War is War and Hell is Hell

This image from the AP shows smoke rising over an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Far better minds than mine have wrestled with the ongoing violence in the Middle East for lifetimes, so I’m not really qualified to make pronouncements as a political pundit. That said, a comment I saw over at reddit resonated loudly with me:

Hawkeye: War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.

Father Mulcahy: How do you figure, Hawkeye?

Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?

Father Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.

Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them – little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.

This conversation from M*A*S*H was probably contrived by a scriptwriter, but I’ve quoted Alan Alda before and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had come up with it himself or at least had input.

Gaza is home to 1.7 million people, living in ghetto-like conditions that are difficult to comprehend for anyone not living in a war zone. 

Without any cognitive dissonance or hypocrisy, one can be completely in favor of Israel’s existence and security but still believe that the campaign of Palestinian suppression, ongoing settlement building in the West Bank, and the rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East on the part of the Israeli government is inhuman and wrong. Sadly, voicing such an opinion almost always results in accusations of anti-semitism, but that can’t be helped.

Bibi Netanyahu has said:

“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel’‎”


I think that’s completely accurate, but I also think that what is being perpetrated on the Palestinian people rises to the level of crimes against humanity, and somehow it has to stop.

In the name of all that’s holy, it has to stop.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Soldiers fight wars. Politicians declare them.

I’ve written about war before. I make no bones about the fact that I don’t see it as a productive human enterprise. This quote from Herbert Hoover below echoes the spirit of words from Chaucer that I have mentioned in the two essays linked above:

War

Recently on Facebook I posted this image, that I came across somewhere else:

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As a result, I got some pushback from people who, like me, are opposed to wars but who see the men and women who fight them as less than deserving of honor. Things like:

  • “Depends on what he’s doing – and to whom.”
  • “Don’t extol the instrument.”
  • “The uniformed kid carrying a rifle is a paid gun. I honor people willing to die protecting their country, but our troops haven’t done that in a long time.”

Well, the comments are not wrong – in a certain sense. But as I wrote elsewhere, these are two concepts that I can successfully juggle simultaneously.

I hate the idea of war, and the military-industrial complex. I hate the concept of politico-economic terrorism, backed up by the might of armies and navies. I hate wasting endless resources of our nation on futile, internecine foreign conflicts.

Yes, there are the relatively few Abu Ghreib perverts and My Lai killers and Afghanistan rogues, and these deserve opprobrium and punishment, but they also deserve pity – because they are the product of a system that is designed to obliterate humanity and foster robotic obedience. I weep for them and their families as much as I do the victims, once justice has been served.

But… for the overwhelmingly greater part, the boys and girls, men and women who wear the colors – some because they had to during the draft, some because they marched off believing that their cause was just and noble, some who signed up because it was that or jail, some who simply wandered in to the recruiting office because they had no idea what else to do… the ones who marched off and came back in pieces, or missing pieces, or damaged emotionally beyond all salvation, or who came back functional but hiding the deep scars of conflict forever, or who served as filing clerks far from the front because that’s what they were told to do – these people I honor above almost all politicians and bureaucrats and war-makers.

And as for those “noble causes,” note that I said “*believing* that their cause was just and noble,” not necessarily that it is. Hired gun or no, cannon fodder or no, noble cause or miserable one, I honor all who serve, and always shall.

In the meantime, I will do what I can with voice, votes, and any other means to build a world where their service is no longer needed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The People Here *still* Don’t Want a War.

