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War. What Is it Good for?
Submitted by Peter Cresswell on Tue, 2006-04-25 23:05
Yesterday's Anzac Day commemorations here in New Zealand and Australia brought many reflections on the nature of war. Here very briefly, is mine.
War is immensely brutal, intensely destructive, utterly brutal and heart-breakingly tragic for all involved. War is horrific. Wars very rarely have winners, only those who have lost the least. War, as The Age said yesterday, "is a dangerous and terrible thing, which should only ever be seen as a last resort."
In short, war is the second-worst thing on earth. But wars are not acts of nature. They are not acts of God. Wars are acts of man, and in that they are the second-worst thing that human beings can inflict on one another. Second-worst only because the very worst is tyranny, an act of war by governments against those they are supposed to protect. It is tyrannical governments and movements intent on inflicting tyranny and oppression against others that begin wars of conquest and campaigns of terror. It is the existence of such entities that make wars of self-defence necessary.
When such tyrannies exist and are allowed to exist, then peace without justice is not true peace. Peace without justice rewards the tyrranical and is an injustice to those they enslave and kill. As long as some human beings choose to deal with other human beings with the whip, the chain and the gun -- with stonings, fatwahs and holocausts -- with the torture chamber, the dungeon and the gulag -- as long as some men continue to enslave and attempt to enslave others, then wars will continue to happen, and we will continue to need to be ready to defend ourselves.
If we have things worth living for, which we do, then for that much at least we all have things worth defending. As Thomas Jefferson observed over two-hundred years ago, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Two-hundred years later, nothing has changed.
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