4 Reasons War Isn’t Solving Anything You Think It Is

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.

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Human Worth

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.

Inconsistency

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.

  • http://www.nomadnotebook.com/ Lizzy

    War is such a difficult topic to discuss, and whilst I definitely agree generally that i’m anti-war, I would also say that i’m pro humanitarian intervention. This has got all the more difficult though as I feel war and humanitarian intervention have increasingly morphed into each other making it very difficult (for me at least) to have a clear idea of whether I am pro intervention or not.

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Oo I am absolutely behind humanitarian intervention. But that’s where I believe better options could be found and that, if that were really the reason behind war, we’d be in N Korea. I agree with you that it’s hard to see the difference at times.

  • Catherine Lewis

    It’s so easy to sit back and say you’re anti-war. Aren’t we all? I’m a mother with a son in the military. I want peace. But if you can see no “moral” reasons for intervening regarding ISIS, there is no hope for you. Clearly, we entered WWII because we were attacked by Japan but we fought like hell to get rid of Hitler after we truly realized what was going on. Remember, there was no social media back then to document and take pictures in real time. Now information moves at almost frightening speed and people are much more informed. Can we save everyone from genocide? Certainly not but we can at least make an effort. Also, realize military spending from 2011-2020 will decline 25% and people who do come back have long waiting times for basic medical care. Your post insinuates that our defense spending is obscene. I think leaving vets out in the cold (literally) is what’s obscene. ALWAYS remember there are people willing to protect your right to “blog” anything you want. Also, know that the battle of good versus evil has been going on since the beginning of time.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Catherine – I’m sorry to have upset you. I in no way meant to insinuate that I don’t absolutely stand behind our troops. I am grateful beyond words for the men and women like your son and like many members of my family who fight for our countrt.

      What I am saying is that I dont understand why they are fighting, and I’m not going to take that back or apologize for it. There are other options. I guarantee that if our government put half as much effort into finding those solutions as they do into war, we’d have a better solution.

      And I am suggesting that our war budget is obscene. You mention the veterans in desperate need of medical care and I 100 percent agree. But thats the thing. Our defense budget isn’t going towards the VA. Perhaps a portion of the defense budget should be redirected towards the VA.

      Youre right that its easy to be against war. But its also easy to accept it as necessary. Im not at all suggesting that what your son does is easy, just that our government’s refusal to look for other options is easy, especially because they are oftentimes not the ones fighting.

      Finally, war has absolutely not been around since the beginning of time. Good vs evil, yes. But there is a difference and again, there are options that do not involve war.

      • Catherine Lewis

        Ancient (stone-age) societies tended to be warrior societies. Men were “raiders” and killed people in order to get land so they could have the best hunting for food. There were basically two types of military organizations, one which developed two million years ago at the dawn of humankind and a second developed around 5,000 years ago where the first states rose and decided to embark on military conquests. I’m not saying it’s right… I am just saying it’s factual that people have been fighting wars for thousands, yes, even millions of years. Your comments suggest that war is some modern day invention which simply isn’t true. And don’t worry, military spending is being cut now under Obama. Our Navy is the smallest since WW1 so China will soon outsize us in our naval power by the year 2020. I’m sure that will give you a sense of relief that we are no longer one in “obscene” spending.

        • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

          It’s completely untrue that every society throughout history has engaged in war. There are countries today that don’t. And regardless – even if every society throughout all of history has engaged in war, that doesn’t make it right or unavoidable. I’ll say again that there are other options.

          I’m not suggesting war is new. Just that it isn’t eternal or ingrained, and to suggest it is, is to suggest it’s acceptable. Which it absolutely isn’t.

          I just can’t understand why someone would be so intent on proving that something as terrible as war is acceptable or unavoidable.

          And you’re right – that does relieve me (although I simply dont agree that China will outpace us, particularly since we will likely have a Republican president after Obama’s term ends). There are a number of things that money would be better spent on.

