Wednesday, September 04, 2013


I hear the drumbeat and we are marching ever closer to war again.  Like the last time, it is based on limited information, has no realistic goal, and has virtually no chance of ending in a positive way.  Simply, it feels to me like we are planning to throw missiles that will kill hundreds of innocent people and accomplish little because our leaders cannot imagine something else to do in the face of horrendous atrocities.  Or maybe they can imagine other paths but those paths are just too difficult.  Throwing missiles is easy.  It feels good.  It feeds the myth of redemptive violence that is so central to our culture.  The problem is that redemptive violence is a myth in the non-technical sense of the word.  Violence does not solve the problem and only causes more suffering and pain for the innocent.

I refuse to believe that violence is the only path available or that it is the most effective path.  There are diplomatic paths.  Russia and China must be engaged.  They must be convinced that cutting off arms to the Assad regime is in the best interest of the entire world.   We must not stop pushing them until they agree.  If it takes years or decades, so be it.  The US must begin building positive relationships with Muslims throughout the middle east.  If we spent 1/2 the resources we put into military interventions into schools, hospitals, and infrastructure, we would have an entire region that loved us.  We don't have to teach the children in a way that is offensive to rather conservative Islamists.  We could teach them in a way that presents a possibility for making the world a better place other than through suicide bombing.  We could work with Assad's allies to isolate him.  Convince them that this war is not in their best interest either.  It isn't.   We could "smother" those in Syria who reflect some of the values we'd like to see reinforced with food, medical supplies, other resources... heck we could even give those things to our "enemies" and work to turn them into friends.   Instead of threatening bombs and military interventions, we could work to actually make peace.   I'm sure there are other tactics as well.  Yes... they're all difficult but we haven't really tried them and to the degree we have, we haven't exhausted them.  Will they work?  Who knows.  We haven't tried.  Does military intervention work?  Look at Iraq and Afghanistan and answer that one for me.

There is an aphorism that says "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail."  The only tool we have is military.  We need a bigger tool box.  We need leaders who can imagine other possibilities.  We need a national commitment to philosophize and strategize other ways to solve problems.  We need to be proactive to make the world a better place rather than reactive "police" who go in to punish wrong-doers.  I am astounded at the number of colleges and other institutions in the US devoted to training military leaders and working to make war more effectively...  There is nothing like that devoted to peacemaking and no university level programs sponsored by our government aimed at peace studies.  Indeed, I could only find 10 colleges in the country that even offer a major in Peace Studies. There are more military high schools - 21 that I could find - than that.  And they all get funding from the federal government to train boys to make war.  Why not train a few to make peace?

As a nation we have serious work to do... or we could take the easy way out, spend huge amounts of money while starving our own domestic needs, kill many more innocent people, make more enemies, and accomplish little to nothing of positive value.  Yeah... that sounds like a good idea.

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