- We've all likely seen or read about scientific studies
of aggression and violence in that otherwise intelligent and loveable species,
chimpanzees. Some even take these observations as a kind of biological
justification of war. But intellects able to understand other species and
responsible for the magnificent thing we call civilization surely give
us the capacity to rise above the behavior of chimpanzees.
- Advanced societies have begun to acknowledge the counterproductive
nature of violence. Even in the United States, where lethal injection,
guns in the street, and belly-over-the-belt attitudes still hold considerable
pride of place, it is, for example, universally illegal for teachers to
strike students. In some states, it is also illegal for parents to strike
children. It is illegal for a husband to strike his mate, and in some jurisdictions,
police officers called to a scene of domestic violence, routinely arrest
a man who has committed an assault on his mate, an act that not many years
ago was virtually ignored and treated as "a private family matter."
- Even America's Catholics, inclined by the very nature
of their faith to accept authority, have finally spoken up over the matter
of child abuse by unsuitable priests, something that had gone on quietly
and with few consequences for as long as anyone can remember.
- So why is it that Americans believe that bombing and
shooting and burning people in Iraq or Afghanistan can produce anything
of value? You might think the ghostly screams of three million murder victims
occasionally wafted in on Pacific breezes from Vietnam would serve as terrifying
reminders of the futility of war.
- Why are the civilized tools of patient diplomacy and
international organizations held in contempt by many Americans?
- Quite apart from all the weighty concerns of morality
and human civilization, the truth is that war almost never solves anything.
- I do not question self-defense, but most people can distinguish
an act of genuine self-defense without hearing from official spokespersons
and propagandists and advertising hucksters. I suspect that most of the
world's people recognize that much of what the United States is doing today
has little to do with self-defense. This instinctive judgment is reinforced
by all the choking smog of explanations coming from Washington.
- The First World War grew out of the inability of France
and Britain to accept economic and political decline relative to a rising
Germany. Also, contrary to unexamined slogans about peace through military
preparedness, a direct cause of the First World War was precisely that
all the powers of Europe were heavily armed, requiring just the smallest
disturbance to tip them into destruction.
- About twenty years later, the mass slaughter in the trenches
and the treaty-makers' failure to establish institutions adequate to peace
had set conditions for the Second World War, the most destructive event
in human history -- the rise of Hitler being only possible from the ashes,
ruin, and despair of the First World War.
- As soon as the Second World War ended, the U.S. worked
diligently to resurrect Germany, even sometimes using former Nazis in the
effort. World War II had created conditions for the Cold War, that long,
immensely costly, and largely pointless crusade against an economic system
always destined to die of its own false premises.
- Genuine, permanent peace in Europe has been achieved
through the very diplomacy and international organizations so despised
by many Americans -- that is, through fifty years of statesmanship in building
the European Union. Major war in Europe today is inconceivable, and there
is little doubt that the united super-state emerging will one day provide
a needed counterbalance to the United States in world affairs.
- History is littered with examples of the futility of
war. Americans would have achieved independence without the Revolutionary
War because every other part of the British Empire gradually and peacefully
- Contrary to popular belief, America's Civil War was not
about slavery, although the measures necessary to protect and extend slavery
had generated the tensions and hatreds behind the war. Had the South been
permitted peacefully to secede, the institution of slavery would just as
surely have come to an end, as it did throughout South America and the
- The entire mystical legend of "the cause" of
a glorious South fighting for freedom and gracious old ways would never
have been born. Instead, there would be only the memory of a squalid, provincial
- Likely, too, the non-industrial South would have returned,
hat in hand, after some period to rejoin the Union. The terms of re-entry
might well have spared us the century of human degradation that replaced
slavery in a defeated South. We might also have been spared the political
dominance of the South, a result of some of the more anti-democratic provisions
of the American Constitution favoring small and rural places, and something
that has given America many leaders and policies better consigned to the
dustbin of history.
- Under Mr. Bush, the terrible example of Israel has become
something to imitate rather than condemn. Israel maintains a constant state
of war against the people with whom it is destined to share its geography.
Not a week passes that we do not read of Palestinians shot in the streets,
houses bulldozed, suspects assassinated, and an entire people humiliated
with the West Bank reduced to a prison. So simple an act as Mr. Arafat's
attending a Christmas service is arrogantly forbidden.
