In reference to your February 18th editorial, “Terrifying Reminder,” war harms millions more innocents than terrorism does, so can we save some of our righteous indignation for war, too? Grieving victims of all forms of violence, including war, always ask the same sad questions without answers: “What was my son’s fault? What did he do? What kind of belief system do these people have?”
To all war’s victims on all sides—dead soldiers and their broken-hearted families, the maimed and their caretakers, all whose love, energy, money and talents are wasted on destruction—war is as senseless and cruel as terrorism. Mayhem that destroys and terrifies cannot be justified by any political or religious ends, and is something that all people everywhere should be deeply suspicious of and resistant to. We cannot prevent all injustices, but we can avoid adding to their sum.
Please, instead of terrorizing us into putting our faith in violence, tell us about the many around the globe working selflessly to uphold our highest values through difficult and courageous interfaith, humanitarian and diplomatic efforts.
Global cooperation isn’t simple, obvious or guaranteed, but it is the most thoughtful and safest political course, and the only one with any chance of succeeding.
(To the many later letters that arrived online reminding me of how naive and stupid I was to write the above letter, I responded online with the following:)
I am not yet a pacifist, but I have observed that, too often, politicians who see conflicts primarily in terms of military solutions are elected with the money and support of those who profit from war. I hope to persuade voters to elect/support leaders who understand and consider the tragic costs of war for all involved, leaders who are less likely to abuse great power, and who have a record of seeking peaceful win-win compromises, accepting different points of view, and maintaining positive relations. My letter was intended to emphasize that we must consider war just as bad, in its effects on human beings, as terrorism (which is true), and because of the numbers involved, even worse…and so, equally to be avoided.
We have forgotten what it is like to have war in our own land. Sadly, during this century, many U.S. leaders have used war/our military forces to further perceived national interests, offering flag-waving rationales, and have not used war as a last resort, for defense only.
I love my country, so I work hard to promote peaceful viewpoints, not wanting us to lose our global reputation, acquire more deadly enemies, spend ourselves into disastrous economic situations, or blight the lives of millions here and elsewhere on unneccessary wars that achieve little.
Read Obama's courageous pre-Iraq-war speech against the war (or mine, published in the weeks after 9/11 in the Frederick News Post, listing similar arguments, if less eloquently) and you will see that many protesters and leaders DID know, even if you didn't, exactly why it was not a good idea to go to war….
There were better solutions, but not ones as profitable and attractive to those making the decisions (like Cheney). Some well-intentioned leaders, like George W. Bush, were convinced by bad intelligence combined with simplism (simplisticism? I'm trying to make up a new word that is the opposite of complexity. Simplixity?) that they had no choice, but many of us never believed that particular “intelligence” to begin with, for innumerable good reasons, and we wanted more questions asked. Unfortunately, our fellow-citizens elected and listened to hair-trigger, militaristic and misguided politicians.
All I'm saying is–let's not do that anymore! Let's elect thoughtful, informed leaders…. And let's not do anything to any other country that we, were we a less-powerful country, would not want done to us; even if we think such approaches are in “our interest,” they are immoral. Nobody likes having their country invaded and occupied; nobody likes outsiders telling them how to live. That's why we have our military forces, and only for that reason–to defend our country.
In all conflicts, we need to be careful of using double standards–one standard for what's OK for the U.S. and a different one for “the rest” of the world.