Francois Hollande said: "Today, France was attacked at its very heart, in Paris, at the offices of a newspaper."
Earlier, in July 2011, Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, said "We will not be intimidated" after the massacre carried out by white supremacist Anders Breivik.
Ardern, on the other hand, showed she had no time for the mosque attacker, Gessen wrote, quoting the Prime Minister's statement that the victims of the deadly March 15 assault "are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence."
Wrote Gessen: "These phrases are remarkable for what they do not contain: a promise to find the perpetrator and bring him to justice; any attempt to degrade him; any recognition of his desire to be seen, recognised, and fought. The opposite of terror is not courage, victory, or even justice, and it is certainly not "war on terror." The opposite of terror is disregard for the terrorist. "
Gessen, author of 10 books including an account of Russia under President Vladimir Putin which won the US National Book Award in 2017, said Ardern had accepted the role of leading New Zealand in grief while taking steps to limit the scope for violent attacks
with gun law reforms.
"This is what political leaders do in the face of a senseless tragedy: they grieve with their people, they think with their people, and they act together with their people," wrote Gessen. "None of those tasks requires a declaration of war."