Any pacifists out there? While I hesitate to call myself a pacifist, I am against war in general and am most certainly against the current wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. (Though I did support the Iraq war when it first started, my reasons were very poor. Not sure if I ever bought into the WMD thing but I’m sure I used the excuse to make myself feel better about our elected officials.) What I want to describe today is why I think in this day and age, war is a paradox.

I say in this day and age because there might have been a time in the past when war was the only option. Back when there were many relatively small tribes that could not peaceably interact with one another (for fear they would be kidnapped or killed), the only way to resolve disputes was probably war. Now, however, things are much different. We are wiser, smarter, and all-around nicer than our ancestors were.

Yes, in this day and age I think there is no need for war. It makes absolutely no sense.

In today’s world, there are two kinds of countries we could go to war with. The first is democratic countries. The second is non-democratic countries, or if you prefer, dictatorships.

You might have thought of a third target for our military aggressions, such as “terrorism.” Of course, it is not possible to declare war on a word or an idea. Today’s war on terrorism is just a ploy to keep our economy going through military spending. More Americans die each year from car accidents than all of the terrorist attacks against us put together. The threat just is not there. We do more damage to ourselves via the privacy- and rights-stripping laws we enact than the terrorists could do to us. That was probably their plan in the first place anyway.

Similarly, the “war on drugs” in this country is also a façade. A majority of people in this country have done drugs before. Nobody believes the claims made by the government about the harmfulness of marijuana. Hard drugs are another story, but seriously. The war on drugs is just a way for governments to make money, and probably to put black people in jail.

Let us examine the first of our potential targets, the democratic country. Peaceful. For the most part, run by the people who live in it. These are nations we consider among our allies. If we have disagreements with them, we can use diplomacy. Anything but the most egregious offenses would do nothing more than cause some ill will for a year or two.

The second option, the dictatorship, is essentially the opposite of the democratic country. Either openly militaristic, or plotting to be. Run by a single person or a small clique, without taking input from the populace. Diplomacy doesn’t work. Always on the brink of declaring war on you.

It’s somewhat obvious why war is not an option in the first case. But why shouldn’t it be in the latter?

To understand why, I think we should first look at the factors involved with the former case. Since democratic countries share, for the most part, our opinions on rights and the role of the people, we have much more to agree on than disagree on. For whatever reason, we like democracies. Here’s the funny thing, though: because these countries are democratic, and subject (to varying degrees) to the will of the people, wars would actually work against them! If people don’t like them, they can tell their government to back down on whatever stupid shit they’re up to. (I am assuming the United States would never attack another democratic country without that country having done something we don’t like.)

And now we see why attacking a dictatorship makes no sense. A war punishes, for all intents and purposes, the people of that country. (And in this case it would punish a people for something they did not choose or do.) A dictator is just the general of the army, not a soldier. To the dictator, the inhabitants of the country are merely pawns to be sacrificed. As we saw in Iraq, the actual war didn’t really end until we got Saddam. Since then it’s just been stabilizing the chaos we created. There is no incentive for a dictator to end a war, even a losing one, because they don’t need to listen to the people.

Therein lies the paradox. We do not need to use war against democratic countries, and war is a poor tool to use against dictatorships.

Of course, there are other reasons why war doesn’t make any sense, even against democratic countries where the leadership of the country could be changed by the populace. Any foreign enemy will increase patriotism and nationalism in a population. Lots of people would want to fight simply because they were being attacked. They would go from peaceful people that didn’t want to fight, to hardened citizens, doing their duty to protect their country from foreign invaders. This is probably a good part of what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan now.

So, you may be wondering, what do we do then when faced with a threat from a dictator? Sanctions probably also hurt the populace more, though sanctions could cause a slowdown in the plans of dictators while causing minimal damage to the people. I’d probably recommend assassination, perhaps via long-range missile into the presidential palace, combined with underground resistance efforts to cause a revolution during the following confusion. I don’t know. My point in this post was just to say why war is bad, not what we should do instead.

I shall leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein:

“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

Some day we will grow out of this infantile tendency toward killing one another. With the power of our weapons increasing every day, far out-pacing our enlightenment, that day cannot come soon enough. Until then, do not join the military. If a draft comes, leave the country or be a conscious objector. Whatever it takes to ensure we make it to a future without war.

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com 🙂