LOG CABIN CHRONICLES

We cannot be against war

Posted 11.14.13
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Pacifists weren't evident at this year's Remembrance Day ceremony here, no white poppies in the sea of red. Yet in the most ordinary of circumstances, most of us are pacifists -- which parents wish to have our sons and daughters head off to a war? At best, we see those departures as necessary evils.

Violence and aggression are not uncommon. There are leaders with supporters bent on greed, avarice, and revenge, found in all classes, all nations, most cultures. General nastiness is not in short supply as the world burgeons in population, making every resource valuable.

We here are sitting atop vast resource wealth. Our ancestors, genetic or social, targeted them, and now we are targets. Not necessarily targets for invasion -- although claims to the Arctic may bring that about -- but our resources are targeted.

The greedy achieve their goals via enforced ownership, trade deals, patent protections (to extract difficult oil, for example), and so on. But international deals can fall apart, and trade is then continued by other means, military ones.

We also accept the Responsibility to Protect thesis -- General/Senator Romeo Dallaire's R2P campaign -- so that violent groups cannot mistreat their populations beyond a certain measure before we, via the UN, intervene.

We are morally ambitious. We feel obligated to protect girls seeking education or minority peoples under assault, no matter how far away. We are morally ambiguous, too, because R2P rarely extends to our own country's destitute.

Our principles are not absolute and fixed. There are many -- usually political or financial -- reasons for not acting on our beliefs. No one will suggest the UN occupy the USA to end voter manipulation there. We won't invade Russia to protect the civil rights of gays or minorities. We are not invading Syria to stop the bloodletting.

Wars often cause worse wars, as did World War I, by brutalizing whole societies and institutionalizing violence, fertile ground for violent movements.

Principles are not absolute, despite their definition. That is good. Look at the real world. We can be manipulated by lofty appeals to our principles, mixed in with disinformation campaigns -- as was the US for Bush's invasion of Iraq. Unfortunately, principles can snare us.

This is where our civic and familial duties meet. Any obligation we feel must be to the truth, not to rules or codes of honour.

Military preparedness is a necessity in this world we've built. It also requires us to be supremely sceptical of any enthusiasm to go to war, in any form. Most words of our political leaders and our media, contrary to the grand theories, are unreliable. We cannot accept them alone as our guide in sending or submitting ourselves or our children to war. Be a military sceptic, not a pacifist.

john@johnmahoney.com




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