- And has a half century of savage policy produced anything
positive? Of course not. It produces new generations of young people with
minds tortured by hate, and it unavoidably deadens the very consciences
and idealism of Israelis themselves. What a remarkable example Israel might
have set had she instead invested an equivalent effort on assisting and
educating the Palestinians, on generously forming bonds of friendship and
- Mr. Bush adopts this same attitude towards Iraq and many
others who object to America's arrogant and often harsh policies. Somehow,
they are all reduced to the poorly-defined status of terrorists, and they
are all subject to military attack, assassination, embargo, and every kind
of interference in their private affairs it is possible to conceive. It
is impossible to see how the long-term results of such a policy can be
anything but vicious, dangerous, and destabilizing.
- War is a vestige of our common ancestry with the apes,
one that we can deliberately shed as surely as that vestigial, unnecessary
organ, the appendix. But we need to be seriously dedicated to the task,
and we need to commit serious resources to it. For now, the reality is
that the people who have great power only hypocritically talk of peace
while spending $400 billion each year on ways to kill people.
- John Chuckman encourages your comments:
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- From Angelika
- Mr. Chuckman,
- Although I am not pro-war I take exception to your poor
journalism, and use of gross generalizations, fed by a pathetic (world)
media, as fact.
- You say - "Even in the United States, where lethal
injection, guns in the street, and belly-over-the-belt attitudes still
hold considerable pride of place, it is, for example, universally illegal
for teachers to strike students. In some states, it is also illegal for
parents to strike children. It is illegal for a husband to strike his mate............"
- First of all - let's take your points and comparisons
of "guns in the street" and the illegality of striking someone,
be it mate or school child. Am I to be made to believe that gun owners
are like those who would strike an innocent child? Is that only American
gun owners or does that include Canadians also? No Mr. Chuckman, legal
gun owners do not attack innocent victims or "go looking" for
trouble. Armed, criminal elements do. To compare the two - gun ownership
and child endangerment or domestic violence - is like comparing skeet shooting
in the Olympics to gang warfare in the American city of Los Angeles. To
base such a world wide phenomenon as war on gun ownership is ludicrous
and can't be called responsible journalism. Tasteless comedy perhaps -
but not journalism.
- You made the comment - "belly over the belt attitudes."
Clearly you have watched the Dukes of Hazzard once too many times. (We
used to get that American show in Europe also.) I suppose by using your
logic I am to believe Canadians run about in red uniforms on horse back
and always "get their man" ? Citing caricatures do nothing
to support your arguments, except to make you look like any other TV-baptized
scribbling idiot. It does nothing to serve an intelligent, discerning
- You say - "Why are the civilized tools of patient
diplomacy and international organizations held in contempt by many Americans?"
Ah I see. So you have taken a poll? You know what many Americans think?
How many exactly? Fifty thousand? One thousand ? Ten? Or are you merely
citing hawks in the American government. If so, then say so. Again, you
generalities are irresponsible.
- Then you discuss Hitler in passing and do not mentioned
the millions dead under the Stalin regime, the millions slaughtered in
Africa and China's Tibet *problem*. I don't even know where to begin on
this one except to say that you choose to wave the tattered flag of the
Nazi party, when there are more nascent examples to be had. But the real
issue I have with your article is this: You essay begins interestingly
enough - citing scientific comparisons regarding the human race as a whole
and the search for the solutions to waging war but dissolves into absurd
statements, clichés and irresponsible projections.
- Example - "Under Mr. Bush, the terrible example
of Israel has become something to imitate rather than condemn." So
no other country in the world has ever sent money to Israel other than
the US and a single American president is solely to blame for decades of
support? The most hysterical finale to this is your complete discrediting
of your own point as you then say "And has a half century of savage
policy produced anything positive? " So which is it? Israel under
Bush or Israel's half century of setting a "terrible example"?
- Mr. Chuckman - I thank you for this morning's comedy.
- The "Futility of War", in reality, is nothing
more than a thinly veiled personal dissertation of "Why I Hate America"
. It discusses nothing of the world wide problem of tyranny.
- Your essay and others by those who attempt to pass for
journalists a) does nothing more than engage in the very same fanning of
flames of "Why I hate this country" or "Why this (or that)
country is 'bad' ", wallowing, hypocritically, in the muck with the
very people against whom you screech and b) provides precious little to
the effort opening dialogue and the exploration of intelligent, peaceful
- On one point you are, however, correct, (with a small
change) - "It is impossible to see how the long-term results of such
a <insert> journalistic policy can be anything but vicious, dangerous,
and destabilizing." Yes.
- Shame on you.
- A. Bromley
- To the editor:
- Part of your mission states: "This window does not
offer the only point of view, but it is pointed in such a way as to offer
our readers a perspective that cannot be offered by those media organizations
whose primary role is to defend the status quo. " - Seems Mr. Chuckman
defends the status quo of hatred and singlular finger pointing just fine.