          • Catherine Lewis

            Where in my comments did I say it was acceptable or unavoidable? I merely stated it’s been around since the beginning of time. Please don’t put words in my mouth. Do you actually believe I want war? Please realize who you are talking to, the mother of a highly trained special ops soldier. I pray every night these evil people go away; that doesn’t make it so though does it? We can pray and hope all we want but it is out of our control if evil continues to exist. Please don’t be so naive in your comments. Where would we be if we hadn’t intervened in WWII? If you would have had your way, you would have turned the other cheek and millions more Jews would have been killed, perhaps even totally eradicated which was Hitler’s wish. That’s what I have a hard time believing – how someone could actually argue there were other options. Wow. Also, what are the options now that ISIS is burning people alive, chopping off their heads, raping and burying children alive, throwing people off roofs because they’re gay… I could go on but you get the idea. I guess there are other options besides going after these people. Maybe we can sit down, have some tea and “discuss” it. Clearly we will never agree that true evil justifies war. Look up the just war theory. It actually exists. I’m done discussing this. It’s clear you are determined to cling to your idealistic beliefs that we can solve everything through “our words”. It’s just not reality unfortunately. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Edmund Burke.

          • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

            Okay. Thanks for reading and commenting. I enjoyed the opportunity to debate this with you.

  • http://www.sheisfierce.net/ Kim

    I think it’s so interesting that this is the post on the day I stumbled on your blog while trying to find an old post of mine (sheisfierce.net). I like the logo for your button, the colours are very pretty :)

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      Kim – that is interesting! I hopped over to your blog when I saw your comment, and I think it’s safe to say we probably have very different opinions on this.

      And thank you!

  • http://www.thekaridiaries.com/ Kari @ The Kari Diaries

    This is such a tough topic to tackle and I commend you so much for having the bravery to put your thoughts out there.
    I’m not sure if war works or not and I’m not sure if I’m anti-war (although I can firmly say that I am not pro-war), it’s just such a complicated topic. Like when I think about 9-11 I remember the sheer devastation. I remember being afraid for my mother who worked directly across the street from the attack and then seeing her later that day after she had to walk miles home covered in debris. And I remember how angry I felt. Like at that moment, I would’ve completely “okayed” a war. And I think that’s the vicious cycle that continues on and on. Loss and fear followed by anger and retaliation, followed by more loss and fear.
    I feel like your first point, Human Worth, resonates most with me regarding this topic. When you think about the numbers of lives sacrificed for war, it’s astounding. I think that my love for people really gets me riled up when I think about war because we all know that innocent people, people not involved in the war effort at all, frequently die in the process.

    Again, wonderful job tackling these tougher topics.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I know what you mean – especially with 9/11, Bush had SO much support for going to war. At the time I was only in 4th grade, but I can remember how scared I was having two parents who worked in a city. Not NYC, but I was worried Philly would be next. I can’t imagine the fear you must have felt with your mother in NYC.

      And you’re absolutely right. I tried to find statistics on Middle Eastern civilian lives lost in this war, but there’s no reliable numbers. The only consistent stats I could find were for American soldiers. But I can imagine it’s an enormous number, and that makes me so angry.

  • http://www.aweekendcrossing.com/ Marla @ A Weekend Crossing

    I agree with you so wholeheartedly. I completely disagree that any of your comments were naive or ignorant haha. Going off the comments below…I think if horrid violence is ALREADY being committed, as it was in the Holocaust, then perhaps war is a necessary evil to stop it. But the point I drew from your post wasn’t that America specifically shouldn’t engage in war…but that war in general from all nations is a bad thing. I think in order to actually be a pacifist world, EVERYONE has to be on the same page.

    • http://www.sheisfierce.org/ Kiersten McMonagle

      I know what you mean about acting in situations where violence is already taking place. My thing is, I just don’t think it works. Instead, it just increases the violence. I don’t know what a better solution would be, but that’s my point. Perhaps instead of spending so much money on continued war, we could allocate a portion towards a think-tank for finding a better solution. Because I absolutely agree that something should be done in those situations.

      And you’re absolutely right. We already have countries like Switzerland who refuse to engage in war, but it takes more than just one society.