It’s easy to say you’re against war, and I have a couple of times. I think, for the most part, we can agree that war is inherently wrong and that we’d like to avoid it. The problem though is with seeing it as a necessity in certain situations; as something that can’t be avoided. So today, I want to be more specific about why I don’t understand war and am against it, no matter what the circumstances, because it is a difficult subject to take a stance on. Pieces of our history, like the Holocaust, make it pretty clear that war isn’t always as black and white as we wish it were, and can make it easier to say that in certain situations, it’s understandable or even good. But for these four reasons, I don’t think it’s okay even in those situations.
The whole concept of war assumes that some human lives are less valuable or worth living than are other human lives; that certain people, whether they like it or have agreed to it or not, are worth sacrificing to settle your argument. I know that simplifies things – that situations like 9/11 and the Holocaust are far beyond an “argument,” but the fact remains that war is based on the premise of sacrificing certain people’s existence to make a point.
If any one human live is valuable, so is every other human life. If any one person is worth fighting for, so are the other seven billion. To suggest that the best way to settle something is to kill thousands – if not millions – of people completely negates that belief, and I simply can’t get behind anyone who honestly believes that is okay.
An Eye for an Eye
Gandhi has said it before, but “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and that couldn’t be more true. Killing thousands of people because thousands of people have already been killed only results in more death. It doesn’t fix the problem, or give you the moral high ground, or prove your point. It just extends the problem.
As absolutely awful as 9/11 was – and I will never say a defensive word about the people who committed those crimes – throwing our country into war with two other countries only resulted in nearly 7,000 American deaths, and that doesn’t include the Middle Eastern and civilian casualties, which I can’t find consistent statistics for.
I struggled with what to title this particular section – inconsistency or greed – because ultimately, war is not about fixing problems. It is not about being morally “in the right” or helping people who need it, as much as we’d like to think it is. War is not about any of those things, or we’d be at war with North Korea, who is suffering the exact same thing that Germany was during the Holocaust (although I’d also point out that we didn’t get involved in World War II for years. We didn’t join that fight because we were morally against the atrocities Hitler was committing).
My point is this: we don’t throw America into war for any kind of moral or helpful reason. We do it because there is money available, as in the Middle East where there is oil. If this were simply about bringing democracy to a country that needs it, or “fighting the good fight,” or even getting back at someone who wronged us, we’d have been in North Korea for a long time now, but instead we have (arguably) done nothing.
Violence Doesn’t Work
The concept of war suggests that violence accomplishes something, which to quote everyone’s mother: it doesn’t. Punching Suzy because she pushed Alex does not make Suzy less likely to kick Joan. It just makes her more likely to give you a black eye and leaves everyone fighting. Your mother could have told you that when you were five and a girl in your class stole the doll you were playing with, so I can’t understand why it’s something that our government needs to be told now.
If violence worked, this war would have ended years ago; but instead, it has left terror groups in the Middle East pushing back harder. I’m not suggesting that America is in any way at fault for what groups like ISIS are doing, or that their actions are in any way understandable. What I am suggesting though is that clearly, war has not prevented groups like ISIS from perpetrating unspeakable crimes against humanity.
For all those reasons, while I can understand the thought process behind “sometimes war is unavoidable,” I just don’t agree. There are other options and I can guarantee that if we put half the man power and funding into coming up with those ideas as we do into developing new weapons and building armies (America spends more on our defense budget than the next highest eight countries combined), we’d be living in a war-free country at the very least. That’s not delusional and I’m not imagining utopia. I’m just trying to suggest a world that does not bare a horrifying resemblance to popular dystopian novels.