The Rationale For Peace

This war in Afghanistan is draining our nation.  What should we do?

A little history (in a nutshell) might shed some light on our penchant for waging war.  In the nineteenth century, America, being the new-spangled, freedom-loving country that it was, was intent on teaching our values of independence and economic fulfillment to the rest of the world.  Mainly, this was undertaken by bringing Christian principles to all who would accept them.  After our great economic revolution, we secularized this message in the twentieth century, although we were still hell-bent to bring our values to the rest of our planet.  The religious message had just been overtaken by the economic message.

Wars have always been a huge part of our history, despite the constant conflict between the costs, both human and economic, of waging war and the more pacifist, isolationist view that the costs of war should instead be channeled into our own domestic structure.  War has often been used to pull us out of dire economic times and the hawks frequently favored international conflicts as a way to fill their own pockets.  Mark Twain was against the Philippine-American War while even Abraham Lincoln did not support the American-Mexican War.  Besides the human ravages that war creates, Twain and Lincoln would have preferred to use all that money spent in trying to win over foreign entities on lowering our taxes and benefiting our citizens here at home.

Today we still are torn between fighting for American values abroad and taking care of things at home.  Wars are expensive, so we can no longer have it both ways.  Our survival as a viable nation that cares about the well-being of its citizens, its structural framework (both physically and ideologically) and its place in the greater scheme of our world is clearly on the line.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are eating us alive, and for what purpose?  To save face, to enable us to brag that American values are better than those of other nationalities and to maintain our status as strongest nation in the world are not adequate rationales for wreaking mayhem, havoc and death around the globe.  Most important though, our domestic situation is crumbling: our infrastructure is in dire need of modernizing, our schools are not getting any better, our “health care system” is still not universal nor practical and our refusal to commit to green technology is dormant.  We are teetering here at home and find ourselves in a precarious situation caused by our reckless desire to maintain our rep abroad while suffering with empty coffers at home.  Imagine the billions and billions of dollars we could have plowed back into our nation if we had not mixed things up in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This dichotomy of war and peace will probably be with us forever.  Read this article by Robert McCartney of the Washington Post on the question as to whether or not America is in decline.  It is a fabulous piece.  I hope that we are not beyond help in reclaiming our dedication to those principles on which our country was founded.  However, it is urgent that we take stock of the spoils of war versus our needs at home.  It is time to change the pattern.

I believe that President Obama is well aware of the pros and cons of our military forays.  He knows how desperate our nation is for fresh capital and investment in OUR COUNTRY.  Here are a couple of articles that support the President’s policies.  In the current climate of Obama-bashing, Andrew Sullivan and Dana Milbank are breaths of reason in extending the benefit of the doubt to his tenure so far.  Sullivan presents his side and calls President Obama’s progress in ideology and legislation as “incremental”.

And that’s why Obama’s incrementalism, his refusal to pose as a presidential magician, and his resistance to taking the bait of the fetid right (he’s president – not a cable news host) seems to me to show not weakness, but a lethal and patient strength. And a resilient ambition.

Know hope.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post also presents an interesting case for us to understand President Obama’s caution in jumping the gun in promoting his policies.  Like Sullivan, Milbank used the word “incremental”  to describe our President’s work so far.  This article is specifically a story about Van Jones, the administration’s former green jobs czar.  The wider application of this story to our Commander-in-Chief is what caught my attention.

Barack Obama is no fool.  Yes, he is the ultimate politician (look where he got in the blink of an eye), but he is sincere in focusing our nation on a corrective path.  This path encompasses much-needed innovation, a change of mind-set and a cooperative government, all of which so far, do not exist.  We should wage peace, not war.  Maybe then we will be able to fulfill, both ideologically and economically, the promise on which America was born.


POSTSCRIPT:

The three articles cited above are well worth your time.  Again, here are the links:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/03/AR2010070302707.html

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/06/getting-shit-done.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/07/AR2010070704552.html

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One Response to “The Rationale For Peace”

  1. EGR Says:

    perhaps we should just stop giving foreign aid to the countries that hate us and/or want us out of their country. That should help our deficit mightily!

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