(Note: If I later regret writing this post, it may magically disappear.)
It is time that we realized that war is a part of human society. It is part of our very being. We humans have been fighting wars since our beginning. If one believes in evolution, we have been fighting wars even before we were humans, competing for resources and whatnot. This tendency to violence continued as our species evolved; indeed, violence is how we became dominant and is how any species becomes and remains dominant.
But this is, of course, not an issue of species. It is quite common for beings to fight with others of their kind, especially for resources (whether food, water, mate, children, area of dominance, recognition in or advancement in the pecking order, and so on) or defense (of one’s resources or one’s self, or one’s descendants and/or mate, and so on).
Since we have been fighting from the very beginning, I see no reason whatsoever why we should expect humanity today to be any different. That we fight does not change; why we fight does change.
One reason I think some people are of the opinion that we can restrain from fighting is because they exist in relatively stable societies. But very few societies of the innumerable societies around the world can be called stable. When there is stability, we can afford to refine ourselves, beating our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruninghooks. But in societies where stability has no yet settled in, one cannot afford to so let down one’s guard. Violence, regardless how common or extraordinary it may be, is still a fact of life and remains an issue of survival. We should not project our security and abilities onto those who do not have the same.
The problem with this situation is that no society is an island: every society is like a landlocked country, with inevitable and unavoidable interaction with others around it. Even if we (in The United States, for example) are secure and stable, our interactions with those (such as in Africa) who are not secure or stable means we must act accordingly: in other words, we must act according to how the others’ situation may be, not how ours is, because when we act according to their situation we will protect ourselves but when we act in a way that ignores their situation we only open up ourselves to harm.
As such, promoting tranquility within a society that can afford it is quite commendable. But projecting this ideal onto others or expecting oneself to abide by it is ridiculous.
And justice, in the realm of violence and coercion, is defined by the victor. We can imagine universal or absolute justice all we want, but the realities of the world will not change. Indeed, we should work to establish situations such that the ideal of justice, as we envision it, can flourish, but we should not be too concerned whether such-and-such campaign or act was just or unjust. For one thing, these issues are decided long after the fact, and the other point is that we often ignore what is just or proper for our own safety, security, and defense. Justice is a double-edged sword: those clamoring for us to be just should demand the same of our enemies with equal vehemence.
We must also realize that laws hold only so much sway over the battlefield. It is quite commendable that we have rules of engagement, laws on war, definitions of crimes against humanity, and so on. But, really, in a way this makes no sense. Wars are fought to be won; combatants use any resource to achieve this goal. It is only in modern times that we have even begun entertaining the notion of restraint or human rights. This is not to say that we should ignore such issues, but that we pay too much attention to them sometimes. If we fight, we should fight to win. Unless there is a reason, we should not allow ourselves to be tied down. It is wrong–wrong, I say–to us, to our people, to our civilization, and even to our enemies and their civilizations or quasi-civilizations to permit a campaign of violence to prolong itself simply because doing what must be done to end it would be considered unjust. (As an example, Truman’s dropping of two atomic bombs was not only appropriate but the right thing to do. One can argue that if he did not do it, he could be held liable for World War II’s Pacific theatre’s prolonged nature and the damage to The United States thereby. A swift, decisive end and victory benefited all sides.)
I refuse to entertain the notion, for example, that a war can be legal or illegal. A war is a war. Period. Judging a war’s legality is quite ridiculous. It’s almost like deciding whether gravity is legal in one instance but illegal in another. People who appeal to this aspect are idiots, in my mind. The same will not be done in the various many other wars being fought or that have been fought. Such “concerned” people are wont to be very selective as to which wars or armed campaigned will be brought in for judgment. Such self-serving high-handed hypocrisy is unacceptable: I condemn it and the high horses its perpetrators rode in on.
What frustrates me is how utterly silly we must seem to our enemies. Here we are, fighting for our survival, all the while bickering over petty rules and issues. Despite all of our strength and potential, we fight with both hands and one leg tied down. What a silly image we must seem to our enemies, our enemies who are in the grip of the state of nature and use all artifices of bloody tooth and nail with nary a regret or thought. We try to fight them on our terms while they continue to fight us on their terms.
And, what is more, we allow ourselves to be drawn into double standards. Our enemies, their sympathizers, and various observers shout and scream about excesses and abuses of human rights and illegal campaigns and imperialism and so on, and so forth, and yet these very same people refuse to be held accountable for similar abuses on their part. Why is it that something we do is wrong but when done by another, it cannot be condemned? Quite simply, they know what we value and they hold us to it. They do not value the same and so do not accept being held to it. But we have critics aplenty amongst ourselves: anyone who criticizes us based on our values and standards must be prepared to adopt them and apply the same to his/her own actions. After all, is this not fair? If one is not prepared to do so, one should shut up. We have no need for their irrelevant and foreign voices – foreign to our ways, values, standards, and morals. Let them settle their own affairs, or else permit us to likewise meddle. We will handle our own moral issues, thankyouverymuch. We don’t need anyone’s help.
I say all of this because I am becoming increasingly annoyed by how reluctant we in The West are becoming to engaging the enemy in the way we must. In this I include some of my brothers and sisters on The Right. (The Left is beyond reasoning: they fight and are militant for all the wrong reasons. But at least they recognize the fact that violence in part of humanity. Well, the radicals do.) Fighting is in our blood. We have to do it. We have no choice. If we lay down our arms, we will be overrun by every tinhat dictator and his dog.
Sometimes I desire to shake such idealistic people and say unto them: Wake up! Look at the world! Look at what we really are!
I recognize we in The West are different. This should impact how we interact with others in The West. But we would be very foolish to assume that we can or ought to behave similarly with those who do not share our values and standards. They are implacable and unchangeable: only when we overwhelm them and make them adopt our values and standards, whether they want to or not, can we behave civilly with them.
Wise as serpents, my friends; wise as serpents.
Does this make sense?