Thursday, August 10, 2006

War. What Is it Good For?

we are flying to kansas here
Originally uploaded by katzeye.
WAR. What is it good for?

I hate war. When I was a kid at the movies, war scenes always terrified me far more than any horror flick ever could! Even as an adult, war scenes make me cry, cause me to lose sleep, terrorize me. I cannot even stand to read about war. From a very early age, I sensed that war was the ultimate evil.

And yeah, I don’t like violence, in general, and I don’t like guns (even though I have a really good aim, my dad taught us to shoot at tin cans in the desert when we were young), and I don’t like mean people, and I don’t even like anger!

One might say that I am a pacifist through and through.

Would I like it if we were not at war right now? Absolutely!

Imagine if you would, that you live on a street in a make-believe neighborhood. You are living your life to the best of your ability. You have friendly neighbors on this street, and sometimes you socialize at each other’s homes. Down the street, though, there is this one family that hates you. And, in fact it hates you so much that it wants to kill you and your family. And, in fact, it believes that if its members were to rape your daughters, torture and maim your sons, and kill you, that they would be doing a noble thing. They don’t care about laws or the land, morality, what’s right and wrong, or anything like that. To them, the only thing that is right is to destroy you.

There are other neighbors who feel the same way. They fight amongst themselves, and often you see patrol cars pulling up at their homes to try to settle some dispute or to arrest someone who kills or harms one of the others. But, they are unified in their hatred for you, and have secret meetings and plots.

As time goes on, the threats against you and your family grow, and there are even attempts to destroy you. There have been assaults on your home and family, and upon your neighbors. Oh, and by the way, you cannot move.

So, what do you do? Do you go have a chat with these people? Do you see if you can work out your differences? You tried that a long time ago, and they made it clear that they do not want to hear anything you have to say, and they have no desire to compromise or reason. They intend to destroy you, and that is all there is to it.

Sometimes there is no avoiding war. Sometimes one must defend oneself and one’s own. And when war cannot be avoided, we must be vigilant about protecting and defending.

So, the neighborhood forms a kind of group to protect and defend those being attacked. The group may need to use weapons and it may need to use force, and it may even need to spy a little to stay on top of the actions and plans of those who wish to destroy you.

Amazingly enough, there will be some who will be more angry at that little band trying to protect us than they are at the ones who would destroy us.

Throughout history, the story has been told and retold.

War is evil. It will be with us until the end of time. I hate war. But I realize that without war there would be many countries that would not be enjoying the freedoms they do today. Without war, Nazism would likely still be a major force, as one example among many (and thank goodness for the brave men and women of WWII who took on that evil!). Sometimes war is necessary.

As much of a Pacifist and violence-hater that I am, you can bet that if a rapist had invaded my home and attempted to assault my daughter, I would have used whatever force necessary to protect her. I would have risked my life. I would have called upon my good aim, if necessary.

I support our troops who are defending us. I support our leaders who are working hard to protect us. I am grateful that they prevented the deaths of innocent citizens flying from London in the last 24 hours.

War. What is it good for? For freeing the oppressed, for protecting the innocent, for preserving our freedoms.


Jordan said...

I think you're right on here. Bush may not be the greatest president we've ever had but he and the British PM, under their leadership, just thwarted what would have been a devastating attack on many innocent passengers. My only complaint about your metaphor is that the terrorists of the neighborhood don't live in houses. They live in caves.

kat said...

Thank you, Jordan,

It was this near attack that motivated me to write this. And, I think you're "right on" about the caves.

Anonymous said...

Over the course of the last few decades, I have watched with amazement at the increasing lack of realism being injected into American life. I can only presume that it is because the horrorific realities of the world have not been visited upon us...very often. For example, people criticize our Federal Government (remember that the Democrats supported our invasion of the despotic state of Iraq) for not having an "exit strategy" for the war. How realistic is that? Has any country in the history of the WORLD ever had a plan, at the outset of a war, as to when the war would end, as to how much it would cost, and how many casualties would be acceptable? [Incredibly, after a couple of days after the most recent Lebanon attack on Israel started a war, American press ran headlines such as, "No End Of Fighting in Sight." How naive is THAT?]

I was at a Natalie Merchant concert shortly after 9/11. Natalie, a blatant anti-war proponent, had a moment of candor with the audience. In a moment when the country was unified against Bin Ladin and his murderous organization, Natalie had to confess that actions had to be taken against those "bad men." It was a recognition she would rather not have had, but reality imposed it upon her.

