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War – What Is It Good For?

Topics: Editorial & Opinion | Add A CommentBy admin | March 29, 2011

Absolutely nothin’. Say it again.

The other day I was pondering the events of September 11, 2001, and wondered what America would be doing to celebrate the tenth anniversary of those events later this year. I hope what ever we do shows a little more strength and dignity than what we did shortly after the atrocities perpetrated that day. I’ve always been of the opinion that the fellows charged with responding to those events were rather pleased that they had occurred, because it allowed them to pursue their previously stated desire of “Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force”,  as they so charmingly put it. I won’t belabor the absurdity of initiating two armed conflicts abroad, killing more than a million people total, including at least 6,000 American deaths in addition to the 2,996 resulting from the original attacks as a response to those attacks. Anyone who can silence the partisan gibberish in their head for a moment can look at the numbers and the results, i.e., the fact that there’s still a Taliban, still an al-Quaeda, and that Osama bin Laden is probably enjoying his falconing hobby in relative comfort in Iran – and realize that someone was fibbing somewhere, and had another agenda. Or perhaps the famous Donald Rumsfeld poem (also below) just reflected that there are a lot more things “we don’t know we don’t know” than he knew. And even if there were truth to the notion that somehow tracking down bin Laden was the real aim, that strategy embodies the same absurdity as the Italo Calvino story Conscience . If you’re not familiar with the story, I won’t spoil it. It’s only a page and a half long, so I’ve embedded it below. So I could go on for days, citing numbers,  pointing fingers, and trying to show off what I think I know about the causes of war, but I have this seemingly irrational hope that in spite of thousands of years of history that contraindicates the possibility, that perhaps within my lifetime, humans will actually abandon war as an approach to resolving conflict. The tragically high suicide rate of returning American soldiers  seems to me a sad reflection of a heightened awareness of the sickness of the human psyche that makes war palatable to the entitled few, who then send the less-entitled and more honorable to execute their sociopathic, murderous plans. It’s unfortunate that there has to be an oppressed people for truly inspired, spiritually driven leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi to rise to prominence, but every time a person like this lives a life and leaves their mark, it gives someone in the present some tools to keep building a better future. And I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I suggest that an incredible number of people, from a vast variety of nations and cultures, are oppressed right now. And that a remarkably small number of people are benefiting from this oppression, and helping perpetuate it. Maybe the next inspired leader who battles racism and hatred with love will be fighting for the human race. Some quotes and the story “Conscience” below….

Conscience by Italo Calvino

Politicians will often suggest that war is unavoidable , in order to avoid avoiding it:

This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.
Barack Obama

So here we have an odd instance in which a Nazi displays more honesty than a US president:

Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
-Hermann Goering

A few more war quotes:

War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
-Bertrand Russell

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
-Voltaire

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
-John F. Kennedy

Some Donald Rumsfeld Poetry:

The message is that there are known “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that’s basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.

It sounds like a riddle. It isn’t a riddle. It is a very serious, important matter.

There’s another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist. And yet almost always, when we make our threat assessments, when we look at the world, we end up basing it on the first two pieces of that puzzle, rather than all three.