posted by Michael Andre at
Think of Sherman's march to the sea. Or atomic weapons used in Japan.Sure, they were excessive. But war is supposed to cause enormous pain, in order to get someone to stop their behavior.Had Sherman for instance gone about in the south slapping wrists here and there or haranguing southerners from the town squares to give up their slaves they would have just strung him up from a tree.So he flattened Georgia.If we were dealing with democracies then we could use democratic means. We're not, so we can't.The Lebanese parliament didn't vote to declare war against Israel. There's a kind of lawlessness in operation through the Islamic world. They do not respond to law. There is no law. Al Qaeda doesn't have a legislature, or have elections. How can democracies deal with them democratically?Hezbollah is also an extra-democratic group. You can't deal with them as you could a law-abiding nation.The Confederacy were breaking human norms and wanted to go on holding human beings as property. We tried to argue with them for decades. Finally, they needed to be flattened.At the end of the Civil War there were a half million dead and a million other injuries to boot. But a principle was established at Gettysburg, as Lincoln put it, that none of us can forget.We need to spread the notion of human rights throughout the earth: that women can vote, that elections must be free, that arbitrary arrests and executions cannot be made.But how can we do this unless we ourselves are willing to go outside of the law? Lincoln himself was on legal thin ice going against states' rights in order to invade the South.Sherman broke every convention of warfare as he marched on Atlanta. It's hard to justify except by saying that the ends justify the means.Egypt and Saudi Arabia have rebuked Hezbollah, and also Al Qaeda. Even therefore major portions of the Arab world itself see Israel's right to self-protection, and have asked Syria to call off their proxies.
War makes me squeamish. It rarely has intended consequences. War just seems to set up issues for the next war. I said something like that years ago to a friend in the CIA. She said, "War is horrible but often necessary."
Sadly, I'd agree with your friend.Not to go to war is sometimes even worse, and to not go to war can also set up issues.But I hate war. I think there are some people who do love it. Fortunately some of them are our soldiers. I would make a lousy soldier, police officer, etc. I can't stand confrontations. I don't mind intellectual confrontations where principles are involved, and where intelligent people can discuss issues.But firing shells over borders at civilians would not be my cup of spiced chai.
Who does not admire the passivism of Gandhi? It is often said that Gandhi’s techniques would not have worked against Hitler. Contrariwise, two of the orneriest gents I’ve ever met were Israelis. One openly admired Hitler because “he knew how to win.” At the time I did not think to point out that in fact Hitler had lost.
But Hitler didn't lose against pacifists.Churchill firebombed Dresden.When the Russians came across eastern Germany after Stalingrad, they were far from Gandhian in their outlook.And of course the invasion at Normandy was far from the pacific.
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Michael is a widely published poet. His essays on art and film have found commercial publication. His political actions have annoyed many people, notably, Ronald Reagan. Copyright 2015 Michael Andre
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