Thoughts on War

I’ve never been in a fight in my life – I had the occasional squabble with siblings when I was growing up but I’ve never really fought anyone, ever. I despise conflict and ill-feelings. I believe in cooperation over competition. I also hate war and the suffering it causes. I think there is little on earth more wasteful of life than war. I wish that all conflicts in life could be ended without war. However, and this is a big however, I also recognize that war is sometimes and unfortunately very necessary.

There will always be those who believe that violence is the only way to further their ideals of oppression and restriction of freedoms. Some people believe that violence is the only way to solve their perceived problems. As long as such people exist, there will always be the need to respond in kind. We also need people who are willing to respond in kind. I’m not one of those people. I’ll fight if called upon to fight, I will even volunteer to fight if I feel that that is the course my life is supposed to take, but I will not start the fight. There are few people who hate war more than those who have to fight the wars because they are most affected by war. There will always be some among all people who enjoy warmongering, but I believe them to be relatively few.

For me the greatest anti-war sermons have been preached not by war protesters but by those who simply report on or depict war without trying to promote an anti-war agenda. The strongest arguments made against war are in the simple yet horrendous destruction of the lives of so many people. That is why some of the strongest anti-war messages are good war movies. The anti-war protests on the 60s and 70s did far more damage to our country than good, in my opinion. I deal often with people who served in Vietnam then had to come home to a country that demonized what the soldiers were doing over there. A significant portion of these veterans continue to suffer psychologically to this day because of the ill treatment and hate they encountered upon returning home from their military service. Most of them were just trying to do the jobs they were called upon to do in the best and nicest way possible. By no means were all the soldiers saints – many soldiers in Vietnam were involved in immoral acts, drug abuse, and criminal behavior – but most were just there doing their jobs. They were normal people – neighbors, friends, and family – who were often asked to do horrible things (all war is horrible).

U.S. soldiers repeatedly go out of their way to minimize innocent causalities, even to their own detriment. This trait is thankfully not unique to Americans. It’s found in all cultures, religions, nations, and peoples.

Some may wonder how I can be anti-war yet still support the war in Iraq. Sometimes we are called upon to do hard things. Abraham Lincoln was anti-war, yet he was a great president who endured the hardest of wars – that between friends; he did not flinch when hard decisions needed to be made. General Douglas MacArthur was similarly anti-war if his statements before Congress and West Point are to be believed, yet he was a great general [I recognize that some of his war tactics were severe but he wanted to do what he thought would end war the fastest (while hopefully preventing future wars as well)]. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s necessity and reality. I’m not comparing myself to Lincoln or MacArthur, I’m merely making the point that you can be anti-war but fight wars. You hate what you have to do but do your duty because it is the right thing to do.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on War”

  1. I think the term “pacifist” has connotations that are inconsistent with some of the things you say. You might consider reading a couple of history books about General MacArthur also. He wanted to use the Atom Bomb against the Chinese in the Korean War which was probably not a good idea. I don’t see that position as being anti-war. I certainly appreciate reading your thoughts. It is always a good idea to think things through.

  2. Thanks for checking my facts. I reworked my post a little bit to make it hopefully more consistent. I know using the term “anti-war” is a little strong but part of my intent is to show that you can be opposed to wars (be anti-war) while still fighting wars.

    I was aware of MacArthur’s wanting to use nuclear weapons against the Chinese, which I also don’t think would have been a good idea, but I do believe that MacArthur just wanted to do what he thought would be best to end the war and prevent some future wars. I could be misunderstanding MacArthur when he stated:

    “This does not mean that you are war mongers. On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers: ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war.'”

    As well as this:

    “Efforts have been made to distort my position. It has been said, in effect, that I was a warmonger. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.”

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