“We Don’t Go There To Talk”
Dana Perino of Fox News described an interview she recently had with a Navy SEAL. After discussing all the countries that he had been sent to, she asked if he had to learn several languages. The SEAL replied, “Oh, no ma’am. We don’t go there to talk.”
Over the last two decades we have sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women into lands where they do not know the language, are ignorant of the culture and the history and are armed with deadly weaponry to face other people who didn’t come to talk. It’s not the fault of these kids. It’s the fault of our whole culture.
We live in a War System, a set of cultural beliefs, values and institutions (like the military industrial complex) that undergird militarized violence as the main approach to conflicts. It infects our religion, our news media and even our sporting events. We have come to define ourselves as a nation committed to perpetual war.
There is nothing “natural” about this. War is not human nature as any study of psychology will tell you. In fact, it’s very hard for the military to train people to be willing to kill. All kinds of psychological tricks have to be used. War has not always been with us. It appears to be a social invention of the early River Valley Civilizations, so for only a fraction of our history as humans have we made war. War is a highly complex, highly organized and prepared in advance activity of nation states. War is not good for the economy either. It drains it. We spend a trillion dollars a year on it in the U.S. Think what that money could do for education, infrastructure, converting from poisonous coal to wind and solar. Nor does war bring peace. (The ancient Romans had an epigram, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” They did, but what they got was endless war until it destroyed them.) War does not make us secure, it makes us less secure. Every drone attack that kills innocent children creates more terrorists.
The simple truth is that when you make war on people they want to make war back, and so warfare is a self-perpetuating, self-fueling activity. We don’t even ask the right questions about it. We ask, “How can we win this war,” instead of, “How can we eliminate war itself, like we eliminated legalized slavery?” How do we break the cycle?
“World Beyond War”
Well, some folks are asking that question and coming up with answers. Check out worldbeyondwar.org. There you will find all sorts of useful material including a road map to the end of war titled A Global Security System: An Alternative to War. It’s online as a PDF and available as a print book and an e-book from Amazon. There you can join thousands of others and sign a pledge to work toward the end of war itself.
Utopian? How do you like the alternative—permanent war in a nuclear armed world that is entering an age of planetary ecological crisis while it wastes trillions on senseless killing?