Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Trouble With Going Pro

Publius took issue with my post yesterday, opining that I took the occasion of Veteran's day to promote an anti-war agenda. Though that wasn't my intention (as I pointed out, war is often necessary) it got me thinking - should one be pro-war? I mean let's face it - war is costly and it damages people; often as not, it kills people. How can anyone root for that? It's just as wrong to always deny war is an option. Personally, I think the Iraq war is a mistake - the prosecution was bungled, the rationale for going in the first place, if we ever find out what it was, will probably turn out to be flawed. On the other hand, the war that messed my dad up so much was clearly necessary, and I'm awfully glad we went in.

It's not dissimilar to the abortion argument. No rational person is for abortion, but many believe it should be an option in certain situations.

"Pro" and "anti" are binary terms that we apply too frequently to analog situations. Life is too complicated for an up-or-down vote.


Publius said...

To war or not to war... not much of a question (at least to me).

But it IS an interesting debate, so I'll give a few thoughts here (and you KNOW how I hate to give my opinion on things. You know, I just go along to get along).

I will first start with a quote from the father of our country, George Washington. To wit: "To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

War is terrible, of course. I won't try to romanticize it as some glorious T.Rooseveltian drama. It IS something to work hard on avoiding, something that should not be a first resort. But it is absolutely necessary and always will be among men. Human nature is, in essence, warfare all the time, at every stage, in the most basic way. Man's very nature is to war with everyone around him. Fight for food, fight for space, fight for jobs, fight for resources, etc., etc. Life is war.

Because man is basically a self-obsessed, self-interested, mostly evil creature, war must be an option. It must be an option for the very reason that G.Washington stated it. You see, man's need to struggle against everyone else is usually a good thing. That struggle promotes choices intended to "get ahead" (or even just get by) and usually those choices are made with the realization that we need our neighbors, we need those allies to get ahead. It is Adam Smith's basic point. Capitalism promotes peace because it takes into account man's realization that self-interest is promulgated by peaceful alliances to realize that self-interest.

But it is also in man's nature to take as much as he can get away with giving as little back as possible. And man is at the same time filled with avarice and hatreds that often overcome his other desires to peaceful self-interest. This is when war rears its ugly head. Self-interest taken to its most absurd end is illogical action.

So, the best way to avoid that war is to have an army, navy and air force that would be strong enough to make an enemy realize that it is foolish to even bother and, therefore, their self-interests are placed enough in check to keep peaceful relations and commerce flowing.

In the end, we should never accept just any war. But to say every war is wrong is simple-minded, wrong-headed and is based on the single most flawed assumption that man is basically a good creature. He is not.

Man cannot be perfected. Man IS war. To imagine otherwise is suicide.

... not that I have an opinion on this, ya know?

wamk said...

I'll add that we (Mankind, that is) is always "at war", it's just hard ot see it being fought sometimes.

Take Osama and friends. They were "at war" with the West long before the plot to use airplanes as weapons was carried out. They knew they were "fighting" us, long before we did. And all without a shot being fired.

Iran is currently "at war" with Israel, Raiders fans "at war" with Bronco fans, and my dogs are "at war" with the squirrels.

The only difference is the level of force, and the seriousness of the hate.

I agree that no one is "pro War", but some realize the importance of having that option not just "on the table", but in plain view of those that wish us harm.