War?

Way off topic, but war’s been on everyone’s mind of late, and the horribly devastating oil spill in Lebanon is but one example of the crazy devastation caused by war. An event that would be an international emergency by itself is only a footnote in the death of many innocent people, destruction of the happiness of entire communities and populations, not to mention all those blown up bridges, power plants and homes.

Los Angeles Times: Why Good Countries Fight Dirty Wars

The citizen-soldiers sent into the field by the United States or any other Western popular government are expected, by virtue of not so long ago having been free civilians themselves, to be more empathetic with the plight of the noncombatants with whom they come into contact. Certainly, brutal incidents like the My Lai massacre or the Abu Ghraib scandal occur from time to time, but they are widely viewed as cultural aberrations. This interpretation, however, is as simplistic as it is misleading. All too often the armies of modern democracies have tolerated and even initiated outrages against civilians, in manners uneasily close to those of their totalitarian and terrorist enemies. Israeli troops are currently demonstrating this fact in their response to the Hezbollah rocket offensive — a response most of the world community, according to recent polls, believes is taking an unacceptably disproportionate toll on Lebanese civilians. And there have been times when democratic leaders have been even more open about their brutal intentions: Speaking of the Allied bombing campaign during World War II that culminated in that consummate act of state terrorism, the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, Winston Churchill flatly stated that the objective was “to make the enemy burn and bleed in every way.”

Excellent article, there really is no moral war, no just war, no holy war, no noble war, no happy war, no easy war, and there really should be no war other than a reluctantly fought, and limited war. There are no noble warriors, no heros, only real people doing things to their fellow human beings that are for the most part, unspeakable horrors. Anyone who tries to argue with me that their war is somehow different because of a host of reasons is not going to convince me.

While history books can be cleansed to blind future generations to the actual costs of war on the people fighting it, and the damage that ensues, fighting affects everyone who fights significantly, and rarely for the better. Eventually, it dehumanizes you, how can you kill someone (except in close combat where there’s a clear survival motivation) except by dehumanizing them? You’d have to think that a whole neighborhood is somehow inhuman to drop a bomb on them that kills maybe one terrorist and 15 innocent humans.

The history we learn has a lot to do with our willingness to tolerate this much war. The science lessons we get in school are a culmination of centuries of accumulated knowledge, the mathematics we learn goes back 10-15 centuries, we are taught to be self-critical, to learn from our mistakes, to think, yet the history we learn is pure propaganda, none of these edicts seem to apply. Being a “pacifist” has gone from normal to “loony coward fringe element” in a few years. Oh well…

3 comments for “War?

  1. August 1, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    >>Anyone who tries to argue with me that their war is somehow different because of a host of reasons is not going to convince me.

    What about the wars of independence of so many nations? What does a population do when it is occupied and oppressed by another that’s immune to non-violent methods of resistance?

  2. August 1, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    Well Thojo, in that case, you’re dealing with an occupying power that is not gong to budge unless you inflict great harm. If the guilt building, the moral superiority, the support of the world, etc do not get you your independence/freedom, how is armed conflict going to help? Do you think Tibet has a chance even if the monks took up arms? For a revolution to succeed, you need to inflict enough harm on your enemy in a short enough period of time so they change their minds. In the very assymetric world we live in now, where the organized state has unlimited power and staying capacity at its disposal, the only hope of independence for you is if the world powers (read US) takes your side and exerts enough influence to make it happen. If you’re a lesser power (like Indonesia), the UN will suffice.

    My point is also this, you get compromise only if one side gets tired of the violence first. and, at least one side needs to say that the war is not worth it, and since this involves a lot of swallowing of pride, this will never happen unless the other side at least temporarily stops as well. So, back to my original point, stop fighting first, there can be no solution unless the war stops…

  3. August 1, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Yes, I did think about that (that weaker parties can’t win without war anyways).

    But stronger ones can. Imagine if the US is attacked by armed forces from Nicaragua. Funny, but imagine it anyway. Or if Japan attacked China as it did. Would anyone suggest non-violent protest as the answer? China is strong enough now to kick the shit out of Japan but the threat of war must be on the table for it to serve as deterrence.

    Also, in some cases, non-violent protest is no less futile than war. For example, people sometimes complain “Why don’t Palestinians adopt non-violent methods of protest, like Gandhi?”. As if the Israelis have earned non-violent protest!

    My point is, a state of warlessness can’t be achieved without the threat of war on all sides (and a widespread distaste for it, where opinions like what you have posted, when aired, help a lot). Otherwise, whoever militarizes can take over the world. How can that be prevented. It’s so easy to create a small war loving bunch.

    This is why I dislike selective nuclear disarmament as well. As far as I know Peace Action is the only org. in the US that is asking for complete nuclear disarmament (including the US). So much for the great “left”. Atleast in the case of nukes, if everyone is in agreement, if someone starts up some shit secretly, there’s a good chance of detection.