Saturday, September 10, 2011

Peace?

Peace, remember that quaint concept that we used to occasionally hear about. We don’t seem to hear much about it anymore, the anti-war (peace) movement is virtually silent these days, we are engaged in either “wars” or “hostilities” in several countries at the moment, and likely will be for years to come, we are the world’s primary source of weapons that we sell pretty indiscriminately all over the world (including Mexico), and our euphemistically termed “Defense Budget,” dwarfs all others combined. The concept of peace has virtually disappeared from our language. In the Middle East we continue to support dictatorial regimes unless, of course, they stray too far from our desires. We continue to support a colonial, genocidal, thieving, Israel administration that fears peace even more than war, lest they might have to give up some of their ill-gotten gains, and keeps trying to get us to attack Iran on their behalf. As there can never be peace in the Middle East as long as Israel continues to deny even the most basic rights to the Palestinians, and as we (the U.S.) continue to support them, there is obviously not going to be any peace. Soon the Palestinians are going to request the United Nations grant them status as a independent nation, we are going to veto it, whereas the vast majority of other nations will vote for it. As far as I can tell the U.S. and Israel are together the greatest opponents of peace on earth. This has not always been so, why is it so now?

There are, I guess, different levels at which one might explain this. For example, after the collapse of the former Soviet Union we were left as the only genuine superpower on earth. This led to the idea that somehow we could, and somehow should, become the “world’s policeman,” responsible for keeping order on the planet. There was no genuine necessity for this, the world had managed for hundreds of years without it, but because we were the only superpower it just seems sort of reasonable or even logical. But there is a fatal flaw in this development as a policeman of the world should presumably be nonbiased and neutral in carrying out the law, and we are far from that. In fact we have national interests that transcend all others making us not an objective police force but, rather, an authority imposing our desires on the world. It was very easy for some powerful and influential interests to decide that we should simply take over and rule the world. We had the power, who could stop us? Thus while the rest of the world had given up colonialism we could continue it under the guise of a benevolent desire to “help” the rest of the world become “democratic.” While we were nobly helping them to attain democracy we could continue to take over their natural resources and maintain our “higher” standard of living. In short, we could create a (sort of secret) empire. But empires are not created out of good will towards all but, rather, through force against any who would stand in our way. So we now are engaged in various “wars” that will seemingly be never ending and have turned us into a permanent military oriented nation with a military/industrial/political system that has become untouchable and dominates our economy.

At a more fundamental level, one might well ask how a nation that went to war “to end all wars,” established the United Nations in the name of seeking world peace, and for years attempted to avoid military involvements, could have so easily morphed into a virtual police state? First, if you review our history we have never been a very peaceful people. Think of the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Indian wars, the Mexican war, the Philippines, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and etc. Except for brief periods it seems we have always been at war. Of course you can say these were wars of necessity, especially WWII, but they weren’t always wars of necessity. More often than not they were wars of aggression, motivated by greed, attempts to expand our territory, and sometimes just to impose our ideology on others. But, you might say, the American people are not really warlike people, we just seek peace and justice for all.

Well, historically I don’t think you could make much of a case for seriously wanting either peace of justice for all. And to say we are not a warlike people seems to me entirely questionable. As a people we seem to be obsessed with violence. It seems to me this can be seen in the movies we watch, the books we read, the sports we prefer to play and watch, and even our somewhat cavalier attitudes towards death. We are virtually the only nation that still imposes the death penalty for crimes. These attitudes can be seen, for example, in the cheers Rick Perry received when discussing his multiple executions in Texas, but they can also be seen in moments when people actually encourage people to jump during suicide attempts, when they refuse to intervene when witnessing violent crimes, and so on. Extremely violent video games are popular, pornography is popular, including even child molestations, and “snuff movies.” Boxing and wrestling and martial arts have long been popular, and more recently even more violent versions of personal combat have become increasingly popular. We have such a huge number of guns no one really knows how many, and gun violence is commonplace. The right to own, carry, and use guns is defended even more strongly than the right of free speech, or so it seems. We have become so inured to violence it has become simply an ordinary part of our everyday lives.

Along with this it appears that very large segments of our population lack empathy for others, wanting to deny them employment, unemployment insurance, health care, housing, and even the most basic necessities of life. Children are going hungry, living more and more in poverty, while the obscenely wealthy demand more and more and gigantic corporations are making record profits. With this attitude towards our own poor is bad enough, when it comes to outsiders they seem for us to be totally unimportant. We don’t even bother to keep track of how many we kill.

“Well…the Oriental…doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient…and uh…as the, uh philosophy of the Orient, uh…expresses it, uh…uh… life is, uh, is not important.”

General William C. Westmoreland





1 comment:

Sara E Anderson said...

I was just thinking about how no one talks about peace anymore. I'd also add the fact that our country engages in a number of stupidly-named "wars." For example, the war on drugs. Everyone knows that wars on abstract concepts turn out to be giant money-sucks and basically just restrict our civil liberties. War on terror, war on poverty/the poor. I should really develop this thought a little more.