Query, if Canada had a leader who gassed to death women and children, and who took suspected, but not tried, dissident men, and hung them by their thumbs and took lighters to their genitals, and dangled artists from spinning ceiling fans and hung onto their feet, until their backs broke, and if the man who was in charge of weapons of mass destruction ratted the government out on the presence of the weapons, and got beheaded for it, would we stand by? Would the MORAL thing be to turn our backs?

I originally thought the Iraq war to be imprudent, until I saw the Band of Brothers episode entitled, "Why We Fight," about when the main characters of the series liberate Jews from a German death camp.

I recall that a huge proponent of love and peace, Gordon B. Hinckley, the leader of the Mormon church, a man who, for those who know him, can hardly be called a hawk, said in April of 2003, "... we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy." He lived the fears of World War II, where civilized countries disappeared into the black fog of Nazi tyranny, and where Japan's massive brutality towards China was being directed towards us. He lived when Russia's nuclear threat was, in fact, a daily threat. He is being realistic.

Funny thing is, readers of this rant might think of me as hawkish. To the contrary, I have been a student of history for nearly half a century. I have been a watcher of world goings on for the same period of time. I have kept my pulse on the world so that I can be informed and realistic as I form opinions and as I take actions. Sadly, most Americans get their news from ratings driven sources, chopped edited and agendized. Most Americans have no idea what life is like in many parts of the world, the tyrannies, the brutalities, and the fears that are the daily bread of the lives of men, women and children. I can bet you, though, if anyone massed troops on our border, there would be hardly a dove among us. Suddenly, realism would permeate America.

Thus, as I see it, being realistic, and not narrow-minded, allows for a recognition that self-protection and liberation of those in distress can be proper motives for war. Just because most wars are fought for selfish reasons, born of hatred and prejudice, is not a reason to ignore those occasional circumstances where going to war is a moral imperative. Those who see Bush, of whom I am no big fan, as being irresponsible for what is going on in Iraq, are, in my mind, convincing themselves that their blinders-driven morality is better than a global view morality.

To resurrect a phrase from the era of my youth, America, “get real!” Don’t be so na├»ve!

Mark - Westminster, CA

kat said...

Whew! Thanks, Mark. Well-stated and passionate! I hope many read what you have to say!

Anonymous said...

I read what he said. He makes me think.


Anonymous said...

Well, you are very articulate. Mark has laid out his position on the issue well also. I will remind you, though, that no weapons of mass destruction were found!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous:
I thought that issue was put to bed when one of the networks unearthed tapes a year ago of Saddam H. and his right hand science guys talking about how they were ready to shift into emergency production, if cicumstances warranted that kind of move.

When the Monica Lewinsky thing was not dominating the headlines, the main international news of the 1990s was Iraq's failure, as a loser in war, to account to its victors ( the U.N) what it had done with its weapons of mass destruction. As the U.N. fumbled through wussy diplomacy, Hussain flatly ignored international requests for an accouning. No one disputed or questioned the fact that the weapons had existed. The only issues were whether or not their disposal had been documented and that inspections could be had to ensure that production had not commenced anew. It was no surprise to us that they were not found. Iraq had a decade to dispose of or hide them. Had it complied and provided the documentation, it might have avoided the present situation.

What are we to do? We (the international community) win a war, and we set rules for the loser about how to account for its weapons. It violates the international mandates over and over again, thumbing its nose at us. Are we to then turn our back and say, "never mind?" Are we to conduct war diplomacy as Rosanne Rosannadana?

By the way, the incident to which I referred to above related to Hussain's son in law. He was placed in charge of Iraq's WMD program. He later fled to another Arab country to tell the world about the WMD program, which he did. SH said, come back and be forgiven." As the son-in-law returned and crossed the border, he was met by his wife's brother, who beheaded him. SH's son then returned to Bagdad with is brother in laws' head to present to his father. If there were no WMDs? Why did this drama play out to a deadly conclusion?

Mark -- Westminster, CA

Mr 6 string said...

While we sit in our peaceful homes and in our corner of tolerance in the world, others live with daily fear of attack. The distance between the two is now considerably shortened. We sit with our complacency and think we are immune to the "battle", but we are soldiers waiting to act. Faced with danger we will fight. It is a natural reaction.