Newser, one of my favorite aggregators, recently published a summary of an article by Stephen Peter Rosen at Wall Street Journal entitled

We Need to Sell Young People on War

Even though the body of the article is behind a paywall, if Newser’s summary is any indication this entire premise is pure kack. Never forget that Congress and the President make war, but it’s our soldiers who fight them; to the latter, honor and respect – to the former, my disdain. If every congressperson who voted to waste noble American blood and resources on futile and inhumane causes were given a weapon and shipped to the front lines, the votes would quickly be different. As Chaucer spake, moste witerliche:

“Up roos tho oon of thise olde wise, and with his hand made contenaunce that men sholde holden hem stille and yeven hym audience. “Lordynges,” quod he, “ther is ful many a man that crieth ‘Werre! Werre!’ that woot ful litel what werre amounteth. Werre at his bigynnyng hath so greet an entryng and so large, that every wight may entre whan hym liketh, and lightly fynde werre; but certes, what ende that shal therof bifalle, it is nat light to knowe. For soothly, whan that werre is ones bigonne, ther is ful many a child unborn of his mooder that shal sterve yong by cause of thilke werre, or elles lyve in sorwe and dye in wrecchednesse. And therfore, er that any werre bigynne, men moste have greet conseil and greet deliberacion.”

For those not comfortable with Middle English, this is what Chaucer wrote:

“And up rose an old man, and with his hand he made signs that men should be silent and listen to him. “My lords,” he said, there is many a man who cries ‘War! War!’ who knows little of what war means. War, at its beginning, has such a great and large commencement that any poor yutz [my translation] can jump in and find war; but it is certain that it is not easy to say what the end will bring. For of a truth, when that war has once begun, there is many an unborn child who shall die young because of this war, or else live in sorrow and die in wretchedness. And therefore, before any war begins, men must have great counsel and deliberation.”

The only reason war is justified – in my poor and simple view, is to “support our lands, and our houses, and our wives, and our children, that we might preserve them from the hands of our enemies; and also that we might preserve our rights and our privileges, and our liberty.”  [1] Insane conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, waged to preserve what we consider to be our oil, our power, and our influence do not now fall under this head, and never shall.

Take note: I believe in a strong defense against all enemies foreign and domestic. I do not believe in disbanding the military. But I do believe that a vast percentage of our nation’s resources are being squandered on inhuman and inhumane causes. Have a look at the OMB’s chart showing the president’s 2014 recommendations for discretionary spending:

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With so many people in this country out of work, with so many children going to bed hungry every night, with so many roads and bridges crumbling to the point of catastrophe, with funding for education and science being cut year by year, a military budget that size is unconscionable and obscene. This is not building a world that works for everyone, but a travesty of global proportions.

With apologies to Bobby Darin, the people here *still* don’t want a war.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

—————-

[1] Paraphrased from The Book of Mormon, Alma 43:9

 

Having fun nuking the enemy.

Two of the most sobering media presentations regarding the insanity of nuclear war were the final scene from “War Games”

and the 1983 production, “The Day After.”

And, as primitive as it was, the old Macintosh game “Missile Command” put the fear of God into me as those incoming warheads began to MIRV, and I saw that no matter how many you took out, your cities would still be reduced to smoking ash.

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Thanks to Mark Pazolli for the image.

The effects of nuclear damage are horrifying. Eyewitness accounts, footage and images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki should have been enough to convince humanity that these weapons of mass destruction have no place anywhere on the planet, but unfortunately this was not the path we took. In fact, some people actually capitalized on the fun of using atomic bombs on your enemies.

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Atom Bomber Toy, above and below.

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Then there was the next level: Mutoscope’s Atomic Bomber arcade game.

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Images found at Pinrepair.com

Remember, the “Atomic Bomber is built for profits and pleasure.” Never mind the charred ruins of two cities and hundreds of thousands of lives ruined or shattered.

What the hqiz is wrong with people? One would think we as a species would have learned from the past, but it’s chilling to remember that there are certain factions and certain governments who would gleefully launch nuclear attacks on their enemies if they only had viable technology: North Korea and Islamic terror groups come quickly to mind. And sadly, it’s only the threat of massive retaliation that has kept our nuclear arsenals locked up.

My voice is only a small one, but the more people who call for peace and the abolishment of such engines of horror, the sooner we will live in a world worthy of being called human. For the sake of us all, I pray that it may happen sooner than later.

The Old Wolf has spoken.