Monday, November 28
Monday, November 28, 2005
One drawback to the current focus on the Iraq war is that regardless of which side people take in the debate, they're both likely to ignore the long term issue of war and conflict in general. The Iraq war may not be as big a disaster as a conflict over Taiwan, or a nuclear showdown between Israel and Iran. We can't let current disagreement over one war lead to tunnel vision.
I keep running into people who insist that war is in our genes, that it's human nature to fight. Apart from asking, "What are the consequences of millions of people believing war is inevitable" I add this:
Consider the fact that wars *always* end, after enough people focus their attention on the problem (which usually means after enough people have been personally affected by it). The problem is always that the people most zealous about advancing their agenda are the ones most likely to be channeling collective insanity, the most likely to be overly identified with the state and the least likely to feel there is any security in reducing tensions. Note also that leaders typically act according to what they believe is the public will, and will often change course only when the public sends a clear signal that it will not tolerate risks taken at its expense.
Wars will become more dangerous to everyone than they have been in the past. If the public, whether in the US or in Iran or China, does not take a stand against war at some crisis point, there may be consequences more painful than any can imagine in advance. The question is not "are we doomed to wage war" but rather, "how much pain will we tolerate before we take a stand against the wars started by psychotic leaders in the name of passive populations". Inevitably, a stand is taken, it is only a question of how much damage is done before that point is reached.
Human beings may have an instinct to fight in order to preserve group identity and dominance. That should not be taken as a curse on mankind to destroy itself. All instincts in nature are subject to context and hierarchy, and when war undermines enough of the world's security, other instincts will kick in. If men in power commit to a disastrous course of action, women will take a stand. If women refuse to take that stand, children will take a stand against their parents. Nature is not insane, and something will always emerge to counterbalance an insane state of existence. So, how much do we want to adapt to insanity, and how much motivation do we need to represent the balancing force?