I am comforted that the initial tip that led to the identities of the latest plot came from the Muslim community. The peace loving families Islam needs to protect their faith. We need to be mindful that their religion has been hijacked, as could any faith. The extremists have declared war, we apparently forget that message. We also don't give them war due to the collateral damage of innocents. We are in a cold war that is becoming hotter. We need to reinforce our tolerance of peace loving Muslims, help them regain control of their religion by isolating the zealots. Thousands of years of war with opposing idealogies has only yielded today's quagmire. It will get far worse before it gets better. The day will come soon when we will face difficult choices. The possession of one nuclear weapon in the hands of the extremists seems likely. When that day comes our fortitude to act will determine the fate of our lives. Yet the act should begin now. We have time to open dialogue with those who wish peace. Their bravery in trusting us may uncover further escalation, we must enlist the peace loving people of the world to network and expose the combatants. Complacency is not an option. From each of us and especially to our governments and businesses around the world, we must act with extended hands as neighbors and cast light on those who would take life without thought. I ask the Muslim leaders to embrace peace, and to the followers to hold their clergy responsible for what they preach. I have known some loving peaceful Muslims, they are my friends, we need them now.

Anonymous said...

Mr.6 String added a dimension to this conversation with which I agree.

I am constantly appalled at how willing people are to paint people in other places and of other cultures, religions,etc. as demons. Prior to the Battle of the Wilderness, two low-level officers stood on a hill, watching the Confederate camp which lay before them. After one of them watched the Confederates a bit, seeing them fetching water, playing cards, and whittling, he put down the glasses and exclaimed, "my God, they are human beings, like us!"

Anyone who has travelled, even the slightest bit,, could see, that the world is the same all over, Catholic, Muslim, French, Iranian, Peruvian and Australian mothers are concerned about their kids. Mormon, Fundamentalist Christian, English, Korean and Polynesian fathers work day and night to support their fathers. Parents lie in their beds at night, worried about money. Kids tease their syblings..."and so on and so on..." to quote a song from the Seventies. People are nice everywhere and are jerks everywhere. We are ALL children of God. Yes. Mr. 6S, we need those people and they need us. We need not, as a default, despise others. It is sad, tho, that that is what people we try to make a difference in that regard, in our own backyard.

Mark -- Westminster, CA

Anonymous said...

Oops. I shud proof reed.
"fathers supporting families" is what I ment. amungst otha typos!

Mirk of Westmunster,Calyfornia

kat said...

Keep it going, this is pretty interesting, and the thoughts are all valid! I am thinking, when I read these, of young people who seem to be wired to dis the present administration, the govt., the "system," the "American Way." I know. Been there; done that. And yeah, the president is not the best and he has made mistakes, and presidents make mistakes no matter what party put them in office, and many govt. programs are either corrupt, in the process of becoming corrupt, or just plain idiotic and wasteful. Nevertheless, once you begin to really travel around the world, you don't fully appreciate what we have here, and what we ought to defend even if it means the sacrifice of lives. We have something pretty amazing here, as imperfect as it is. And freedom is worth defending, always.

PDT said...

This is a very interesting discussion to me because you people are talking about stuff that i really never hear in the news. i turn on the televsion and all i ever hear about is how many soldiers have died and what a waste this all is. i also hear that Bush is the worst president ever, and retarded, even. How do i know that what you write is the truth? it does make sense. I will need to give this all some thought.

Anonymous said...

Pdt - thank you for considering my comments. I am not a blogger, and am not someone who gets involved in politics. However, lately, I have been perturbed because of the blatant agendas of the media and both major political parties. It was for that reason that I spoke up here. I certainly do not want to monopolize Kat's blog. Thus, this will probably be my last post on this topic.

All that said, I encourage you to search for the truth. If you are interested, search for corroboration of what I have said. PBS, The Discovery Channel, The History Channel and other networks each have periodic specials on Iraq, or Saddam Hussain, which say a lot of what I have said...with film and narration. The stuff I said about the 90s were regular headlines. It is OK to listen to the extreme commentators and the moderate commentators. While many have agendas, they often have elements of truth in their assertions. If you understand their agendas, you can sift through the B.S. and get to the gems of truth. My complaint is that America doesn't do that. It relies on the homogenized pablum of the agenda-driven media, rather than doing what I have outlined above.

