Perhaps the length of time from my first Post until now (have been doing technical work [such as I can do it] on our new blog, GilfordGrok) has been helpful.
Have we become too civilized for the horrors of war? Have we become too timid and pacifistic to wage war or defend ourselves?
I now listen to and watch the commentary of the political elites over the the conflict of Israel and Hezbullah. I do not hear calls for winning from those in the West; rather, I hear that only from those that would first destroy Israel, and then, the West. From the West, I hear calls of an immediate cease fire, of cessation of hostilities, of laying down arms, of engaging only through diplomacy and talk. I do not hear calls for winning the battle and destroying the enemy.
What comes to mind is a episode from the original Star Trek series called "A Taste of Armageddon". Being still of a young age when this first ran, I only understood the story line -the visited planet conducted war solely by computer simulation and "human" casualties had to report to disintegration chambers to die. This allowed the infrastructure remained intact and life went on. When Captain Kirk destroyed the simulation computers (the Enterprise had become ensnared in this scheme), horror breaks out among the elite of that planet, decrying that real war will break out with real horror being meted out. Unless of course, Captain Kirk points out, they really talk about and solve the real problems.
The overall point was that if one civilizes war too much the underlying causes will go unaddressed. It becomes too easy to sweep things under the rug, keep ignoring the problems that pop up, and try to accept things as "that’s the way it is". It becomes too easy to ignore reality and one will do anything to not upset the status quo. In other words, settle for stability now and worry about real peace sometime later. If ever. Maybe the problems will go away on their own…..uh-huh.
Of the industrialized nations, the US spends more on its military than the next 20 countries combined. We have capabilities that outshine the rest of the world and that gap is only growing. While we are the lone superpower of the world, have we assumed the title of "cop of the world" as well? And if so, why has this happened? All I have to do is look at what the world is saying in the Israeli / Hezbullah conflict – Hey, US, put a stop to it?
My answer is – Hey, how about your turn?
While we consider ourselves part of the West, one has to look at the EU nations as well. While much smaller than the US, they have ravaged themselves twice in the last century (and many times before that in history) such that they now instinctively cringe from war. This aversion to repeat history where millions suffered is noble and has had the desired effect – it has kept the peace between the EU nations – but at what cost? During the Cold War, they depended on us for their protection. Yes, they all have militaries (some very well trained and no doubt would fight well). But look, in response to a world wide conflict, the world still depends on the US for at least logistics, if not for the military might, to make a point.
I believe that it is this long lasting umbrella of protection has not been in the best interest of the West long term. Yes, it helped save Europe from communism. Yes, it kept the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations at bay.
However, I make the point of comparing this umbrella as being akin to the sinkhole of the welfare state here in the US, where in the interest of good intentions, we gave trillions of dollars to the poor and disadvantaged. We all know that when folks are incentivised to not work, they won’t. The result was generation upon generation of unproductive citizens, totally dependent on the State for their all. As seen in Katrina, those that most succumb to the lure of being taken care of by the State become incapable of caring for themselves. At that point, everything must be supplied by the State, and more is never enough. These folks have proven to not be able to take care of themselves. The EU has gone even further in this area – how much more can their citizens be in thrall to their respective States, always expecting more from Government in ways of being taken care of?
Thus, in the large scale, have we done to the EU that was done to our citizens on welfare? Have we take the spirit right out of them by always being there to take care of them militarily? Have they abdicated the supreme responsibility from a moral or spiritual sense of protecting their citizens?
Has this dependency attitude has been assimilated by their Government leaders when confronted by enemies and ideologies attacking them? Have they become unable to defend themselves? And is this generic among the Western nations? Have we gotten to the point of being post-pacifistic?
I have to wonder if the fight has gone or is going out of us as a civilization, that we are unwilling or unable to fight for our foundational principles? While there are many would say that this is a good thing (who needs war, why should innocent people suffer), there is the flip side – a special sense of struggling disappears. As with an individual’s life, one struggles to attain a status followed by a sense of contentment (or in the negative, a sense of "that’s about as far as I’m getting). The will to struggle ceases, the fight has all gone out of the individual.
As history has shown, it is the struggle to survive and attain is the spirit of a civilization. When that a civilization gives up the will to fight for itself, to be satisfied with the status quo instead of actively defending its principles and extending its sphere of influence, decay sets in.
Face it, I am only a middle aged software engineer and not schooled in the arts of war, politics, history or philosophies. I only comment on what I see, and I try to do so to the best of my ability, always knowing that there are others out there that are much smarter and much more knowledgeable than I in these things.
Yet, I worry…