Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ethical bankruptcy of violence

Yet another young one from the US has laid down his life in the losing struggle to militarily force Afghanistan to recreate itself in the image and likeness of the US, of us.

This particular one was from Louisiana. All states have sent their sacrificial ones to the slaughter, and armed them to be part of slaughtering Afghans while they are there.

When Afghan insurgents kill American troops, let us be quite clear that this is not terrorism. This is insurgency and the insurgents have at least as much permission under our Western construct of the Just War doctrine to attack military members of a foreign occupying force as that occupying force has to attack the terrorists who were operating, allegedly, from Afghanistan.

And so how does this violence work, philosophically? How does permissible war work when both sides are operating under the rubric of Just War as we have understood it from Aristotle to Augustine to Aquinas to the international rules of war in the modern secular version?

The answer is that it doesn't work except to promote a basic might-makes-right anarchy of the gun. Constructing the justification for both sides in many violent conflicts is pathetically easy, often even without the BushCheneyRumsfeld model that features barenaked lying. Honestly, we can invade Afghanistan when forces inside their country launch a devastating attack on our soil, if we subscribe to a Just War doctrine. And insurgents can legitimately shoot our armed forces when we get there under the same set of rules, hairsplitting attempts at logic leaping notwithstanding. So it devolves into what we see, a contest of sheer stupidity, of long slow drain of blood and treasure all around and personal enrichment of the war profiteers.

What makes this different and even more urgent than ever?

  • We have no more treasure to drain--it's all leveraged now from our children and grandchildren.

  • We cannot continue the military's assault on resources and environmental quality. They are the worst on Earth.

  • We know smarter, better, sustainable and less expensive ways to manage these struggles now. There are nonviolent answers to all the conflict processes.

Can we hear Evolution calling? Time to grow up...time to lay down the bombs and guns and study war no more. Study nonviolent methods, learn them well, and show that we are wiser, finally.

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