As you become a better observer, you will find many rewards, and many frustrations. Rush Limbaugh is no Saint. One after another of the Republicans displays unseemly greed. On the other hand, Democrats are often easily found to be hypocrites. Hillary Clinton was dead meat when she screwed up as First Lady when documents were found in her bedroom, that she had testified to Congress were non-existant. Thus, neither party has a monopoly on good conduct. To me, it is OK to find the good and the bad parts of any agenda, platform or proposal, without resort to catagorical party-line politics. As soon as we demonize others, we endanger our own position as saints.

Nuff sed.

Mark -- Westminster, CA

Kat: Thanks for letting me vent on your blog.

kat said...

Vent away, I think this has been an interesting discussion! I, too, am concerned with the blatant propaganda of the "mainstream media." There are far too many citizens who passively accept what is spoonfed to them, bias and all, and that scares me a lot!

The other day, someone brought up to me some item that she said had been all over the news. It really wasn't news (more like sensational gossip), and I had heard about it, but it was more of one of those things that TV news just jumps all over due to its sensational or doom and gloom nature (which equals advertising dollars). She was appalled that I hadn't been exposed to it "on the news." To her, the fact that it was "on the news" granted it validity and seriousness. My response was that I don't watch TV news, and I wanted to add, and neither should she.

There are so many, far more reliable sources of news, and it is a scary thing to me that there are so many who sit, night after night, for their regular brainwashing.

PDT- I commend you for wanting to give these issues more thought! You are breaking away from your nightly dose!

Mr 6 String said...

"News" comes in two forms, that which is force fed and that which is sought. Digging deep into whatever the subject is at the time opens new viewpoints. Listening only to a right wing news show does not give you the insights of the left, and neither give the insights of those without a soap box to stand on.

Our search for the truth and how we respond represent our basis of actions. Given the patriotic fervor of post 9-11 we rushed headlong into war, with a President who could not stand idly by having witnessed the worst atrocity on American soil. Even with a democrat in office I doubt the reaction would have been much different.

As is always the case with hindsight our viewpoints now seem to have a better clarity. If it were not so we would have handled the initial response to 9-11 perfectly. No war or response to attack could ever be perfect. Perfect War does not exist. We view the current mess with reserved wisdom, able to choose the correct path through contemplation and thought. It is just this thought process that we need to apply in peacetime. How carefully do we promote long term peaceful planning? Do we listen to what the Muslims and the faith of Islam are saying? On one hand the jihadists are stirring up anger to the west, why? Our societal mores are an abomination of their beliefs, our freedoms we hold precious necessary to have an open diverse society where all faiths are welcomed and encouraged. Rarely do they understand they are "free" to practice their beliefs in the west, and rarely do we understand that they (but more often their theocracy) choose theocratic rule. Anyone of any faith often wishes for a society of common belief, run by men of wisdom and of righteous belief. We condemn our brothers of a different skin and ethnicity when we understand so very little of what they believe.

It will take both sides open minds, to respect the families on both sides who love their children, to allow time to grow in temperance and wisdom or else we will never be "one" even though we are, on a tiny planet, in the middle of nowhere, sharing a scant 1% of the livable atmospheric film, in a universe that is waiting for man to grow up.

kat said...

i really like your opening statement in your last post, the two forms of news, that which is force-fed and that which is sought! And I like a lot of the things you say. This has probably been the best discussion yet, on this blog. I think there is much food for thought here, and I thank you (and Mark, and everyone else who took a moment to respond).

Brooke Jean said...

It appears as though you have posted a rather controversial topic. I love the analogy you gave of the rapist entering your home.

Many people forget that they are the ones who came to us. They are the ones who caused the death of hundreds of innocent men and women. They are the ones who left children scarred for life. Even those who survived will never be completely the same after experiencing September 11th. Bush has not forgotten the lives lost and he plans on showing the world that you can't just come to America committ a horrific crime and get away without consequences.

I love this country and I support the decisions of the President. I would never want to be in that sort of position but I think he has done a decent job and made some much needed, yet controversial decisions. Thanks again for your post!

kat said...


Thank you for your post. You just expressed a lot of truth and passion, and I am grateful to read your articulate and clear opinion. I hope many see what you have to say! It's amazing to me that many seem to have forgotten that we were attacked in a horrendous way. That is a declaration of war!