Tuesday, January 29, 2013

War on Everything!

Here's what I don't get:  If we are the peace-loving, benevolent people we say we are, why do we so readily go to war against anybody and anything that we find to be in any way dangerous, disagreeable or objectionable?  Seriously, why is that?

On the international scene we have during my lifetime (which began shortly after WW II ended) been at war, in the sense of armed conflict, in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Bosnia, wherever we were during "Desert Storm" and "Desert Shield", Iraq, Afghanistan, African nations that I have never heard of other than we sent troops there, and I can't even begin to list the places in the mid-east that we have sent drones, special forces or both in our prosecution of the "war on terror".  Most of these conflicts came after we defeated the godless commies in the Cold War. And of course our ongoing "war on drugs" has led to military action by troops, CIA operatives, mercenaries and "contractors" in Mexico and several South American nations. I'm sure this list is not exhaustive - but it certainly is exhausting to think about.

On the home front, we have actual paramilitary operations conducted by heavily armed police forces using military tools and tactics to wage war on drug lords, gangs, and the occasional fringe group of lunatics who are intent on making war against the federal government.

If one reads the national headlines for a while it becomes apparent that we as a nation are waging metaphorical war on poverty, illiteracy, illegal aliens and illegal downloading, disease in general and cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer's (among others) in particular. Depending on your point of view you may or may not agree that there is a war on women, religion, science, unions and, of course Christmas. Again, the list is not all-inclusive. (I forgot to mention the "class war" that the president may or may not be fomenting to advance his political goals.)

Here's what I think we could do as a first step to reduce the perception, and maybe even the reality, that we are a nation that will go to "war" at the drop of a hat - let's limit our use of the term "war" to apply only to those situations that fit the classic definition of the word, as supplied by Wikipedia: "War is an organized and often prolonged conflict that is carried out by states or other types of parties wishing to form or control states or other types of territories. It is characterised by extreme aggression, economic disintegration and irrationality, social disruption, and usually high mortality.[1][2] War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence or intervention.[1][3] The set of techniques used by a group to carry out war is known as warfare. An absence of war is usually called peace."

Maybe, just maybe, if we stop using the term to apply to situations that don't fit the definition we can look for solutions that actually seek to get at the cause of the problem and thus develop solutions that will solve those problems. I mean really, you can't fight a war on "terror" or "drugs" or any other inanimate object because they don't lend themselves to being defeated by frontal assault.  If we start viewing them as "problems to be solved" rather than "wars to be fought" perhaps we can reboot the process to seek creative, effective, peaceful solutions to the problems "that bother us so" (to paraphrase Jimmy Buffett).

How about we just declare victory in all of our wars, stand the troops down, and redirect the vast resources to finding solutions instead of fighting wars?

Wouldn't it be lovely if "peace" broke out everywhere we are fighting a "war"?

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